Three Links

The Three Links or Three Linkages (Chinese: 三通; pinyin: sān tōng) are direct postal (通郵 tōng yu), transportation (especially airline) (通航 tōng hng), and trade (通商 tōng shāng) links between Mainland China and Taiwan. Since the end of major combat operations of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, all such contact had been routed through intermediate destinations, mainly via Hong Kong or Macau.

The Little Three Links or Mini Three Links (小三通; xiǎo sān tōng) are postal, transportation, and trade links between Fujian province and the islands of Quemoy and Matsu. Activity via the "Mini Links" has grown rapidly since they were created in 2001, but it remains a small part of overall trade.

In early 2003, the Republic of China government permitted its air carriers to ferry Chinese New Year passengers back and forth across the Strait by way of "indirect charter flights" that touched down briefly in Hong Kong or Macau. The ROC and People's Republic of China did not repeat the charter flights during the 2004 Chinese New Year, in part because the two sides could not agree on the terms for meetings to discuss how PRC carriers might also participate.

Missing image
On January 29, 2005, China Airlines flight CAL581 landed in Beijing.

The two sides agree to permit cross-strait flights for the Chinese New Year of Rooster in 2005. Unlike the 2003 flights, the 2005 flights will not have to touch down in Hong Kong or Macau, but still must enter its airspace. The first direct commercial flights from the mainland China (from Guangzhou) to Taiwan since 1949 arrived in Taipei on January 29, 2005. Shortly afterwards, a China Airlines carrier landed in Beijing. Airports on both sides saw ceremonial displays on the arrival of the first passengers, with dancing lions and dragons, and officials making speeches. For the three week holiday period, 48 flights are scheduled.

Disputes over the Three Links

While the PRC and ROC agree in principle on opening the Three Links, the current administration led by President Chen Shui-bian has expressed reservations. According to the Mainland Affairs Council of the ROC, the current major obstacle resides in PRC's one-China position which does not recognize the sovereignty of the ROC. In an statement from MAC, it states that the Three links would only be considered when the PRC stops its animosity against ROC sovereignty and improved the cross-strait relationships.[1] (

The PRC government considers the cross strait flights as domestic flight, according to the One China Policy. However, the ROC government in Taiwan regard this position the same as recognising Taiwan (ROC) as a part of the PRC and thus would compromise the ROC sovereignty. During the period of the direct charter flights, the PRC state media stressed that they were domestic flights, whereas the ROC government stressed that they were international flights.

The Pan-Green Coalition in Taiwan also pointed out the potential compromise on the national security in the case of three links, suggesting the PRC could disguise troop carriers as commercial aircraft to invade Taiwan. This has been met by criticism from both the PRC and Pan-Blue Coalition.

In 2004, Beijing declared an cross-strait expressway project linking Beijing to Taipei connecting the two sides of the Taiwan Straits together. However, due to the potential unrealistic technical difficulties, Taipei considers this move as a political propaganda.

The Three Links are mentioned in the Anti-Secession Law of the People's Republic of China.

See also

References and external links


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