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Agreement reached on direct flight opening
By Cao Desheng (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-21 05:46

Chinese mainland officials and a visiting Kuomintang Party (KMT) delegation from Taiwan reached an agreement on opening direct flights across the Taiwan Straits yesterday in Beijing.

The two sides held that opening cross-Straits direct flights as soon as possible is the expectation of compatriots from both sides.

Flexible, pragmatic and effective methods should be adopted to this end.

The understanding was reached while Li Bingcai and Zheng Lizhong, deputy directors of the Taiwan Affairs Office under the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of China and the State Tourism Administration held a working conference with the KMT delegation.

Passenger and cargo flights should be based on the model of the 2005 Spring Festival flights, they said.

Flights should be carried out during holidays, festivals, weekends and in a normal way, the two sides said.

The two sides also noted they are willing to contribute to the realization of cross-Straits flights during the 2006 Spring Festival, the most important holiday for Chinese people to reunite with their family members.

The group, led by Tseng Yung-chuan, KMT's Policy Executive Committee director, arrived in Beijing on Wednesday to help push for Taiwan to be opened to mainland tourists.

Estimates say opening Taiwan to mainland tourists will generate at least NT$50 billion (US$1.5 billion) in tourist revenues and business opportunities worth more than NT$100 billion (US$3 billion) at home, which, Tseng said, will help revive the dwindling local economy.

Shao Qiwei, director of the State Administration of Tourism, is expected to lead a team of 60-plus tourist officials and managers to visit Taiwan soon at the KMT's invitation. The exact date is to be determined.

KMT Legislator John Chiang and KMT Mainland Affairs Department Director Chang Jung-kung, who accompanied Tseng on the trip, were also present at the meeting.

Tourism industries on both sides are still awaiting Taiwanese authorities' approval on unrestricted tours.

(China Daily 10/21/2005 page2)

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