The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reasserted Taiwan’s sovereignty over a series of islands in the South China Sea, following news that Japan will help the Philippines boost its maritime security mechanisms.
Islands in the South China Sea are the “undisputed territory” of the Republic of China (Taiwan), James Chou (周穎華), deputy director-general of the Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, told a press conference.
Asked by reporters whether Taiwan was following the news that Japan will provide a dozen patrol boats to the Philippines to improve its maritime security, Chou said: “Taiwan has kept abreast of the situation.”
Japan will deliver 12 “state-of-the-art” patrol vessels to the Philippines by 2014 to help the Southeast Asian country combat maritime piracy and enhance sea rescue measures, according to media reports.
The announcement comes amid rising tensions between Manila and Beijing over areas of the South China Sea, including Scarborough Shoal (Huangyan Island, 黃岩島), as well as recent reports that China will dispatch a military garrison to Yongxing Island (永興島), also known as Woody Island, in the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島).
Japan has been helping the Philippines upgrade its coast guard fleet since the 1990s.
Tokyo also gives development aid to Manila on a long-term basis.
Asked whether Japan’s assistance to the Philippines would bring about a change in the South China Sea’s political equation, Chou said “more observation is needed.”
Taiwan, China and several countries in Southeast Asia claim all or part of the South China Sea, an area that is said to be rich in oil and natural gas reserves.