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Taiwan’s opposition to reaffirm sovereignty on Taiping

Reporter Dimitri Bruyas
Release time:2024/05/16 18:26
Last update time:2024/05/16 18:26
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TAIPEI (TVBS News) — Legislators from the opposition Kuomintang and Taiwan People's Party will visit Taiping Island on Saturday to observe Coast Guard exercises, inspect a newly built pier, and reassert Taiwan’s sovereignty over the territory, which is 1,600 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung. Last week, the Ministry of Defense provided details about the trip that could potentially revive tensions in the South China Sea.

As Taiwan prepares for President-elect Lai Ching-te's inauguration and faces increased Chinese Coast Guard activity near Kinmen Island, analysts warn that the visit could destabilize Lai's initial days in office. They suggest the opposition’s actions might further strain relations with nations with territorial claims in the South China Sea.

 

Since 1956, Taiwan has maintained control over the area, known locally as "Taiping Island" and internationally as "Itu Aba." This territory is also claimed by China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Taiping Island has essential facilities, including a hospital, a farm, and a runway, primarily to support the 200 members of Taiwan’s Coast Guard and aid military resupply efforts. In 2016, a Hague tribunal determined that Itu Aba cannot be recognized as an "island" eligible for sovereignty claims under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.

To learn more about the recent improvements on Taiping Island, the inspection team will discreetly travel from southern Taiwan at 7 a.m., arriving at Taiping Island by 10:30 a.m. After taking a group photo and lunching on-site, they will return by a 1 p.m. flight, expected at Pingtung Airport by 4:30 p.m. No local or international media will participate in the one-day trip.

The ruling party hopes this visit won't escalate the South China Sea disputes or draw undue attention from the United States. They also fear the legislators' actions could undermine Taiwan's diplomatic progress since 2016. Amid growing concerns, however, no members of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party are set to participate in the visit.
 
 

Taiwan Affairs

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#Taiwan#Taiping Island#South China Sea#China#territorial claims#sovereignty#Coast Guard#Itu Aba#Taiwan People’s Party#Kuomintang

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