Taiwan capable of repelling attack on its South China Sea islands: MND

04/26/2021 05:30 PM
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The Taiping Islands. CNA file photo
The Taiping Islands. CNA file photo

Taipei, April 26 (CNA) Taiwan's existing defense systems on two of its islands in the disputed South China Sea are capable of deterring any attempted invasion by Chinese forces, Taiwanese defense officials said Monday.

During a legislative session, ruling Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Tsai Shih-ying (蔡適應) noted that China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) had commissioned three new vessels last week, including a Type 075 helicopter landing dock.

The new amphibious assault vessel gives PLAN the ability to launch various types of helicopters that could attack enemy naval vessels, ground forces or submarines, and could also be used to deploy landing craft and troops, Tsai said.

The question is whether Taiwan's defense and weapon systems on the Dongsha and Taiping islands in the South China Sea are capable of dealing with the growing military threat from China, Tsai said.

In response, Chou Mei-wu (周美伍), director-general of the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) that is currently responsible for safeguarding the two islands, said the CGA is equipped with defensive weapon systems and will ask for Taiwan's military assistance if necessary.

Meanwhile, Lee Shih-Chiang (李世強), head of the Ministry of National Defense's (MND's) Department of Strategic Planning, said that Taiwan's military has weapons to counter a Chinese invasion, but he declined to provide any details, citing confidentiality.

The Dongsha Islands, also known as the Pratas, lie 450 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung, while Taiping Island is located 1,600 km southwest of Kaohsiung.

At present, the two island are manned by CGA personnel trained by Taiwan's Marine Corps, but the MND said last year that it was temporarily posting marines on the Pratas Islands, amid reports that the Chinese military planned to conduct drills in the area.

The military never revealed any other details of the plan, neither did it confirm how many Marines were being deployed or for how long.

According to media reports, Taiwan has 40mm auto-cannons and a number of 120mm mortars on the two islands.

The CGA had said earlier that it was about to deploy 292 Kestrel anti-armor rockets on the two territories to beef up defense, amid Beijing's increasing military incursions in the region.

The Kestrel anti-armor rocket, developed by Taiwan's National Chung-Shan Institute of Science and Technology (NCSIST), is an individual shoulder-launched weapon for anti-armor and concrete penetration.

On the other side, apart from the Type 075 landing helicopter dock, China also recently launched a Type 055 Destroyer and a Type 094 Jin-class submarine.

Commenting on the commissioning of the three Chinese vessels, Taiwan's National Security Bureau (NSB) Director-General Chen Ming-tung (陳明通) said Monday that Beijing's military deployment in the South China Sea has created regional tensions, and the NSB is closely monitoring the latest developments.

Taiwan, Brunei, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam claim all or part of the South China Sea region.

(By Matt Yu and Joseph Yeh)

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