Beijing-Taipei row over transport plans
By WILLY WO-LAP LAM and agencies
A NEW row has erupted between Beijing and Taipei over the type of air transport the Taiwan team should use when it goes to Shanghai for the East Asian Games next month.
The contretemps has come about one day after quasi-official representatives from both sides signed a historic document in Singapore on non-official exchanges.
And senior Taiwan officials reiterated that there would be no talks with the Chinese on ''political issues''.
The Taiwan media yesterday quoted transport and sports officials as saying Taipei might cancel plans to participate in the East Asian Games if Beijing did not allow the athletes to charter a Cathay Pacific aircraft for the Hongkong-Shanghai leg of the journey.
Mainland sports officials had earlier indicated that Beijing wanted to dispatch a civil aviation aircraft to Taipei to pick up the Taiwan sports team.
Failing this, Beijing said the athletes should at least use a Chinese airline when they fly from Hongkong to Shanghai.
The Taiwan media quoted the head of the Taiwan Olympics committee, Mr Chang Feng-shu, as telling his mainland counterpart, Mr He Zhenliang, that Beijing's rigid position might lead to the Taiwan team's late arrival or outright cancellation.
Meanwhile, Taiwan officials have expressed qualified satisfaction over the agreements signed in Singapore between the chairman of Taipei's Straits Exchange Foundation, Mr Koo Chen-fu, and the head of Beijing's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait, Mr Wang Daohan.
''The talks improved understandings between both sides and laid a solid foundation for future developments,'' Mr Koo said in Taipei yesterday.
However, Mr Koo said he was disappointed that no consensus was reached on protecting Taiwanese investments on the mainland.
Taiwan Premier Mr Lien Chen yesterday reiterated that the Koo-Wang talks touched upon ''people-to-people, administrative and functional'' matters and not political issues.
''Both sides should realise that [Taiwan and China] can not and should not continue long-term separation and confrontation,'' Mr Lien told the Legislative Yuan.
However, he indicated that he hoped Beijing would understand that unification could only be achieved ''under the principle of sincerity and good intentions''.
Taiwan officials reiterated yesterday that talks about direct links would only take place if Beijing would give up the use of force against Taiwan and stop freezing Taiwan out of the international arena.
The New China News Agency yesterday quoted Mr Wang as expressing confidence that bilateral problems could be solved with more rounds of talks.
''The higher the level of the negotiators and the more power they are given, the more problems will be solved and the shorter the time for solving them,'' Mr Wang said.