Legislators to inspect drill on Taiping
The China PostBy Joseph Yeh--Lawmakers will be taking an inspection trip to the nation's island territory in the South China Sea for a live-fire drill to be held on Taiping Island next Tuesday, a legislator told local media yesterday.
August 30, 2012, 12:07 am TWN
Ruling Kuomintang (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who concurrently serves as convener of the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, yesterday told the Chinese-language United Evening News that several lawmakers will visit Taiping Island in the Spratlys to boost the morale of the Coast Guard Administration personnel stationed there.
During the visit, the legislators will also inspect a regular live-fire drill to be held between Sept. 1-5 on the island to reinforce Taiwan's claim of the South China Sea area and the island chains there, according to Lin.
The legislative delegation was scheduled to stay overnight at southern Pingtung Airport on Sept. 3 before taking a military C-130 transportation aircraft to arrive at Taiping the next day around noon. But the actual choice of itinerary depends on weather conditions, Lin said.
The upcoming drill, however, will not feature the eight sets of 40mm autocannons and a certain number of 120mm mortars that were recently shipped to the island to beef up its defenses, unidentified military sources were quoted in the report.
Upcoming Drill Draws Protest
Taiwan had previously informed its neighboring countries that it plans to conduct a live-fire training exercise on Taiping Island next week. The plan, however, raised protest from Vietnam, who also claims sovereignty of the area, saying that the move was an encroachment on its sovereignty over the Spratlys.
The United States also reportedly expressed concern over the drill plan, urging Taiwan to restrain itself amid the sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea over the past several months, the report said.
When asked to comment, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday said that Vietnam's protest was unjustified because Taiping Island has long been under Taiwan's effective control and management.
“Our sovereignty over the island is indisputable and all of our activities and deployments on the island are legal and will never cause regional tensions,” MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia said.
He also reassured that the drill will not raise regional tension since it is only a regular exercise.
Taiwan, mainland China, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines all claim total or partial sovereignty over the South China Sea.
Taiwan controls the Dongsha Islands, the largest island group in the South China Sea, as well as Taiping Island.