President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has released photographs of soil and water samples he brought back from Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the South China Sea, as part of ongoing efforts to prove to the international community that the island is far from a “rock” as the Philippines has claimed.
One of the photographs, published on Facebook late on Monday evening, features Ma holding a handful of soil he collected from Itu Aba during his visit on Thursday last week, against the backdrop of a map depicting the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島).
In another picture, Ma is seen holding a small jar of water from Itu Aba’s No. 5 well, from which he allegedly drank water.
“The soil in my hands reminds me of veteran crooner Fei Yu-ching’s (費玉清) song Send You a Handful of Earth (送你一把泥土). A section of its lyrics read: ‘Do not forget about this handful of earth from your hometown. Other than your constant feeling of missing me, please safeguard this piece of sacred territory,’” Ma wrote.
Ma said he brought the soil back from Itu Aba, the largest island in the Spratly Islands, which were “recovered” by the armed forces in 1946, along with the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) and the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島).
The military also erected a stone tablet on Itu Aba to mark the recovery of the land mass, where military personnel have been stationed since 1956, Ma said.
“However, in November last year, lawyers representing the Philippines in an arbitration case against China in The Hague, the Netherlands, contended that Taiping Island is merely a ‘rock’ instead of an ‘island,’” Ma said.
If the court accepts that fallacy and rules in favor of the Philippines this year, it could cause Taiwan to lose a large part of its exclusive economic zone, which is equal to about 11 times the size of Taiwan proper, Ma said.
“That is why I had to visit the island in my capacity as president to draw the attention of the international community and the Permanent Court of Arbitration and underline the fact that Taiping Island is undoubtedly an island,” he said.
Ma said that the water from Itu Aba’s No. 5 well was found to be similar to that sold by French mineral water company Evian in terms of quality, adding that it tastes just like any other bottled water on the market.
Ma said it was further proof that Itu Aba has ample sources of drinking water and is “a pearl in the South China Sea” that is full of life.
The president shrugged off criticism regarding the timing of his visit, saying it was his duty as president to defend the nation’s territory.
“The visit was as legitimate as it was necessary and had to be done urgently. I will not be a passive caretaker or neglect my duties just because I have only four months left in office,” Ma said.
INTERNATIONAL WEED DAY: Advocates are to hold a demonstration to push for the decriminalization of marijuana and allowing its use for treatment of certain conditions It is time for Taiwanese society to examine the medical benefits of cannabis, in line with the international trend to lift restrictions on and decriminalize the use of marijuana, two legislators said yesterday, ahead of tomorrow’s “Rally for Equal Rights for Cannabis” in Taipei. Taiwan is one of a few countries holding a “420 International Weed Day” event — which usually takes place around the April 20 weekend — as most nations have canceled it this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, said organizer Green Sensation, which is composed of doctors, lawyers and entertainers, among others. The group released a
DIALOGUE SOUGHT: Washington said it was concerned about the pattern of ongoing attempts to intimidate Taiwan after the 10th day of PLA activity in the region The US on Monday urged Beijing to stop its multifaceted pressure campaign against Taiwan after China sent 25 military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone. “The United States notes with concern the pattern of ongoing PRC [People’s Republic of China] attempts to intimidate the region, including Taiwan,” a US Department of State spokesperson said in an e-mail response to questions. “We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic and economic pressure against Taiwan, and instead engage in meaningful dialogue with Taiwan.” The Ministry of National Defense said that 25 Chinese military aircraft entered the zone on Monday. It was the 10th straight
‘NOT ENTHUSIASTIC’: People who have been approved by the CECC as special cases who need to travel, such as foreign diplomats, would be able to receive a vaccine The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday expanded the eligibility for COVID-19 vaccination to the fourth priority group — people who need to travel abroad for special reasons — adding that out-of-pocket vaccines would be available from Wednesday next week. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said although Taiwan’s COVID-19 vaccination program was on Monday expanded to include the top three groups in the priority list, people are still “not enthusiastic” about getting vaccinated. “Only 1,220 people received a vaccine shot on Tuesday, and a total of 27,113 people have received COVID-19 vaccination” so far, he
CAUTION: People should drink at least 1.5 liters of water per day, while men can eat pumpkin seeds to protect the prostate, a doctor in Taipei said Holding urine for long periods could lead to an atonic bladder, or could cause inflammation of the urinary tract, hematuria or renal retention, a urologist said. Chang Fu-chung (張甫仲), a doctor at Taipei Hospital’s Department of Urology, on Friday last week said that the hospital admitted a 38-year-old woman who complained of a sharp, stinging pain when urinating. Chang said he diagnosed her with urethritis, based on her symptoms and darker-colored urine. The top three groups of people who usually hold off going to the restroom are women, middle-aged and older people with prostatic hyperplasia, and those who fail to drink enough water