The Legislative Yuan’s Internal Administration Committee is on Thursday to inspect the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島).
Committee chair and Legislator Chen Yu-chen (陳玉珍), of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), in late May had scheduled a visit to the islands and invited then-Kaohsiung mayor Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜) in the hopes that it would boost his popularity ahead of a June recall vote against Han.
The trip was canceled due to poor weather and Han was ultimately recalled.
Photo provided by the Water Resources via CNA
The visit is for the committee to inspect the work of the Ocean Affairs Council and the Coast Guard Administration, Chen said.
Although Chen said that the visit carried no political connotation, it came amid reports that the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is to hold military exercises this month.
In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Aug. 1, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese military was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the islands.
A number of Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators yesterday said it would be inappropriate to visit the islands, given tense cross-strait relations.
Although it is common for legislators to inspect troops, visiting the islands now might not be a good idea, given national security concerns, DPP Legislator Huang Shih-chieh (黃世杰) said
Chen should first consult with the Ministry of National Defense and the coast guard before proceeding, Huang added.
Chen said that “visiting part of the nation’s territory is a matter of course,” and that the “DPP suddenly being so apprehensive about the Chinese Communist Party is a farce.”
“What happened to those people who constantly go on about protecting the nation’s sovereignty?” she said.
KMT Legislator Lin Wen-jui (林文瑞) said the KMT had been considering whether to visit the islands for some time.
If legislators cannot visit the islands during a sensitive time, then there would be no point in visiting at any time, he said.
Separately yesterday, academics cautioned that the nation should refrain from making waves in the South China Sea amid a dispute between Beijing and Washington over the region.
US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper in a telephone conversation with Chinese Minister of National Defense General Wei Fenghe (魏鳳和) earlier this month expressed concern over China disrupting regional peace near Taiwan and in the South China Sea, while Wei accused Washington of vilifying China with the charge and demanded that the US correct its rhetoric and behavior.
Meanwhile, Japanese Minister of Defense Taro Kono in an interview this month warned that anyone who tries to change the “status quo” in the South China Sea would have to pay dearly for their actions, pointing to China’s land reclamation projects and military activities in the region.
The military has declined to comment on the reported increase in deployment of PLA troops to the Pratas Islands, following speculation of a drill simulating an invasion.
DPP Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) said that growing tensions were due to China’s heightened activity in the region, which he said has negatively affected regional peace.
Taiwan should refrain from large-scale operations in the South China Sea and it does not need to draw attention to its activities in the region, Lo said.
The nation should maintain its military presence in the region to defend its sovereignty and continue to conduct war games, he added.
Institute of National Defense and Security Research analyst Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲) said the Pratas Islands and Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) represent an important part of the nation’s sovereignty.
Measures to improve the nation’s deployment of soldiers on the islands include adding camouflaged outposts, mobile protected firepower, and missiles with point-defense capabilities such as the AGM-114 Hellfire and the FIM-92 Stinger, Su said.
The military could consider deploying armored vehicles to the islands to fend off enemy amphibious landing craft and attack helicopters, he said.
Additional reporting by Chen Yun
‘VIRUS DIPLOMACY’: The nation’s expertise in handling COVID-19 was among the reasons that it should not be excluded from the WHO, the European Parliament said The European Parliament this week passed resolutions that support Taiwan’s bid to participate in the WHO and its intention to negotiate a trade pact with Taiwan. During its plenary session from Monday to Thursday, the parliament approved resolutions on the foreign policy consequences of the COVID-19 outbreak and the EU’s trade policy, parts of which were viewed as friendly toward Taiwan by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In a statement yesterday, the ministry welcomed the passage of the resolutions and thanked the parliament for its support for Taiwan. In the first resolution, the parliament cited Beijing’s increasing threats to Taiwan, the crackdown on
LOOPHOLES: The people behind biased media content produced by a Chinese network, likely without sending staff to Taiwan, remain anonymous, a source said Beijing’s latest attempt at psychological warfare through heavily biased online media is aimed at sowing discord and polarizing Taiwanese society, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said. The council’s comment came in response to Chinese network Southeast Television, which late last month began broadcasting an online program featuring commentary by Taiwanese unification supporters that authorities suspect was filmed illegally in Taiwan. To circumvent cross-strait regulations, the broadcaster collaborated with online service provider Baidu to air the series titles Diverse Voices From the Taiwan Strait (台海百家說). Only Taiwanese are shown on camera, without revealing the host, interviewer or production team. In one video, political commentator and
SUPPRESSION: Michael Tsai, a former defense minister, said that Beijing’s list of Taiwan independence advocates contravenes the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights The best way to respond to threats from China against Taiwan independence advocates is for the president to publicly reiterate Taiwan’s sovereignty, former minister of national defense Michael Tsai (蔡明憲) said on Sunday. Chinese media on Nov. 15 said that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was compiling “a list of stubborn Taiwanese separatists and will severely punish them in accordance with [China’s] Anti-Secession Law and hold them accountable for their actions for the rest of their lives.” Chinese media subsequently accused Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) of being a “first-rate war criminal,” because of his policy on mask exports. “The vast majority
Trial runs on the first line of Taichung’s MRT rail system could be further delayed after the Taichung City Government asked for more comprehensive safety checks following a malfunction. Trial runs on the Green Line began on Nov. 16, but were suspended after one of the trains on Nov. 21 reported a malfunction at the Taichung High Speed Rail Station terminal. Taichung Mass Rapid Transit Corp (TMRTC) the same day said that all services would be suspended until the problem is resolved. Kawasaki Heavy Industries, the train’s manufacturer, said that a US-made coupling connecting two carriages had broken, which the