Hijack pact overdue

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 19 December, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 19 December, 1993, 12:00am

WHO would have thought even five years ago that relations between Beijing and Taipei would reach the stage where China would agree to hold talks on Taiwanese soil? Yet it has happened. For the first time in 44 years, yesterday mainland and Taiwanese officials sat across from each other at the negotiating table and discussed issues of mutual concern. Not only did they talk, but they reached agreement in principle on that most vexing of modern issues - hijacking. With nine planes hijacked from the mainland so far this year, Beijing is anxious to clamp down on a problem that has focused unwanted attention on its lax air security.

For Taiwan the political gain of hijacked planes landing on its soil has diminished over the years as it seeks closer links with the mainland.

Although details of repatriating hijackers still need to be worked out over the next few days, that both sides are seeking a genuine solution is to be commended. Neither China nor Taiwan wants to be seen to condone hijacking. Reaching agreement on such athorny issue is not only long overdue, but could pave the way for agreement on the broader issues that continue to keep both sides so far apart.