Taipei, May 2 (CNA) Legislators on Wednesday urged the government to deploy more weaponry to Taiping Island, days after they toured the island to defend Taiwan's sovereignty in the disputed South China Sea region.
"Taiwan should boost its defense capabilities on Taiping Island," said Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang, who led a three-person delegation there amid growing tensions between China, Vietnam and the Philippines over sovereignty issues.
Though military morale was high, more weapons, such as missiles and mortar shells, should be added to the arsenal stored on the island, said Lin, who made the trip to assess Taiwan's defensive capabilities there.
"We don't have enough military equipment there," Lin said, and he also argued that a large harbor should be established to facilitate accessibility to Taiping, the largest of the Spratly Islands, which lie around 1,600 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung.
"The Defense Ministry should allocate NT$600 million (US$18 million) to NT$800 million for the cause," he said in a question-and-answer session at the Legislature's Foreign Affairs and National Defense Committee.
In response, Deputy Defense Minister Andrew Yang said he will take Lin's suggestion into consideration and work with the Coast Guard Administration in strengthening the island's defenses.
At present, the Coast Guard, instead of military troops, is responsible for defending Taiping. In 1999, former President Lee Teng-hui withdrew marines from the island to ease tensions between Taiwan and neighboring countries.
Tsai Huang-liang, an opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmaker, said the marine corps should be invited back to safeguard Taiwan's interests.
Another DPP lawmaker, Chen Ting-fei, said more trips to Taiping should be arranged to more publicly stake out Taiwan's sovereignty over the island.
(By Nancy Liu)