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Taiwan to keep tabs on airspace after Chinese flight route opens
【Politics】2015-03-20  22:24:19
Taipei, March 20 (CNA) Taiwan's military said Friday it will closely monitor the Taiwan Strait after China launches a controversial new flight route along the body of water separating the two sides at the end of this month.

The military will make sure preparations are in place before China begins using the north-south route dubbed M503 on March 29 and keep watching movements over the strait afterwards, Defense Ministry Spokesman Maj. Gen. Lou Shou-he said.

Taiwan's military is fully aware of activities above the strait, Lou added.

Meanwhile, the head of Taiwan's top China policy planner assured safety will not be a problem after the flight route is launched.

Mainland Affairs Council Minister Andrew Hsia noted that the flight route poses no danger to Taiwan for the time being, saying it is for non-military aviation.

China announced in January the creation of the north-south route and three east-west routes -- W121, W122 and W123 -- that connect with it, to ease air traffic congestion along its southeast coast and meet the increasing demand for air travel in the mainland.

It had planned to launch the four routes on March 5.

But Taiwan strongly opposed the plan, saying it was not adequately consulted beforehand, and raised concerns the new routes would jeopardise the safety of Taiwan's flights in the area.

Following a meeting in Shanghai, Taiwan's government announced on March 2 that Beijing would delay launching the M503 north-south route, and not open the three east-west paths at this stage.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Scully Hsiao)
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