Taiwan joins protest chorus over China air zone

TAIPEI - The Taiwanese government said Friday it was making representations to China after Beijing declared a controversial air zone in the East China Sea that has angered allies including the US and Japan.

Taiwan's Ma Ying-jeou administration, which has been pushing for detente with Beijing since 2008, launched the belated protest following mounting pressure from the opposition.

"Mainland China had not consulted in advance with Taiwan over the air defence identification zone in the East China Sea, resulting in the overlapping with our flight information region," the Cabinet said in a statement.

The declared air zone includes disputed islands claimed by China, Japan, and Taiwan.

"We think the move will not help facilitate positive development of ties across the Taiwan Straits. Therefore, we'll convey our solemn protest through (proper) channels," it said.

An increasingly assertive Beijing unilaterally announced the zone including disputed islands claimed by China as the Diaoyus, but controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkakus.

Beijing's move was condemned in Washington, Tokyo, South Korea and elsewhere.

Japan and South Korea both said Thursday they had disregarded the air zone, showing a united front after US B-52 bombers also entered the area.

As regional tensions escalated, the Ma administration filed a statement on Saturday last week calling for peaceful settlement of the dispute.

The Democratic Progressive Party, the China-sceptic opposition, was irked by the statement it described as "too weak", while the smaller but more radical Taiwan Solidarity Union filed a lawsuit against Ma, claiming that he had betrayed Taiwan's interest to Beijing.

Also on Friday, Taiwan's parliament passed a bi-partisan resolution asking the government to join the allies and not to present flight plans to Beijing as agreed by Taiwan's Civil Aeronautics Administration earlier this week.

China still considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting reunification, even though the two sides split back in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

But relations have warmed since Ma of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008 on a platform of strengthening trade and tourism links.

He was re-elected in January 2012.