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MAC News Reference Material: "The Government Will Ensure the Rights of the Taiwanese People to Safely Return Home and Calls on the Two Sides to Promptly Communicate on Flight Safety Issues"

  • Date:2018-01-20

January 20, 2018


The Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) issued the following five-point statement regarding the unease and concern of Taiwanese businesspeople over the temporary non-authorization by the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) of additional flights for mainland China's Xiamen Airlines and China Eastern Airlines:


1. The government affirms the contribution of Taiwan businesspeople to Taiwan's economic development and cross-Strait peace and sincerely welcomes the return of Taiwanese businesspeople to Taiwan for the holidays. The government is also willing to do everything in its power to provide safe and convenient means of return for Taiwanese businesspeople.


2. As in previous years, the government and the Mainland side agreed at the end of 2017 to expand flight service for the Lunar New Year holiday this year. However, on January 4, after the agreement was reached, the Mainland unilaterally announced that it would activate the northbound M503 and three W flight routes without cross-Strait negotiations and in disregard of flight safety. This not only violated the consensus reached between the two sides in 2015, but also cast a shadow on flight safety. It also introduced new variables expanding flight service during the Lunar New Year holiday.


3. The northbound M503 flight route unilaterally activated by mainland China is six nautical miles further east from the southbound M503 flight route activated in March 2015. Furthermore, the convention in civil aviation is for planes to yaw right in emergencies. Consequently, the actual flight route will be closer to Taiwan Flight Information Region and may even enter areas used for military exercises in Taiwan, creating definite flight safety concerns. Moving the southbound M503 flight route further away from Taiwan's Flight Information Region to ensure flight safety required five consultations between the two sides. How can the Mainland unilaterally activate the closer northbound route without consultations? This is particularly the case given that the W123 and W122 flight routes are close to the W6 and W8 flight routes between Taiwan and Kinmen and Matsu, respectively. The unilateral activation of these routes without cross-Strait negotiations completely ignores the safety of the flights and lives of the more than 2.6 million passengers traveling on the W6 and W8 routes each year.


4. After mainland China unilaterally announced activation of the controversial flight route, Taiwan immediately contacted the Mainland several times through various channels to demand that technical consultations be promptly held based on the 2015 consensus between the two sides. However, no positive response was received. Human life is priceless and flight safety can not be compromised. The government is duty-bound to protect the people's rights to return home safely. China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have insisted on using the unsafe flight routes in disregard of the advice of Taiwan's CAA. This has raised concerns over safety on the Taiwan-Kinmen and Taiwan-Matsu flight routes. There is a definite need to carefully assess their  applications for additional flights. To prevent problems faced by people returning home, the CAA disclosed the status of additional flight authorization at an earlier time and has encouraged other Mainland airlines to apply for additional flights.


5. The government calls on mainland China to not evade the issue of flight safety, to not set political obstacles for cross-Strait technical talks, to not blame Taiwan for its own irrational unilateral action, to not treat the larger Taiwan business community as a hostage, and to not manufacture conflict and confusion. The governments of the two sides have a shared responsibility to protect the safe return of Taiwanese businesspeople. The government again urges mainland China to show sincerity in caring for the well-being of Taiwanese business people, to promptly hold technical consultations with Taiwan, and to satisfactorily resolve the flight route controversy.