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Taiwan's charter flight plan slammed
( 2003-09-25 00:10) (China Daily)

Beijing yesterday strongly criticized Taipei's "abnormal'' and "inappropriate'' way of unilaterally publishing a programme for indirect charter cargo flights between Taiwan and the mainland.

While hinting refusal to the Taiwanese proposal, the mainland pressed for two-way and mutually beneficial air links across the Taiwan Straits.

Without any advance discussion with the mainland, the island drafted and announced a proposal for Taiwanese airlines to operate regular charter cargo flights across the Straits, starting today.

At present, only Taiwanese carriers are allowed to take part in the scheme and all aircraft will make stopovers in Hong Kong or Macao.

Pu Zhaozhou, director of the Office of Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao Affairs under the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, expressed strong displeasure with the Taiwanese proposal.

"We think it is an extremely abnormal and inappropriate approach for the Taiwanese side to make such an unilateral announcement without any non-governmental negotiations, and we cannot accept the way they handled the matter,'' he told reporters yesterday.

The official signalled the apparent rejection of the Taiwanese plan at a regular press conference by the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

Pu insisted that cross-Straits flights be treated as domestic affairs within one country in line with the principle of being direct, two-way, reciprocal and mutually beneficial.

"Only on that basis will the mainland welcome non-governmental aviation groups from Taiwan to discuss cross-Straits air links so that they can be put into place at an early date,'' he said.

Pu said the mainland has held out for direct cross-Straits air links with no stopovers in order to save time and money.

Meanwhile, the mainland airlines should be allowed to participate in charter cargo flights across the Taiwan Straits in accordance with aviation practice and the common business principle of fairness and equity, according to the official.

Li Weiyi, spokesman of the Taiwan Affairs Office, also accused Taiwan authorities of setting political hurdles to the establishment of cross-Straits direct transport links, which has been barred by Taipei for decades.

He added that Beijing firmly opposes any Taiwanese attempt to describe across-Straits air and sea links as international routes, as defined by a recent Taiwanese government report.

At the press briefing, the spokesman also announced that Zhejiang Guoxiang Refrigeration Co Ltd has been approved as the first Taiwanese-funded enterprise to launch its initial public offering (IPO) on the Shanghai A-share market. In a related development, the Ministry of Public Security unveiled a plan to issue visas to facilitate travel for thousands of Taiwanese business people living in Shanghai.

As well, mainland agricultural scientists are inviting their Taiwanese counterparts to send crop seeds from the island into space aboard the mainland's Shenzhou V spacecraft, expected to be launched later this year.

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