Taipei attacked over hijackings
By DANIEL KWAN
BEIJING officials yesterday accused Taipei of encouraging hijacking.
Statements issued in Beijing by the Civil Aviation of Administration of China (CAAC) and the Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (ARATS) accused Taiwan authorities of sheltering hijackers.
They also urged Taipei to ''correct its past wrongdoings'' and immediately send hijackers back to China.
Instead of admitting that lax airport security and poor management might be responsible for the frequent hijackings this year, the CAAC claimed Taipei was to blame.
Xinhua (the New China News Agency) quoted a CAAC spokesman as saying Taiwan authorities should ''change their present policy'' and strengthen co-operation with the mainland to prevent similar incidents in the future.
The spokesman said: ''. . . Such terrorism incidents seriously threaten the safety and property of the passengers and the crew, and affect the punctual travel of passengers.
''For a fairly long period, the Taiwan authorities honoured any mainland hijackers to Taiwan as 'anti-communist heroes', openly supporting them, which resulted in eight Taiwan-bound hijacking attempts since the early 1980s.
''That has aroused strong resentment from Chinese and foreign passengers,'' he said.
The spokesman said China ''has tried its best to reduce to a minimum'' such incidents, and had tightened controls after the first two hijackings this year.
''CAAC has always attached much importance to air safety and security facilities are in operation in civil airports and airliners all over the country,'' he said.
The Xinhua report said a man was arrested at Nanjing airport last month for allegedly intending to hijack an airliner to Taiwan.
The Beijing-based ARATS, which was established by China to handle unofficial relations with Taiwan, sent a letter to its counterpart in Taipei - the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF) - yesterday urging the authorities there to extradite hijackers immediately.
But the SEF's deputy secretary-general, Mr Hsu Wei-you, denied the Taiwan Government encouraged hijackers and said they could face capital punishment if convicted in Taiwan.
Mr Hsu said the maximum penalty on the mainland for hijackers was life imprisonment.
He confirmed that he had received an invitation to visit Beijing later this month to discuss cross-strait crimes and smuggling of illegal migrants but declined to say whether hijacking would be on the agenda.
According to Mr Hsu, he was considering a proposal from ARATS to stay in Beijing for two days after attending a four-day academic legal conference at the end of this month.
ARATS spokesman Xu Zhiqin refused to disclose details of the agenda.
''Discussions are now under way on the contents of the meetings and it is too early to say if the hijacking would be included,'' Mr Xu said.