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On January 5, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council (TAO) announced to implement the achievement of the Ma-Xi meeting and related bureaus are intended to lift a ban on Chinese residents’ flight transit operations between China and Taoyuan International Airport. Nanchang, Kunming and Chongqing have been approved to be the pilot cities and the anticipated “connecting flight policy" has finally been launched.

The connecting flight policy refers to the process of Chinese residents staying in Taiwan after flying from the opposite bank, and then transferring to other places aside from China and Taiwan. The aviation and tourism industries believe it will bring great economic benefits to Taiwan, and even anticipate a million transferring flow from China annually.

The policy will be implemented after the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) get in contact for preparation. By then, Chinese residents in the three cities mentioned above can use their passports and interline tickets as access to a third location, transferring from the Taoyuan International Airport without departure.

Interviewed on January 5, Lin Chu-chia, vice chairperson and spokesperson of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC), stressed that the Ma-Xi meeting has made a breakthrough in past dilemmas. China no longer insists on including the “advanced route" term in the negotiation, which involves the crossing of the centerline on both sides of the Strait.

Currently, there are only three cities open for the transit. But analysts say although the benefits are limited in the beginning, the number of visitors will grow to nearly 600 million people in over five years, as long as the project is fully implemented. At present, many of the tourists transfer through Hong Kong, Tokyo and Incheon to the US. Since Taiwan takes advantage of its geographic location, billion dollars worth of business opportunities are expected in the aviation industry each year.

Officials in the Ministry of Transportation say that recently the average number of flights between Nanchang, Kunming, Chongqing and Taoyuan are about two to three flights a day. If the passenger traffic increases significantly as expected, negotiations on additional flights will take place to bring more convenience.

As for the official timing of implementing the policy, Lin points out that both sides need to complete the follow-up technical discussion. There’s also no need to go through the Legislative Yuan since the transferring policy has always been a convention. He hopes the policy can be implemented as soon as February 1, which is when the congress reforms.

Translated by Yuan-ling Liang
Edited by Olivia Yang