The Chinese mainland hopes Taiwan authorities will consider public demand and add extra flights across the Taiwan Straits during the Spring Festival in January, which will make it easier for Taiwan people on the mainland to return home during the busy holiday, a Chinese mainland spokesman said on Wednesday.
"It is now an established fact that the Taiwan civil aviation authority has explicitly refused the proposal," said Ma Xiaoguang, spokesman for the State Council Taiwan Affairs Office, in response to a reporter's question about whether Taiwan is still considering the idea.
"If the Taiwan side says they haven't refused the proposal, and is still considering it, that will be very good, and we hope they will contact our civil aviation authority to discuss the details," Ma said.
Last year, the Taiwan authority refused to approve 176 additional cross-Straits flights operated by China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines due to security concerns, leaving around 50,000 Taiwan people struggling to return home and reunite with family relatives during China's most important family gathering festival, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Adding cross-Straits flights for the festival has been a regular practice since 2008 when direct flights between the two sides began, Xinhua said.
On Wednesday, Ma also criticized the Taiwan authorities, led by the Democratic Progressive Party, for "slandering and lying to the Taiwan people" about new measures launched by the Chinese mainland last week to benefit Taiwan residents and businesses, collectively known as the"26 measures".
The new rules have 13 beneficial items for Taiwan businesses, promising them greater access and involvement in the Chinese mainland's telecommunication, aviation and financial industries. The other 13 items are dedicated to granting Taiwan people who are living and working on the mainland equal treatment as mainland residents.
The new plan is meant to supplement the "31 measures" unveiled in last February. However, Taiwan authorities have negatively reacted to both programs, calling them a ploy to divide Taiwan and influence the island's leadership election in January.
The island's economic authorities even promised to take countermeasures within two weeks in response to the new measures and will enact stricter investigations on Taiwan businesses and companies that try to invest on the mainland.
"The DPP's taking various so-called countermeasures to limit Taiwan compatriots will harm the interest of the Taiwan people," Ma said.
"This goes against the fundamental interests of Taiwan people and will not be accepted by Taiwan compatriots."
Ma said the previous measures have been welcomed by Taiwan residents, and the new measures will bring more opportunities to the Taiwan people. The interests of the people should come first, he said.
"The DPP will not win the hearts of the public by threatening or punishing its own people."