US State Department critical of China’s modified M503 flight path

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced on Tuesday that it was cancelling an “offset” of its north-south M503 flight path agreed to with Taiwan in 2015….reports Asian Lite News

The United States Department of State expressed concerns Thursday over changes to China’s M503 flight path, saying the US was opposed to any unilateral changes to the cross-strait status quo by either side, Central News Agency (CNA) Taiwan reported.

The State Department spokesperson said the U.S. urged Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in “meaningful dialogue” with Taiwan.

“Issues related to civil aviation and safety in the Taiwan Strait should be decided through dialogue between both sides,” the spokesperson said.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced on Tuesday that it was cancelling an “offset” of its north-south M503 flight path agreed to with Taiwan in 2015.

As a result, the flight path, used mostly by Chinese airlines but also some foreign airlines on flights between China and Southeast Asia, will revert to its original status, coming as close as 4.2 nautical miles to the median line of the Taiwan Strait.

Central News Agency (CNA) Taiwan reported that eastbound flights on the W122 and W123 paths connecting the M503 flight path to the cities of Fuzhou and Xiamen, respectively, will be launched, the CAAC announced.

It said the adjustments were made to ease air traffic caused by an increase of flights between key locations, ensure flight safety, and prevent delays.

Taiwanese experts raised concerns over such moves, however.

Many argued that China’s unilateral changes to flight paths close to the median line were meant to further encroach on the tacit boundary in the Taiwan Strait between Taiwan and China and put more pressure on Taiwan as it monitors the airspace in its vicinity.

Officially, Taiwan has urged China to engage in talks to discuss the moves, but China called the changes “routine” and said “there was no need to discuss them with the Taiwanese side.”

It also rejected the existence of the median line, claiming that the “mainland and Taiwan are both part of one China.”

In a statement on January 31 the Ministry of Foreign affairs in Taiwan said “China’s unilateral adjustment of M503, W122 & W123 flight routes over the Taiwan Strait without mandated ICAO consultation gravely jeopardizes regional aviation safety & cross-strait stability. Taiwan strongly condemns this irresponsible act and demands immediate negotiations.”

Meanwhile, U.S. lawmakers also reacted to China’s controversial flight path adjustments, Central News Agency Taiwan reported.

Ben Cardin, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said Wednesday in a statement that “the PRC’s unilateral decision to adjust a disputed flight path in the Taiwan Strait is dangerous and provocative, representing yet another concerning example of Beijing’s unrelenting efforts to coerce Taipei.”

He further said “It is no coincidence that this action is being taken within weeks of a free and fair election in Taiwan, the result of which Beijing had made abundantly clear was not its preferred outcome.”

Michael McCaul, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, said on X (formerly known as Twitter) that “between military fly-bys and now civilian flights close to the median line, the CCP continues to threaten Taiwan and unilaterally change the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.”

“We must stand with Taiwan against this aggression,” he said. (ANI)

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