China to ban vessels from area near Taiwan over rocket debris


BEIJING: China will ban vessels from an area near Taiwan on Sunday because of the possibility of falling rocket debris, its maritime safety agency said on Thursday, as Japan sought details from Beijing on a reported no-fly zone in the same location.
China has not commented on the no-fly zone but South Korea, which was also briefed on the plans, said it was in connection with the possibility of objects falling from a satellite launch vehicle.
The disruption comes during tension in the region over Chinese military exercises around Taiwan, a show of force in response to a meeting last week in Los Angeles between Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen and U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
China regards Taiwan as its own territory and objects to any interactions between the Taiwanese leadership and foreign officials. Taiwan rejects China’s sovereignty claims.
Taiwan’s government on Wednesday confirmed a Reuters report that China was planning to impose a no-fly zone from April 16-18 – when Japan hosts a meeting of G7 foreign ministers – but later said China had shortened the no-fly stipulation to just 27 minutes on Sunday morning after Taipei protested.
In a brief statement, China’s Maritime Safety Administration released coordinates for the zone, saying shipping was banned from entering from 9 a.m. (0100 GMT) until 3 p.m. on Sunday as there “may be falling rocket debris”.
It did not directly mention flights.
The coordinates correspond to a rectangular area to Taiwan’s northeast, with the closest point 118 km (73 miles) from Taiwan, illustrated on a map that Taiwan’s transport ministry released late on Wednesday.
The zone is to the northwest of Japan’s Ishigaki island and close to a group of disputed islets in the East China Sea that Japan calls the Senkaku and China the Diaoyu.
Japan had sought an explanation from China on Wednesday as to what was going on, its Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.
“The government is continuing to collect and analyse detailed information, including the communication with the Chinese side, and will take appropriate measures based on the results,” Matsuno told a briefing.
China’s foreign ministry declined to comment.
Taiwan’s transport ministry said it had no information add, following a statement on Wednesday that said China was going to shorten the time for what the ministry termed the “aerospace activities zone” to half an hour from three days.


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