U.S. official slams China over M503 flight route action against Taiwan

Department of State senior policy adviser is first Trump Administration official to speak openly on subject

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Senior policy adviser Brian Hook (at table, second from left) with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (third from right). (photo Department of State)

Senior policy adviser Brian Hook (at table, second from left) with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (third from right). (photo Department of State)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The United States opposes unilateral actions from China such as the declaration of a new M503 flight route close to the median line in the Taiwan Strait, a State Department senior policy adviser told the Central News Agency.

Last week, Beijing announced that flights from southern to northern China would immediately begin using the flight path as well as three feeder routes linking cities on the coast with the M503.

Southbound flights already started flying the same route in 2015, but only after negotiations with Taiwan, which sees the latest unilateral move as a threat to its national security, coming on top of recent approaches by Chinese military vessels and aircraft.

The government of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has launched grave protests against China’s move, but so far there has been no response indicating that Beijing is willing to open discussions.

Brian Hook, senior policy adviser to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, told CNA Monday that the U.S. was concerned that China had never communicated with Taiwan on the issue but altered civilian flight routes of its own accord. The U.S. opposed that kind of unilateral action, the official added.

Hook said Washington encouraged the development of constructive dialogue between Taipei and Beijing, with such issues as the flight route being the result of common discussions and decisions.

Tillerson’s senior policy adviser was the first Trump Administration official who spoke publicly on the issue of M503, CNA noted.