Thu, Aug 30, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Lawmakers plan to watch live-fire drill on Taiping

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Lawmakers from the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee will set off for Taiping Island (太平島) on Tuesday to witness a live-fire training exercise.

The government has scheduled to conduct a live-fire exercise from Sunday through Wednesday on Taiping Island, after shipping 40mm anti-aircraft guns and 120mm mortars earlier this month to help reinforce defenses.

The installment follows a committee’s resolution in May calling for an enhancement of defense capability amid tensions in the contested region.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Chan Kai-chen (詹凱臣) said Tuesday’s trip was timed to assert the nation’s sovereignty over the territory amid intensifying competing claims over the region.

The number of participants was expected to be less than 30, including lawmakers, Ministry of National Defense and Coast Guard Administration officials, and reporters, according to the office of KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方).

The Taiwan-controlled Taiping, the largest isle in the Spratly Islands (南沙群島), lies about 1,600km southwest of Greater Kaohsiung in the South China Sea.

The Coast Guard Administration has had personnel stationed on Taiping since the ministry withdrew marines in 1999.

Vietnamese foreign ministry spokesman Luong Thanh Nghi urged Taiwan to cancel the live-fire exercise, saying the drill would undermine regional peace and stability.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Steve Hsia (夏季昌) rebutted the protest.

The Republic of China has long exercised effective rule over the Taiping and the country’s sovereignty over the island is “beyond dispute,” he said. “All activities and measures we exercise there are legal and will not cause regional tensions.”

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