Taiwan boss visits island in doubtful South China Sea

By RALPH JENNINGS, Associated Press

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwan’s president, defying critique from pivotal fan a United States, over Thursday to revisit to an island holding in a doubtful South China Sea.

Accompanied by about 30 staff members, Ma Ying-jeou (MAH YEENG JOH) left a collateral Taipei early in a morning aboard an atmosphere force C-130 load craft firm for Taiping Island, also famous as Itu Aba.

Taiping lies in a Spratly island group, an area where Taiwan shares overlapping claims with China, Vietnam, Malaysia and a Philippines. The city state of Brunei also claims a partial of a South China Sea.

Taiping is a largest naturally occurring island in a area, though has recently been eclipsed in distance by synthetic islands combined by China out of reefs and shoals. China has built housing, ports, airstrips and other infrastructure on a newly combined islands, sketch accusations from a U.S. and others that it is exacerbating tensions in a strategically critical region.

Taiwan stations about 200 seashore ensure personnel, scientists and medical workers on Taiping. It occupies a series of other islets in a South China Sea, including a Pratas island organisation to a north.

Coming nearby a finish of his 8 years in office, Ma’s revisit aims to stress Taiwan’s supervision explain over a South China Sea.

Hemmed in diplomatically by China, that claims Taiwan as a possess territory, Ma’s supervision also wishes to be seen as a legitimate actor in a onslaught for change in a area, where tensions have been sensory by China’s increasingly strong assertions of ownership.

Ma, who has been criticized during home as diseased on unfamiliar policy, contingency step down in May due to tenure boundary and analysts pronounced he considers a island revisit a capstone to his time in office. Opposition celebration president-elect Tsai Ing-wen declined an invitation to go on a trip.

“President Ma…views advancing (Taiwan’s) nautical interests as partial of his legacy,” pronounced Bonnie Glaser, comparison confidant for Asia during a Center for Strategic and International Studies, a consider tank in Washington. “His revisit to Taiping will serve stimulate nationalistic passion in a petitioner countries and boost tensions.”

U.S. State Department orator Mark Toner pronounced Wednesday that a United States was unhappy by Ma’s trip, observant it could intensify tensions.

During a revisit to Beijing on Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speedy all parties in a South China Sea to explain their territorial claims, practice patience and rivet in negotiations on a basement of general law.

“I stressed a significance of anticipating common belligerent among a claimants and avoiding a destabilizing cycle of distrust or escalation,” Kerry pronounced following a assembly with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

The U.S. takes no position on who owns a islands, though says developments in a South China Sea are a matter of inhabitant security. The sea is home to pivotal shipping lanes as good as critical fisheries and a probable resources of oil and healthy gas reserves.

Tensions have been generally high given Beijing remade 7 doubtful reefs into islands. The U.S. says a new islands don’t suffer a standing of emperor domain and sent a guided-missile destroyer tighten to one of them, called Subi Reef, in Oct in a plea to Beijing’s territorial claims, sparking warnings from China.

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Associated Press author Christopher Bodeen in Beijing contributed to this report.

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Article source: http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2016-01-27/taiwan-president-visits-island-in-disputed-south-china-sea

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