TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – A female nurse has become the first citizen to register as an official resident of Taiping Island in a disputed part of the South China Sea, reports said Saturday.
The island, also known as Itu Aba, saw its international profile rise significantly when President Ma Ying-jeou visited it last Thursday, to the displeasure of various parties including the United States and some opposition politicians.
Taiping, with its airport, harbor and hundreds of defense staff, is under Taiwan’s control and forms officially part of Kaohsiung’s Cijin District about 1,600 kilometers away. China, Vietnam and the Philippines also claim sovereignty over the Spratly or Nansha archipelago it belongs to.
Nurse Chu Mei-ling became the first civilian to officially become a resident of Taiping Island after registering on January 21, the Coast Guard Administration said Saturday.
“Ma said his visit was designed to stress both Taiwan’s sovereignty over the area and efforts at international cooperation and joint development. The US government described his trip as “unhelpful,” while some opposition politicians also saw it as useless, though President-elect Tsai Ing-wen said she also supported Taiwan’s sovereignty claims.”