Saturday, December 17, 2005

Taiwan to Build Airfield in the Spratlys

The Ministry of National Defense announced yesterday that Taiwan would engender even more international complications build an airfield in the Spratlys to help with supply and rescue missions.

TAIPEI - Vice Minister of National Defense Huo Shou-yeh confirmed Thursday that the Taiwan government will build an airfield on one of the biggest islets of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

The minister emphasized that the airport to be located on Taiping Island, is not intended for military use but humanitarian purposes such as emergency sea rescue efforts.

Hou said that the plan to build the airfield was proposed by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) and that the Ministry of National Defense (MND) would assist by sending soldiers for construction.

Plans for the airfield provide for basic facilities, including a 1,150-meter runway and a control tower.

The minister said the airfield will only be capable of handling the takeoff and landing of C130 aircraft, not other military aircraft, fighters or anti-submarine aircraft, so the airfield will not pose any military threat to the surrounding islets.


Shi pointed out that the government currently has 200 Coast Guard officers stationed on Taiping Island, and that it takes eight days and costs NT$40 million in fuel expenses for the Coast Guard to carry out one resupplying mission by sea between Taiwan and Taiping Island.


He said the plan to build the airfield was first included in the Ministry of the Interior's policy guidelines on the Spratlys in 1993, adding that China and Malaysia have competed to build airfields on islands or reefs of the Spratlys in recent years to affirm their sovereignty claims.

My own opinion is that Taiwan ought to give this stuff up, as it will only needlessly infuriate neighboring nations whose goodwill it requires.


Jing said...

In a twist of irony that perhaps you are not aware of, but the military garrison on Taiping island had once served as a resupply point for PLAN vessels during the 1980's. Specifically the ROCN was resupplying PLAN ships with potable water and possibly food when the PLAN was then actively engaged in a naval conflict with Vietnam.

Unfortunately such displays of Chinese solidarity are much rarer these days.

Sun Bin said...

despite verbal claims, no one actually challenges the occupation of taiping, and none of the claimants spoke a word about the airfield.