TAIPEI/BEIJING (Reuters) – China plans to close airspace north of Taiwan for about half an hour next week, down from an original announcement of three days, because of a falling object from a satellite launch vehicle, officials in and southern Taiwan said. Korea said.
When asked about an earlier Reuters report on the airspace closure, Yan Yu-hsien, deputy chief of the general staff for intelligence from Taiwan’s Ministry of Defense, said the “no-fly zone” would fall within the country’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). , about 85 nautical miles north of its shores.
ADIZ is a section of international airspace that states can arbitrarily designate as their control.
With no tentative details on the duration of the lockdown, the reports have caused concern in the region with tensions high between China and Taiwan.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said he was not aware of the situation.
Japan said on Wednesday that China had notified it about a no-fly zone near Taiwan from April 16-18, saying it related to space activities. Taiwan’s transportation ministry later said China had revised the region’s duration back to 27 minutes on Sunday after an outcry.
South Korea’s transportation ministry said the shutdown was related to a falling object from a satellite launch vehicle.
When China imposed such restrictions during military exercises last August, there were significant flight disruptions in the region, with some planes required to carry extra fuel, according to OPSGROUP, an aviation industry cooperative that advises on aviation risks.
Japanese authorities said there were no major cancellations of flights to and from Japan during the exercise.
Earlier on Wednesday, China said President Tsai Ing-wen was pushing Taiwan into “stormy seas” after meeting with US House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy in California.
Tsai said the overseas trip, which included meeting McCarthy in the United States and stops in Guatemala and Belize, demonstrated Taiwan’s determination to defend freedom and democracy.
The trip has infuriated Beijing, leading to days of military exercises designed to show it can forcefully reclaim control of the self-ruled island, which China claims as its own.
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.
“Tsai Ing-wen has brought danger to Taiwan. Tsai Ing-wen has almost completely sided with the United States, pushing Taiwan into the stormy seas,” said Zhou Fenglian, a spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office, on Wednesday.
Zhu said the exercises on Taiwan are “a grave warning of the collusion and provocation of Taiwan independence separatist forces and outside forces.”
Tsai, who returned to Taiwan a day before the start of the exercises, said the trip succeeded in building 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 Canadian lawmakers at her office in Taipei.
“In the face of continued authoritarian expansion, it is critical that democracies actively unite,” she added. “Canada is a very important democratic partner. We stand ready to do everything we can to jointly protect the values of freedom and democracy with Canada and many like-minded international partners.”
Despite the tensions with China, Tsai seemed relieved when she welcomed the 10 Canadian lawmakers, even cracking a joke.
Beijing continued its military activities across Taiwan, despite announcing the end of the three-day exercises as scheduled on Monday.
The ministry said earlier on Wednesday that in the past 24 hours it had detected 35 Chinese military aircraft and eight navy ships around Taiwan.
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.
The planes that crossed the center line had five Su-30 fighters at its northern end, while the others crossed at points in the center and south.
Although Chinese fighters previously only occasionally crossed the midline, the country’s air force has done so regularly since launching war games near Taiwan in August, following then-US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei.
China says it does not recognize the existence of the line.
The Taiwan government firmly rejects China’s claims to sovereignty and says that only the people of Taiwan can decide their own future.
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
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