Taiwan expresses concerns over militarisation in S.China Sea

Taiwan feels uncomfortable about growing military presence in South China Sea

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Chinese dredging vessels seen in the waters around Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

Taiwan's Defence Ministry warned on Wednesday in a rare comment on the disputed South China Sea that countries in the region were spending more on bolstering their military strength as tension in the area increased.

Taiwan's claim to the South China Sea reflects that of mainland China, with both staking their territorial assertions on maps Chinese Nationalists drew up when they ruled the country before fleeing to Taiwan in 1949.

But Taiwan has stayed relatively low-key on the issue unlike mainland China, which has been backing up its claims with the construction of ports and airstrips on remote islands in the disputed waters.

"Neighbouring countries have increased their military budgets and weapons procurement and are adjusting some of their military deployments and conducting joint drills at sea," Taiwan Defence Minister Kao Kuang-chi told parliament as he presented it with his ministry's latest defence report.

Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also have overlapping claims to parts of the energy-rich waters through which more than US$5 trillion of maritime trade passes each year.

Last month, Taiwan's defence ministry cautioned "interested parties" to refrain from taking unilateral measures that would increase tension in the area, after it confirmed Chinese forces had deployed surface-to-air missiles on a tiny island in the South China Sea.

The ministry said in its report that Taiwan continued to pay attention to the modernisation of China's military, which reflected its determination "to protect its core interest".

Beijing considers Taiwan to be one of its core interests and sees the island as a wayward province to be taken back by force if necessary.

TRTWorld, Reuters