Tue, Aug 14, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers planning inspection of Taiping Island

Staff writer, with CNA

A group of lawmakers is scheduled to visit Taiping Island (太平島) by the middle of next month to inspect Taiwan’s new military reinforcements in the disputed South China Sea area, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方) said on Sunday.

Lin, convener of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, said 120mm mortars and 40mm anti-aircraft guns were shipped to the island last week and their installation was under way.

He said the weapons would strengthen the nation’s defense capabilities on the island.

The weapons were handed over by the Ministry of National Defense to the Coast Guard Administration (CGA), which is responsible for defending the island.

With an area of some 0.49km2, Taiping is the largest of the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), which lie about 1,600km southwest of Greater Kaohsiung.

If the weather permits, a group of lawmakers will travel to the island to inspect the weapons deployment before the legislature opens on Sept. 18, Lin said.

The installation of the weapons should be completed by the end of next month, the coast guard has said.

The reinforcement of Taiping was proposed by Lin, who paid an inspection visit to the island in April and reported that there were not enough defensive weapons there.

The upgrade in weaponry comes amid several disputes over territorial claims to the South China Sea region. The area is claimed either entirely or in part by Taiwan, Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

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