Taiwan says it persuaded China to rein in the no-fly zone plan

TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) – Taiwan said on Wednesday it had successfully urged China to radically cut its plan to close airspace north of the island to avert wider travel disruptions during a period of high tension in the region due to Chinese military exercises. .

China has not commented on the no-fly zone but South Korea, which has also been briefed on the plans, said it was due to an object falling from a satellite launch vehicle.

China initially notified Taipei that it would impose a no-fly zone between April 16 and 18, but Taiwan’s transport ministry said that was later reduced to just a 27-minute period Sunday morning after it was intercepted.

The no-fly zone comes after days of intense military exercises it conducted around Taiwan in response to President Tsai Ing-wen’s meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California last week.

Beijing said the exercises – in which it laid siege to the self-ruled island it claims as its own – were “a serious warning of the complicity and provocation of Taiwan independence separatist forces and outside forces”.

Against this backdrop, word of the lockdown sparked fears of travel disruption across the region.

When China restricted airspace during military exercises last August, there were significant flight disruptions in the area, with some planes needed to carry extra fuel, according to OPSGROUP, an aviation industry cooperative that advises on aviation risks. .

A senior Taiwanese official familiar with the matter told Reuters that because of the potential disruption, it had used “multiple channels” including diplomacy, intelligence and aviation authorities to dissuade China from carrying out its original plan.

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The official said Taiwan has informed all parties that will be affected by China’s request, including some of the Group of Seven (G7) countries whose foreign ministers are scheduled to travel to Japan for a meeting from April 16-18.

“Everyone found this incredible,” the official said.

The no-fly zone will be located within the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), about 85 nautical miles north of its shores, said Yan Yu-hsien, deputy chief of general staff for intelligence from Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he was unaware of the situation when asked at a regular daily press briefing on Wednesday.

Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) – A section of a nation’s international airspace can arbitrarily define it as their own to monitor.

‘stormy sailor’

China said on Wednesday Tsai was pushing Taiwan into “stormy waves” after she met McCarthy during a foreign trip that also included stops in Guatemala and Belize.

The trip infuriated Beijing, leading to days of military exercises designed to demonstrate its ability to firmly control the democratic island.

“Tsai Ing-wen has brought danger to Taiwan. Tsai Ing-wen has almost completely stood (by) the United States, pushing Taiwan into the stormy seas,” said Zhou Fenglian, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office.

China views Tsai as a separatist and has rejected her repeated calls for talks. Tsai says she wants peace but her government will defend Taiwan if attacked.

Beijing continued its military activities across Taiwan, despite announcing the end of the three-day exercises as scheduled on Monday.

Taiwan said earlier on Wednesday that in the past 24 hours it had detected 35 Chinese military aircraft and eight navy ships around Taiwan.

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Of these aircraft, 14 crossed the middle line of the Taiwan Strait, according to a map provided by the ministry; The line usually acts as an informal barrier between the two sides.

China says it does not recognize the existence of the line.

Tsai, who returned to Taiwan a day before the start of the exercises, was relieved when she met Canadian lawmakers on Wednesday, saying her overseas trip had succeeded in winning support against an aggressor who threatened the island’s freedom.

“Through this trip we have once again sent a message to the international community that Taiwan is determined to safeguard freedom and democracy, which has won recognition and support from our democratic partners,” Tsai said as she met lawmakers at her office in Taipei.

“In the face of continued authoritarian expansion, it is critical that democracies actively unite,” she added.

Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimo Lee in Taipei, Liz Lee and Laurie Chen in Beijing, and Sakura Murakami and Tim Kelly in Tokyo; Editing by Tom Hogg and Jerry Doyle

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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