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Taiwan says US, Chinese military vessels did not enter Taiping Island territorial waters

Coast Guard denies there was 'confrontation' between US, Chinese ships earlier this month

Taiping Island is seen via satellite imaging. (Wikimedia Commons)

Taiping Island is seen via satellite imaging. (Wikimedia Commons)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Deputy Chief of the Coast Guard Administration’s (CGA) Patrol Division Chia Chih-kuo (賈治國) on Monday (Nov. 13) assured lawmakers that the U.S. and Chinese military ships spotted near Taiwan’s Taiping Island stayed clear of territorial waters.

During a legislative meeting, Kuomintang Legislator Chen Yi-xin (陳以信) claimed there was a confrontation between U.S. and Chinese warships on Nov. 3 close to Taiping Island, with a large number of Chinese militia boats approaching the island, per CNA. He alleged that Coast Guard personnel stationed there observed the situation but did not take any action.

Chia said the CGA detected U.S. and Chinese military ships at a distance of 21 nautical miles northeast of Taiping Island, heading west, and departing at 24 nautical miles northwest of the island. The closest distance of Chinese vessels to Taiping Island was 13.4 nautical miles.

There were no confrontations between the two sides, and neither of them entered the restricted waters within 12 nautical miles of Taiping Island, he said.

Chia pointed out that although the pier at Taiping Island provides limited berthing, there are still patrol vessels stationed there. The CGA also dispatches ships to the island four times a month as part of the Bihai Initiative, routine patrols that assert Taiwan’s sovereignty over its islands in the South China Sea.

The deputy chief added that the CGA has been actively improving the pier in recent years. The dredging project on the island is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the administration will soon consider deploying a 100-ton patrol vessel.

The U.S. 7th Fleet confirmed on Nov. 3 that the navy destroyer USS Dewey sailed near Taiping Island, saying it performed a freedom of navigation operation “consistent with international law.” In addition to Taiping Island, Taiwan also controls Dongsha Island, which is administered as part of Kaohsiung’s Cijin District.

A group of legislators is scheduled to visit Taiping Island to "inspect and declare sovereignty" next month.