The Ministry of National Defense and the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) will hold a joint military exercise in the overlapping waters of Taiwan and the Philippines this week, Deputy Minister of National Defense Andrew Yang (楊念祖) said yesterday.
Taiwan’s naval forces are more than a match for the Philippine Navy, Yang said, amid a dispute over the killing of a Taiwanese fisherman by personnel aboard a Philippine Coast Guard vessel on Thursday last week.
“We without a doubt have adequate forces [against the Philippines],” he said.
Photo: CNA, courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration
Yang told lawmakers at a meeting of the legislature’s Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee that the ministry may hold a large-scale military exercise with the CGA this month. He did not elaborate.
Lawmakers threw their support behind the planned exercise as they adopted a resolution demanding that the drill utilize the coast guard’s 2,000-tonne Hsinbei vessel, the first CGA patrol boat equipped with a 40mm anti-aircraft cannon, as well as navy destroyers and frigates.
The combined exercise would be held in waters about 164 nautical miles (304km) southeast of the southernmost tip of Taiwan, where the 15-tonne Taiwanese fishing boat Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was attacked by a Philippine Coast Guard vessel, leading to the death of Taiwanese fisherman Hung Shih-cheng (洪石成).
If the Philippines fails to respond to the ultimatum by Taiwan regarding the incident, the ministry and the CGA should disperse fishing boats from the Philippines in waters within the 200-nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone claimed by Taiwan, carry out onboard checks or detain the boats, the resolution said.
Following the incident, the navy on Sunday dispatched a LaFayette-class frigate to join three coast guard ships to patrol the waters.
On Thursday, a Kidd-class destroyer and a Cheng Kung class frigate are to be dispatched to join two coast guard ships already patrolling the Bashi Channel for training operations, Yang said.
While the CGA will continue to serve as the frontline force to protect fishing boats, the military will offer full backup and support, Yang said.
Activities involving the use of firearms by national defense forces require authorization by the minister of defense.
“Yes, we are ready. The ministry will authorize the use of force” if coast guard ships are attacked by the Philippine Navy, Yang said, in response to a question by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方).
CGA Deputy Minister Cheng Chang-hsiung (鄭樟雄) said coast guard personnel have been authorized to use machine guns or rifles, but not 20mm cannons or other heavier weapons, which would require further authorization from the Coast Guard Administration minister.
Cheng said the CGA is also considering installing more 40mm cannons on coast guard vessels.
According to the CGA, the Kuang Ta Hsing No. 28 was operating 1.8 nautical miles (3.3km) beyond the temporary law enforcement line when it was confronted by the Philippine Coast Guard and left disabled within the enforcement line.
At a meeting of the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee, CGA Minister Wang Jinn-wang (王進旺) and Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Hu Sing-hwa (胡興華) both agreed to consider expanding the line further southward.
Navy Chief of Staff Vice Admiral Hsu Pei-shan (許培山) said the navy’s first attack should be authorized by the minister of defense.
Lin asked the defense ministry to authorize naval ships to use certain weapons without giving the ministry prior notice.
According to CGA statistics, Philippine vessels intruded around Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the South China Sea 154 times between 2000 and last year, and 34 times around the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), but Taiwan’s coast guard did not expel, intercept or detain any of the vessels, Lin added.
Cheng said that according to coast guard regulations, its ships should expel intruding vessels.
Additional reporting by Rich Chang
SMALL RESPITE: The past few rainy days, which came after one month of virtually no rain on the west coast, did not ease Taiwan’s water shortage problems, the CWB said A weather system from southern China has over the past three days replenished Taiwan’s reservoirs with almost 16 million tonnes of water, giving Taiwan a slight relief from a water shortage, the Water Resources Agency (WRA) said yesterday. From 12am on Tuesday to 4pm yesterday, about 15.97 million tonnes fell in the catchment areas of the nation’s reservoirs, which is slightly more than Taiwan’s average daily water use, it said. However, the rain would ease today, with only isolated showers forecast in Hualien and Taitung counties, as well as in southern Taiwan, the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) said. For other regions, cloudy to
A debt dispute between a restaurant owner and a criminal ring might be behind a bizarre cockroach attack at the Taipei eatery on Monday night while it was hosting a police gathering, Taipei Police Commissioner Chen Jia-chang (陳嘉昌) said yesterday. Preliminary findings of a police investigation into the case at the G House Taipei suggest that the unusual incident might have been directed at the restaurant’s owner, who allegedly owes money to the Bamboo Union, Chen said. The suspects were Bamboo Union members and there was no evidence indicating that the cockroaches were targeted at the police officers at the restaurant, he
Taiwan’s armed forces should closely monitor China’s development of a new tanker aircraft, as it would significantly boost the Chinese air force’s capability to carry out long-range raids, a military expert said on Wednesday. Ou Si-fu (歐錫富), a research fellow at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, said in an online article that China is developing a tanker variant of its Y-20 military transport aircraft, known as the Y-20U. The Y-20 has a maximum take-off weight of 220 tonnes and the tanker variant is expected to carry up to 60 tonnes of fuel, more than three times the maximum
TRAVELING WHILE CONTAGIOUS: The highest risk of infection is indoors, especially in settings where people take off their masks to eat and drink, an expert warned The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday posted a list of places visited by people who were recently diagnosed with COVID-19 while they were likely contagious, urging people who visited the sites at the same time to practice self-health management. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that confirmed case No. 1,129 — a woman in her 60s who works at Novotel Taipei Taoyuan International Airport, a designated quarantine facility, and tested positive on Friday — visited Chiayi between Friday last week and Monday. On the first day of her trip, she visited the Big Chiayi