M503 flight path a 'private China matter': TAO

M503 flight path a 'private China matter': TAO

TAIPEI - Mainland China's Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO, 國台辦) spokesman Ma Xiaoguang (馬曉光) said yesterday that Taiwan should not politicize China's plans for flight path M503.

Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA, 民航局) announced on Monday in a joint press conference with the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) that an initial agreement was reached with China to delay the implementation of flight path M503.

East-west flight paths W121, W122 and W123 would also be delayed under the current round of negotiations, the CAA said.

On Jan. 12, China unilaterally proposed four new flight paths with an estimated operational launch date of March 5. The announcement was met with Taiwanese opposition, with concerns that the flight paths would raise risks for national security.

Private Matter

Due to the complicated relationship between Beijing and Taipei, it is inevitable that there are doubts about the proposed flight routes, said Ma.

Ma said that opening up M503 "is a private China matter."

Since the proposal is closely related to Taiwan, China has given their best effort under terms acceptable to them to make changes based on concerns Taiwan has expressed, Ma said.

According to Ma, the distrust between China and Taiwan can only be dissolved through peaceful development.

Using the Berlin Wall as a reference, Ma questioned whether the 60-year-old barrier established between China and Taiwan could be overcome.

Ma said that other than easing air traffic congestion and economic development, China has no other considerations, such as military affairs, with the new flight routes.

For the first time ever yesterday, Taiwanese media were invited into the Air Traffic Management Bureau of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC, 中國民航上海區域管制中心), based in Shanghai, for a tour.

Legislator Protest

Responding to Kuomintang lawmaker Liao Cheng-ching's (廖正井) question yesterday during a Legislative Yuan meeting, Premier Mao Chi-kuo (毛治國) said M503 had already completed International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO, 國際民用航空組織) application paperwork prior to negotiations with Taiwan.

Mao was met with further protest at the Legislative Yuan by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU, 台灣團結聯盟) legislators Yeh Chin-ling (葉津鈴) and Chou Ni-an (周倪安), who seized the speaker podium and carried signs of objection.

After learning about the delay of flight path M503, Mao said yesterday that although the cabinet is not pleased with the result, they will reluctantly accept the outcome.

When challenged by TSU lawmaker Lai Zhen-chang (賴振昌) about the possible dangers M503 poses for national security, Mao said negotiations with China ruled out any risks.

Lai said he cannot accept how M503 is being dealt with.

Deputy spokeswoman of the US Department of State Marie Harf said on March 2 that the US supports the delay of using M503 and encourages resolving any issues with open communication.

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