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Cross-Strait contact unaffected by change of guard

Updated: Feb 11,2015 4:59 PM     Xinhua

BEIJING — The resignation of Taiwan’s mainland affairs chief Wang Yu-chi will not affect normalization of the cross-Strait contact mechanism, said a mainland official on Feb 11.

Regular communication between the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office and Taiwan’s mainland affairs committee was established during Wang’s tenure.

The mainland will not comment on the island government’s personnel change, Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, said at a news conference.

Wang announced his resignation on Feb 10, taking responsibility for forcing his former deputy to quit in August over allegations that he had leaked official secrets.

At a news conference announcing his decision, Wang said he felt sorry for the turmoil caused by the case involving Chang Hsien-yao.

Wang’s resignation came shortly after Taipei prosecutors said earlier on Feb 10 that they would not indict Chang for allegedly leaking secrets to the Chinese mainland because of a lack of evidence.

Expressing his disappointment, Wang said he disagreed with the prosecutors’ view but had no choice but to respect it.

Spokesman Ma said the mainland hopes to continue to communicate with Taiwan’s mainland affairs committee on a planned visit by Zhang Zhijun, head of the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, to Kinmen. The visit has been delayed, as both the mainland and Taiwan need to focus on the aftermath of the plane crash in Taipei on Feb 4.

Zhang was originally scheduled to meet with Wang on Feb 7-8.

However, Taiwan’s mainland affairs committee claimed that the meeting’s delay was linked to disagreements on a new flight path over the Taiwan Strait.

At the news conference on Feb 11, Ma said the M503 flight route was agreed upon through negotiations between the aviation authorities of the two sides, and that the mainland has made a gesture of good will in order to reach a deal.

The flight route, which can be used from March 5, was designed in cooperation with the United States and other countries, and approved by the International Civil Aviation Organization, he said.

M503 was set within the Shanghai Flight Information Region instead of the Taipei region, and it maintains a safe distance from the Taipei region and will not affect the region’s status quo, according to Ma.

“The Taiwan side’s concerns should dissolve,” he said, adding the mainland makes prearranged planning and emergence response plans to ensure flight safety.

The new route is designed to relieve the pressure of increased flights around Shanghai and the Pearl River Delta in south China. Ma said he hoped the Taiwan side understood the need for such an important route.

Responding to a question whether Wang’s resignation and the delayed Zhang-Wang meeting will affect the water channeling project from the mainland to Taiwan’s Kinmen, Ma said both sides should continue working towards signing a deal to alleviate Kinmen’s water shortage.

As for the TransAsia Airlines crash, Ma said the mainland will maintain close contact with Taiwan to “reflect victims’ relatives’ reasonable wishes and appeals” and assist with compensation.

Three mainland experts arrived in Taiwan on Feb 10 to participate in the investigation of the accident.