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

Video Drug Use Rises in Afghanistan

Ninety percent of world’s heroin comes from Afghanistan More

Here's Your Chance to Live in a Deserted Shopping Mall

About one-third of the 1200 enclosed malls in the US are dead or dying. Here's what's being done with them. More

Video NASA: Big Antarctica Ice Shelf Is Disintegrating

US space agency’s new study indicates Larsen B shelf could break up in just a few years 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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs