As the co-chairs of the British-Taiwanese All-Party Parliamentary Group, we are dismayed to learn that China’s civil aviation authority unilaterally announced on 4 January 2018 that it would activate four air routes along its southeast coast without prior consultation with Taiwan. The new northbound M503 route with its three east-west extension routes, which are critically close to the median line of the Taiwan Strait, are very likely to endanger aviation safety and security and to interfere with flight services in Taipei Flight Information Region (FIR).
We regarded the unilateral move by China as an irresponsible act that not only seriously affects aviation safety but also damages the cross-strait status quo. Beijing’s expansion of civil aviation routes has violated the consensus reached between Taiwan and China in 2015. Thus, we consider this violation in a way to change the cross-strait status quo. Moreover, there is possibility that a potential risk of military crisis could emerge in the Taiwan Strait, constituting a threat to the peace and security of the East Asia region.
According to Document No. 9426 of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), flight routes such as M503 and its extensions should only be launched following consultations with neighboring parties. Thus, China’s unilateral launch of new flight routes violates both ICAO regulations and international norms.
As ensuring aviation safety and maintaining peace and stability in the region remain the common concern of all parties concerned, we support the maintenance of the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and urge China to put an end immediately to its use of the above-mentioned air routes. There is a need for China to give priority to restoring negotiations with Taiwan on the flight paths as soon as possible.