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Spat Over Air Routes Sees Hundreds of Flights Between China and Taiwan Canceled

Earlier this month, China announced that it was opening new routes over the Taiwan Straits. However, officials on the island say that they were not consulted over the move and that these new routes pose a safety risk. These cancellations come just ahead of the busy Lunar New Year period.

Escalating tensions between Taiwan and China over air routes have resulted in the cancellation of hundreds of scheduled flights just ahead of the busy Lunar New YearCNN Money reports. Both China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have confirmed that they have canceled their routes to and from the island.

The two carriers say that Taiwan failed to approve their chosen routes, but Taiwan has said that it was not consulted over the airlines’ flight plans. China Eastern Airlines has scrapped a total of 212 flights between the mainland and Taiwan. These journeys were due to take place during the New Year period.

Commenting on the situation in a statement, the carrier was quoted as saying that the widespread cancellation, “has seriously infringed upon the common interests of our company and customers, and severely violated the humanitarian needs of thousands of passengers and their families.” Xiamen Airlines, which has had to cancel 70 of its flights, called Taiwan “heartless.”

The origins of this latest round of tension between the island and Beijing began earlier in January, when the Civil Aviation Administration of China confirmed that it was planning on opening four new routes within its airspace over the Taiwan Strait. However, Taiwan’s Civil Aeronautics Administration said that it was not properly consulted over the opening of these routes.

While Beijing claims that the new routes are needed in order to relieve air traffic congestion, Taiwanese officials have concerns that these routes may be a safety risk. The routes lie close to airports on islands that are within Taiwan’s jurisdiction but near to the Chinese border.

Tsai Ing-wen, the Taiwanese president, commented on the situation in a tweet earlier this month, saying, “Recent unilateral actions by #China…are destabilizing & should be avoided.#Taiwan will continue to safeguard the status quo. We call on all parties to do the same.”

[Photo: Shutterstock]

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