The Ministry of National Defense (MND) was non-committal on Thursday in the face of demands from lawmakers to send troops to Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island, the largest of the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.
Legislators including opposition Kuomintang Legislator Lu Yu-ling (???) proposed during a MND budget review session that the government should send marine corps troops to the island in the wake of an international court ruling earlier this year that refused to recognize Republic of China (Taiwan) sovereignty and downgraded the island to a rock.
However, the MND declined to support the proposal saying that the Coast Guard Administration is currently responsible for patrolling the island, though the military could do more to improve supply capabilities.
The MND stressed that decisions on troops deployment are a matter of national-level policy making at the highest level of government.
In July, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague declared the "nine-dash line" that underpins Beijing's claims in the South China Sea to be invalid -- dealing a blow to Taiwan's similar claim to territory within an "11-dash line."
The court also declared all high-tide features in the Spratly Islands, including Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island, to be "rocks" and not islands, a difference in terminology that denies them the right to a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone.
Taiwan has rejected the ruling and said it is not legally binding on the Republic of China.
It reiterated its sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and their surrounding waters.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel