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Mainland pushes to open shortest air route to Taiwan

06-22-2010 09:38 BJT

XIAMEN, June 21 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese mainland's aviation authorities are pushing to open an air route cutting straight across the Taiwan Strait, the shortest, and most controversial, route linking the mainland and Taiwan, officials said.

"The mainland's civil aviation administration is actively negotiating with its Taiwanese counterparts to open an air route from Fujian Province directly to Taiwan, the shortest-ever cross-Strait route with an estimated air travel time of 30 minutes," Pu Zhaozhou, director of the administration's Cross-Straits Aviation Transport Exchange Council, told Xinhua on Monday.

The new route would relieve air traffic congestion, reduce travel time and lower operational costs, Pu said.

Current mainland-Taiwan routes cross the sea from either north or south of the Taiwan Strait, bypassing the coastline of Fujian, the closest mainland province to Taiwan. Some Taiwanese fear opening the route from Fujian might put Taiwan in danger of military attacks.

Such worries were brushed off by mainland officials.

"It is ridiculous that some people fear war planes would follow passenger planes to enter Taiwan. If they learn aviation basics, they would know it is impossible," mainland civil aviation administration director Li Jiaxiang told an audience attending the on-going Straits Forum in Xiamen city located in southern Fujian.

"We would push for direct Xiamen-Taiwan routes. Taiwanese told me they spent one and a half to three hours to get here from Taiwan. If the routes are open, they need only half an hour," Li said. "The cross-Strait exchanges improved a lot in recent years, but obstacles still exist in some people's minds," he added.

Pu said while the mainland is pushing for the deal, there has not yet been major progress in the talks.

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