TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said Thursday (April 1) it would strengthen defenses around the disputed South China Sea islands after Chinese drones were spotted near the Dongsha Islands (東沙群島, Pratas Islands).
The Dongsha Islands, located 450 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung, and Taiping Island in the Spratlys, 1,500 km from Kaohsiung, are held by Taiwan. However, other countries in the region, including China, have laid claims to the territories.
The recent appearance of Chinese unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) near the Dongsha Islands point at Beijing collecting information about the area, the CGA said at a legislative committee Thursday.
As tension in the region remains high and China sends warplanes into Taiwan’s southwest air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on an almost daily basis, there has been speculation the communist country might start encroaching on Taiwan by launching a military operation against remote islands such as the Dongsha Islands.
According to the CGA, China’s actions are likely to intensify as relations between Taiwan and the United States grow closer, CNA reported. Officials did not exclude the possibility China would use private ships and its own coast guard vessels to increase its threats against the islands and even provoke an incident.
Communication between government departments and channels of communication with friendly military forces would be strengthened, while Taiwanese forces will improve their capability to respond to emergencies, the CGA report said. Officials added they were closely monitoring the seas around the islands for Chinese ship movements while holding regular drills to improve response procedures.