Tue, Feb 11, 2020 - Page 1 News List

MAC protests ‘provocative’ flights

By Lu Yi-hsuan and Dennis Xie  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer and CNA

A handout photograph from the Ministry of National Defense shows a Chinese H-6 bomber, bottom, flying over the Bashi Channel yesterday as a Taiwanese F-16, top, approaches, before the Chinese aircraft returned to its base.

Photo: EPA-EFE

The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) yesterday issued a stern protest to China over “provocative” maneuvers by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) aircraft in the Taiwan Strait for a second consecutive day, the first time in nearly a year that PLA planes crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait into Taiwan’s airspace.

The Chinese Communist Party should be devoting all its energies to containing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, the council said.

“It was not a wise move at a time like this,” it said.

The council demanded that China not try to stir up nationalist sentiment at home with attempts at military intimidation of Taiwan in an attempt to divert domestic attention away from the increasing numbers of coronavirus cases.

The Ministry of National Defense, which scrambled its F-16 jets for a second day yesterday, identified the aircraft as “a certain number of H-6 bombers and escort planes.”

They flew over the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan and into the Western Pacific Ocean at about 10am before returning to their bases via the same route as part of a long-distance training session, the ministry said.

The Chinese escort briefly crossed the Taiwan Strait median line and entered Taiwan’s airspace, but retreated to the western side of the line after Taiwanese military aircraft, including F-16s, issued multiple radio warnings, the ministry said.

Chinese J-11 fighters, KJ-500 early warning aircraft and H-6 bombers on Sunday flew over the Bashi Channel and into the Western Pacific Ocean before returning to their bases via the Miyako Strait northeast of Taiwan, the ministry said.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said military actions at this point were “unnecessary.”

“My message to China is to control the spread of the disease as early as possible to let the global tensions surrounding the epidemic be defused,” she said.

Two candidates in the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) chairperson by-election were among the party members who weighed in on the Chinese flights.

Former Taipei mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌) said in a Facebook post that “goodwill should be the foundation of [cross-strait] exchanges and cooperation,” while KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said that such “petty actions” would only harm the feelings of Taiwanese.

The world is now focusing on disease prevention and China especially, should be, said KMT Legislator Wu Sz-huai (吳斯懷), a retired lieutenant general who has aroused controversies over his actions on visits to China.

Anything other than that would be “inappropriate,” Wu said.

Additional reporting by Lee Jung-ping and Lin Liang-sheng

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