--- SEARCH ---
Learning Chinese
Learn to Cook Chinese Dishes
Exchange Rates

Hot Links
China Development Gateway
Chinese Embassies

Air Tragedy Marks Need for Cross-Straits Links, Official Says
The catastrophic crash of a China Airlines plane may turn out to be a new driving force to push forward an ongoing bid from both sides of the Taiwan Straits to end Taipei's five-decade ban on three direct links.

Taiwan affairs officials and experts said Monday that the tragic accident has highlighted the pressing need to open direct trade, transport and postal services -- dubbed "the three direct links" -- between Taiwan and the mainland.

The China Airlines jet, bound for Hong Kong from Taipei, crashed in the Taiwan Straits on Saturday after it split into four pieces, killing all 225 passengers and crew.

Media reports said more than 100 people aboard were planning to visit the mainland via Hong Kong.

Most passengers and air cargo moving between the mainland and Taiwan have to go through a third place such as Hong Kong or Macao because Taipei still bans direct links with the mainland.

"The tragedy will undoubtedly strengthen our determination to strive for an early realization of the three direct links for the benefit of people on both sides," said an official with the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council.

The official, who declined to be named, told China Daily that the mainland will make redoubled efforts to establish the three links as soon as possible and hopes Taipei will do the same.

Li Jiaquan, a senior researcher with the Institute of Taiwan Studies under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said "It is a great sadness for all Chinese people to see so many lives lost as a result of inconvenience caused by the absence of the three links."

He added that the obstacles set by Taipei, which have wasted huge amounts of our Taiwan compatriots' time and money, have now perhaps played a role in this heavy loss of human life.

"How much more do we have to pay because of the Taiwan authorities' reluctance to improve cross-Straits relations?" the researcher asked.

"It will be a humiliation for Taipei, and even tantamount to a criminal act, for the Taiwan authorities to continue to defend the ban on such links at the possible cost of human lives."

A large number of family members and relatives of Taiwanese victims yesterday rained complaints on the Taiwan authorities about the deadly plane crash.

"The accident would not have happened if these passengers could fly directly to the mainland," one of them was quoted as saying by Xinhua News Agency.

Although Taiwan leader Chen Shui-bian said on May 9 that opening direct trade, transport and postal links between Taiwan and the mainland was "a road we must take," Taipei has yet to take practical steps to honor this commitment.

The lack of direct links incurs economic losses amounting to millions of dollars annually to both sides, especially Taiwan, which is suffering from economic woes, according to Zhang Junlei, vice-president of the Association for Shipping Across the Taiwan Straits.

He warned that the ban is an obstacle to the development of cross-Straits economic relations and has reduced the competitive edge of Taiwan firms following the entry of the mainland and Taiwan into the World Trade Organization.

"There is no reason or excuse for Taipei to justify a further delay in establishing the three direct links, since all technical preparations have been completed on both sides," Zhang said.

"It will be the Taiwan authorities' lack of political will that will be to blame if no substantial move is taken after the accident."

In fact, Taiwan's business community has been putting great pressure on Taipei to put an end to the decades-old ban on direct shipping, postal and air links between Taiwan and the mainland.

The latest media poll on the island indicated that nearly 70 percent of Taiwanese people favored implementing direct cross-Straits links.

(China Daily May 28, 2002)

China Airlines Plane Said to Have Broken up in Flight
Wrap-up: 83 Bodies Recovered in Taiwan Air Crash
Mainland Extends Sympathy over Taiwan Air Crash
More Bodies Found from Taiwan Air Crash
Print This Page
Email This Page
About Us SiteMap Feedback
Copyright © China Internet Information Center. All Rights Reserved
E-mail: webmaster@china.org.cn Tel: 86-10-68326688