Plans to open M503 route enrage activists

Plans to open M503 route enrage activists
Restoration of Taiwan Social Justice, The Black Island Nation Youth Front, Dreamdom and other activists groups gather at the Joint Central Government Building in Taipei yesterday to protest the inauguration of China's civilian flight route M503.

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Protesters occupied the Joint Central Government Building's first floor yesterday morning, demanding that Hsia Li-yan, head of the Mainland Affairs Council make a response regarding China's new commercial flight route M503, which is set to start on March 29.

Restoration of Taiwan Social Justice (RTSJ), a social and political activist group, demanded that Hsia reply before noon today, or they would hold large-scale protests at every event Hsia attends in the future.

"China's new route M503 is an intentional political invasion," the RTSJ said, also pointing out that Hsia was too weak in the negotiations with China.

Protesters took advantage of a brief moment of confusion and swarmed into the building's north tower. They were later forcibly removed by the police and the area was cleared by noon yesterday.

The Legislative Yuan, which is just a street away from the Joint Central Government Building, closed its doors to keep activists from storming in.

'A win on our part'

National Security Bureau (NSB) Director Li Hsiang-chou stated at the Legislative Yuan yesterday morning that the implementation of route M503 is a win on Taiwan's part.

Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang said the government moved back route M503 by at least 10 nautical miles, a result of successful negotiations from Taiwan's side, during a meeting of the Foreign and National Defence Committee of the Legislative Yuan.

"Since 1999, mainland China moved their southeast navy patrol from coastal areas to the strait's central line. Continual patrols west of the central line with sorties ranging from six to 18 crafts happened daily starting from July 15, 1999 onward," said Li.

Li explained that route M503, with high commercial profits, will be used to relieve the congested flight route A470.

By opening an international commercial flight route near the centre of the Taiwan Strait, China will have no other choice but to shrink their patrol route toward their shores.

"China will have to pull in their usual patrol route with M503's opening. This is a win that we scored in the negotiation, and grants us an earlier air defence warning."

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