News / Asia

Taiwan Plans New Infrastructure for Disputed South China Sea Claim

Boats sail on the South China Sea. Boats sail on the South China Sea.
x
Boats sail on the South China Sea.
Boats sail on the South China Sea.
Ralph Jennings
— Taiwan normally keeps quiet about its territorial claims in a sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea. But last week officials in Taipei announced plans to spend more than $100 million on a dock that could receive warships. Its plans call for upgrading an airstrip on the same island, which is the largest in the sea’s Spratly archipelago.Taiwan is moving to assert itself.
 
Taiwan’s intention to spend $112 million on the dock as part of a broader three-year infrastructure plan would raise its profile in the heavily contested South China Sea at a critical time as other claimants retrench. The dock and airstrip projects are set for Taiping Dao, the biggest island in the Spratly chain of largely uninhabited coral atolls.
 
China, the biggest claimant, has sparred increasingly with Vietnam and the Philippines over the ocean since early 2012 as it drills for undersea oil and natural gas. Experts say China is pushing for a secretive alliance with Taiwan, which faced its own spat with the Philippines this year. Brunei and Malaysia also claim parts of the sea which also is valued for fisheries and shipping lanes.
 
Lin Chong-pin, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said Taiwan needs to step forward now after decades of being low key.  “There’s a rising concern in the society that we have not paid enough attention to Taiping Dao. Before, I think we were more concerned about keeping a low profile or peace at sea,” stated Lin.
 
Lin adds that Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou is paying more attention to his South China Sea claim in part because of pressure from Beijing to cooperate on territorial matters but he must also pay attention to Taipei’s informal alliance with the United States.
 
“It would have to do with Ma’s policy of standing between Beijing and Washington. Strengthening Taiping Dao would be a response to Beijing’s call for governing territory. On the other hand, Taiwan before would not like to displease the United States. The United States would like to see peace in that area,” said Lin.
 
Map of TaiwanMap of Taiwan
x
Map of Taiwan
Map of Taiwan
China-Taiwan relations have been tense for decades, as Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan, despite the island's history of self-rule. In 2008 the two sides began cooperating on a range of issues to build mutual trust and bolster Taiwan’s economy. Analysts say China hopes to link up with Taiwan on international political disputes. But many Taiwanese people want the two sides to keep a distance as the United States' old Cold War foe China grows militarily.
 
Taiwan’s Spratly plans, which are now before the ruling party-dominated legislature, also follow a dispute in May with the Philippines. That month Manila’s coast guard shot to death a Taiwanese fisherman in overlapping waters, setting off a diplomatic row that ended only last month. Taiwan demanded that Manila enter fishery talks before it lifted punitive economic sanctions.
 
A year ago Taiwan’s coast guard carried out live-fire exercises on Taiping Dao. Experts say the other claimants are warily watching Taiwan’s moves, especially as diplomatically powerful China bars it from joining multilateral talks on keeping peace.
 
Taiwanese officials say the large dock would be completed by 2016 and may be part of a bigger transportation infrastructure plan for the island.

You May Like

Video China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid