Taiwan Strait Middle Line
Beijing and Taipei respect a "middle line" in the Taiwan Strait, and have generally kept their warplanes and ships from crossing this line. The "middle line" was drawn by the United States when it signed the Mutual Defence Treaty with Taiwan in 1954. An addendum to that treaty marked a buffer zone into which American planes would not intrude. The eastern boundary of this buffer zone is now known as the middle line of the Taiwan Strait. Although the buffer zone is still observed by the three parties, as well as civil aviation authorities, no one had specified the line's exact course. But on 26 May 2004 Taiwan's new Defence Minister, Lee Jye, defined the line during a legislative session in which he threatened to shoot down Chinese military aircraft should they cross the "middle line" of the Taiwan Strait. "Whenever their aircraft or vessels are approaching the middle line, our aircraft and vessels will be standing by... Once they keep going east and enter our 'hunting zone,' we will take care of them," he said. Unfortunately, his definition of the middle line was incorrect, and the ministry later issued a correction, saying the line should run from 26°30' north latitude, 121°23' east longitude to 24°50' north latitude, 119°59' minutes east longitude, to 23°17' north latitude, 117°51' minutes east longitude.
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