Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) yesterday proved to be a popular destination, with a group of lawmakers making a flying visit, while a small flotilla of Taiwanese fishing boats set sail for the largest feature in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), all aiming to press the nation’s sovereignty claim as well as highlight its “island” status.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣), co-convener of the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee, initiated the lawmakers’ trip. He was joined by three KMT lawmakers and four from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
After the group toured a newly built port and other infrastructure and watched 40mm guns being fired during a training exercise, Chiang said that there is no denying that Itu Aba is an island.
He also voiced his gratitude to the Coast Guard Administration personnel stationed on the island.
“It is clear that Taiping Island is unlike the ‘rocks’ nearby and it is definitely not a rock that the tribunal said it is,” Chiang said, referring to The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration and its ruling that all of the Spratlys are rocks.
Construction work on Itu Aba over the years has made it a place that is able to sustain long-term habitation, he said.
Photo: Damon Lin, Reuters
“I have just had locally produced coconut water, and there is fresh water and even solar energy on the island,” he said. “The infrastructure here is more developed than in many places.”
DPP Legislator Wang Ding-yu (王定宇) said there are wells, solar-power systems, a new port, plants and trees indigenous to the island.
“There are also things left behind by Japanese forces during World War II,” Wang said. “Not only is sovereignty over Taiping Island indisputable, the fact that it is an island is unquestionable.”
Photo: AFP / The Office of KMT Legislator Johnny Chiang
The security detail on the island was normal, he said, adding that he hoped the government could forever safeguard the territory.
DPP Legislator Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) said he had used his mobile phone to make a video of a female coast guard member stationed on Taiping to give to her family in Tainan.
The woman, surnamed Liu (劉), said in the video that she has been doing well on the island and looked after by her superiors.
“I hope that I could continue working in this unit to serve [the nation],” she said.
In Taipei, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said the office had no comment on the lawmakers’ trip, adding that the office would respect the Ministry of National Defense’s arrangements concerning Itu Aba.
In related news, five fishing boats departed from Pingtung County’s Sinyuan Township (新園) at about noon, with 20 fishermen aboard the vessels, which were draped with Republic of China flags and banners bearing the words “safeguard fishing rights in the South China Sea,” and “protect ancestral assets.”
Fishing boat owner Cheng Chun-chung (鄭春忠), who organized the trip, said that he had been warned on Tuesday by a fishery official that he risked having his boat license revoked if he sailed to Itu Abu because his license is only valid for trips to Hong Kong and China.
He told reporters that he was willing to take the risk.
The flotilla was seen off by a small crowd of onlookers who shouted their support and set off firecrackers as the boats departed.
The fishermen said that their group is scheduled to arrive at Itu Aba in five to six days.
Additional reporting by staff writer
HONG KONG SECURITY: The president blasted regulations requiring Taiwanese agents or political organizations to provide information on their Hong Kong-related activities President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) yesterday warned of countermeasures should controversial Chinese national security legislation imposed on Hong Kong undermine or harm Taiwanese interests. Article 43 of the legislation empowers the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region to serve written notices to Taiwanese political organizations or individual agents to furnish information on their Hong Kong-related activities, including their personal particulars, finances, assets, expenditure and capital in the territory. Failure to comply or providing false or incomplete information can result in a fine of HK$100,000 (US$12,903) or imprisonment of six months or two years respectively. Tsai said that Taiwan would keep a close watch on how
FORCED LABOR: Customs officials have seized a 11.8 tonne shipment of products made from human hair on suspicion they were produced by people facing human rights abuses Federal authorities in New York City on Wednesday seized a shipment of weaves and other beauty accessories suspected to be made out of human hair taken from people locked inside a Chinese internment camp. US Customs and Border Protection (CPB) officials said that 11.8 tonnes of hair products worth an estimated US$800,000 were in the shipment. “The production of these goods constitutes a very serious human rights violation, and the detention order is intended to send a clear and direct message to all entities seeking to do business with the United States that illicit and inhumane practices will not be tolerated in
JUST QUESTIONS: Expelled reporter Ai Kezhu said that every member of Southeast Television had complied with the law and had not appeared on any talk shows Two Chinese reporters yesterday left Taiwan after the government revoked their accreditation and ordered them to leave amid a probe into allegations that several Chinese media outlets have set up studios and produced political talk shows in Taiwan. The two reporters — Ai Kezhu (艾珂竹) and Lu Qiang (盧薔) — worked for Fujian Province-based Southeast Television and arrived in Taiwan in December last year. The Mainland Affairs Council has launched an investigation after local media reported that Chinese broadcasters — including China Central Television, Southeast Television and FJTV — had set up studios in Taipei and produced political talk shows. Council Deputy Minister
PROBE LAUNCHED: An officer who served as a supervisor in the drill died in an apparent suicide after the accident, which was caused by unexpected waves Two marines who were on Friday injured in a military exercise in the waters off Kaohsiung passed away yesterday, Navy Command said. The marines — surnamed Tsai (蔡), 26, and a sergeant surnamed Chen (陳), 36 — were in a seven-member Marine Corps team that encountered rough seas during a simulated response to enemy forces landing on Taiwan. Their rubber craft overturned in waters off Taoziyuan (桃子園) beach in Zuoying District (左營), injuring four of the marines. They were rushed to hospital, where three of them — Tsai, Chen and a 34-year-old sergeant — were taken to an intensive care unit