Taiwan conducts illegal drills on Taiping Island

The Taiwanese Coast Guard established a no-go zone and conducted illegal live-fire drills on Ba Binh Island in the Spratly Islands of Vietnam.

The Taiwan Coast Guard announced that it will hold drills on Itu Aba Island on June 28-29 with the subjects of firing live bullets at simulated targets at sea and in the air. Vessels and aircraft were asked to avoid this area during the maneuver.

The Taiwan Coast Guard did not disclose what weapons were used in the drills, but it is said to have used the Kestrel anti-tank gun developed by the island’s Zhongshan Institute of Science and Technology. The Kestrel anti-tank gun is capable of penetrating 60 cm thick concrete, which can cope with enemy amphibious assaults.

Satellite image of Ba Binh island in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam.  Photo: CSIS.

Satellite image of Ba Binh island in the Spratly archipelago of Vietnam. Image: CSIS.

Taiwan’s Self-Defense Forces last year sent 292 Kestrel anti-tank guns to Taiping and Dongsha islands, archipelagos located in the northern part of the South China Sea controlled by the island’s forces.

In previous illegal exercises on Itu Aba, the Taiwan Coast Guard used 40mm anti-aircraft guns, 120mm mortars and other artillery pieces.

Vietnam has repeatedly asked Taiwan to stop holding drills at Itu Aba Island and the surrounding waters, to stop its act of “seriously infringing upon Vietnam’s territorial sovereignty over these archipelagoes, threatening peace, maritime stability, safety and security, causing tension and complicating the situation in the South China Sea.”

Ba Binh is the largest natural island in the Truong Sa archipelago of Vietnam. Taiwan illegally occupies the island and once deployed marines. However, since 2000, Taiwan has replaced its garrison on Itu Aba with a marine police unit, equipped with weapons such as machine guns and long-range mortars.

Vietnam has sufficient legal grounds and historical evidence to assert its sovereignty over the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa archipelagoes in accordance with international law.

The East Sea area and the two archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa.  Graphics: CSIS.

The East Sea area and the two archipelagoes of Hoang Sa and Truong Sa. Graphics: CSIS.

Nguyen Tien (Theo SCMP)

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