Taiwan, China to sign pact on weekend charter flight
Taiwan plans to
sign a pact with China next month on weekend charter flights, the first move
towards dropping Taipei's five-decade ban on direct flights with China, according to a newspaper report Sunday.
The Economic Daily News said Taiwan plans to send Chiang Ping-kun, KMT party's vice chairman and chairman of the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF), to Beijing next month to sign the charter flight pact.
Chiang will sign the pact in his capacity as SEF chairman with Jia Qinglin, who has been picked as the new chairman for the Association for Relations across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS), the paper said.
Taiwan is still waiting for Beijing's approval for Chiang's visit to Beijing and signing the pact.
SEF and ARATS were formed in 1990 and 1991 respectively as semi-official organizations to handle Taiwan-China ties in the absence of formal ties.
After the pact is signed, China will send its inauguration tour group to Taiwan in mid- or late June to pave the way for sending tour groups to Taiwan on a regular basis.
According to the paper, Taiwan is anxious to sign the pact with China because incoming President Ma Ying-jeou has announced a package of measures to improve ties with China, including launching weekend charter flights, opening the door to Chinese tourists and allowing Chinese students to study in Taiwan universities.
According to Ma's plan, the weekened charter flights will start on July 4 and will be eventually expanded to daily charter flights and eventually to regular flights across the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan has banned direct air links with China since 1949. Ma wants to drop the ban because cross-Strait tensions have eased and the ban has deeply hurt Taiwan's economy.
Ma, from the pro-China Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang or KMT), won the March 22 presidential election on platforms of seeking peace with China to prevent war and to vitalize Taiwan's economy.
Ma will be sworn in on May 20, dpa reported.