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Taiwan wants U.S. intervention over China flight route controversy

2015/01/15 12:36:47

Taipei, Jan. 15 (CNA) The government hopes the United States will push Beijing to continue to negotiate with Taipei on China's plan to open new flight routes over the Taiwan Strait, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) said Thursday.

The unilateral move by China is totally unacceptable to Taiwan, and the government has expressed its objection through the United States and other countries, Lin said during a legislative hearing.

Because Beijing has yet to file a formal application with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the plan can still be changed, he said.

Acting Transport Minister Chen Jian-yu (陳建宇), meanwhile, said there is still time for communication with China before the plan is implemented on March 5.

Prior to China's announcement, the two sides had met twice, without reaching a consensus, Chen said.

Earlier in the week, Beijing unilaterally announced that it is planning to open a new north-south route M503 -- west of the median line of the Taiwan Strait -- and three east-west routes -- W121, W122 and W123 -- that connect with it.

According to Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA), route M503 is too close to the Taipei Flight Information Region, a key air transport hub in the West Pacific, while routes W121, W122 and W123 could affect flights between Taiwan and its outlying islands of Kinmen and Matsu, which are located just a few kilometers off the coast of China.

When asked about the matter during a daily press briefing Wednesday, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said that "our primary focus is on maintaining and enhancing internantional aviation safety."

"We do encourage China to engage and consult with the parties affected by the newly declared air routes in the Taiwan Strait to ensure that air safety concerns are addressed," Harf said.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Lu Hsin-hui, Angela Tsai and Y.F. Low)
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Related stories:
●Jan. 15: Taiwan submits objection to new Chinese flight routes to ICAO
●Jan. 14: China's opening of new flight routes unwise: Macau expert
●Jan. 13: Taiwan objects to China's newly planned flight routes