Taiping Island camp shows sovereignty: Ma
By Grace Soong, The China Post
July 19, 2011, 11:27 pm TWN
President Ma Ying-joeu met with participants of an academic camp, which took place on Taiping Island in July, and commended the effectiveness of the demonstration of Taiwan's soft power by holding such camps, yesterday afternoon.
The camp, organized by the National Taiwan Ocean University (NTOU) with the support of the Ministry National of Defense (MND) for the purpose of academic research, recruited 12 NTOU graduate students, accompanied by Chief of the NTOU Institute of the Law of the Sea Su Hui-ching (蘇惠卿) and Academia Sinica Researcher Song Yann-huei (宋燕輝).
It took place on Taiping Island (太平島, also known as the Itu Aba Island), the largest island in the Spratlys archipelago located in the South China Sea where six countries — Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines - make territorial claims, from July 12 through July 18. Participants traveled to and from the island on a navy frigate during its cruise missions.
According to the MND, Taiping Island was claimed by the Republic of China in 1946, where a summer recreational camp was held in 1967. Now, 44 years later, a summer camp in which those in academics not only witnessed Taiwan's navy guarding and patrolling the country's borders, but also experienced the coral ecology and abundant oceanic resources of the Spratly Islands, fully demonstrated Taiwan's soft power and its sovereignty claim over the South China Sea, the MND pointed out.
Sending camp participants to Taiping Island during navy cruise missions illustrates Taiwan's hard power, the president said, since all navy troops have undergone marine corps training. In addition, the trip demonstrates Taiwan's soft power, as the government has been planning to develop Taiping Island into a low carbon footprint location where solar power is the main energy source, Ma said.
Ma noted that because he did his military service in the navy and was responsible for supplying for the islands, he knew very well about the island. However, he had not yet had the opportunity to actually visit Taiping Island, he said.
Kao Mu-lan (高木蘭), a Ph.D. candidate who participated in the camp, reflected on her experience, saying the trip seemed to her like history in action; she finally realized that the importance of sovereignty for a nation is not as simple as a slogan. After witnessing history, Kao vowed to devote what she has to make the Republic of China visible internationally.