China’s defense ministry has rejected accusations that military drills were the sole reason behind the delays seen recently in domestic and international flights in the country.
In a statement issued Sunday, the ministry said delays may have also been caused by weather factors, and that blame should not be laid entirely on the military, Ming Pao Daily reported.
Army authorities have been coordinating with civil aviation officials to minimize the impact of any military exercises, the ministry said.
Air exercises are necessary to test and enhance the nation’s air defense capabilities, but such exercises have been cut down in recent years, it said. As of Sunday night, all of the warnings about flight delays have been canceled after the defense ministry’s statement, the report said.
The ministry’s statement came in the wake of huge complaints from air passengers who had suffered serious delays in their flights recently. Early Sunday, some passengers at Shenzhen airport lost patience and got into physical fights with an airline’s ground crew, Hong Kong Economic Times reported.
Larry Lang, Emeritus Professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong and an expert on mainland affairs, said he believes military exercises were the reason for the flights delay, given the fact that 80 percent of Chinese air space is controlled by its air force.
Huang Dong, president of the Macau International Military Institute, was quoted by Ming Pao Daily as saying that it is no surprise that the military has denied the accusations.
Military exercises have caused disturbance as well as potential economic loss, he said, urging authorities to strike the right balance between national defense and economy and public life. He warned that popular discontent might be manipulated and turned into hatred against Japan and fuel the anti-Japan mood as the exercises were clearly aimed at Japan.
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