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Runway construction on Taiping Island complete

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Minister of National Defense Lee Tien-yu said yesterday that construction of a runway on Taiping Island, the most southerly inhabited territory of the Republic of China, has been completed.

Declaring the new facility and the islet as ROC property and territory, Lee said the ministry will make necessary preparations if President Chen Shui-bian wants to visit that island.

Lee made the remarks in response to media inquiries on reports that some diplomats have warned that if the president flies to Taiping for an inspection of the new runway, the move might trigger protests from neighboring countries that also claim sovereignty over the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea — one of which is Taiping — including Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and China.

The runway construction incurred protests from the Vietnamese government in 2005.

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