Taiwan's de facto ambassador to Washington, Joseph Wu (
Wu said the plan threatens the "status quo" and called on Washington to speak out against it.
Wu raised the issue during a speech at the Heritage Foundation think tank, elevating it to a matter of foreign policy concern.
"I think we all need to stand up to China and tell Beijing that it is threatening the `status quo' across the Taiwan Strait," Wu said.
"And if we speak out against China, then China might learn that threatening the `status quo' ... may not be conducive to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait," he said.
The US State Department had no immediate comment on Wu's remarks about the air route, but questions have been raised in Washington over the Bush administration's willingness to assist Taipei this time, given recent Taiwan-US political strains.
Nevertheless, it was believed that the State Department was working on some response to the Chinese initiative.
Beijing recently filed a formal application with the International Civil Aviation Organization's (ICAO) Asian regional office in Bangkok to initiate regular service on Jan. 1.
Based on the plan, flights would run some 4.2 nautical miles (7.8km) west of the centerline.
Since the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is in charge of China's civilian aviation and airspace, the bid to operate regularly on Taiwan's side of the strait is seen as a militarily provocative move, rather than simply a civilian transportation action.
In addition, the planned flights could pose a safety hazard as they would cross existing flight paths between the offshore islands of Matsu and Kinmen and Taiwan proper.
"I think China's behavior is reckless," Wu told academics, former government officials and journalists during his presentation.
He said that China's Civil Aviation Administration has already issued a press release saying that the Central Military Commission and the State Council had approved the route.
The press release was made late last month and the military commission approved the plan early this month.
President Chen Shui-bian (
Chen also said that Beijing was seeking ICAO's blessing to create a so-called "Air Defense Identification Zone" within the Strait to limit the entry of foreign aircraft in a bid to prevent Japan and the US from spying on China.
The air traffic route would be in an area of heavy traffic in the air and at sea.
"It's not only dangerous, but also threatens to change the international `status quo' over the Taiwan Strait," Wu said.
As Taiwan is not a member of ICAO, it cannot communicate its concerns directly with the body and has been unable to determine how far Beijing's application has gone in the approval process.
Wu said that Taiwan's exclusion from the global aviation organization was "painful" and that it prevented Taipei from getting "any kind of information" from the organization.
Officials in Taiwan have said Taipei found out about the Chinese plan indirectly through Hong Kong authorities.
"What we are trying to do right now is tell our friends that this [Beijing's planned route] changes the `status quo' in the Taiwan Strait, that it threatens regional peace and security and compromises Taiwan's ability to defend itself," Wu said.
"Some friendly countries have been helping Taiwan in this regard, but we have yet to learn of any specific progress on this issue," he said.
He did not provide details on Washington's response to Taiwan's entreaties.
The Nelson Report, a well-connected Washington insider newsletter, wrote recently that while "it is the United States that usually supports Taipei in organizations like the ICAO when there is a real problem, this looks like it might be a real problem, nibbling away at the island's [sic] strategic depth."
"But [Chen's] approach to the current elections campaign, and Washington's belief that he has paid too little attention to American security interests, may have reduced greatly our [US] incentive to carry Taiwan's water's in ICAO," it said.
"Given Chen's machinations, [the] State [Department] is afraid that anything they do to support Taiwan's legitimate international space just gets twisted by the dark greens," a source has said.
Washington is also smarting from the USS Kitty Hawk incident, in which China denied the aircraft carrier group last month a Thanksgiving port holiday in Hong Kong, purportedly in retaliation for massive US arms sales to Taiwan, after which the group sailed up the Taiwan Strait in apparent revenge for the Chinese snub.
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