Date: October 16, 2020
By: Ben Blanchard
TAIPEI (Reuters) – Hong Kong air traffic controllers told Taiwan there was danger until further notice on a flight path to Taiwanese-controlled islands in the South China Sea, Taipei said on Friday, a case that has raised fears Beijing may try and blockade the islets.
Tensions over the Pratas Islands, in the northern part of the contested South China Sea, have spiked in recent weeks, with China carrying out several military exercises near them. The Pratas are only lightly defended by Chinese-claimed Taiwan.
On Thursday, Taiwan said a regular civilian charter flight had to abandon its trip to the Pratas when Hong Kong air traffic controllers told the captain there were “dangerous activities” happening below 26,000 feet and the aircraft could not enter.
Hong Kong’s Civil Aviation Department said they had told Taiwan air traffic controllers of the minimum safe altitude to be observed for the flight, and that Taiwan had then responded that they had cancelled the request to enter the Hong Kong flight information region. [FULL STORY]