Cross-Straits rail still on the table

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The response from Taiwan will be a key factor in the implementation of infrastructure projects across the Taiwan Straits proposed in the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), a top cross-Straits negotiator has said.

Chen Deming, president of the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, said on Tuesday that the infrastructure projects proposed in the new five-year plan, including a high-speed railway linking Beijing and Taipei, are only some of the ideas from the mainland, and the implementation would require cooperation across the Straits.

"We have done some research, which shows the ideas are technically feasible and practical. It remains to be seen whether there are common aspirations and actions across the Straits," said Chen, who is also a member of the CPPCC National Committee. He was speaking from the sidelines of the political consultative session.

Chen said the mainland has taken into account how to benefit the people and economy in Taiwan during the process of drafting the new five-year plan.

Zhang Zhaomin, director of the administrative committee of the free trade zone in Pingtan county, Fujian province, said on Wednesday that the technical factors of the high-speed railway across the Straits is no longer a problem, after four consecutive years of technical seminars between scholars across the Straits.

Zhang, who is also a deputy to the National People's Congress, said the preferred route right now is an undersea tunnel as long as 126 kilometers starting from Pingtan.

"Now the decisive factor lies in Taiwan," he said.

Chen confirmed that there has been a decline in the number of tourists traveling on tour groups from the mainland to Taiwan recently.

He said the fall in the number of tour group travelers could have been caused by multiple factors. However, how the change in the island leadership could affect tourism can only be evaluated after May 20, when the new leadership takes office.

Chen said the interaction between the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and the Straits Exchange Foundation in the future would also be decided after it is seen whether there is common political ground across the Straits after May 20.

"I am waiting for good news. I will base my understanding on facts, on words and actions," he said.

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