Lawmakers and fishermen protest at disputed isle
TAIWANESE lawmakers and fishermen headed to an island in the disputed South China Sea yesterday to protest against an international tribunal ruling that undermined Taipei’s claims there.
Eight lawmakers from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party and the opposition Kuomintang (KMT) flew to Taiping island in the disputed Spratly island chain.
Later, five fishing boats also set sail to Taiping from southern Pingtung county over the perceived threat to fishermen’s livelihoods. The boats will arrive in five days.
The protests come after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on July 12 that China has no historic rights to its claimed “nine-dash line” in the South China Sea and that it had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone.
Crucially for Taipei, it ruled that Taiwan-administered Taiping, the largest island in the Spratlys chain, was legally a “rock” that did not give it an exclusive economic zone, undermining Taiwanese claims to waters surrounding the island.
Taiwan last week sent a warship to the South China Sea “to defend maritime territory”.
“The ruling is absolutely unacceptable. It is necessary for us to visit Taiping to show the international community that it is an island, not a rock,” said KMT lawmaker Johnny Chiang, who is heading the protest contingent.
The lawmakers will watch a display of combat skills by the coast guards on Taiping as well as facilities that show the island is self-sufficient.