The Ministry of National Defense yesterday denied reports that the Taiwanese army had “secretly” provided Coast Guard Administration forces on Itu Aba (Taiping Island, 太平島) with AT-4 anti-armor rocket launchers to counter landing craft, a move that would have created further controversy with regional claimants.
The news came as legislators and military officials were observing a live-fire exercise on Tuesday by the coast guard, which since 2000 has been in charge of protecting the island, located about 1,600km from Taiwan’s southernmost tip.
Itu Aba is the largest island in the Spratly island chain (南沙群島).
Citing military officials, the Chinese-language United Evening News reported that the AT-4 would help Taiwanese forces defend the island against landing-dock ships and vessels in nearby waters.
However, contacted yesterday, a spokesman at the ministry told the Taipei Times that the AT-4 “was not on the list of items shipped by the ministry to the island last month,” when the coast guard received delivery of an unspecified number of T63 120mm mortar systems and eight Bofors L/60 40mm anti-aircraft guns to replace older weapons. At the time, no announcement was made that the AT-4 would be part of the arms delivery.
Coast guard spokesman Hsieh Ching-chin (謝慶欽) also said that coast guard personnel on the island had not been equipped with the AT-4.
The AT-4, a man-portable unguided anti-armor launcher used by the army, can be used to attack landing craft, land-combat vehicles, and various fortified emplacements. Its 84mm warhead can penetrate armor 44.5cm thick. Its minimum range of 70m would allow forces to attack vessels and landing craft that manage to get very close to the island, which mortar units deployed on the island would be unable to do.
With a range of 6.1km, the new 120mm mortar will provide effective cover for Zhongzhou Reef (中洲礁), a small coral reef located 5km from Itu Aba controlled by Taiwan, but also claimed by China, Philippines and Vietnam. A coast guard vessel and a Vietnamese patrol boat were involved in a brief skirmish near the reef on March 22, which prompted calls for a strengthening of Taiwan’s defenses of the region.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang
GOOD INFLUENCE: Kwan said his mother tutored him at home for a few years, saying that she had to protect his ‘creativity’ as his writing had suffered Director and coproducer of the Oscar-winning absurdist comedy-drama Everything Everywhere All at Once Daniel Kwan (關家永) on Sunday dedicated the movie to his Taiwanese mother, who he said supported his creativity growing up. “She is someone who sacrificed a lot for her kids,” Kwan, 35, said backstage at the Oscars. The movie, released early last year, received a commanding 11 nominations at the Academy Awards, and won seven, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Original Screenplay and Best Film Editing. Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, with whom he also directed the 2016 fantasy film Swiss Army
A domestically developed “suicide drone,” also known as a loitering munition, would be tested and evaluated in July, and could enter mass production next year, Taiwan’s weapons developer said on Wednesday. The yet-to-be-named drone was among nine drone models unveiled by the National Chungshan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST) on Tuesday. The drone has been dubbed the “Taiwanese switchblade” by Chinese-language media, due to its similarity to the US-made AeroVironment Switchblade 300, which has been used by Ukraine in counterattacks during Russia’s invasion. It has a range of more than 10km, a flight time of more than 15 minutes, and an electro-optical
Three people arrested earlier this year for growing cannabis plants with an estimated street value of nearly NT$20 million (US$652,507) in Chiayi County earlier this year could be sentenced to life in prison for breaching the Narcotics Hazard Prevention Act (毒品危害防制條例), Taichung police said yesterday. A couple, surnamed Tsai (蔡), and suspect surnamed Hsu (徐) were found cultivating 91 cannabis plants on a farm in the county after law enforcement agents raided the site in the middle of January when they were about to harvest the field, Taichung police told a news conference. Taichung police said they were tipped off last year
HYGIENE KEY: The CDC reported two cases of enterovirus 71, which can cause serious complications, and as there have been no recent outbreaks, children are not immune Two cases of enterovirus 71 (EV71) were reported last week, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, adding that it was a warning sign, as the virus has not been detected for more than a year. Parents are advised to remind their children to practice good hand hygiene, it said. Guo Hung-wei (郭宏偉), director of the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Center, said that 165,230 people visited a hospital for diarrhea last week, which is a high number. Most of the diarrhea case clusters were caused by norovirus infection, but there were also enterovirus cases, and weekly caseloads are slowly increasing, Guo said. Most of