FRIGATE DEPLOYMENT WILL NOT CAUSE CONFLICT: MND
Central News Agency
Taipei, June 20 (CNA) Tuesday's deployment of a Knox-class frigate to a disputed part of the East China Sea where the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and Japan overlap will not cause any conflict, a Ministry of National Defense (MND) official predicted Monday.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, made the forecast after Tadashi Ikeda, director of the Taipei Office of the Japanese Interchange Association (JIA), paid a visit to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) earlier in the day to express Japan's stance on Taiwan's plan to send a naval ship to patrol the disputed waters northeast of Taiwan.
Ikeda was quoted as having told MOFA officials that the Japanese government considers Taiwan's decision to send a military vessel to the disputed waters for an afternoon -- a stunt dreamed up by opposition lawmakers supposedly to demonstrate determination to protect Taiwan's fishing rights -- to be "inappropriate."
The de facto Japanese envoy was also quoted as having stressed that if Taiwan decides to go ahead with its warship deployment, the vessel should not traverse the middle line of the two countries' overlapping economic zones. Otherwise, Ikeda said, the Japanese government cannot guarantee whether or not it will take action in response.
The area in dispute refers to waters close to a group of uninhabited islets known as the Tiaoyutai Islands in Taiwan and the Senkakus in Japan. The island group is claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.
The MND official said the frigate that will be on the patrol mission Tuesday will cruise within the area some 60 nautical miles off Taiwan's east coast. The area is open sea and the vessel will not traverse the "temporary demarcation line" set by the government for the nation's coast guard patrol ships to police.
Minister of National Defense Lee Jye, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and several members of the Legislative Defense Committee will be on board the 4,200-ton frigate -- the Fengyang -- to inspect the navy's patrol missions off Taiwan's east coast and how it assists in protecting local fishermen operating in the disputed northeastern economic waters.
The MND agreed to deploy the frigate under strong pressure from opposition People First Party (PFP) Legislator Ling Yu-fang after some 50 Taiwan fishing boats staged a rare protest in the area earlier this month against Japanese coast guard ships that frequently chase them away from what they call their traditional fishing grounds.
Besides Lin, several other lawmakers, including Legislator Lee Wen-chung of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party -- who is also a co-convener of the Legislative Defense Committee -- will take part in the inspection cruise.
(By Sofia Wu)
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