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Lawmakers to visit Dongsha Islands to defend Taiwan's sovereignty

2012/05/05 15:51:20

Taipei, May 5 (CNA) A number of Taiwanese lawmakers are scheduled to make another trip to the South China Sea next week, aiming to reaffirm Taiwan's sovereignty over the Dongsha Islands as tensions mount among several claimants of islands in the disputed waters.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Mark Chen, who is a member of the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee, will lead the May 10 trip to the Taiwan-controlled islands, located 450 kilometers off Taiwan's southwestern coastline.

Fellow party member Tsai Huang-liang said he would join the trip to help boost morale of the military personnel stationed on the islands and reassert Taiwan's claim over the island group as it is an inherent part of the country's territory.

A group of lawmakers visited Taiwan's Taiping Island, the largest in the contested Spratly Islands earlier this week, amid heightened tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines over sovereignty issues.

They urged the government to deploy more weaponry to the island, which is being defended by the coast guard instead of the military, to strengthen its defense capabilities.

Chan Kai-chen and Lin Yu-fang, two ruling Kuomintang lawmakers that made the earlier trip, said they were considering joining the trip to the Dongsha Islands, but have not yet made up their minds.

"Compared with the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands, also in the region, the Dongsha Islands issues are less problematic, as neither the Philippines nor Vietnam can influence them easily," Lin said.

(By Justin Su and Scully Hsiao)