Taiwan to allow more direct flights to China in show of goodwill

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TAIPEI – Taiwan said on Thursday that it would allow the resumption of more direct flights to China that were stopped due to the Covid-19 pandemic, in a show of political goodwill to Beijing despite festering military tensions.

Taiwan, which China views as its own territory, currently allows direct flights to only four Chinese cities – Beijing, Chengdu, Shanghai and Xiamen. Before the pandemic, multiple Chinese cities were connected to the island.

China has been pressing Taiwan to resume the flights, urging against using the pandemic as an excuse for further delay.

Taiwan’s China-policy making Mainland Affairs Council said 10 more cities would be allowed to have regular flights, including the economic powerhouses of Guangzhou, Nanjing and Shenzhen, while charter flights would be allowed to another 13.

Council spokesman Chan Chih-hung told reporters that the council has considered China’s requests for which cities should see direct flights restored, and chose the 10 cities based on the large concentration of Taiwanese businessmen there.

“China suggested 26 cities, which we also have taken into consideration. This move demonstrates our most sincere goodwill,” he said.

“We also hope to build on the foundation of these resumed flights to gradually increase the exchange of goodwill gestures and cooperative interactions by both sides.”

Taiwan’s government has been trying to resume interactions, especially people-to-people exchanges, with China since the lifting of strict quarantine rules late in 2022, with President Tsai Ing-wen saying she hoped this could ease tensions.

But China still refuses to talk to Ms Tsai, believing she is a separatist. She says only the people of Taiwan can decide its future and strongly disputes China’s sovereignty claims.

Taiwan and China began regular direct flights to each other in 2009, after beginning charter flights in 2003. REUTERS

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