TPP urges government to make plans to counter Chinese blockade

08/17/2022 05:43 PM
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Taiwan People’s Party legislators Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如, center) and Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠, second from right) at a press conference. CNA photo Aug. 17, 2022
Taiwan People’s Party legislators Tsai Pi-ru (蔡壁如, center) and Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠, second from right) at a press conference. CNA photo Aug. 17, 2022

Taipei, Aug. 17 (CNA) The opposition Taiwan People's Party (TPP) has called on the government to expand Taiwan's energy reserves and plan for the possibility that China will hold regular military drills around the island or attempt to impose a blockade.

At a press conference on Wednesday, TPP legislative caucus chair Chiu Chen-yuan (邱臣遠) noted that during China's recent military drills around Taiwan, air traffic in and out of the country dropped by half, while many flights were forced to reroute on short notice.

If Beijing begins conducting such exercises on a regular basis, the pressure on pilots and air traffic control operators in Taiwan would rise considerably, increasing the risk of human error, he said.

A full blockade, meanwhile, would cut off Taiwan's access to imports that account for 98 percent of the country's energy supply, making it essential that the government maintains sufficient reserves, Chiu said.

A blockade could also shut down trade traveling through the Taiwan Strait, causing raw materials and shipping costs to soar worldwide, while also preventing the export of semiconductors vital to the global tech industry, he added.

Chiu's warnings echoed those of his fellow TPP lawmaker Jang Chyi-lu (張其祿), who suggested Tuesday that Taiwan hold drills modeled on its annual Han Kuang military exercises, to practice defending the country's financial system from possible Chinese cyberattacks.

At the press conference, Chiu called on the relevant government agencies to develop plans to counter a Chinese blockade, expand reserves of various energy sources, and enhance air traffic monitoring in the Taipei flight information region (FIR).

In a response Wednesday afternoon, Weng Su-chen (翁素真), chief secretary of the Bureau of Energy, said Taiwan maintains oil, natural gas and coal reserves above the legal minimum, and also reduces risk by importing from multiple countries - 14 in the case of oil, and nine for coal.

Currently, the country's reserves include a 90-day supply of oil, an 11-day supply of natural gas and a 30-day supply of coal, she said.

Meanwhile, according to the latest monthly inventory by the Council of Agriculture (COA), Taiwan has 1.2 million metric tonnes of rice in public and private reserves, equal to a one-year supply, as well as at least half a year's supply of seeds, fertilizer and pesticides for farming, said COA Department of Planning director Chuang Lao-ta (莊老達).

The COA has also worked to reduce Taiwan's dependence on China as an export market, Chuang said, noting that China now accounts for 41 percent of Taiwan's fruit exports, compared to 84 percent in 2016, and 19 percent of seafood exports, compared to 23 percent in 2019.

The TPP is a centrist political party founded by Taipei Mayor Ko Wen-je (柯文哲) in 2019 and currently holds five seats in Taiwan's 113-seat legislature.

(By Kuo Chien-shen and Matthew Mazzetta)

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