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Taiwan's Ma promises new air links to rival China

Taiwan's Ma promises new air links to rival China

Taiwan presidential front-runner Ma Ying-jeou said Friday the island will initiate commercial flights to China if he is elected, raising prospects for increased trade and travel between the longtime rivals.
The remarks to businesspeople came in the run-up to the March 22 presidential vote, in which Ma is heavily favored to defeat Frank Hsieh of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party.
Ma is the candidate of Taiwan's once-dominant Nationalists, who favor expanded business links with the mainland.
Ma spokesman Luo Chih-chiang said Ma told a meeting of businesspeople that if he is elected he will begin weekend charter flights to China before July, daily charters by the end of 2008 and commercial flights by June 2009.
Luo did not give any indication of whether China would approve the proposed arrangement, though Beijing generally favors expanded links with Taiwan, as long as they do not confer the island with the trappings of sovereignty.
The two sides split amid civil war in 1949, and China continues to insist that Taiwan is part of its territory.
While Taiwan and China have strong commercial relations _ annual trade now exceeds US$100 billion (euro66 billion) _ Ma has long maintained that Taiwan's economic development is being retarded by the lack of commercial flights to the mainland.
Unless they use infrequent holiday charters, cross-Strait travelers now have to change planes at a third point _ usually Hong Kong.
Hsieh has said he favors increased charters to China, though he has not come out in support of commercial flights.


Updated : 2021-06-14 21:15 GMT+08:00