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U.K. parliamentarians concerned over Chinese fighter jets' incursion

2019/04/20 13:11:06

Image taken from Pixabay for illustrative purpose only

London, April 19 (CNA) The British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group expressed concern this week over China's fighter jets recently crossing the median line of the Taiwan Strait, and said such a move endangered regional peace.

In a joint statement released on Thursday, U.K. Member of Parliament Nigel Evans and Lord Rogan, deputy speaker of the House of Lords, said the intentional crossing of the Chinese fighter jets over the median line of the Taiwan Strait, a maritime boundary that has been abided by Taiwan and China for years, has damaged the cross-strait status quo.

"We are seriously concerned about the rise of tension in cross-strait relations," Evans and Rogan said as co-chairs of the group. "It is evident that regional peace and stability is at stake."

The co-chairs said that the prosperity and stability across the Taiwan Strait were "hugely important to the East Asian region and the world as a whole" and stressed that maintaining peace in the region was in the common interest of all parties concerned.

"Any unilateral attempts to disrupt the status quo are harmful and do not contribute to cross-strait stability," the co-chairs said.

On March 31, two J-11 fighter planes from China's People's Liberation Army crossed the median line of the Taiwan Strait south-west of Penghu.

Taiwan's Air Force scrambled several fighters and intercepted the Chinese jets, which retreated to the west side of the median line after they were issued a radio warning, according to Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND).

According to local media, the incident triggered a 10-minute standoff between Taiwan's and China's warplanes.

Air Force Officer Wang Chun-hsiung (王純雄) told CNA that Taiwan's military had standard procedures for dealing with such incidents and will dispatch surveillance units if China's military aircraft enter Taiwan's air defense identification zone or cross the median line in the strait.

The incident was part of actions by Beijing to warn Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) against taking measures that would further distance the two sides or lead to eventual formal independence. Since she came into office in May 2016, Tsai has refused to accept the 1992 consensus, a tacit agreement reached by both sides' government in 1992 under which they agreed there was only one China. Instead, Tsai has built closer ties with the United States.

Taiwan's previous administration under the Kuomintang party accepted the agreement and interpreted it to mean each side was free to define what that China was. As a result, relations between Beijing and Taipei reached the best level they had been since the end of the Chinese civil war in 1949.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Chi Jo-yao)
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