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Taiwan may be transit stop for China tourists: SEF

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Mainland China agreed to consider the possibility of allowing Chinese tourists to use Taiwan as a transit point to travel to other countries, Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF, 海基會) announced yesterday.

SEF Deputy Secretary-General and spokesman Ma Shaw-chang (馬紹章) said that discussions of possibly transforming Taiwan into a transit point for Chinese tourists was the biggest breakthrough at the second debriefing conference on cross-strait agreements.

Ma said that the representative of mainland China finally agreed to do research about any potential proposals on the topic after years of requests from Taiwanese representatives.

“This is a positive and affirmative response from mainland China,” said Ma.

According to Ma, allowing Chinese tourists to use Taiwan as a transit point is a topic that Taiwan has been proposing for years, but there has been no mutual agreement made on the issue.

“Mainland China has never made any written statements to discuss this topic either,” said Ma.

“After Taiwanese representatives explained and pushed for this topic, representatives from mainland China finally considered that Taiwan's proposal on the issue makes sense,” said Ma. “The mainland China representatives not only agreed to use written statements to show the mutual agreements on the topic but also agreed to study the possible measure to carry out the issue.”

“If Chinese tourists are allowed to use Taiwan as a transit point of their trips, it will mean a lot to the development of the Taoyuan Aerotropolis that the government is promoting,” said Ma.

According to Ma, if Taiwan becomes a transit point for Chinese tourists, it will greatly benefit the direct flight arrangements between Taiwan and China, and also make it more convenient for tourists from both sides.

Free Trade Agreement to be Completed Soon: SEF

SEF Deputy Chief Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀) yesterday said that representatives from mainland China and Taiwan both agreed to complete the free trade agreement as soon as possible.

However, Chang did not give a specific time frame on when the free trade agreement between Taiwan and mainland China will be completed.

Taiwan and Singapore signed an economic partnership agreement last November, which is Taiwan's first economic partnership agreement signed with a member state of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Taiwan and New Zealand also closed a similar agreement in last July.

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