Flotilla of Taiwanese fishing ships sets sail against South China Sea ruling

20 July 2016

The Taiwanese government has sent a delegation of government officials to one of the Spratly Islands in protest at the recent ruling by an international court over territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

A flotilla of fishing vessels has also reportedly started the 1,000-mile voyage to Taiping Island in protest of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s (PCA) ruling last week.

Taiwan claim sovereignty over the island.

As part of a case brought to it by the Philippines, PCA ruled against China’s claim to large swathes of the South China Sea, the area of the Pacific stretching from the Taiwan Strait down to Singapore.

China has consistently said it does not recognise the court’s authority and has recently started to assert its claim over the area.

However, Taiwan also refuses to recognise the court’s ruling.

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), is not recognised as a country by the UN and is seen by mainland China as a breakaway state.

Because of China and Taiwan’s shared history, Taiwan also claims historic rights over South China Sea and is equally displeased with the court’s ruling.

“The arbitral tribunal did not formally invite the ROC to participate in its proceedings, nor did it solicit the ROC’s views. Therefore, the award has no legally binding force on the ROC,” Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Taiwan is also unhappy Taiping Island, alongside many islands China lays claim to, was designated as a rock and not an island by the court.

Islands are entitled to a 200-mile exclusive economic zone under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea; rocks are not.

Taiwan Today, an official state website, reported the delegation of legislators spent two hours on the island inspecting facilities and sampling local agricultural products.

“The ROC has administered Taiping Island for seven decades and has continuously worked to improve the facilities on the island, which is fully capable of sustaining human life,” said Chian Chi-chen, part of the delegation to visit the island.

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