Minister of National Defense Yen Ming (嚴明) yesterday assured the public that troops and military installations on Taiwan’s military outpost on Itu Aba (Taiping Island, 太平島) are not currently under threat from Vietnam.
Yen said that the latest intelligence reports indicated that Vietnam’s did not deploy shoulder-fired missiles on its possession of Sand Cay — known as Dunqian Sand Island (敦謙沙洲) in Chinese and Son Ca Island to the Vietnamese — which lies only 11km east of Itu Aba.
Responding to lawmakers’ questions yesterday, Yen said that intelligence reports pointed to Vietnam enhancing its weapons, including portable missiles, to bolster its military installations in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
“However, information indicated that Vietnam has not yet deployed shoulder-fired missiles on Dunqian Sand Island, so there is no threat to our C-130 military transport planes and supply ships on their regular runs to and from Taiping Island,” he said.
Deputy Minister of National Defense Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said Vietnam’s new portable missiles are the Russian-made SA-16 and SA-18, which are shoulder-fired, infrared-homing surface-to-air missiles. Chiu also said the reports indicated that Vietnam has two 20mm artillery pieces on Sand Cay, which have a range of about 2km.
“The maximum range for SA-16 and SA-18 missiles is 5.5km. Therefore, their portable missiles and artillery guns do not yet pose a threat to Taiping Island and our C-130 transport planes,” he added.
The responses by Yen and Chiu contradicted a report by Ministry of National Defense to the Control Yuan, which warned of a serious threat in the Spratly Islands region due to Vietnam’s recent deployment of shoulder-fired missiles.
Vietnam has undertaken land reclamation to artificially expand the island and begun construction projects to build up military installations to beef up its presence in the area, the ministry’s report said.
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