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Mainland, Taiwan to add 88 cross-Strait flights for Spring Festival
2010-01-07
   TAIPEI, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland and Taiwan will add another 88 cross-Strait flights during the upcoming Spring Festival holiday to better deal with the travel rush, the island's top negotiator Chiang Pin-kun said Wednesday.

    Chiang, chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) and vice chairman of the ruling party Kuomintang(KMT), said at a party meeting that four more regular cross-Strait terminals would be added in the mainland, bringing the total number of mainland terminals to 31.

    The four terminals would be opened in mainland cities of Taiyuan, Changchun, Nanning and Yantai, Chiang said. He did not reveal detailed schedule.

    The mainland and Taiwan currently have 270 flights weekly.

    It was necessary to increase cross-Strait flights, Chiang said, adding that he hoped to add one more terminal in Shanghai Hongqiao Airport as well as simplify entry and exit procedures of flight crews.

    Earlier last week, Fan Liqing, spokesperson for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, also said that at least 44 flights would be added weekly between the four mainland terminals of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Taiwan terminals from Jan. 31 to Feb. 28.

    The Spring Festival, or the Chinese Lunar New Year, falls on Feb. 14.

    The mainland and Taiwan began direct air and sea transport links and postal services on Dec. 15, 2008. Previously, air and sea connections, including mail, were routed through a third location, usually Hong Kong.

    On Nov. 4, 2008, the mainland and Taiwan agreed to launch regular passenger charter flights across the Taiwan Strait. Before that, flights were offered on weekends and during the four major Chinese traditional festivals -- the Spring Festival, Tomb-Sweeping Day, Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival.

    TALKS WIN PUBLIC SUPPORT

    Chiang also said that his talks with Chen Yunlin, president of the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits(ARATS), had won much of public support, citing results of polls conducted by the local authorities.

    Up to 69 percent of respondents believed the institutionalized consultation system would benefit cross-Strait peace and stability,65 percent supported continued negotiations, and nearly 60 percent said they were satisfied with the new agreements reached in the latest round of talks, Chiang said.

    Earlier last December, SEF and ARATS held their fourth round of talks in Taichung and signed three agreements on farm produce quarantine, cooperation in standards measuring, inspection and certification, and on cross-Strait employment of fishermen.

    In the previous three rounds of talks, the two sides had reached nine agreements concerning transport, trade, tourism, cooperation in finance and fighting crime among other issues.

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