Published: Tue, January 30, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Taiwan blocks hundreds of Chinese Airlines flights as air space row escalates

Taiwan blocks hundreds of Chinese Airlines flights as air space row escalates

This month China opened several new air routes, including a northbound route up the Taiwan Strait that divides China from the island.

China Eastern Airlines said it had canceled 212 flights between mainland China and Taiwan that it had previously planned for the holiday period.

Xiamen Airlines said it had canceled at least 70 of its additional flights, accusing Taiwan of being "heartless".

After China unilaterally chose to launch the northbound M503 civil aviation route close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait earlier this month, Taiwan protested, leading to two Chinese airlines canceling plans for 176 extra flights for the February 15-20 holiday.

But Taiwan has objected to the flight paths of special services laid on for the impending Spring Festival (Chinese New Year).

While the ministry did not specify the annual drill simulated a Chinese invasion, it said that the drill is to "show determination to safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait and national security".

Taiwan has expressed concern the new routes are too close to existing routes that link it to airports on two groups of Taiwan-controlled islands lying close to China, and are a threat to flight safety.

Taiwan's president, Tsai Ing-wen, has warned that the issue is endangering the fragile relationship between Taipei and Beijing. "We call on all parties to do the same".

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

In response, self-governed Taiwan has withheld approval of routine applications from China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines, majority owned by China Southern Airlines, to add Lunar New Year flights because the airlines had used the disputed air routes. Beijing continues to claim the island as part of its territory and has threatened to invade if Taiwan moves to make its de facto independence official.

Other netizens said they hope more hypermarket chains will follow suit and improve their employees' quality of life by allowing them to spend more time with their families. The island would have three military planes ready to pick up 840 passengers a day, according to the report.

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