Air Link Hopes Soar

Civil aviation authorities on the mainland and Taiwan Province reached consensus on the importance of direct aviation links across the Taiwan Straits Friday in Beijing.

They agreed in a statement that both should start direct flights as soon as possible.

The direct link will benefit air companies on both sides, especially after the September 11 terrorist attacks on the United States, which had pitched the global aviation industry into recession.

Representatives from six Taiwan-based airlines and three mainland aviation groups -- Air China, China Southern Airlines and China Eastern Airlines -- reached the agreement after two hours of discussions Friday morning.

They said direct transportation is the desire of all Chinese people across the Taiwan Straits, and direct flights will help airlines greatly cut short operation costs.

A senior Taiwan affairs official Friday urged the Taiwan authorities to adopt flexible policies to push forward the "three direct links'' -- direct transport, post and trade -- across the Taiwan Straits.

Chen Yunlin, director of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the State Council, said when meeting the Taiwan aviation delegation that the Three Links could be conducted between companies or organizations from the both sides if only the issues were discussed as internal affairs within one country.

He said the mainland has been pushing the direct links in the past 20 years, and hopes the Taiwan authorities can take into account the interests of Chinese people as a whole and adopt concrete measures to realize the Three Links.

Chen praised the delegation's efforts in helping promote understanding between aviation industries from both sides, and promised that his office will continue to do its best to push communication across the Straits.

As the top mission of the Taiwan delegation's mainland trip, aviation companies from both sides discussed related issues concerning direct flights.

According to the announcement released by the civil aviation authorities across the straits, nearly all the technical questions had been resolved and it had been agreed planes operating across Taiwan Straits would bear no flags.

Taiwan representatives said they hoped the Chinese mainland could open air space for Taiwan-based airlines to help cut operation costs and maintain aviation safety.

Flying European air routes through the mainland could keep aircraft away from war-plagued Afghanistan and save hours of operation time.

Bao Peide, vice-minister of General Administration of Civil Aviation of China, said his office was willing to cooperate with Taiwan airlines on the issue.

"As long as it benefits Taiwan airlines and within the framework of the One-China principle, we will do our best to provide help,'' Bao said.

He told Taiwan airlines to send an application to his administration which will be considered as soon as possible.

Taiwan legislator Elmer H. Fung, who heads the aviation delegation, said all the airlines in Taiwan support the direct aviation link, and hoped a breakthrough could be reached at an early date.

"Airlines from both sides of the Taiwan Straits should cooperate to minimize the negative impacts of the September 11 terrorist attacks in the United States, and find a way out for the aviation industry,'' he said.

Pu Zhaozhou, president of the Association for Aviation Across the Taiwan Straits, said mainland airlines are also looking forward to direct aviation links, and wished to open offices in Taipei. The mainland now allows Taiwan airlines to set up offices on mainland.

Both sides agreed to hold a aviation safety conference in the near future, discussing related safety questions with hijacking becoming the worst threat to the industry.

Li Fei, professor with the Taiwan Research Institute of Xiamen University, said the visit would push the development of direct links between the two sides but a breakthrough would need a change in policy from the Taiwan authorities.

"These companies wish to enlarge their markets as the industry keeps going down, but Taiwan's existing mainland policies hold them back,'' Li said.

He said only when the Taiwan authorities publicly accepts the one-China principle, could the Three Links really be back on the right track.

(China Daily 10/13/2001))

In This Series

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General Commemorated for Reunifying Taiwan

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Development of Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Irresistible

FM Spokesman on UN Rejection of Taiwan's Motion


Taiwan's UN Bid Fails Again

One-China Principle Reiterated

'One China, Several Systems' Formula Rejected

Patience on Taiwan Question

More Tourists Visit China This Year

Delegation Supports Full Cross-Straits Links

Beijing Offers Goodwill Gesture to Taipei for Links

Common Understanding on "Three Direct Links" Welcome

Vice-Premier Meets Taiwan Delegations


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