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

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

Ali Regained Title in Historic Fight 40 Years Ago

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license 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.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid