BEIJING—Taiwan’s inside minister has paid out a rare pay a visit to to a disputed island in the South China Sea and inaugurated a new wharf and lighthouse there, reasserting his government’s territorial statements in a location in which China’s land reclamation has ignited worldwide tensions.
Chen Wei-zen and other senior officers flew to Taiping Island on Saturday to preside more than a ceremony marking the completion of a two-12 months task to improve infrastructure, according to a statement from Taiwan’s interior ministry.
Taiping Island, which homes a navy airfield, is the biggest natural island in the Spratlys chain and the only a single controlled by Taiwan, whose promises in the region overlap with those of China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines and Brunei.
Chinese officials couldn’t be attained for remark. The defense ministry in Beijing issued a statement Sunday saying the Chinese navy experienced carried out exercises in the South China Sea in recent days, with out saying precisely when or where.
The statement said the exercises had been a program portion of this year’s naval coaching plans.
Infrastructure-developing in the South China Sea has been a highly divisive problem because early this year when satellite pictures uncovered the extent of China’s land reclamation around rocks and reefs it controls in the Spratlys.
The U.S. and many of China’s neighbors have expressed worry that Beijing could use the synthetic islands, which contain at least a single completed airstrip, to enforce its territorial statements and build management more than one of the world’s busiest delivery routes.
In Oct, China accused the U.S. of violating its sovereignty right after a U.S. Navy ship sailed inside of twelve nautical miles of the Chinese-created islands. Final thirty day period, U.S. B-52 bombers also flew around the islands.
Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade Chinese province, has introduced alone as a mediator in the dispute, with its president, Ma Ying-jeou, proposing a new mechanism for a peaceful resolution in Might.
The statement from Taiwan’s inside ministry did not mention China’s land reclamation or the U.S. reaction, and repeated President Ma’s pledge to switch Taiping Island into a peaceful, reduced-carbon ecological reserve.
But Mr. Chen, the interior minister, also thanked coastline-guard personnel and construction staff for aiding to protect the island, in accordance to the statement.
And he reaffirmed Taiwan’s placement that Taiping need to be regarded as a organic island, rather than a rock, because it had enough ground h2o and other resources to sustain human lifestyle, according to the assertion.
Underneath the United Nations Convention on the Legislation of the Sea, a all-natural island able of sustaining human habitation is entitled to an exclusive financial zone—which allows regulation of issues this sort of as mineral and fishing rights—stretching up to 200 nautical miles from its shores.
Defense authorities say Taiwan has been creating a new wharf on Taiping Island—also identified as Itu Aba—to enable bigger ships to dock there, although upgrading its airstrip to allow frequent flights by bigger cargo planes.
The island’s 1,195-meter (three,944-foot) airstrip is massive adequate to accommodate Taiwan’s F-sixteen fighters, C-130 Hercules cargo planes and P-three maritime patrol plane, in accordance to the Heart for Strategic and Intercontinental Studies, or CSIS, in Washington.
Taiwan took handle of Taiping Island in 1946, proven a everlasting base in 1956 and sent 100 coastline-guard staff to exchange its marines there in 2000, according to the CSIS Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, which monitors territorial disputes in the region.
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