DEFENSE/Coast Guard confirms completion of Taiping Island wharf upgrades
Taipei, Jan. 29 (CNA) The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) on Monday confirmed that a dredging project to allow larger vessels to dock at a wharf serving the Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island in the South China Sea has been completed.
However, the CGA did not respond when asked if President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) would preside over a planned opening ceremony for the renovated wharf.
The CGA's confirmation came following a report in the Chinese-language United Daily News (UDN) earlier on Monday, which included a call from Kuomintang (KMT) legislator Chen I-hsin (陳以信) for Tsai to reaffirm the Republic of China's sovereignty over Taiping by visiting the disputed island.
Chen, a member of the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee, said that Tsai should follow the examples of former Presidents Chen Shiu-bian (陳水扁) and Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) and make a trip to Taiping for the opening ceremony.
The NT$1.7 billion (US$54.4 million) project to dredge sediment and deepen navigation channels will allow 4,000-tonne CGA vessels to make routine patrols in the waters around Taiping, the CGA said in a statement.
The renovation, which was completed on Oct. 30, 2023, and passed the required inspections on Jan. 20, also included a reinforcing of typhoon-related disaster prevention measures, the CGA added.
Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba, the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, lies 1,600 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung and is administered as part of the southern Taiwan city's Cijin District.
The Taiwan-controlled island currently hosts around 200 coast guardsmen trained by the Marine Corps who regularly hold drills.
The island is also claimed by Vietnam, China and the Philippines.
It is one of the two territories controlled by the government of Taiwan in the South China Sea, the other being Dongsha, or Pratas Island, which lies 450 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung.
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