The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday urged Executive Yuan spokesman Tung Chen-yuan (童振源) to step down over his comment that a group of Taiwanese fishermen making an unauthorized visit to Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the South China Sea could irreparably damage the nation’s sovereignty.
KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Te-fu (林德福) said Tung should resign over his reprehensible remarks.
“A group of fishermen from Pingtung County sailed to Taiping Island for the sole purpose of safeguarding the nation’s sovereignty and their fishing rights, but Tung said that if these fishermen were allowed to set foot on the island, the nation’s sovereignty would be as good as gone,” Lin said at a news conference. “I wonder which nation Tung actually works for. Are those fishermen foreigners in his eyes?”
Lin said the fishermen only decided to take things into their own hands because President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is “too weak” to defend the nation’s sovereignty and protect the livelihoods of fishermen.
KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) criticized Tsai’s administration for its reactions to the fishermen’s self-initiated mission, saying the government has yet to express an ounce of recognition for the flotilla since the day it set sail, nor has it offered any words of encouragement.
The news conference was held one day after Tung reportedly said that because Itu Aba is a military-restricted zone, the nation’s sovereignty would be dissipated if anyone was allowed to visit without prior approval from the Ministry of National Defense.
Hours after Tung’s comments, three of the four Taiwanese fishing boats that departed for Itu Aba on Wednesday last week were permitted to moor at the island’s port on the grounds of “requiring emergency shelter.”
The flotilla was triggered by a July 12 ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, Netherlands, which stated that all high-tide features in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), including Itu Aba, are legally “rocks” rather than islands and therefore not entitled to an exclusive economic zone.
The remarks prompted netizens to edit Tung’s profile on the Chinese-language version of Wikipedia.
Tung’s introduction was changed to “a politician who sells out Taiwan and currently serves as Executive Yuan spokesman,” with his official title reading: “The weakest Executive Yuan spokesman in history.”
Additional reporting by CNA
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