TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — If Taiwanese ships are attacked near disputed South China Sea islands, the right to order return fire lies with the head of the Cabinet-level Ocean Affairs Council (OAC), reports said Thursday (Dec. 3).
In the event that communication is cut off between Taiwan and the Dongsha Islands (東沙群島, Pratas islands) or Taiping Island, the highest-ranking local officer can also make the decision to fire back at assailants, UDN reported.
The changes were made to regulations Wednesday (Dec. 2) during the OAC's review of proposals made in June. The amendments had become necessary because of increased threats at sea, according to defense officials.
Due to the distance of the islands from Taiwan—about 450 kilometers in the case of the Dongsha Islands—there has to be enough flexibility to allow local officers to respond to aggression in an appropriate manner, especially if channels of communication are destroyed, the council explained.