Military to help beef up Taiping defenses
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Aug. 7 (CNA) The Ministry of National Defense said Tuesday that it is working with the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) to beef up Taiwan's defenses on Taiping Island in the disputed South China Sea.
"Everything is going according to schedule," military spokesman Luo Shou-he said.
He declined to comment on media reports that a Navy vessel carrying 40-mm anti-aircraft guns and 120-mm mortars had embarked from Kaohsiung and was expected to arrive at Taiping in a week.
The CGA, which is responsible for patrolling Taiping, said meanwhile that it will respect decisions by the Defense Ministry regarding arms deliveries and coast guard personnel training.
"The CGA is determined to safeguard the territory," it said.
Taiwan withdrew Marine Corps personnel from the island in 2000.
Legislator Lin Yu-fang of the ruling Kuomintang visited Taiping in April this year. After his return, he suggested that anti-aircraft guns and mortars be deployed there, saying that the CGA had insufficient equipment.
The Legislature's National Defense Committee passed a resolution in May asking the Defense Ministry to provide the necessary weaponry.
Taiping Island is the largest of the Spratly Islands, which lie about 1,600 km southwest of Kaohsiung.
The South China Sea region, widely considered to be rich in oil deposits and marine biodiversity, is claimed either entirely or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.
(By Chen Pei-huang and Lilian Wu)
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