|| Some of the members of the 10th National CPPCC Committee are from Taiwan. For these members, the hot button issue is the "three direct links", namely, direct mail, transport and trade between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan. How do they see the progress towards that goal and where are the problems？
A particular meeting room of the ongoing CPPCC conference seats a special group of representatives. Although they have lived and worked in the mainland for many years, nearly all of them originate from Taiwan. Over the years, they have been strong advocates for the realization of "three direct links". For them, the start of the cross－Straits indirect charter flights earlier this year came as an encouraging sign and offered a glimmer of hope for the long awaited "direct transport" service.
Chen Zhengtong, standing committee member of Taiwan Democratic Self－government League, said: "Though the flight did little to save time and money for passengers, it is an ice－breaking event in cross-Strait relations."
According Mr. Chen, all the six airlines see the flight as a "qualifying exam" to embark on a route that could well be paved with gold.
Chen's view is shared by many of his counterparts. Zhang Yan, secretary general of the Fujian Branch of All－China Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, is a key figure in promoting a pilot program of direct shipping between Fuzhou and Xiamen city in Fujian province and Jinmen and Mawei islands, both close to Taiwan. The service started in early 2001 and Mr. Zhang says that by the end of last year, more than 86,000 passengers had used it.
Zhang Yan,, secretary general of Fujian Federation of Taiwan Compatriots, said: "Though the shipping service between the four cities is a step forward, it's still a distance from direct flight. To top it all off, the direct flight will greatly benefit the people as well as trade. It would be irresponsible for the Taiwan authority if it didn't meet the will of the people."
It took people from across the Strait more than 50 years to see the start of an indirect charter flight and one that is regrettably far from perfect. With calls for direct flights getting ever stronger, the Taiwan authority must ultimately face up to it. It is the wish of people from both sides that a regular direct transport service will be provided in the not too distant future.