China Launches Weather Satellite, Flights Avoid No-Fly Zone to North of Taiwan

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BEIJING/TAIPEI, Taiwan (Reuters) – China launched a satellite weather on Sunday while civilian flights changed their routes in order to avoid a Chinese no-fly zone imposed to the north of Taiwan. Beijing imposed the restriction because it was concerned about the possibility of rocket debris falling.

Taiwan's Transport Ministry said Beijing initially informed Taipei that it would enforce a no-fly area from Sunday until Tuesday, but later stated this period had been shortened to 27 minutes Sunday morning following Taiwan's protest.

The announcement of the no-fly zone shook nerves in the region, as it came shortly after China held new wargames around Taiwan which Beijing considers to be sovereign Chinese territory.

China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASTC), the main contractor of China's space program, announced that the weather satellite Fengyun 3G was successfully launched at 9:36 am (0136 GMT) from the province of Gansu in the northwestern part.

The Chinese government did not specify the path taken by the rocket, but it coincided with the previous announcement of the no-fly zones.

China said that it was inaccurate to refer to it as a no-fly area, but Taiwan issued a NOTAM (notice to airmen) which uses the phrase "airspace is blocked due to aeronautical flight activity".

Flightradar24 tracked Sunday morning flights to and from Taiwan, Taiwan, China, South Korea, and Japan.

This zone is located in an area of the East China Sea, slightly north of Taiwan, where there is a lot civil flight traffic.

Taiwan warned that shipping should stay away from the affected flights and expected 33 to be affected.

China has condemned what it called hype surrounding China's space activity and an attempt to escalate the confrontation across Taiwan Strait.