Lawmakers will visit the Dongsha Islands (東沙群島), also known as the Pratas Islands, on Thursday in a bid to “manifest sovereignty” over the area, in an trip organized by a Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislator.
“The mission is to manifest sovereignty and to pay respect to coast guard personnel on the islands,” DPP Legislator Tsai Huang-liang (蔡煌瑯) said.
Tsai initiated the trip after DPP lawmakers on the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee were not invited by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) to join an inspection trip to Taiping Island (太平島), one of the Spratly Islands (南沙群島) in the disputed South China Sea, on Monday last week.
“All lawmakers are welcome to join. Asserting the country’s sovereignty is an action that must be open and above board. There is no need to be furtive in our actions,” Tsai said.
Lin said that he had tried to keep the Taiping trip low profile due to concerns over ongoing tensions in the South China Sea and worries that the trip could have fallen through if the weather had been bad, but he said had no intention of concealing the information from the DPP.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖), two officials from the National Security Council, KMT Legislator Chan Kai-chen (詹凱臣) and a second KMT lawmaker traveled to Taiping in addition to Lin.
Lin had apologized for not inviting DPP lawmakers on the trip, but he blamed his staffers for that, saying they forgot to attach a detailed itinerary when they sent out the notification that the committee had arranged a tour to inspect military facilities in South Taiwan.
No KMT lawmakers have yet signed up for the Pratas trip. Lin said he needed to check his schedule, as did Chan.
The Pratas are located 450km off Taiwan’s southwestern coastline.