China U-turns on No-Fly Zone near Taiwan

Fighter jet takes off during military exercise around Taiwan - Wang Zixiao/Xinhua

Fighter jet takes off during military exercise around Taiwan – Wang Zixiao/Xinhua

China appears to have made a rare U-turn on Wednesday on implementing an aggressive no-fly zone north of Taiwan after Taipei complained of the original three-day restrictions “inedible”.

Beijing had initially proposed limiting all civilian flights in an area within the island’s air defense identification zone from April 16 to 18, due to “aerospace” activities, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry.

But he cut it down to just 27 minutes, from 9:30 to 9:57, Sunday after Taipei filed a protest.

The airspace in question “is at a crucial location in the East Asian airways and is a major transportation artery in the western Pacific,” Taiwan’s defense ministry said in a statement.

“China’s attempt to limit flights to three days under the guise of ‘aerospace activities’ is not only almost unknown internationally, but also has a serious impact on civil aviation management and deals a major blow to the rights and to aviation safety,” he added.

The area is crossed by hundreds of daily flights.

A senior Taiwan official familiar with China’s no-fly move told Reuters that given the potential disruption, Taipei has used “multiple channels” – including diplomacy, intelligence and aviation authorities – to persuade Beijing to curb its plan. original.

The official said Taiwan had notified all parties affected by the Chinese request, including some Group of Seven (G7) countries whose foreign ministers are due to travel to Japan for a meeting on April 16-18.

Taiwan said Beijing modified the proposal following objections from Taipei, which said it would “struggle to implement” such a no-fly zone.

The Chinese government has not said how it intends to enforce the flight ban, and a Foreign Ministry spokesman denied any knowledge of the matter.

The no-fly zone has been confirmed by Japan and South Korea.

Retaliatory measures

The restrictions follow more than a week of retaliatory measures from China after Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese president, met with Kevin McCarthy, the speaker of the US House of Representatives, in California.

China sees such meetings as a direct challenge to its claims to Taiwan as its territory, which the latter’s democratically elected government rejects. Taiwan also has its own military, foreign policy, and currency.

The Chinese military has conducted three days of live fire exercises around Taiwan, practicing an “isolation” of the island nation. At least 71 Chinese aircraft have crossed the median line into the China-Taiwan strait.

Chinese J-15 fighter jets also approached Taiwan from the east in what appeared to be the first simulation of air strikes from the side farthest from the Chinese coast.

China also conducted what the government called “patrol operations,” inspecting vessels sailing in the Taiwan Strait.

A naval and air blockade of Taiwan – essentially cutting it off from the rest of the world – is a potential scenario for an attack by Beijing.

The recent measures add weight to repeated threats by Xi Jinping, leader of China’s ruling Communist Party, to annex Taiwan.

Last summer, China staged its biggest war exercises in August, when Nancy Pelosi, McCarthy’s predecessor, landed in Taiwan and met with Tsai.

It was the highest-ranking American politician to visit Taiwan in 25 years, infuriating Beijing.

Chinese authorities also imposed controls on six areas of airspace – what it called “danger zones” – around Taiwan for three days after Pelosi’s trip, which led to numerous flight cancellations.

Taiwan is a key semiconductor supplier globally and represents a major flashpoint that could potentially escalate into a military conflict between the US and China as bilateral tensions escalate.

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