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U.S. think tank posts photos of human activities on Taiping Island

U.S. think tank posts photos of human activities on Taiping Island

Washington, Dec. 22 (CNA) A collection of images documenting human activities on Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba, in the disputed Spratly Islands was published Tuesday on the Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative's (AMTI) website, an affiliate of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank.

Twenty-five photos are displayed showcasing the results of efforts by the coast guard personnel of the Republic of China (Taiwan) to live self-sufficiently on the island in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. The photos of vegetable patches, goats and chickens, a fresh water well, hospital and airplane runway facilities were provided by the ROC government. They were taken Dec. 12 when ROC Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen visited Taiping Island to preside over a ceremony marking the completion of renovations to the island's wharf and lighthouse.

The photos are meant to support Taiwan's claim that Taiping Island meets the definition of an island, under Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which defines an island as a naturally-formed land mass surrounded by water and capable of sustaining human habitation or independent economic life.

Taiping Island -- the largest of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea -- has been administered by Taiwan for more than 60 years. Recently, its legal status triggered heated debate after the Philippines claimed in an arbitral tribunal at The Hague that Itu Aba is a rock, not an island as defined by the UNCLOS.

This would entitle Itu Aba to only a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea, not an exclusive economic zone or continental shelf, the AMTI said.

The AMTI is a research platform offering information, analysis, and policy exchange on maritime security issues in Asia. It was created to promote transparency in the Indo-Pacific to dissuade assertive behavior and conflict and generate opportunities for cooperation and confidence building.

Its publication of satellite photos of Beijing's land reclamation activities in the South China Sea has drawn a great deal of international attention. (By Tony Liao and Elizabeth Hsu)


Updated : 2021-09-24 08:30 GMT+08:00