Defend aviation safety, diplomat tells Canadians

By Jonathan Chin  /  Staff writer, with CNA

Fri, Jan 12, 2018 - Page 3

Representative to Canada Kung Chung-chen (龔中誠) on Wednesday urged the Canadian government to side with Taiwan against China’s unilateral launch of flight routes near Taiwanese airspace.

In an opinion piece in the Hill Times, a news weekly that covers Canadian politics, Kung said that China’s new flight paths have “severely affected aviation safety in the region.”

“President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has called upon China to open negotiations with Taiwan immediately and to assume more responsibility for the region’s security,” he wrote.

US government has also demanded that China “engage in constructive dialogue” with Taiwan on the issue, he said.

The Chinese government allowed northbound flights on the M503 route and opened the W121, W122 and W123 East-West extension routes without prior consultation with Taiwan, he said, adding that the flight paths pose a danger to aviation safety and compromise Taiwan’s national security.

“The M503 flight path is close to Taipei Flight Information Region and Taiwanese air force training areas, while the W122 and W123 routes pass by Kinmen and Matsu islands, parts of Taiwan’s territory and important points to the country’s defense,” he wrote.

The Taiwan government is “gravely concerned” about these actions, which China undertook in violation of an agreement negotiated in March 2015 between the Taipei Airlines Association and the China Air Transport Association, Kung said.

In the agreement, China pledged it would use the M503 route only for southbound traffic and that it would not activate the other routes without further consultation with Taiwan, he said.

The flight paths across the Taiwan Strait compromise the safety of 60,000 Canadian citizens living in Taiwan and the 200,000 people who travel between Taiwan and Canada each year, he said.

Air Canada and two Taiwanese airlines each week operate 28 direct flights between Taipei, and Vancouver and Toronto, he said.

The Canadian government should demand that China adhere to the rules set by the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), Kung said.

“I do hope Canadian officials will urge China to conform to the principles and regulations of the ICAO, and help maintain aviation safety and the ‘status quo’ in the Taiwan Strait,” he wrote.