Taiwan President Sends Naval Warship to Defend Island in South China Sea

070905-N-9076B-231 BAY OF BENGAL (Sept. 5, 2007) - Republic of Singapore Navy frigate RSS Formidable (68) steams alongside the Indian Navy frigate INS Brahmaputra (F 31) in the Bay of Bengal. The ships are participating in Exercise Malabar 07-2. More than 20,000 personnel from five different countries are taking part in the exercise. This exercise includes naval forces from India, Australia, Japan, Singapore and the United States. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Don Bray (RELEASED)

In the wake of yesterday’s international tribunal ruling at the Hague over territorial disputes in the South China Sea, countries in the region are speaking up and taking action to protect their claims. The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines in the case brought by the island nation against Asian powerhouse China, determining that China’s “nine-dash line” is unlawful under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Since then, Beijing has announced it will ignore the ruling; “as the panel has no jurisdiction, the decision is naturally null and void,” state-run news agency Xinhua said.

Another such country announcing similar rejection of the court’s ruling is Taiwan. The Taiwanese government held a security meeting Tuesday before the tribunal’s results were released, deciding it will renounce the findings, as they have no legal binding authority (according to its government).

The repudiation is specifically regarding Taiping Island, the largest of the controversial Spratly Islands and which is administered by Taiwan.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration, in ruling against Chinese claims to much of the territory in the South China Sea, also declared that “features that remain above water at high-tide in the Spratlys had the legal status as ‘rocks’, including Taiping,” South China Morning Post wrote.

Taipei has long considered the 46-hectare (113 acre) feature an island.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen briefly boarded a naval warship on Wednesday to address the crew before it departed to defend the contested island.

President Tsai told the crew to do all they could to “defend Taiwan’s territory” in the region.

“Your patrol mission to the South China Sea, which is being conducted ahead of schedule, is highly significant in view of the new development. The South China arbitration ruling, especially in the part about Taiping Island, has seriously hurt our rights to the South China Sea islands and their relevant waters,” Tsai, who is also the Commander in Chief of Taiwan’s armed forces, said.

“This naval mission is to demonstrate the resolution of Taiwanese people in defending our national interests.”

Several of Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party government agencies, including the foreign, defense, interior, and mainland affairs ministries, reasserted that Taiwan has historical claims to islands in the South China Sea.

Chiu Chui-cheng, vice chairman of Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, made this statement: “The Republic of China [in Taiwan] enjoys the rights to various South China Sea islands and relevant waters in line with international law and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the locations of those South China Sea islands are based on the map [the ROC] had drawn in 1947.”

Yes, Tsai told her fleet to sail to toward the disputed area to defend their country, but the Taiwanese leader also displayed her diplomatic nature; she assured Taiwan still supported resolving the territorial issues happening in the South China Sea through amicable negotiations.

“We are willing to join other countries in promoting peace and stability in the South China Sea under a equal footing,” Tsai said.