Taiwan, China to launch regular flights in July

January 16th, 2009 - 9:19 am ICT by IANS  

Taipei, Jan 16 (DPA) Taiwan and China are expected to launch regular passenger and cargo flights in July, ending Taipei’s six-decade ban on cross-strait air links with the mainland, a newspaper said Friday.The Commercial Times, quoting an unnamed official, said Taipei and Beijing plan to hold talks in late May to discuss opening regular flights and sign a pact.

The pact will endorse regular flights between Taiwan and China and allow each other’s planes to fly on to other countries from Taiwan or China, the paper said.

It would be beneficial for Chinese aircraft to fly to Taiwan and then on to North America or South America, and would be convenient for Taiwan planes, after arriving in China, to fly on to Central Asia or Europe, the paper said.

The pact should take effect within 40 days after the expected signing in July.

Launching regular flights across the Taiwan Strait was one of the campaign pledges of President Ma Ying-jeou, who took office on May 20.

Taiwan and China have been split since the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949. Since then, Taiwan has banned air and sea links with China for security concerns.

In 2003, Taiwan and China launched holiday charter flights to allow mainland-based Taiwan investors to return home for the Chinese New Year holidays.

On July 4, 2008, the two sides expanded the holiday charter flights to weekend charter flights, which turned into daily charter flights Dec 15.

Taiwan and China also launched sea links Dec 15.

China hopes that launching the air and sea links can pave the way for Taiwan’s unification with the mainland. But Taiwan hopes that launching transportation links with China can boost mutual understanding, ease tension and revive Taiwan’s slumping economy.

Ma declared that he only wants to improve ties and boost trade ties with China and that Taiwan’s future must be decided by the 23 million Taiwanese.

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