Taiwan Won’t Militarize Largest South China Sea Island—Defense Minister

Taiwan will not comply with China’s militarization of the South China Sea with its personal island-fortification efforts, its prime protection official advised lawmakers on Tuesday.

The Taiwanese authorities maintains de facto management over the islands of Pratas and Itu Aba (which it calls Dongsha and Taiping) the place it has stationed a number of hundred coast guard personnel for greater than 20 years.

In doing so, Taiwan changed detachments of marines in a transfer that signaled its willingness to de-escalate tensions within the contested waters. Taiwan’s protection minister, Chiu Kuo-cheng, mentioned Taipei had no intention of deviating from this place.

Pratas can be claimed by China, whereas Taiping’s claimants embody China, Vietnam and the Philippines. But just one—specifically Beijing—has spent half a decade turning its South China Sea options into army bases, from which main naval and aerial operations will be carried out.

Over the weekend, the Associated Press reported China’s full militarization of Mischief Reef, Subi Reef and Fiery Cross Reef.

During a South China Sea patrol with Admiral John Aquilino, who instructions American forces within the Pacific, the official described what he believed was China’s “largest military buildup since World War II.”

It included anti-ship and anti-aircraft missile techniques, in addition to lasers, digital jamming tools, and a few fighter plane, he advised the AP on Sunday.

The weaponry poses a risk to the one-third of worldwide transport that passes by the energy-rich sea, over which China claims a “historic right” by way of its oft-cited “Nine-Dash Line.”

Taiwan Says Won't Militarize China Sea Islands
This satellite tv for pc picture revealed by the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, Center for Strategic and International Studies, reveals an summary of Taiwan-controlled Itu Aba, within the Spratly Island chain within the South China Sea, dated January 8, 2018.

Asked a couple of doable response by Taiwan, given Itu Aba’s proximity to China’s absolutely weaponized reefs, Chiu advised the island’s legislators that the federal government would keep the course.

“The reason why everyone has been able to maintain … mutual non-aggression is because of the tacit observation of one rule: don’t attack me, and I won’t attack you,” he mentioned at a parliamentary listening to in Taipei.

“[China] has its own militarization objectives. China has ambitions in the South China Sea, because it believes it has a right to all of it, so it has added some military installations,” he mentioned.

“What we can do, like on Taiping Island, is deploy non-military garrisons, members of the coast guard. What’s the significance of this? To let everyone know that it’s not a militarized facility. Its focus is the maintenance of maritime safety in a peaceful manner,” mentioned Chiu.

1 of three

According the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (AMTI), a challenge beneath Washington’s Center for Strategic and International Studies assume tank, the elliptic Itu Aba, which is 1,000 miles from Taiwan’s southwest port metropolis of Kaohsiung, is the biggest among the many Spratly Islands.

Meanwhile, Pratas Island, 280 miles from Taiwan correct, was designated an atoll nationwide park in 2007.

“Though it has generally focused on keeping the coral reef system surrounding Itu Aba pristine as an example of environmental conservation in the disputed waters, Taiwan did reclaim about eight acres of land to construct a new wharf, which was completed in late 2015,” AMTI’s island tracker mentioned.

In September 2015, throughout a state go to to the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping made a public dedication to not militarize synthetic islands within the South China Sea. On Tuesday, China’s Foreign Ministry mentioned it was “naturally entitled to deploy necessary defense facilities on its own territory.”

Aquilino mentioned China’s militarized reefs served to “expand the offensive capability” of its army behind the nation’s shores. “They can fly fighters, bombers plus all those offensive capabilities of missile systems.

“So that is the risk that exists, that is why it is so regarding for the militarization of those island. They threaten all nations who function within the neighborhood and all of the worldwide sea and airspace,” he told the AP.

Taiwan Says Won't Militarize China Sea Islands
This aerial picture taken from a C-130 transport airplane reveals Taiwan-controlled Ibu Aba, within the Spratly Island chain within the South China Sea, on March 23, 2016. After the highest U.S. commander within the Pacific mentioned China had absolutely militarized no less than three disputed islands within the South China Sea, Taiwan’s Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng mentioned the Taiwanese authorities wouldn’t do the identical, throughout a legislative listening to in Taipei on March 22, 2022.
SAM YEH/AFP by way of Getty Images

Leave a Comment