Taiwan concerned as China alters air routes near Taiwan Strait

Taiwan protests the move, citing concerns over potential military implications and a breach of the established status quo in the Taiwan Strait.

Taiwan’s government has expressed displeasure following what it deems a “unilateral” alteration of a flight path by China near the sensitive median line in the Taiwan Strait. The change, removing an “offset measure” for the southbound operation of the M503 flight route, was announced by China’s civil aviation administration on Tuesday.

The median line, traditionally observed as an informal boundary between Taiwan and China, has seen increased Chinese military aircraft activity. China’s move also involves opening routes from west to east towards Taiwan, prompting protests from Taiwan’s civil aviation administration and Mainland Affairs Council, both denouncing the actions as “unilateral.”

The Mainland Affairs Council accused China of neglecting flight safety, displaying disrespect for Taiwan, and manipulating civil aviation for political or military purposes, potentially disrupting the status quo in the strait. Military analysts in Taiwan highlighted concerns over reduced warning and reaction time for Taiwan’s air defenses due to the altered route.

China, however, described the adjustments as routine, aiming to ease airspace congestion and enhance cross-strait flight operations, emphasizing common interests between the two sides. The M503 route, utilized by Chinese and foreign airlines, connects cities like Shanghai to Southeast Asia, with historical tensions over its implementation dating back to 2018 when Taiwan asserted that China had opened the northbound segment without prior notification.

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