Taiwan protests unilateral launch of mainland China flight routes in Taiwan Strait
TAIPEI – Taiwan has formally protested a unilateral decision by China to launch four new flight routes – a northbound route known as M503 and three referred to as ‘east-west extension routes’ in the Taiwan Strait. Taiwan’s Government said China initiated the four routes on January 4 without prior communication with Taiwan and began flights the same day.
“Taiwan believes this action violates the negotiation results reached between the Taipei Airlines Association and China Air Transport Association in March 2015, when mainland China repeatedly pledged to use the M503 route only for one-way southbound flights, and not to activate the W (east-west extension) flight routes until after confirmation through further negotiations,” a statement from Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
“The unilateral launch of these routes also runs entirely counter to international civil aviation regulations, disregards aviation safety, and disrespects Taiwan. The ROC Government calls on all parties not to use these flight routes, as serious safety concerns remain.”
Taiwan’s President, Tsai Ing-wen, on January 7 convened a meeting of Taiwan’s National Security Council to review developments in East Asia – “including the situation with North Korea, tensions throughout the region caused by mainland China’s frequent military actions, and Beijing’s one-sided launch of these flight routes”.
Following the meeting, the statement said, President Tsai issued the following points:
"The unilateral launch of controversial aviation routes is a provocation impacting regional security.
"The activation of these contentious routes has not only severely influenced regional security and flight safety, but constitutes a political and military threat to Taiwan, and as such destabilises the region. As a member of the regional community, mainland China has a duty to preserve regional stability, and such actions are irresponsible.
"Taiwan will continue to strengthen its national security.
"Taiwan will minimise the risks to national security while maximising regional co-operation in the face of regional challenges and tension-raising developments.
"Taiwan will defend the nation’s core values of freedom and democracy.
"The ROC military will bolster its ability to comprehensively monitor and respond to mainland China’s military maneuvering.
"Taiwan will communicate fully with the international community.
"The one-sided launch of controversial flight routes without prior negotiation by the Beijing authorities endangers aviation safety and upsets the status quo across the Taiwan Strait.
"Beijing should fulfill its responsibilities to the region and resume negotiations with Taiwan promptly."
The statement concludes: “To resolve the negative impact of this move on regional stability, aviation safety, and cross-strait relations, Taiwan is ready to act responsibly and co-operatively.
“Taiwan calls on the Beijing authorities to cherish hard-won peaceful and stable cross-strait relations.”