A Mainland Affairs Council official questioned the need for a Beijing-Taipei rail link in light of existing efforts to improve cross-strait transportation
Taiwanese officials responded with caution to this announcement.
Chinese Minister of Railways Liu Zhijun was quoted as saying that Beijing was ‘actively planning’ the rail link whereas, Presidential Office Spokesman Wang Yu-chi said China would have to take professional and political aspects into consideration.
Wang declined to comment further.
‘The railway network is expected to lay a foundation of transport infrastructure for the cross-strait economic zone,’ Xinhua quoted Liu as saying.
If it happens — and that is a big if — the rail line could stretch across the body of water between Xiamen, a city in the southeastern Chinese province of Fujian, and Taiwan. No one was willing to make a guess at how trains would cross the 180km Taiwan Strait but both tunnels and bridges are theoretically possible.
Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Liu Te-shun cast doubt on the need for a cross-strait railroad, saying that both sides of the Strait were making efforts to improve transportation links, including sea, air and postal links.
Regular flights will also be on the agenda at the third session of high-level cross-strait talks scheduled for sometime in the next few months, he said, adding that cross-strait transportation links already had a ‘solid foundation.’
As China has previously proposed building a freeway to Taiwan, Liu Te-shun said it was necessary for both sides to ‘shorten the psychological distance.’
He said it was also debatable whether there was any need for a ‘cross-strait economic zone.’
What mattered more was building a better investment environment and protecting the interests of Taiwanese businesses based in China, Liu Te-shun said.
When approached for comment, Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Huang Wei-cher said he opposed the cross-strait railway idea because it would put Taiwan in an unfavorable strategic position.
The railway plan was also illogical, as focusing on air links between Beijing and Taipei would be a better way of improving cross-strait trade ties, Huang said.
Taipei Times reported that Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chang Hsien-yao said current transportation links between Taiwan and China and the regular cross-strait charter flights the two nations plan to discuss would be sufficient to satisfy the needs of both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Building a railway between Taipei and Beijing in a bid to boost cross-strait trade ties would be ‘uneconomic,’ he said.
Regarding the Kinmen County Government’s plan to build a bridge from Kinmen to Xiamen, Liu Te-shun said his understanding was that the Council for Economic Planning and Development had decided ‘in principle not to build it.’
Wang said the Presidential Office respected the council’s decision.
President Ma Ying-jeou old local residents during his inspection trip to Kinmen last year that, although there should not be any technical problem building the proposed Kindeng Bridge, he would like them to consider the political implications and effectiveness of building a bridge to China.
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