Unprecedented airline talks between China and Taiwan seemed to reach a deadlock today over the question of how to return the Taiwanese jumbo jet cargo plane that has been in China, along with two crew members, ever since the pilot flew it there two weeks ago to defect.
After a second day of negotiations, representatives from Taiwan's China Air Lines (CAL) said they rejected for a second time a proposal from the Communist side that CAL send a delegation to Guangzhou, formerly Canton, in southern China, to recover the Boeing 747 and the crew members.
The CAL representatives said they rejected the Communist proposal because they feared for their safety in Guangzhou.
Independent analysts said, however, that the real reason for CAL's rejection was likely to be a fear of showing weakness and giving in to the Communist demand on the site for delivery of the plane. Another reason, they said, may have been Taiwan's fear that the Communists are trying to drag out the process.
Today's 1 1/2-hour meeting was held at the Hong Kong Club. The representatives from CAL and the Civil Aviation Administration of China have been trying to keep their meeting places secret, but they were discovered by more than 100 local and foreign reporters and photographers. The two sides agreed to meet again Monday.
Foreign diplomats said both sides were under pressure to act reasonably in the talks -- China because it wants to appear capable of carrying on more substantive negotiations later and Taiwan because public opinion there strongly favors making every effort to get back the plane's crew members stranded on the mainland.