TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is keeping a close eye on China’s military expansion in the South China Sea, and on Wednesday (Aug. 23) the president made this clear during a visit to the frontline island of Kinmen.
This followed news that China has set up infrastructure on Triton Island (中建島), which analysts are saying could become an airstrip. Triton is part of the Paracel Islands and Taiwan, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday (Aug. 21).
However, China claims the islands, as does Vietnam. The U.S., meanwhile, is pushing back against China’s expansionism and is determined to protect what it calls the “freedom of navigation.”
After laying a wreath at the island’s memorial park, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) told veterans at a lunch in Kinmen, it was only because of them that Taiwan was free. Kinmen is just 2 km away from the coast of China’s Fujian Province.
“To maintain peace we must first strengthen ourselves,”Tsai said, according to Reuters. She added this depended on being self sufficient when it came to self-defense.
Satellite photos taken in August by Planet Labs PBC imaging service, per VOA, suggest the 1.2 km by 0.5 km island additions could be a levee or a road. Triton is midway between Vietnam and the Chinese island province of Hainan.
VOA quoted an expert on South China Sea disputes at National University of Ho Chi Minh City, Hoang Viet, as saying Triton could be used as a refueling station. Other experts said it was yet another step in a larger buildup of islands in the area by China.
Vietnam’s foreign ministry has also spoken out against the latest developments on Triton. China claims 90% of the South China Sea. However, the U.S. insists this is illegal and China’s actions undermine peace and security in the region.
Source : Taiwan News