Beijing needs to provide more information about the COVID-19 situation in China before decision-makers in Taiwan can determine whether to fully restore direct flights between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday.
The government has to explain to the people the COVID-19 situation in China before a decision can be made on restoring direct cross-strait flights, MAC Minister Chiu Tai-san (邱太三) said, adding “this requires the assistance of the other side,” to provide more transparent information and accelerate decision-making.
Chiu was responding to a proposal made by Beijing the previous day to resume cross-strait flights to 16 destinations.
The Chinese aviation authorities have suggested through existing channels that the Taiwan authorities resume cross-strait direct flights, said Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮), spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office under China’s State Council, in a press release issued Wednesday.
The COVID-19 epidemic situation on both sides of the strait has stabilized at present, which is a favorable opportunity to resume the normal operation of cross-strait air routes, Zhu said, citing correspondence from the Chinese side to the Taiwanese aviation authorities.
It is hoped that both sides will work to promote the normal operation of cross-strait air routes, and give priority to the resumption of direct cross-strait flights to 16 destinations such as Guangzhou, based on the requests of Taiwan compatriots, according to Zhu.
On Thursday, Chiu acknowledged that Beijing had made the proposal and noted that related government agencies in Taiwan are assessing and discussing the matter.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, direct cross-strait flights covered 51 destinations in China and 10 destinations in Taiwan. However, there are currently only four destinations in China (Beijing, Shanghai, Xiamen and Chengdu), according to Chiu.
Noting that it was originally proposed that direct cross-strait flights be resumed to more than 16 destinations, Chiu said further assessment is required before a determination can be made given the fluctuating COVID-19 situation in China.
Chiu emphasized that there are channels of communication in place between the two sides through which the two sides have signed 23 agreements and engaged in cooperation in various areas.
In terms of the resumption of the direct ferry services linking Taiwan’s outlying Kinmen and Lienchiang counties with Xiamen, Mawei and Quanzhou in China’s Fujian Province, Chiu said the government is working toward reviving the normal operation of the services, which were suspended in February 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The government temporarily reinstated the services for homebound travelers for the Lunar New Year holiday between Jan. 7 and Feb. 6 under a special arrangement.
From Jan. 7 to Feb. 1, 3,594 people used the services, including Taiwanese, Chinese spouses and Chinese students, according to Chiu.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel