The government plans to add a lighthouse to Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), part of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) in the South China Sea, where it is expanding a runway and building a port.
“The light it provides will launch the South China Sea Peace Initiative,” an official familiar with the government’s South China Sea policies said.
The official, who requested anonymity, said the design and construction of the lighthouse by CECI Engineering Consultants Inc Taiwan (台灣世曦工程顧問公司) was commissioned by the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, which would verify that the work is on schedule in July next year, or in 2016, if construction is delayed.
Photo: Tsao Po-Yen, Taipei Times
The project’s completion would be significant, the official said, and a ceremony would take place.
The possibility of “President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) attending the ceremony on the island in person” is not excluded, the source said.
The official also said that as China, Vietnam and the Philippines all have competing claims in the area, with some fairly close to the site, the height and “nominal range” of the lighthouse would be adjusted according to suggestions from relevant agencies, to avoid provocation.
China decided to build lighthouses on five reefs in the disputed Spratlys and the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), this year, which the US called threatening.
Taiwan is developing infrastructure, said the official, which includes improving runways to accommodate C-130 transport and P-3C marine patrol aircraft.
As for construction of the port, the ships rented to transport caissons and concrete structures to anchor the wharf were found to be Chinese-owned, which sparked controversy and in the end caused the transportation of materials to be halted. However, the ministry has been considering other alternatives and plans to restart and complete the port’s construction as soon as possible.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said the decision to erect a lighthouse on Itu Aba Island was an olive branch to neighboring countries, a declaration of peace, since a lighthouse would have a positive effect on rescue efforts at sea.
While there are more Philippine and Vietnamese vessels than Taiwanese in the waters near Itu Aba Island, the lighthouse is a political move calling for peace, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said that the decision to build the lighthouse was also a political message.
As the nation has Coast Guard Administration personnel stationed on the island, it is important to ensure sovereignty over the island, Chiu said, adding that he hoped the Ma administration would propose concrete measures to provide sufficient manpower, equipment and logistical support to maintain defenses on the island.
‘FREEDOM WINE’: Taiwanese are empathetic of Australians, the president said, while lawmakers called on their constituents to drink Australian wine to show their support Taiwan would take action to back Australians at a time when they are “under tremendous pressure,” President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday, as tensions between Australia and China heated up. Taipei and Canberra have been mutually supportive in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, especially in exchanging critical medical materials in the early stages, Tsai said, before chairing the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Central Standing Committee meeting in Taipei. Taiwan and Australia are like-minded nations, sharing the common values of democracy, freedom and human rights, while their economic and trade relations have also become close, she said. Canberra has been voicing support for Taiwan’s international
VIGILANCE: From tomorrow all arrivals must provide the result of a PCR test issued within three days of boarding, and the CECC asked people to report anyone who has faked their result The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) expects an increase in the number of returning travelers in the coming days, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said yesterday, adding that the varying qualities of COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test reports from other countries is a big concern. Chen, who heads the center, was speaking to the media on the sidelines of a Taiwan Foundation for Rare Disorders scholarship award ceremony in Taipei. “As the global COVID-19 situation is worsening, and with some holidays coming up, there might be an increase in the number of overseas Taiwanese returning to Taiwan,” he
CECC RULES: The autumn-winter COVID-19 prevention program, including mandatory mask wearing in eight types of public venues and indoor facilities, begins today A temporary, two-week ban on Indonesian migrant workers entering the nation is to begin on Friday, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) announced yesterday as it reported 24 new imported cases of COVID-19. Twenty of the new cases are Indonesian migrant workers who arrived between Nov. 11 and Friday last week, said Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center. The cases were discovered during a special project on Friday to conduct polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on all 939 recently arrived Indonesian migrant workers in centralized quarantine facilities, as the majority of imported cases in the past
Passports with a redesigned cover highlighting Taiwan would be issued starting on Jan. 11, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The new cover design, which was announced on Sept. 2, highlights Taiwan by printing the word in a larger font. While the new passport cover retains “the Republic of China” in Chinese, the English name is printed along the outer circle of the national emblem, which would enable other nations to clearly identify that it is a Taiwanese passport, not a Chinese passport, the ministry said. The costs and application procedures for the new version are the same as