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MAC hopes for progress on cross-strait transit

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said yesterday that it hopes to see progress soon toward the realization of getting mainland Chinese travelers to transit through Taiwan.

Top MAC and Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) officials recently met and reached the consensus that negotiations over cross-strait transits should begin soon. The TAO is the MAC's mainland Chinese counterpart.

However, the MAC did not indicate when the negotiations will begin.

During her council's routine press conference yesterday, MAC Vice Minister Wu Mei-hung (吳美紅) said that her council will continue to ask the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and Ministry of Transportation and Communications to arrange negotiations with the mainland Chinese authorities as soon as possible through the appropriate channels.

Chang Hsien-yao (張顯耀), deputy chief of the MAC and the SEF, yesterday attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by EVA Airways (長榮航空) and said that he will be leading a delegation to mainland China in the near future for talks on cross-strait transits.

Chang said that hopefully there will be good news in a short period of time.

Responding to reporters' questions, Wu said that in May, the MAC had already asked the SEF to pass on information related to cross-strait transits to the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, the SEF's mainland Chinese counterpart, for the purpose of arranging negotiations.

Wu said that the MAC and the TAO had reached a consensus over the matter, and that the MAC will continue to help facilitate negotiations in hopes of seeing substantial progress in the near future.

Members of the airline industry have explained that the issue of cross-strait transits is of “major importance” to Taiwan. The administration is aiming to transform Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport into a “major transportation, logistics and commercial hub.”

EVA Chairman Chang Kuo-wei (張國煒) said on Tuesday that Taiwan and mainland China should step up their efforts to realize cross-strait traits, adding that by doing so, companies on both sides of the strait can benefit from tapping into the market.

Mainland China does not allow its nationals to have layovers in Taiwan, because officials in Beijing are concerned that the act of allowing its nationals to show their passports in Taiwan during layovers signifies that mainland China regards Taiwan as a separate nation.

Mainland Chinese nationals can come to Taiwan and vice versa on “travel permits” but not passports.

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