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Taiwan to exercise its air traffic control rights amid China’s unilateral flight path announcement: Report

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Apr 21, 2024 07:21 IST

Taipei [Taiwan], April 21 (ANI): Taiwan will continue to exercise its right to control air traffic around its airspace after China unilaterally launched two flight paths in the Taiwan Strait, Central News Agency (CNA) reported, citing a national security source.
On April 18, the Civil Aviation Administration of China announced that it will begin operating the eastbound W122 and W123 flight paths linking the M503 flight route, which stretches north-south down the middle of the Taiwan Strait, to the Chinese cities of Fuzhou and Xiamen, respectively.
The Chinese aviation authority’s decision came after Beijing unilaterally canceled an offset along the M503 flight path on February 1, which began in 2015 without holding talks with Taiwan, CNA reported.
The “offset” refers to an agreement reached between Taiwan and China in 2015 to move the M503 path 11 kilometers to the west of its original position, which came 7.8 kilometers close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait.
Taiwan‘s Civil Aviation Administration has voiced concern regarding the W122 and W123 flight paths jeopardizing flight safety, considering their closeness to the Taiwan-controlled Kinmen and Matsu islands. Even though westbound traffic on those flight paths has been permitted since 2018.
Dozens of domestic flights operated regularly between the island of Taiwan and airports in Kinmen and Matsu, which just lie off the coast of the Chinese province of Fujian, according to CNA report.
According to the source, Taiwan‘s air traffic controllers, apart from lodging protests through appropriate channels, will call out to flights using the W122 and W123 paths to remind them that they should not use those paths without the consent of Taiwan through negotiations.
Furthermore, the source said that a reminder will be sent to call on the aircraft not to enter the territorial airspace of Taiwan.
They said that these reminders will not take the aircraft away from their paths. However, such practices will be initiated to counter China‘s arbitrary launch of the paths and stop the paths from becoming a fait accompli, the sources added.
It will become crucial if Taiwan takes the decision to raise the matter at an international arbitration court, according to CNA report.
These practices are similar to Japan’s documentation and announcement of instances involving Chinese planes or ships passing by waters off the Senkaku Islands almost every day, which are aimed to highlight the Japanese government’s continued exercising of its right over the disputed islands.
According to the source, Taiwan could think about documenting and announcing instances which involve Chinese planes that use W122 and W123 flight paths, which would be “dealing with uncivilized behaviour civilly.” (ANI)

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