TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan is closely monitoring China’s militarization of man-made islands in the South China Sea, Defense Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng (邱國正) said Tuesday (March 22).
United States Indo-Pacific commander Admiral John Aquilino said recently that China had armed three of the islands it built with fighter jets, missiles, and laser equipment.
At the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lin Chun-hsien (林俊憲) said Taiwan-held Taiping Island has been encircled by the three Chinese bases. He asked Chiu whether this could mean China is planning a takeover of the island, UDN reported.
The defense minister replied that Taiping is close to islands held by China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. China’s ambitions in the South China Sea are known, so Taiwan, Vietnam, and the Philippines are all closely monitoring military developments, Chiu said.
He added that it is the Coast Guard Administration, not the Ministry of National Defense, which has a base on Taiping Island, making it clear that Taiwan has no intention of militarizing it.