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Taiwanese returning from China for Lunar New Year without problems

2018/02/13 19:29:43

CNA file photo

Taipei, Feb. 13 (CNA) Taiwanese nationals have been largely successful in buying tickets and flying back from China for Lunar New Year, according to statements from the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) and the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF).

Despite initial speculation that tension across the Taiwan Strait due to China's unilateral opening of the northbound M503 flight route would keep China-based Taiwanese from reuniting with their families during the holiday period, both the MAC and the SEF sent out press releases Tuesday saying that this is not the case.

The MAC, Taiwan's top agency in charge of China policy, said there have been extra flights between eight airports in China and Taiwan since Feb. 2, many of which still have seats available.

The SEF, the semi-official body that handles cross-Taiwan Strait affairs, confirmed meanwhile that many China-based Taiwanese businessmen have had no problems getting tickets.

The foundation also noted in its statement that if any Taiwanese are unable to acquire tickets, they should contact the SEF or the MAC for assistance.

SEF officials have reached out to the China-based Taiwan Students Solidarity Headquarters on behalf of the government to offer assistance, the statement read.

The statements were intended to address a United Daily News story published Tuesday in which Chiu Rong-li (邱榮利), head of the student organization, called on students to protest outside the Presidential Office and the Ministry of Transportation and Communications over what it claimed is the use of Taiwanese students as bargaining chips in dealing with China, leaving them unable to return home for the holiday.

Chiu previously reported that about 1,000 Taiwanese students have not been able to book plane tickets home for the Feb. 15-20 holiday after two Chinese airlines scrapped plans for extra flights during the period.

The two airlines -- China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines -- announced Jan. 30 that they were "forced" to cancel 176 extra flights they had intended to charter for the expected increase in demand because of delays in approval from Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration.

The projected 50,000 passengers, who the Commercial Times reported would be affected by the cancellation, have since been able to book seats on extra flights offered by Taiwan's domestic airlines, both statements said.

Claims that there are still difficulties getting tickets are unfounded or are from people who have not yet been updated on the situation, the statements said.

(By Miao Zong-han and Kuan-lin Liu)
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