China says new path safe for Taiwan flights amid route row

China dismissed Taiwan’s safety concerns over the space separating existing flight paths and new ones opened by Beijing including a northbound route up the Taiwan Strait. Ma Xiaoguang of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office said on Wednesday that the 23 km separating the existing and new routes exceeds the standards in the rules of the International Civil Aviation Organization adding that the connecting routes are safe. Taiwan claims the new routes are too close to existing routes that link it to airports in Kinmen and Matsu. Taiwan says China opened the new routes without its approval violating a 2015 deal to first discuss such flight paths. It responded by refusing to approve routine applications from China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines for Lunar New Year additional flights to meet passengers’ demand. China Eastern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have cancelled 176 round-trip flights to Taiwan.