TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Following a FONOP by U.S. forces in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands on Monday, Feb. 11, Taiwan is re-emphasizing its claims in the disputed territory, with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) criticizing the Philippines behavior in the region.
Andrew Lee (李憲章), a spokesperson for MOFA, on Monday urged the Philippine government to halt construction operations on Thitu Island, a 37.2 hectare island located on the northwestern edge of the Spratly Islands, just north of Taiwan’s Taiping Island (太平島), which is also known as Itu Aba.
Thitu Island, called Pag-asa in the Philippines, and Zhongye Island (中業島) in Taiwan, is one of nine features occupied by Philippine forces among the Spratly Islands.
The Philippines have reportedly been constructing a beaching ramp on Thitu Island, that is nearing completion. They are planning other renovation and construction projects following the completion of the ramp.
When asked about the construction project on the island, Lee responded with the following, and said Taiwan’s right to the islands are “indisputable.”
Spratly Islands (Wikimedia Commons Image)
"Taiwan reiterates its sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and urges all parties to refrain from action that could escalate tensions in the region.”
Chinese naval vessels have also increased their presence among the Spratly Island chain recently, stirring tension among countries involved in the territorial dispute.
Lee said that all parties involved should respect the rule of law and urged all countries to work towards creating a “multilateral mechanism for negotiations, based on the principles of shelving differences and seeking joint development of resources," reports CNA.