Taiwan to discuss direct sea link with China

Business Materials 19 June 2008 04:12 (UTC +04:00)

Taiwan will discuss opening a direct sea link with China to cut the cost and time of shipping across the Taiwan Strait, a newspaper said on Thursday, the dpa reported.

The move comes after the decision to open a direct air link with China earlier this month.

Chiang Ping-kun, Taiwan's top negotiator with China, was quoted in The Commercial Times as saying the establishment of a direct sea link will be among the issues discussed in the second round of Taipei- Beijing talks to be held in autumn in Taipei.

During the first dialogue in Beijing from June 11-13, Taiwan and China agreed to begin direct weekend charter flights on July 4, eventually expanding to daily charter flights and then regular flights.

Currently passengers traveling between Taiwan and China must change flights at a third place, usually Hong Kong. Ships must also stop at an intermediary location.

Chiang, speaking at a meeting of the ruling KMT Party's Central Standing Committee Wednesday, said some 5,000 cargo ships ply across the Taiwan Strait and make a symbolic stop at Japan's Okinawa Islands each year, bringing Okinawa 500 million Japanese yen (4.6 million US dollars).

"Cargo ships transiting via Okinawa increases the time and cost of sea transport, so in the next dialogue, we will discuss new sea routes for cargo ships," he said.

During the next talks, Taiwan and China will also discuss jointly exploring for oil in the Taiwan Strait and other issues, he added.