Vietnam’s military expansion on nearby islands could threaten Taiwan’s lone outpost in the South China Sea, according to a new report submitted to Taiwan’s Control Yuan.
The report, published by the Ministry of National Defense, noted that Vietnam’s deployment of mobile missiles and artillery guns on island bases could pose a threat to Taiwan’s military outpost Itu Aba (which Taiwan calls Taiping Island), the largest feature in the Spratly Islands which is also claimed by Vietnam, the Philippines and China.
Of particular concern are moves by Vietnam to expand its troop presence in Sand Cay Island, including by deploying new shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles (known as Dunqian Sand Island in Chinese Son Ca Island to the Vietnamese) – which lies just 11 km east of Itu Aba. If Vietnam plans on deploying these portable missiles close to Itu Aba, the report says it could attack Taiwan’s C-130 military transport planes and supply ships on their routine visits to Taiping Island.
“Vietnam may plan to deploy these portable missiles to reef islets closer to Taiping Island or might carry them on patrol boats to within striking range. In such a scenario, our military transport aircraft heading to Taiping Island would be directly threatened,” The Taipei Times quoted the report as saying.