China amends planned no-fly zone for Taiwan coast following Taipei’s protests
Stars and Stripes April 13, 2023
China trimmed a planned no-fly zone off Taiwan’s coast from three days to under 30 minutes following protests this week by the Taiwanese government, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Transportation and Communications.
China’s Civil Aviation Administration on Tuesday notified the Taiwanese ministry of a 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. no-fly zone between Sunday and April 18 for “aerospace activities,” according to a ministry news release Wednesday.
The exchange between Taipei and Beijing came one day after China officially concluded a three-day series of military exercises around Taiwan, one of several measures taken to protest Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen’s April 5 meeting with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.
Taipei immediately protested that a three-day restriction would have a “serious impact” on air traffic and “even more seriously impact the rights and safety” of air traffic in the region.
The Taipei Flight Information Area, Taiwan’s responsibility, is the “hub of the North-South air route in East Asia” and the “main artery of traffic in the Western Pacific,” the ministry said.
Beijing in response shortened the no-fly zone to just 27 minutes on Sunday, according to the ministry.
Taiwan’s Transportation Ministry provided no details of China’s “aerospace activities,” but South Korean officials briefed on the subject said they were related to an object falling from a satellite launch vehicle, Reuters reported Thursday, citing an unnamed source.
A representative from South Korea’s Transportation Ministry did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
The affected area is approximately 85 nautical miles off the northeast coast of Taiwan, well within the island’s air defense identification zone, the Taipei Times reported Thursday, citing Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense alongside a map of the area released by the Transportation Ministry.
The area also includes a portion of Japan’s exclusive economic zone near the Senkaku Islands, a group of islets and rocks also claimed by China, Kyodo News reported Wednesday, citing unnamed Japanese officials.
Japan’s Ministry of Defense did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin, at a news conference Wednesday, told reporters he was “unaware” of the situation.
China’s recent military exercises, the largest since former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei last year, included live-fire exercises, simulated strikes on Taiwanese targets and scores of fighter jets, bombers, helicopters and warships, including the aircraft carrier Shandong, around Taiwan.
Beijing considers self-governing Taiwan to be a breakaway province that must be reunited with the mainland, possibly by force. It routinely protests governmental interactions between the U.S. and Taipei and described recent events between the two as “’Taiwan independence’ separatist forces colluding with external forces.”