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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs