The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced on Thursday that it is opening four routes over the Taiwan Straits, including the south-to-north M503 route and three connecting regional routes. The mainland's regular arrangement for civil aviation routes has prompted strong reactions from the Taiwan authorities. Taiwan's Mainland Affairs Council and its defense authority demanded that the mainland close the routes, saying it threatens the island's security. The unreasonable demand will certainly not be accepted by the mainland.
The opening of the M503 routes would ease the congestion in the mainland's airspace. The mainland's aviation industry has witnessed spectacular growth in recent years, with flights increasing rapidly and airports being constantly expanded.
The Taiwan Straits lie off the southeast coast of the Chinese mainland, and the south and north sides of the area are the most developed regions in the Chinese mainland, with many super cities located along the coastline. It is one of the most reasonable arrangements for civilian flights over the coast. Such an arrangement could greatly ease air congestion and reduce delays.
The M503 routes had been planned as early as during the administration of Taiwan's former leader Ma Ying-jeou. Through repeated consultations between the mainland and Taiwan authorities, the mainland had opened the north-to-south route and now announced the opening of the south-to-north route as well as three connecting routes to make the M503 routes fully operational.
Taiwan authorities accused the mainland of not negotiating with them before opening the routes. It must be noted that the collapse of communication channels between the mainland and Taiwan resulted from Taiwan authorities' refusal to recognize the 1992 Consensus. Before opening the new routes, the CAAC had informed the relevant departments in Taiwan. If Taiwan authorities desire more consultations, they should ask Tsai Ing-wen, the island's current leader, to change her stance of refusing to recognize the 1992 Consensus that stresses the one-China principle and prompt her to restore communication lines with the mainland.
We also cannot help ask, "How could civilian flights threaten Taiwan's air defense security?" Such a mentality was caused by the guilt conscience of supporting Taiwan independence. The mainland has always been committed to expanding cross-Straits exchanges and promoting the peaceful reunification of China. There is no need to worry that the mainland would launch a sudden attack on Taiwan by leveraging the new civil aviation routes as long as some forces in Taiwan do not seek to separate the island of Taiwan from China.
Besides, if the mainland is determined to solve the Taiwan question by military means, it has the overwhelming military advantage and does not need to wage a sudden attack. If the mainland issues an ultimatum, the island will be thrown into chaos. Taiwan's "defense" targeting the mainland has already lost its military relevance and degraded into a political show to trick Taiwan residents.
A report by Taiwan-based Central News Agency said an unnamed US State Department official expressed concern on Thursday, saying that they "oppose unilateral actions by either side to alter the status quo." Regarding the M503 flight route issue, the official said the US was concerned "about reports that Beijing has modified the use of civil aviation flight routes in the Taiwan Strait without consultation with Taiwan authorities," urging that issues of civil aviation and safety instead be "decided through dialogue between both sides." It is obvious that the US State Department is too embarrassed to issue a real-name statement because it cannot find any fault from the mainland. It is the Tsai Ing-wen administration which refuses to recognize the 1992 Consensus and attempts to change the status quo.
To open the civil aviation route west of the middle line of the Taiwan Straits is economically relevant and urgent. The mainland does not need to care about the abnormal psyche of Taiwan authorities. It doesn't have to let the airspace over the Taiwan Straits stay idle given its superb natural air route. The earlier Taiwan authorities face the reality and change its stance toward the mainland, the easier it can catch up with the booming development of the surrounding region.