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Protesters, police scuffle in Taiwan over China flight route

Taiwanese protesters scuffled with police for the second day in a row on Friday ahead of China`s planned launch of a controversial new flight route which has sparked security concerns.



Taipei: Taiwanese protesters scuffled with police for the second day in a row on Friday ahead of China`s planned launch of a controversial new flight route which has sparked security concerns.

The route over the Taiwan Strait is due to be inaugurated on Sunday, despite a backlash over security fears.

Dozens of demonstrators tussled with police as they tried to enter the parliament in Taipei and then sat on the ground at the building`s entrance until they were removed.

On Thursday protesters and police scuffled at the headquarters of the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) -- Taiwan`s top China policy-making body.

The demonstrations come as fears grow over increasing influence from Beijing.

"We will continue to protest until China retracts the M503 route," protest spokesman Lin Yu-lun said.

M503 is one of four routes which would take planes over the Taiwan Strait from China`s coastal province of Zhejiang and the cities of Fuzhou and Xiamen in Fujian province.

Beijing says they are necessary to ease congestion on an existing flightpath.

But Taiwan`s authorities have slammed the unilateral move and said it poses a potential air defence threat.

The route was originally due to be launched on March 5, but was postponed due to those objections.

China later slightly modified M503 but is pressing ahead with the launch.

The other three routes have been indefinitely postponed, according to Taiwan`s Civil Aeronautics Administration.

The MAC has said the negotiations with China over the routes will help safeguard the island`s aviation security. It has also said that Chinese fighter jets would not use the routes.

China considers self-ruled Taiwan a part of its territory awaiting reunification -- by force if necessary. They split in 1949 at the end of a civil war.

Ties have improved markedly since President Ma Ying-jeou of the China-friendly Kuomintang party came to power in 2008, but some fear Taiwan is becoming over-dependent on the mainland.

Last week, campaigners gathered to mark the anniversary of the student-led "Sunflower Movement", which occupied the parliament for three weeks last year over a trade pact with China.

From Zee News

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