Taichung to offer direct cross-strait charter flights

The China Post news staff

TAICHUNG, Taiwan — The incoming government of President-elect Ma Ying-jeou will include the airport in central Taichung on the list of airports to provide direct passenger charter flight service between Taiwan and China in July. Ma has designated the airport of Taoyuan in northern Taiwan and the one in southern Kaohsiung for the first wave of airports offering direct cross-strait charter flights. At a recent meeting with business and industry leaders in central Taiwan area, Ma decided to include the Chingchuangang Airport in Taichung City to the list in the first-wave liberalization in the relations with Beijing. He made the decision at a request of investors to help revitalize the business activities and economic development in central Taiwan. Offering the direct charter flights across the Taiwan Strait is a major step before the launching of direct flights on weekdays by the end of the year and starting regular flight service at a latter stage.

Ma said that Taichung Harbor should also get itself ready for future direct shipping services to China. He stressed that the policies of opening direct cross-strait transport services are not designed to encourage more businesspeople in Taiwan to make investments in China as criticized by the leaders of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which will become the main opposition party after May 20,

The key purpose is to create much more space for the development and growth of enterprises, he explained. Kuomintang (KMT) Vice Chairman Chiang Pin-kung, who was designated as the new chairman of the Taipei-based Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) to help handle the affairs across the Taiwan Strait, has made the direct charter flights and opening Taiwan wider to tourists from China the top priority task. The SEF and its counterpart, the Beijing-based Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), are expected to hold at least a meeting on the issue as a final step to wrap up the negotiations.

Concerning the project of integrating Taichung City and Taichung County into one single administration with the status of a special municipality like Taipei and Kaohsiung, Ma promised a quick action plan after the city and county governments complete preliminary coordination. Other senior officials who attended the meeting included Vice President-elect Vincent Siew, and Hsieh Hsiang-chuan (secretary-general of the Executive Yuan), Yiin Chii-ming (minister of economic affairs), and Gordon S. Chen (chairman of the Finance Supervisory Commission). On other issues related to central Taiwan, Siew considers the opening of a Taichung branch of the Industrial Technology Research Institute to provide assistance to companies. Taiwan ranks as the world’s fourth largest exporter of machinery equipment and companies in central Taiwan accounts for 80 percent of total production.