Sat, Jan 06, 2018 - Page 1 News List

US concerned about PRC flight routes

TAIWAN STRAIT:The US opposes any unilateral actions by either side to alter the cross-strait ‘status quo,’ and encourages dialogue based on dignity and respect

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

Civil Aeronautics Administration Air Traffic Services Division Director Shiue Shao-yi yesterday displays the four new air routes used by China since Thursday at a news conference at the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taipei.

Photo: Cheng Wei-chi, Taipei Times

The US yesterday expressed its opposition to any unilateral action to change the cross-strait “status quo,” after China reneged on a 2015 cross-strait agreement and unilaterally activated four Taiwan Strait aviation routes.

“We are concerned about reports that Beijing has modified the use of civil aviation flight routes in the Taiwan Strait without consultation with Taiwan authorities,” American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) spokeswoman Sonia Urbom said.

Issues related to civil aviation and safety in the Taiwan Strait should be decided through dialogue between both sides, she said.

The AIT made the remarks one day after the Mainland Affairs Council — the government agency tasked with handling cross-strait affairs — strongly protested Beijing’s activation of the four aviation routes.

Criticizing the one-sided move as China’s attempt to cover its malicious military and political intentions toward Taiwan under the pretext of civil aviation, the council on Thursday said it would inform the US and the International Civil Aviation Organization about the situation.

The four routes are northbound flights on the main M503 route, which is very close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait, as well as three intersecting extension routes — W121, W122 and W123 — along the southeast coast of China.

The launch of the routes was in direct violation of an agreement reached by both sides in 2015 under which only southbound flights on route M503 would be permitted and the activation of the three extension routes would not come until after further negotiations had been completed.

Reiterating Washington’s official stance on cross-strait relations, Urbom said the US opposed any unilateral actions by either side of the Taiwan Strait to alter the cross-strait “status quo.”

“We encourage authorities in Beijing and Taipei to engage in constructive dialogue, on the basis of dignity and respect,” she added.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday on Twitter called on China to uphold the “status quo,” saying Beijing’s unilateral action is destabilizing and should be avoided.

China’s actions, “including the M503 flight route and increased military exercises,” are destabilizing and undermine regional stability, she said.

She pledged that Taiwan would continue to uphold the “status quo” across the Taiwan Strait and urged “all parties to do the same.”

Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the National Security Council earlier yesterday met to discuss the effects of China’s decision to open the M503 route to northbound commercial flights.

They said the move contravenes the 2015 agreement between China and Taiwan that opened the M503 route to southbound commercial traffic.

The council found that China’s action had unilaterally changed the “status quo,” as well as severely affecting peace and stability in East Asia, causing increased tension in the region, Huang said.

The council would monitor the situation closely, and work with all parties to ensure national and regional security, he said.

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