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EVA chair urges realization of cross-strait transit flights

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan and China should step up efforts to allow Chinese nationals to transit through Taiwan so companies on both sides of the Taiwan Strait can tap into the potentially lucrative market, the head of EVA Airways (長榮航空), Taiwan's second-largest carrier, said Tuesday.

EVA Chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) said if national security is not threatened, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait should expand the level of exchanges and make money together.

Speaking at an inauguration ceremony of new EVA routes in July from Taipei to the Chinese cities of Shijiazhuang, Wenzhou and Taiyuan, Chang said that if the issue is not settled, efforts to develop Taiwan's economy will be undermined.

No matter how cross-strait politics evolve, Taiwan and China should still remain close in business terms, he said.

The transit question is of major importance to Taiwan, which is planning to turn its main international gateway -- Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport -- into a major transportation, logistics and commercial hub.

At present, Taiwanese travelers can make transit stops in China en route to other countries, but China does not allow its nationals to do so through Taiwan, which puts Taiwanese airlines at a significant disadvantage relative to their Chinese rivals.

The treatment is not fair for Taiwanese carriers, Chang said.

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