Photo Credit : Central News Agency
Taiwan’s civil-aviation authority has lodged an official complaint to Beijing and to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) regarding the breach of an agreement.
Though Beijing and Taipei inked an agreement in 2015 that only southbound flights would be permitted on Route M503, China has allowed two-way traffic on a civil-aviation route that runs almost parallel to the centerline of the Taiwan Strait, the de facto sea and air border between the mainland and Taiwan. China’s Civil Aviation Administration said on Thursday that civilian planes heading north would now be allowed to use M503 – a route previously reserved for southbound planes only. Route M503 is just 7.8 kilometers from the strait’s centerline at the closest point.
Taiwan is concerned that Chinese reconnaissance and other warplanes disguised as passenger or cargo planes can now fly the route and “unintentionally” veer off the course eastward to enter Taiwan’s territorial airspace to get intelligence on airbases, defense deployment and infrastructure on the island’s west coast.