Air wars

One of the big issues keeping the Taiwanese amused during a cold and dreary winter is the possibility of direct flights between China (the Mainland, as the locals euphemistically call it) and Taiwan. It's a surprisingly complex issue, and one that requires an army of bureaucrats on both sides of the Taiwan Strait to resolve. The status quo is that for political reasons there are no direct flights between the two, and passangers must first fly to an intermediate city, usually Hong Kong. This is a long and costly arrangement, and suits no-one, except for the airlines and the Hot Dog vendors at Hong Kong Airport. But that's how it has been since 1949. In 2003, there was a mini-breakthrough, with flights merely needing to stop in Hong Kong and continuing to the other destination rather than a complete change of flight, but this was only a very marginal step.

With Chinese New Year coming up on 9 February, there is a push for some more flights to be let through. A delegation from Taiwan is in the Mainland at the moment, trying to wade through the technicalities of it, but it might just happen. Wait and see is the best approach.

Interesting little footnote, that one of the major sticking points is that the Taiwanese have insisted that any direct flights to Taiwan out of China must first pass through Hong Kong airspace, but with no requirement to land there. An odd request, at first at least, and there has been no official reasoning given though. This hack's hunch, though, is that the Taiwanese have anti-aircraft equipment on a hair-trigger, ready to shoot down anything eminating from Chinese airspace without a second thought. From a distance, passanger aircraft and cruise missiles do look remarkably similar. Surely the Chinese wouldn't use this goodwill arangement to exploit Taiwanese vulnerability. Would they?


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