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Taiwan, China not yet settled on issues concerning transit flights

Taipei, Aug. 2 (CNA) Taiwan's proposal for Beijing to allow international flights from the mainland to make transit stops in Taiwan remains in limbo, as Taiwan's top China policymaker said Sunday that talks with the Chinese side on the issue are still underway. Asked about the progress of the talks, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) replied that "the two sides are still negotiating and communicating with each other actively on the issue," hoping they can reach a consensus and strike a deal to begin the service as soon as possible. The remarks cast uncertainty over the implementation of an agreement reached between MAC Minister Hsia Li-yan (???) and his Chinese counterpart, Taiwan Affairs Minister Zhang Zhijun (???), during their meeting in Taiwan's Kinmen in May that the transit stops in Taiwan will begin in mid-2015. The issue was set to be settled in a planned summit meeting between between Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and its Chinese counterpart the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) in August, when the two parties are expected to sign tax and aviation safety agreements. A newspaper report said Sunday that the meeting may not take place as expected. The Chinese side has so far not set a concrete date for the beginning of the transit flight service, and that the issue remains stuck on China's request for measures to be taken to "optimize" the flight routes between the two sides across Taiwan Strait, the United Daily News reported. "There may likely be changes" to the planned SEF-ARATS meeting, which was scheduled to take place by the end of the month, the newspaper said. Hsia had revealed during his visit to the United States in July that the meeting between the two intermediary bodies of the two sides of the strait was scheduled to take place by the end of August, and that he and Zhang would possibly meet for talks on matters of mutual concern in September. Asked about the newspaper's speculation, the MAC failed to give concrete answers but said that currently, the SEF and ARATS are sparing no efforts in preparing for their 11th summit meeting since 2008. As for the planned Hsia-Zhang meeting, the MAC said the exact date of that event has not yet been settled, promising an announcement as soon as it reaches an agreement with China on the matter. The authorities also said that transit stops in Taiwan are a different issue from "flight route optimization," which China proposed as part of efforts to promote the efficiency and convenience of cross-strait flights. One of the measures the Chinese side has suggested was to "straighten" the flight routes between the two sides, allowing the commercial flights from China to fly across the medium line of the Taiwan Strait to shorten flight times. The Taiwan side had already made it clear that it is willing to exchange opinions with China on the proposal to "optimize" the flight services on the existing three air routes between the two sides, but "it is out of the question that Taiwan would agree on opening another route crossing the strait's medium line" due to national security concerns, according to the MAC. (By Chang Shu-ling and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-09-21 22:24 GMT+08:00