A group of Taiwanese fishing boats heading to Taiping Island may not land on the island without permission from the Ministry of National Defense, according to pertinent laws, Executive Yuan Spokesperson Tung Chen-yuan said today.
Tung made the remarks after the fishing boats, led by the head of a Taiwan-based association for cross-strait fishermen exchange, set sail last week for Taiping to assert Taiwan’s sovereignty over the island. Since Taiping is a restricted military area, however, there are regulations in place to protect classified information and prevent obstruction of military operations.
If the fishermen require emergency shelter or supplies, the Coast Guard garrison there will provide necessary assistance, Tung said. The government hopes that the fishermen will respect the laws on restricted military areas and cooperate with the Coast Guard should they require emergency assistance.
Tung said the government’s position on the South China Sea sovereignty issue remains firm: that the South China Sea islands and their waters belong to the Republic of China and that it exercises sovereignty over them. The ROC is entitled to all rights over the South China Sea islands and their waters in accordance with international law and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The ROC will continue to defend its sovereignty and protect the islands, including by stationing coastal patrol officers and troops on Taiping Island and deploying Coast Guard patrol ships to protect Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the South China Sea. Any attempts to harm Taiwan’s national interests will not be tolerated, Tung said.
Previous government administrations have visited Taiping many times as a declaration of ROC sovereignty, and the Coast Guard garrison manning the island continues to affirm that claim. The international community is well aware of Taiwan’s position on this issue, Tung said.
As for Taiwanese fishing boats operating in the waters of Taiping Island, the Coast Guard will continue to protect the boats by increasing the frequency, intensity and duration of patrol assignments in the area.