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U.S. praises flight consensus; DPP blasts policymakers

U.S. praises flight consensus; DPP blasts policymakers

Taipei, March 24 (CNA) While the United States has praised consensus reached by the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on a controversial commercial flight route that comes close to the median line of the strait, Taiwan's main opposition party wants the government to be held liable for what it describes as a failure to properly handle the controversy. Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Cheng Yun-peng (???) said Tuesday that the way in which the government handled the issue on the south-north flight route M503, which China has announced it will begin using March 29, is "not in line with the nation's best interests." In a written statement, Cheng said that judging from the latest developments on the issue, "the Taiwan side has obviously been only passively informed by the Chinese side of its test flights and the date it has set to begin using the route." This, according to Cheng, shows that the government has failed to make any further efforts to promote Taiwan's stance on the matter. He also accused the government of having failed to publish the results of cross-strait talks on the issue that are not in Taiwan's favor. Given that Hsia Li-yan (???), head of the Mainland Affairs Council, had said that the issue would be resolved perfectly through negotiation, in the end, Taiwan only managed to have the route moved two nautical miles further to the west and to have the formal use of the route delayed for "only a couple of days," Cheng said. Judging from the announced results, "there have been no further adjustments or changes," he said. The government has no willingness nor ability to deal with the issue in a progressive manner, he blasted. "This kind of passive and incompetent attitude and practice has jeopardized the country's best interests," Cheng said, demanding that those in charge should shoulder political responsibility. However, a U.S. Department of State spokesperson praised Monday the consensus between the two sides of the strait on the controversial commercial flight route, calling the agreement an example of efforts to handle cross-strait issues. "We commend Taipei and Beijing for reaching a consensus regarding the proposed M503 air route. We believe that this recent consensus supports international civil aviation safety in the region and serves as a positive example of Taipei and Beijing managing issues through consultation and dialogue," the spokesperson said. In January, Beijing unilaterally announced plans to open four new flight paths over southeast Chinese airspace, including route M503, which was originally designated to run 4.2 nautical miles west of the median line of the Taiwan Strait. China had planned to begin commercial flights along the route March 5 to meet growing demand among Chinese travelers, but it delayed the timing after Taiwan voiced strong opposition on the basis of security and safety concerns. Taiwan's concern was that the proposed east-west flight paths linked to M503 were precariously close to routes flown by aircraft traveling to its outlying counties of Kinmen and Matsu. China subsequently moved Route M503 six nautical miles further west, or 10.2 nautical miles (18.89 kilometers) west of the median line of the Taiwan Strait. It also promised to allow only south-bound flights along this route and to suspend the idea of the new east-west routes for the time being. Revealing that China will begin using M503 March 29, Hsia said the opposite side has made many adjustments based on the spirit of international conventions and rules. It appears that there won't be any danger in terms of flight safety, and that Taiwan's military is in full control of the situation, the minister of mainland affairs said. (By Sophia Yeh, Tony Liao and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-05-07 07:19 GMT+08:00