Transit step 'a sign China interfering with Taiwan elections'

TAIPEI • China's move to allow transit stops in Taiwan for onward flights for the first time is a sign that Beijing is trying to interfere with Taiwan's upcoming presidential elections, the opposition party favoured to win the polls has said.

China's Taiwan Affairs Office said passengers flying from Nanchang, Kunming and Chongqing would be allowed to transit through Taiwan's main international airport before flying to a third destination.

The news came just a few days before Taiwan is expected to elect a president from the independence- leaning Democratic Progressive Party on Jan 16. The ruling Kuomintang (KMT), which is China-friendly, is falling behind in opinion polls.

"China, for sure, is doing this to give the KMT a boost in the elections," said DPP lawmaker Chen Chi-mai yesterday.

"It seems China is trying to dominate future Taiwan-China ties."

Both sides across the Taiwan Strait have been ruled separately since defeated nationalist forces fled to the island in 1949 after losing a civil war to the communists.

Beijing has never renounced the use of force to bring the island of 23 million people back under its control, particularly if it were to make moves towards formal independence.

The two sides had been discussing the transit plan, which proponents said could prove a boon for Taiwan airlines, by giving them more business from mainland passengers.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2016, with the headline 'Transit step 'a sign China interfering with Taiwan elections''. Print Edition | Subscribe