The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) caucus yesterday called on the government to develop tourism and station more troops on Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島).
KMT caucus secretary-general Lin Te-fu (林德福) urged President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) to visit the island to defend the nation’s sovereignty, rather than just boarding a warship and then sending it to patrol the area.
Tsai yesterday inspected a Kang Ding-class frigate before it departed on a patrol mission to the South China Sea.
Photo: Liu Hsin-de, Taipei Times
“Taiping Island being downgraded to a rock is going to leave sequelae; its exclusive economic zone will be stripped, our logistics work might be restricted by the Philippines, and tensions with Manila will rise,” Lin said, adding that the government should open Itu Aba to tourists and see that there is fresh water, animal farming, vegetable growing and electricity production on the island.
KMT Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) slammed Tsai’s inspection as a stunt.
“The public wants to see her visiting the island to make clear the nation’s claim, not boarding a vessel — that means nothing,” she said.
During yesterday’s meeting of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, Wang suggested that Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong (葉俊榮) market bottled water from Itu Aba to let the world know that the island has a fresh-water source.
KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said Tsai’s administration seemed to have been caught offguard by the ruling.
Neither the premier nor the president have made a public address or held an international news conference, he said.
“We do not know how the government plans to respond to events in the wake of the ruling,” he said.
“The ruling has made possible the scenario in which nations compete to seize resources in the region, that could include natural gas, oil, minerals and fishing rights,” Chiang said. “It would be a state of nature in which might is the determining factor.”
“Now is a time where reasoning and laws are useless, as fists are what really counts,” KMT Legislator Lu Yu-ling (呂玉玲) said. “We should flex our military muscles, increase the number of missiles and troops on the island and stage live-fire military drills in the South China Sea.”
KMT Legislator Hsu Shu-hua (許淑華) took issue with the Japanese judge handling the South China Sea case, who she alleged “did not allow [Taiwanese] fishermen to sail within 200 nautical miles [370.4km] of the Okinotori atoll — which Japan claims is an island.”
“However, given that Taiping Island is 54,000 times larger than the Okinotori atoll, why then is the former a ‘rock’ and the latter an ‘island,’” she said.
Hsu also criticized Tsai for “not openly upholding ‘the U-shaped line’ in the belief that doing so would distance her from China and garner US support.
The “U-shaped line” refers to the Republic of China’s claim of sovereign territory in the South China Sea post-World War II, in accordance with agreements made in the Cairo Declaration of Nov. 27, 1943, and the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945.
“The ruling has indicated that Taiwan cannot leave its diplomatic and cross-strait issues and its sovereignty to other countries,” Hsu said.
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