China mulls allowing transit stops in Taiwan

Andrew Hsia (centre), chairman of Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council, walks with officials as he visits the Huanghuagang 72 Martyrs' Cemetery, during a meeting in Guangzhou, Guangdong province, China, on October 14, 2015.

Chinese mainland authorities are considering allowing residents to travel on from Taiwan for the first time, the State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office announced on Tuesday.

Flight transfers through Taiwan's Taoyuan International Airport will first be limited to flights to or from the cities of Jiangxi province's Nanchang, Yunnan's Kunming and Chongqing municipality, the authority said in a statement.

No documents will be needed for mainland residents before flying on to third destinations except the usual passports, boarding passes and air tickets, the office announced. Mainland passengers in transit will not be allowed to exit the airport, it said.

The mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits will contact Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, and the transfers will be put into operation after preparatory work, it said.

Mainland residents have been allowed to travel to Taiwan but are not allowed to travel on from there to other destinations. Airlines from both sides operate between the mainland and Taiwan.

Ni Yongjie, deputy director of the Shanghai Institute of Taiwan Studies, said the change is another step toward normalizing travel arrangements between the two sides, and follows the launch last week of the first telephone hotline connecting the heads of the two agencies responsible for cross-Straits ties.

In his New Year greetings on Dec 31, Zhang Zhijun, head of State Council's Taiwan Affairs Office, said people from both sides benefited from steady progress in cross-Straits ties in 2015.

Ni said cross-Straits relations are at a critical stage with the approaching leadership election in Taiwan on Jan 16.

"With increasing co-operation and exchanges, we could say people from both sides are working toward the peaceful development of cross-Straits ties," he said.