Nov 30, 2016 Culture Comments Off on Taiwan’s sovereignty over South China Sea indisputable: official
Taiwan has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea, the head of the Coast Guard Administration Lee Chung-wei (??? ) reaffirmed on Wednesday amid protests by Vietnam that a drill conducted by Taiwan encroached on its sovereignty.
Taiwan staged a cross-agency humanitarian rescue drill in waters around Taiping Island in the South China Sea on Tuesday, involving 336 personnel, three planes and eight ships.
Lee said there is no question that the sovereignty of the island belongs to the Republic of China on Taiwan and the government's stance is unwavering.
"All countries arrange exercises and have their own national considerations, but these are separate," Lee said.
"We will continue to plan and conduct our own drills," he added.
As to whether President Tsai Ing-wen (???) will visit Taiping Island to reassert the nation's sovereignty, Lee said the president has stated her position clearly, including expressing a willingness to shelve disputes and undertake joint development of resources.
Whether the president visits Taiping is not an urgent issue, Lee said, though he added "that possibility cannot be ruled out in the future if it becomes necessary."
Hsu Kuo-yung (???), an Executive Yuan spokesperson, reaffirmed Taiwan's sovereignty over Taiping Island, the largest of the Spratly Islands.
Also known as Itu Aba, Taiping conforms to the stipulation in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea that an island must sustain human habitation and have its own economic life, Hsu said.
Lee said Tuesday's drill underscored the importance of coordination and cooperation among government agencies, and the government's policy of turning Taiping Island into a humanitarian rescue and disaster relief center.
Lee said that several important navigation routes pass through the South China Sea, many commercial ships and fishing vessels operate in the area.
As a result, there is potential for accidents and Taiwan will continue to conduct drills there based on different scenarios.
Tuesday's drill simulated a fire on the deck of a foreign cargo ship, which caused injured crew members to jump ship near Taiping Island.
The National Search and Rescue Center dispatched Navy and CGA vessels to the scene, where they rescued the injured and transported them to the island. Once in the hospital, patients were treated by medical staff with assistance from colleagues in Taiwan proper via a video link.
The injured crew members were then transported to a hospital in Pingtung, southern Taiwan, on an Air Force C-130.
The CGA has said it would like to step up rescue missions in conjunction with neighboring countries as part of the policy to turn Taiping Island into an international rescue center and a repair and logistics base.
Six countries -- Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei -- claim sovereignty over parts or all of the islands in South China Sea and their surrounding waters.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel
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