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Skies open up over Straits

[ 2009-04-27 14:08]     字号 [] [] []  
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NANJING: The Chinese mainland and Taiwan decided yesterday to double flights between them and change chartered flights to regular ones for the first time, as their ties are now in "a new era of peaceful development".

Total flights between the mainland and Taiwan will grow from 108 chartered per week to 270, including regular ones, according to an agreement signed between Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS), and Chiang Pin-kung, chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

Xinhua News Agency said the new agreement was "another huge step forward in cross-Straits relations".

"Through a 60-year critical historical leap-forward, cross-Straits relations have now entered a new era of peaceful development," Chen said yesterday morning at the start of his talks with Chiang.

They decided to start the first direct air route linking Guangzhou and Taipei, and open another northern route in addition to the one between Shanghai and Taipei.

They also agreed to add the mainland cities of Hefei, Harbin, Nanchang, Guiyang, Ningbo and Jinan as regular direct passenger flight terminals.

Though they didn't specify when those new flights would begin operation, Chiang said "both sides' aviation administrations have agreed to finalize the details for regular flights shortly".

"Both sides will continue consultations on air transportation," he told reporters, adding that 108 flights per week is far from enough.

The two organizations only started weekend chartered flights and tourism last June. More than 200,000 mainland tourists visited Taiwan between last July and the middle of this month.

As new flights are being introduced it is estimated that more than 500,000 mainland tourists will have visited Taiwan by the end of the year, Zheng Lizhong, the ARATS' standing vice-president, said.

Relations between the two sides have improved dramatically since Ma Ying-jeou took office last May, which ended a 10-year period when the heads of ARATS and SEF didn't meet.

Yesterday also marked the two negotiators' third talk since last June, but the first to move beyond the economic front.

Apart from agreements on increasing flights and financial cooperation, Chen and Chiang also reached consensus on "mutual judicial assistance" in an attempt to jointly crack down on crime, including murder, smuggling, human trafficking and terrorist activities.

The two negotiating bodies will meet on a case-by-case basis regarding suspects who may have broken a law in one region, but not the other.

Shortly before Chiang and his group's arrival in Nanjing from Taipei on Saturday, a survey done by SEF showed that more than 80 percent of Taiwan's citizens felt the most important issue was how both sides would decide to combat crime together. The groups have agreed to meet twice a year.

The two sides also set out the agenda for the next round of negotiations, which should take place in Taiwan in the second half of this year, including talks on agriculture and fishing issues.


1. Where was the meeting held yesterday between represenatives of the Chinese mainland and Taiwan?

2. Total flights between the mainland and Taiwan will grow from 108 chartered per week to how many?

3. According to one survey what were 80% of respondents most concerned about the two sides confronting?


1. Nanjing.

2. 270.

3. Crime.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Skies open up over Straits

Skies open up over StraitsBrendan joined The China Daily in 2007 as a language polisher in the Language Tips Department, where he writes a regular column for Chinese English Language learners, reads audio news for listeners and anchors the weekly video news in addition to assisting with on location stories. Elsewhere he writes Op’Ed pieces with a China focus that feature in the Daily’s Website opinion section.

He received his B.A. and Post Grad Dip from Curtin University in 1997 and his Masters in Community Development and Management from Charles Darwin University in 2003. He has taught in Japan, England, Australia and most recently China. His articles have featured in the Bangkok Post, The Taipei Times, The Asia News Network and in-flight magazines.