China has opened four new aviation corridors over the Taiwan Strait, prompting Taiwan to howl in protest and subsequently demand talks with Beijing.
The mainland’s Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) recently announced that beginning on Thursday, commercial aircraft could start flying south to north through the M503 air corridor, and using three connecting regional corridors.
The move is said to ensure aviation safety as aircrafts flying through the aforementioned corridors would avoid current aviation routes to and from Taiwan’s outlying islands of Matsu and Kinmen.
The CAAC also stated that it would keep up “technical communications with the Taiwanese side.”
However, Taiwan responded by filing a protest.
“We find China’s unilateral decision unacceptable,” said Deputy Minister of Transportation and Communications, Frank Fan.
Mainland Affairs Council Minister Katharine Chang divulged that her organization had expressed “strong discontent and protest” to China, and asked China to instantly withdraw permission for aircraft to utilize those corridors. She also said that they have urged negotiations immediately begin to ensure aviation safety.
“If China continues to do only what it wishes, it must shoulder all serious consequences that might affect cross-strait relations,” said Chang.
Back in January of 2015, China announced the opening of four aviation corridors over the Taiwan Strait. It said it was doing this to ease increasing air traffic over the massively populated east coast of the mainland.
But after months of talks, China agreed to postpone the launch of the M503 corridor by a few weeks. It also agreed that all aircraft would fly in just one direction which is north to south, and would fly at least six nautical miles to the west of the center line through the Taiwan Strait.
However, after President Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office in May 2016, Beijing unilaterally halted official contact with Taipei, putting an end to the cross-strait rapprochement under her predecessor Ma Ying-jeou, who was elected on a platform of seeking friendlier ties with China.
Chang said China’s decision to launch the four new aviation corridors for violates the 2015 agreement, and also uses commercial aviation to conceal its political and even military agenda to amend the status quo of the Taiwan Strait.
The four new routes are proximate to Taiwan’s military exercise zones, with two very near to Taiwan aviation routes to Kinmen and Matsu.
China claimed increased traffic on existing air routes for the establishment of the new air corridors. But Fan cast doubt on China’s intention, stating that aviation figures indicate only 60 to 70 aircraft on average, fly the M503 route every day.