Law­mak­ers and fish­er­men protest at dis­puted isle

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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.

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