Taiwan Army rejects lifting restrictions on cross-strait flights

October 29th, 2008 - 4:16 pm ICT by IANS  

Taipei, Oct 29 (DPA) Taiwan’s Defence Minister Chen Chao-ming Wednesday said the military opposes opening the restricted air zone to allow cross-strait flights, during the second round of Taiwan-China talks in Taipei to begin next Monday.”The air space in Taiwan is very small, and it is absolutely impossible for us to allow cross-strait planes to fly through our R8 zone,” General Chen said in a parliament session in Taipei.

The R8 zone is one of the military’s five strategic flight zones off-limits to civilian aircraft. It is located near the median of the Taiwan Strait, which provides the shortest distance in flights between Taiwan and China.

Taiwan’s military is reluctant to open the zone due to concerns that there would not be adequate time to react to a surprise attack from China.

General Chen said he agreed with the policy of President Ma Ying-jeou to allow cross-strait charter flights, but not through the restricted zone.

China’s top negotiator Chen Yunlin is to lead a 60-member delegation to Taiwan on Nov 3 for five days of talks on expansion of charter flights, cargo charters, direct shipping and direct mail exchanges as well as food safety cooperation

A Chinese official said Wednesday the country’s government hoped Chen’s visit will be safe and smooth, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

“Arrangements for the upcoming meeting should follow routines so that they are acceptable and convenient to both sides,” State Council Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman Yang Yi said.

Chen would be the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit Taiwan since the island separated from mainland China in 1949. His visit comes after a mob manhandled his deputy, Zhang Mingqing, who visited Taiwan last week.

Wang Ting-yu, a lawmaker from the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) allegedly incited a mob to carry out the attack, in which Zhang was shoved to the ground.

Yang rejected reports that the lawmaker was under threats of violence to apologize.

Wang claimed that he was beaten by thugs linked to China and threatened at gunpoint by a local businessman to apologize in public for the incident.

“It has clear political motives,” Yang said, adding that he believed the lie would not easily fool the Taiwan public.

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