US concerned over ROC role in South China Sea
U.S. officials have expressed mild concern about the possibility of the ROC expanding its military presence in the South China Sea amid rising tensions across the region.
AIT spokesman Christopher Kavanagh said May 2 that Washington shares a number of national interests with the international community in the South China Sea. “The U.S. position remains clear. We support a collaborative diplomatic process by all claimants to resolve their disputes without coercion.”
Washington does not take a position on competing sovereignty claims over land features in the South China Sea, Kavanagh added. “However, we call on all claimants to conform all of their claims, both land and maritime, to international law, including as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.”
While ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who visited Taiping Island April 30 with two other KMT lawmakers, respects the U.S. stance on the matter, he said during a meeting of the Legislative Yuan’s Foreign and National Defense Committee that dual-mount Stinger surface-to-air missiles would be the most suitable weapon to deploy on the island, which is part of the Nansha (Spratly) Island chain.
Because of the war on terror, Washington is relatively sensitive about the issue, Lin said, so it is not likely to favor deployment of the missiles on the island. In the short term, he added, the ROC could first deploy 40-millimeter anti-aircraft guns and 120-mm mortars.
Lin said that because he recently asked the Ministry of National Defense to assess the feasibility of deploying domestically produced Sky Sword anti-aircraft missiles on the island, officials from the American Institute in Taiwan requested a meeting with him via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
No specific missile types were mentioned during the meeting, Lin said, and the U.S. officials did not put pressure on him, only mildly expressing their concerns, which he interpreted as their not supporting the installation of missiles in the South China Sea, as such a move could spark an arms race among nations with competing claims in the region.
The legislative committee passed Lin’s provisional proposal requesting that state-run CPC Corp., Taiwan immediately begin geological surveys on Taiping to expand Taiwan’s oil and natural gas supply sources, and that the Coast Guard Administration, MND, MOFA and related agencies set up permanent facilities on Zhong Zhou Jiao, also known as Ban Than Reef, which is part of the Spratlys, to reaffirm ROC sovereignty there.
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