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Taiwan reiterates claim over Taiping amid Vietnam protest

ROC Central News Agency

2012/08/21 19:47:28

Taipei, Aug. 21 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated Taiwan's claim to Taiping Island on Tuesday, following a report by Vietnamese media that Taiwan's plan to conduct an exercise there was a violation of Vietnam's sovereignty over the island.

Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratly archipelago in the South China Sea, is inherently part of Taiwan's territory, ministry spokesman Steve Hsia said.

"The Republic of China holds undisputed sovereignty over Taiping," he said.

Hsia's remark came after Vietnam Plus reported that Taiwan was causing an escalation of regional tensions by scheduling a live-fire exercise for Sept. 1-5 on Taiping Island, which is called Ba Binh in Vietnam.

But Hsia brushed off speculations that the live-fire drill would heighten tensions in the area.

Taiwan's foreign ministry has informed neighboring countries of the live-fire exercise, in line with international practice, he said.

"This is a regular exercise," he added, emphasizing that Taiping is part of Taiwan's territory.

Though Vietnam claims the island, it is currently "occupied" by Taiwan, the Vietnam news report said.

Taiping Island, which lies about 1,600 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung, was first claimed by the Republic of China in 1947 and the country has had a permanent presence there since 1956.

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, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

(By Nancy Liu)



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