Hong Kong air traffic controllers turning away a Taiwanese flight last week might have been China’s first move in a broader campaign to restrict Taiwan’s air access to its outlying islands, a retired air force general said on Saturday.
The government needs to establish a response plan in the event that aircraft are denied entry to Flight Information Regions (FIRs) en route to Kinmen and Matsu, among others islands, retired lieutenant general Chang Yen-ting (張延廷) said.
The Ministry of National Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of the Interior, as well as the Straits Exchange Foundation and Mainland Affairs Council, must prepare for China to use similar tactics against military flights, Chang said.
Chang was commenting on an incident on Thursday last week, when a military-chartered civilian aircraft traveling to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) from Kaohsiung was warned off by air traffic controllers, who said that “dangerous activities” were in progress in the area, according to a report from the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA).
The islands, administered by Taiwan, but also claimed by China, are located about 310km southeast of Hong Kong and are within its FIR.
It has been standard practice for Taiwanese air traffic controllers to inform their Hong Kong counterparts whenever a plane in the Taipei FIR is about to enter the Hong Kong FIR and is about 20 to 30 nautical miles (37km to 56km) away.
The CAA faulted Hong Kong authorities for abruptly denying the flight entry, rather than issuing a “notice to airmen” in advance regarding hazards along the route.
Chang said that he was worried that China might also begin demanding notification about Taiwanese military flights, which could affect air access to Kinmen, Matsu and Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the South China Sea.
In a worst-case scenario, China could potentially scramble jets to intercept Taiwanese civilian or military flights that ignored those demands, he said.
Such tactics would increase pressure on Taiwan by “sealing it off” without the use of force, he said.
The Democratic Progressive Party has called the incident “Chinese interference.”
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said it was “serious and surprising,” while urging the Ministry of National Defense to handle it with caution.
Uni Air, which operated the flight, declined to say whether a planned flight to Dongsha on Thursday would proceed.
‘DISAPPOINTED’: It is time to change the nation’s name to ‘Taiwan,’ as there is solid support for Taipei in Washington, independence advocates said at a protest Taiwan independence advocates at a rally in Taipei yesterday demanded that the government take action to assert national sovereignty and engage in international diplomacy by using the name “Taiwan.” Led by Taiwan Republic Office director Chilly Chen (陳峻涵), members of pro-independence groups gathered outside the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) headquarters in the wake of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s remark last week that “Taiwan has not been a part of China.” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and the DPP government must seize this opportunity to change the nation’s name to “Taiwan,” discard the “Republic of China”(ROC) title and establish diplomatic
A Taichung-based saxophone teacher was yesterday sentenced to 18 years in jail, for baiting girls to send him nude photographs and videos of themselves. The Taichung District Court found Ku Cheng-en (顧承恩), 32, guilty of contravening the Child and Youth Sexual Exploitation Prevention Act (兒童及少年性剝削防制條例), in 48 cases, involving 32 girls aged below 16. Prosecutors said that it began investigating the case after a girl in January last year filed a complaint against Ku, who is also a licensed street musician, suspecting that he might own pornographic material of underaged girls. Searching his premises, police found explicit photos and videos of 48 girls
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) last night said that it had no comment about reports that a senior US Navy officer had arrived in Taipei for a visit. Several media outlets reported that Rear Admiral Michael Studeman, director of intelligence of the US Indo-Pacific Command, arrived at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) on a special charter flight at about 7pm. The schedule of a “senior US official” in Taiwan would not be made public, the ministry said in a news release, without confirming the visit or the official’s identity. Interactions and exchanges between Taiwan and the US are common, and visits
Health authorities on Saturday said that the level of obesity among Taiwanese has reached a record high, citing a study released last year that showed that 47.97 percent of adults were overweight. Eating habits are a major reason for the increase, a Health Promotion Administration (HPA) official said, adding that many people have a habit of drinking sugary beverages or often share excessively large meals with family and friends. The HPA said that it is alarmed by the development, especially since the agency together with the Sports Administration has for years been promoting active lifestyles, including regular exercise. The obesity rate has increased