- A Taiwanese warship was deployed for Taiping Island located in the Spratly Islands a day after the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled against China
- The international tribunal determined that Taiping Island is legally a rock that is not capable of generating an exclusive economic zone
- Former president Ma Ying-jeou had led a high-profile campaign to present Taiping Island as an “island” which is entitled to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone
(Photo from: AFP / TAIWAN DEFENCE MINISTRY)
In a landmark ruling on Tuesday, the Permanent Court of Arbitration handed its decision on the South China Sea dispute stating that China has no historic rights over the region and had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in the exclusive economic zone.
While Taiwan is not a party to the proceedings, the international tribunal’s decision also undermined Taipei's claims to the Taiping Island, which is the largest island found in the South China Sea. The decision stated that Taiping Island is legally a “rock” following the definition under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Under Article 121 of UNCLOS, rocks are those “which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own shall have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.”
Taiwan has rejected the ruling stating that it was “completely unacceptable” since the foreign tribunal never formally extended an invitation to Taipei to participate in its proceedings or solicit its views.
Upon learning of the arbitral award in favor of the Philippines, President Tsai Ing-wen of the Republic of China, gathered troops on a Taiwanese warship headed for the South China Sea. The warship was deployed in an effort to "defend their country's rights."
"The South China Sea ruling, especially the categorization of Taiping island, has severely jeopardized our country's rights in the South China Sea islands and their relevant waters," President Tsai told soldiers on the deck of ship.
"This patrol mission will show Taiwanese people's determination to defend their country's rights," she said, before disembarking from the warship ahead of its departure.
The defense ministry also vowed to "firmly defend Taiwan's territory and sovereignty" and would continue to send aircraft and ships for patrol missions to the region. Further, it stated that there would be no change to Taiwan's claims in the South China Sea despite the tribunal’s ruling.
The Spratlys are also claimed in part or whole by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. The South China Sea is a vital waterway wherein around USD 5 trillion of ship-borne ship passes each year. - Kami Media