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Lawmakers warn against rash response to name change by airlines

2018/08/06 18:10:52

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Taipei, Aug. 6 (CNA) Opposition Kuomintang (KMT) lawmakers issued warnings Monday over measures reportedly being planned by the government in retaliation against foreign airlines that acceded to China's demand they change Taiwan's designation on their websites.

Speaking at a press conference in the Legislative Yuan, KMT legislative caucus secretary-general Tseng Ming-chung (曾銘宗) first protested China's move which he said has adversely impacted the convenience and safety of Taiwanese air travelers.

However, Tseng urged the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) to be cautious when mulling countermeasures against 44 foreign aviation companies identified as doing China's bidding.

The comments came in response to a United Daily News report Monday that the government is considering adjusting the airline's time slots at Taiwan's airports and denying them the use of jet bridges for caving in to China's request that Taiwan be listed as part of China.

Questioning whether the countermeasures have been fully thought through, Tseng warned that the proposals will only cause greater inconvenience to passengers, mostly Taiwanese, and hurt Taiwan's image.

Tseng urged China and the administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to refrain from taking tit-for-tat schemes in cross-strait affairs, calling instead for the re-start of negotiations on matters relating to people's livelihood as a way of improving bilateral relations that have gone backwards, he said.

KMT Legislator Lai Shyh-bao (賴士葆) argued that Taiwanese will be the main victims if the MOTC implements the two measures, given that in 2017 Taiwan nationals made 15 million outbound trips, with only 10 million inbound trips.

Meanwhile, ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislative caucus secretary-general Lee Chun-yi (李俊俋) tried to calm concerns, explaining that the countermeasures exist only on paper and will undergo further detailed evaluation.

Alex Y.L. Lu (盧衍良), an associate professor at Kainan University, said the government should conduct an overall assessment if it wants to achieve political objectives by unilaterally adjusting foreign airline time slots at Taiwan's airports.

According to Lu, the International Air Transport Association conducts two rounds of negotiations every year to help airlines around the world arrange flight schedules in summer and winter.

In addition, denying airlines the use of jet bridges at Taiwan's airports will greatly erode the quality of service provided by the airports, a fact the government should consider carefully, he urged.

(By Wang Cheng-chung and Flor Wang)