Taiwan approves direct flight of private jet to China

Tuesday, February 9, 2010, 18:01 by Jose Philip

For the first time, Taiwan has allowed a private jet to fly directly to China, which is seen as a sign of the relations between the two countries improving. China still considers the self-ruled island of Taiwan as its territory.

According to the Civil Aeronautics Administration of Taiwan, the Gulfstream jet, which has been permitted to fly across the Taiwan Strait, is owned by Terry Gou, chairman of the Taiwan-based electronic major Hon Hai group.

Taiwan and China had resumed regular, direct flights in July 2008 after a gap of about 6 decades. For many decades, air services between Taiwan and China were required to stop in third regions, like Hong Kong, or take lengthy diversions for “security reasons.”

Interestingly, Taiwan’s approval for the flight of a private jet to China comes at a time when China and the United States are involved in a dispute over the United States’ decision to sell advanced weapons worth $ 6.4 billion ((4 billion pounds) to Taiwan.

The Administration of United States President Barack Obama has already notified US Congress of its first proposed sales of weapons to Taiwan. These weapons include the Patriot ‘Advanced Capability-3’ anti-missile missiles, the Black Hawk helicopters, as well as command-and-control technology.

Apart from this, Taiwan has said it will buy military helicopters from Eurocopter, the Europe-based manufacturer of civil and military helicopters. Again, this move by Taiwan could prompt China to turn against Europe, too.

An official of Taiwan’s defense ministry announced that Taiwan’s air force will buy EC-225 search-and-rescue helicopters from Eurocopter. The deal involves buying 20 helicopters at a cost of $111 million from Eurocopter, which is a subsidiary of the

European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS).

Meanwhile, the Transportation Minister of Taiwan has complained of China’s “unfair” treatment of Taiwan-based airlines in allocating extra flights across the Taiwan Strait during the forthcoming Lunar New Year holidays.

According to Taiwan’s Minister of Transportation and Communications Mao Chi-kuo, China-bases airlines have been permitted to operate far more additional flights than the carriers based in Taiwan.

It has been decided that carriers based in Taiwan and China together will operate a total of 350 extra cross-Taiwan Strait flights during the Lunar New Year holidays from February 13-21, 2010. Of the total flights, 252 flights have been allocated to Chinese airlines, and the rest 98 flights to Taiwan-based carriers.

At its closest point, China is located only 160 kilometres (100 miles) away from Taiwan. China, with a strong economy, has attracted a wave of investment from Taiwan ever since the two countries started easing restrictions on trade in 2008 under Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, who is friendly towards China.

China has been claiming sovereignty over Taiwan since 1949, when the forces of Chinese leader Mao Zedong won the Chinese civil war and the Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, fled to the island of Taiwan.

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