PHL rejects Taiwan plan to hold live fire drills on Ligaw Island

Constrained by the one-China policy, the Department of Foreign Affairs merely announced its “strong objection” to Taiwan’s plan to hold live fire exercises on Ligaw Island or Itu Aba Island, the biggest land feature in the Spratlys.

In a news statement, the DFA said Taiwan bared plans to conduct “unlawful live fire drills” within the vicinity of the island for two days on June 28 and 29.

Taiwan, which is being regarded by China as a renegade province, occupied and established permanent structures on Itu Aba in 1956. In 2012, Taiwan constructed a runway and a port.

The Philippines is claiming that Ligaw Island is part of its territory in the West Philippine Sea. Manila also got the favorable ruling from the arbitral tribunal that the island is a “rock” and cannot generate its own exclusive economic zone of 200 nautical miles around it.

“Ligaw Island is an integral part of the Kalayaan Island Group over which the Philippines has sovereignty,” the DFA said.

Taiwan has been conducting live fire exercises in the area. It involves firing 40-mm grade machine guns and other weapons surrounding the island. Its Coast Guard usually advises mariners to avoid the area when they hold live fire drills.

“This illegal activity raises tensions and complicates the situation in the South China Sea,” the DFA added.

The DFA could not summon Taiwan’s de facto ambassador to Manila nor send a diplomatic note to Taipei because the Philippine government officially only recognizes one China.

Image credits: Google Earth


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