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Taiwan to hold humanitarian rescue drill in South China Sea

2016/11/06 21:46:14

CNA file photo

Taipei, Nov. 6 (CNA) The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and the Navy will hold a joint drill in the South China Sea at the end of this month, it was announced on Sunday.

The joint drill will focus on humanitarian rescue missions and be led by the Coast Guard Administration with support from the Navy in line with the policy of the Navy supporting Coast Guard Administration operations.

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has instructed that Taiping Island - the largest island in the South China Sea controlled by Taiwan - should be turned into a center for humanitarian rescue and a supply base, following an international arbitration court ruling in July that Taiping is a "rock."

The joint drill will demonstrate the progress being made in efforts to turn Taiping into a humanitarian rescue center. The CGA and Navy will also conduct joint operations to protect Taiwan's fishing boats and improve anti-terrorism capability at sea to guarantee the safety of Taiwan fishermen.

As this year marks the 70th anniversary of the ROC taking over Taiping Island from Japan, the government selected this month to hold the joint drill.

On Nov. 24, 1946, the ROC government sent four military vessels, which arrived in the South China Sea at the end of that month and early December. The ROC took over Taiping Island on Dec. 12.

An international arbitration court ruled in July that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to resources within the South China Sea falling within a "nine-dash line" and that all high-tide features in the Spratly Islands, including the Taiwan-controlled Taiping, are legally "rocks."

In the case brought by the Philippines against China over the South China Sea dispute, the court said there was no evidence that China had historically exercised exclusive control over the waters or resources of islands in the South China Sea.

There is therefore no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the areas falling within the "nine-dash line," the court said in its ruling.

The Philippines brought the case against China at the Permanent Court of Arbitration, arguing that the land formations claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea are not islands and therefore do not have a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.

China's "nine-dash line" territorial claim over South China Sea waters is unlawful under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Philippines argued.

While Taiwan is not a party to the case, its claims in the South China Sea are similar to those of China and Taiping Island (also known as Itu Aba), which is controlled by Taiwan, was mentioned in testimony during the court hearings.

(By Lu Hsin-hui and Lilian Wu)
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