The China Post news staff
Amid escalating sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea, three lawmakers from the ruling Kuomintang (KMT) made an unannounced visit to a Taiwan-controlled island in the region for a brief inspection tour. The group was led by Legislator Lin Yu-fang (林郁方), who concurrently serves as convener of the Legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee. Lin was joined by two of his colleagues, Chen Chen-Hsiang (陳鎮湘) and Chan Kai-chin (詹凱臣) who both serve on the same committee. The group arrived at Taiping Island, the largest of the disputed Spratly Islands, on a military transportation plane Monday morning. During their brief visit to the small island, the trio of KMT members was briefed by Taiping troops on their defense capabilities before returning to Taiwan proper the same day. Following their homecoming to Taipei, the three KMT lawmakers held a press conference where they displayed several photographs they took on the island posing together with the Republic of China’s national flag. The lawmakers said that the tour was meant to assert the country’s claim to the region. According to them, the surprise visit to Taiping was the first time any R.O.C. lawmakers had set foot on the remote territory after the country gained control of it in 1946. The lawmakers’ tour was supposed to be a strong demonstration of Taiwan’s de facto sovereignty over the South China Sea, given the recent tensions amid a standoff between armed Chinese and Philippine vessels over the Scarborough Shoal.
The way the inspection tour was conducted, however, apparently failed to highlight anything significant to either the Taiwanese or international communities, and has raised more controversy locally than globally. The first problem is that the Taiping trip was not disclosed in advance to the public, and no members of the media were present during any point of the visit.