Friday, 23 August, 2019

China Eastern cancels flights amid routes row between China and Taiwan

Taiwan protests China's new air routes over Strait China Eastern cancels flights amid routes row between China and Taiwan
Patty Aguilar | 30 January, 2018, 16:22

A new route known as M503 is said by Taiwan to pass dangerously close to existing airports on the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands in the straits.

The ministry did not specify that the annual drill simulated an invasion by China but said it was meant to "show determination to safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait and national security".

The flights are a newest sticking point between China and Taiwan, which Beijing considers a province to be reunited with the mainland.

Both sides have reduced communications since she came to power, and Beijing has stepped up military exercises in the Taiwan Strait.

There is also a dispute about new flight routes by Chinese airlines in the strait.

Cross-strait relations have turned frosty since the inauguration of Tsai, who refuses to acknowledge self-ruling, democratic Taiwan is part of "one China".

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"Our combat readiness has no holiday", Lieutenant General Huang Kai-sen said.

China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines said on Tuesday (Jan 30) that they had cancelled 176 round-trip flights to Taiwan added to their schedules to meet demand over the Chinese New Year, amid a row between Beijing and Taiwan over flight routes. "In order for our citizens to feel safe during the Chinese New Year, we are standing by and on guard 24 hours a day".

China Eastern said earlier Tuesday that its decision to cancel 106 extra flights would affect 40,000 potential passengers, many of them Taiwanese business people wanting to spend the holidays at home.

The island's civil aviation authority denied requests by China's XiamenAir and China Eastern Airlines for 176 extra flights during the holiday, citing potential safety risks from the use of the northbound M503 route, which was delineated by Beijing at the end of previous year without consulting Taipei beforehand.

China Eastern also said in its statement there was "no so-called safety issues" as all the flight routes it uses had been assessed by experts.

Taipei slammed the move as reckless and said it could threatened the island's security.

While the mainland's defence ministry urged Taiwanese not to worry as there was nothing unusual, the act is still seen as a show of strength by Beijing.

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