Direction of Beijing-Taipei ties may be determined by handling of air route dispute, Taiwan says

Island calls on Chinese mainland to ‘treasure the hard won peace and stability of relations’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 12:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 01 February, 2018, 11:26pm

A dispute with mainland China over its opening of new air routes near Taiwan will determine future relations between Taipei and Beijing, Taiwan’s government said amid a deepening disagreement that could strand thousands of people over an important holiday.

The spat has become increasingly bitter, with both sides trading accusations after two mainland airlines cancelled extra flights to Taiwan over the Lunar New Year, the most important holiday in the Chinese calendar, potentially leaving thousands of Taiwanese without tickets to go home.

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“The people’s eyes are sharp. Whether this disputed issue can be resolved is an important indicator of how Taiwanese people will view the future direction of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement late on Wednesday.

“We again call on the Chinese side to treasure the hard won peace and stability of relations between the two sides. Mainland China needs to carry out measures to make up for this deficiency, in order to avoid this issue continuing to grow and ferment.”

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Taiwan said the new routes, which run near two groups of Taiwan-controlled islands which sit close to mainland China, are a threat to aviation safety and were opened by Beijing without Taipei’s approval, contravening previous agreements.

Beijing considers Taiwan a wayward province, and relations have cooled dramatically since Tsai Ing-wen of the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party took office as the island’s president in 2016.