A second day of live-fire drills conducted by the Coast Guard Administration on one of the disputed Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) drew condemnation from Vietnam, which also claims the South China Sea chain as its territory.
The drills are conducted annually on the Taiwan-administered Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), said Shih Yi-che (施義哲), the administration’s head of communications.
In 2008, Taiwan built a 1,150m-long airstrip on the islet, which is known as Ba Binh in Vietnam and is also claimed by China. Aside from these three competing claims, all or parts of the Spratlys are also contested by Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines.
The Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday said the drills violate Vietnam’s sovereignty, threaten maritime security and add to tensions in the area.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) did not immediately return two calls to her office, while Shih said he was not aware of the complaint.
Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chiu Chih-wei (邱志偉) said by telephone yesterday that Taiwan must strengthen its military presence on Taiping, given China’s land reclamation in the Spratlys.