China’s military drills that disrupted air traffic around Taiwan last month is one of the reasons for the nation to be included in the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), government officials said yesterday.
The ICAO is to hold its triennial assembly from Tuesday next week to Oct. 7 at its Montreal headquarters, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary-General Lily Hsu (徐儷文) told a news conference in Taipei.
The organization’s 193 member states, as well as a large number of international organizations, have been invited to attend, but Taiwan has yet to receive an invitation, Hsu said.
As this year’s assembly is themed “Reconnecting the World,” Hsu called on the ICAO to practice professional neutrality by inviting Taiwan to the gathering.
In this way, the organization can achieve its objectives of making global air transport safe, efficient and economic, instead of denying Taiwan access due to political reasons, Hsu added.
Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) Director-General Lin Kuo-shian (林國顯) said Taiwan is one of the busiest air transport hubs in the region.
The Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR) provided navigation services to more than 1.85 million flights and saw the number of air travelers arriving, departing or transiting reach 72 million in 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic, Lin said.
Technical, professional and pragmatic considerations mean that Taiwan urgently needs to establish direct communication with the ICAO, and obtain the latest rules and regulations so that it can ensure the safety of air passengers and cargo, he said.
The importance of including Taiwan in the ICAO became evident when China launched unprecedented live-fire military drills in six maritime zones around Taiwan last month, Lin said.
From Aug. 4 to 7, the Chinese military conducted naval and aerial exercises, and fired multiple ballistic missiles into waters near Taiwan, following a visit by US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taipei.
As the drills were announced at a short notice, hundreds of flights near Taiwan had to be canceled or rerouted, Lin said.
As Taiwan lacks direct communication channels with the ICAO, the nation’s aviation authorities could only contact Japanese and Philippine FIRs to reroute flights, he said.
Lin said he has written a letter to the ICAO Council president expressing the nation’s desire to join the upcoming assembly, but has received no response.
CAA Deputy Director-General Lin Jiunn-liang (林俊良) is to lead a delegation to Montreal to attend a number of side events to be held by Taiwan’s representative office in Canada to promote Taiwan’s inclusion in the ICAO, he added.
Lin Jiunn-liang is scheduled to meet officials from friendly countries and diplomatic allies to discuss aviation safety issues, he said.
Taiwan previously attended the assembly in 2013 as a guest of the ICAO Council president, the first time that the nation’s representatives had attended the gathering in 42 years, due to warming cross-strait relations under the then-Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government.
However, it was not invited to the gatherings in 2016 and 2019 after President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) of the Democratic Progressive Party took office.
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