News / Asia

Taiwan Lawmakers Land on Disputed South China Sea Island

A boat of Taiwan's coast guard is seen off the Dongsha Island, on Wednesday July 23, 2008. Concrete pilings designed to prevent an invasion no longer dot this tiny Taiwanese islet's shoreline.A boat of Taiwan's coast guard is seen off the Dongsha Island, on Wednesday July 23, 2008. Concrete pilings designed to prevent an invasion no longer dot this tiny Taiwanese islet's shoreline.
x
A boat of Taiwan's coast guard is seen off the Dongsha Island, on Wednesday July 23, 2008. Concrete pilings designed to prevent an invasion no longer dot this tiny Taiwanese islet's shoreline.
A boat of Taiwan's coast guard is seen off the Dongsha Island, on Wednesday July 23, 2008. Concrete pilings designed to prevent an invasion no longer dot this tiny Taiwanese islet's shoreline.
TAIPEI, Taiwan — A group of Taiwanese legislators landed on an islet in the hotly disputed South China Sea to inspect the level of coast guard protection for its claims in the Spratly archipelago.  Because of its unique political status, Taiwan, normally keeps quiet about its claims to the resource-rich ocean.

A transport aircraft carrying about 30 people led by a group of lawmakers reached Taiping Island early Tuesday.  

Taiwan’s coast guard, which protects the tiny coral island, matched the legislative visit with a series of live-fire exercises using more than 140 grenades, mortars and machine guns.  Group leader and legislator Lin Yu-fang led a group to the same islet in April and found defenses to be inadequate.

Lin told a news conference Taiwan can now defend the small islet.

He says that after the April visit he did not expect the level of defense for Taiping Island could be strengthened so fast.  But based on his trip Tuesday, the lawmaker says, the coast guard looks ready to defend Taiwan’s southernmost piece of land.

On Saturday, Taiwan’s Interior Ministry said the top governmental security adviser had just visited Taiping Island.  The government said later that day Taiwan wanted to be a peacemaker by sharing its experience in managing the islet that supports a hospital and an airstrip.

Taiwan adds that it is also willing to offer humanitarian aid and advice on global warming in the South China Sea.  Taiping belongs to the Spratly Chain and is one of about 500 islets in the disputed ocean area.

The ocean area stretching from Taiwan to Singapore is also claimed, all or in part, by China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines.  The expanse of 3.5-million square kilometers is believed to be rich in undersea oil or natural gas, and most claimants have launched explorations.

Competing claims have sparked naval clashes in other parts of the ocean, including deadly ones in 1974 and 1988, but few involving Taiwan.  The South China Sea dispute has escalated this year with a long standoff between the Philippines and an increasingly aggressive China.

The United States has further irritated China, which is hungry for fish and oil, by asking that it cooperate more with the smaller claimants.

Taiwan cannot assert itself like other governments in the region.  China claims not only the sea, but also Taiwan.  Beijing bars its numerous diplomatic allies in Asia from discussing political matters with officials in Taipei.

Taiwan was unable to join when China met rival claimants earlier this year to discuss a South China Sea code of conduct, talks that ultimately collapsed.  

On a visit to Asia this week, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton again urged China and Southeast Asian nations to work out the code of conduct.

Vietnam has protested in the past over Taiwan’s visits to the South China Sea.  But responses from rival claimants this week have been muted.  Taiwanese Foreign Ministry spokesman Steve Hsia does not expect a major outcry.

He says that Taiwan’s activities on Taiping Island are legal.  Because those moves are backed by law, he says, the Foreign Ministry does believe they will cause no regional anxiety among neighboring countries.

Political analysts in Taipei say foreign governments know they need not worry.  They call the South China Sea visits a response to pressure at home for stronger foreign policy, especially as China grows more powerful.  President Ma’s government has reduced tensions with China since taking office in 2008, but China has never renounced the use of force to assert its sovereignty over Taiwan.

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
September 05, 2012 5:43 AM
Taiwai is a part of China.


by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
September 04, 2012 5:10 PM
as a Chinese I fully support Taiwan to be more assert in Diaoyu island and South China sea disputes. Taiwan has the responsibility to show the world that Diaoyu island and South China sea belong to all Chinese! So no one can blame on CCP.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportionali
X
Aru Pande
December 19, 2014 1:45 AM
The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video US: Response to Sony Hack Will Be Proportional

The White House says President Barack Obama considers the cyberattack on Sony Corp. a serious national security matter and that the U.S. will counter with an "appropriate response." VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid