Taiwan Lawmakers Seek to Station Warships in Disputed Islands

Taiwan lawmakers asked defense officials to study the stationing of warships on disputed islands in the South China Sea to counter China’s heightened activities in the area.

A legislative committee in charge of defense policy commissioned the report following Chinese land reclamation work on five reefs in the Spratly islands. The work is in an area that would allow Chinese helicopters to reach the Taiwan-administered Taiping Island within minutes, ruling Kuomintang party lawmaker Lin Yu-fang said in e-mailed statement today.

“There is an immediate need to review and strengthen our defense on Taiping,” Lin said in the statement. Lawmakers also asked the Ministry of National Defense to submit a study on the deployment of Sea Chaparral missiles in the Spratlys and the Pratas Islands.

Taiping Island, part of the Spratly Islands group that Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam also lay claims to, is currently under the administration of Taiwan’s coast guard. Yongshu Reef, also known as the Fiery Cross Reef, has surpassed Taiping as the largest land mass in the disputed waters following China’s land reclamation project, Lin said.

Taiwan is spending NT$3.37 billion ($111 million) to build a wharf on Taiping. With construction expected to be completed by end of 2015, the wharf will be longer than 500 meters taking into account the 200-meter access road, Lin said.

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