Taiwan's Security Chief Urges President Tsai To Cancel South China Sea Trip Amid Military Tensions

Taiwan’s top security official has recommended that President Tsai Ing-wen reconsider a planned visit to the South China Sea due to safety risks associated with the region’s escalating military tensions.

What Happened: Taiwan’s National Security Bureau Director-General, Tsai Ming-yen, has advised President Tsai Ing-wen against visiting the South China Sea, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The recommendation comes amid concerns about potential risks from “interference by relevant countries,” in light of China’s military activities in the region.

The security concerns stem from the militarization of the South China Sea and the safety of the president’s 1,600 km flight to Itu Aba, an islet under Taiwan’s control. The area has experienced increased military presence, with China establishing bases and opposing U.S. freedom of navigation operations.

See Also: Apple CEO Tim Cook Visits Shanghai, Hints At Opening More Stores Amid Declining Sale In China

Despite lawmakers’ encouragement for President Tsai Ing-wen to demonstrate Taiwan’s sovereignty by visiting Itu Aba before her term concludes in May, the security risks appear to be a significant deterrent. The island, known as Taiping in Taiwan, boasts a newly renovated harbor and a runway suitable for military re-supply flights. Yet, it is not as heavily fortified as the nearby islands controlled by China.

Director-General Tsai Ming-yean has noted incidents of Chinese interference with Taiwanese aircraft and nearby vessels. The South China Sea remains a hotspot of tension, with multiple countries, including Vietnam, Malaysia, and Brunei, contesting territorial claims alongside China and Taiwan.

Why It Matters: The advice against President Tsai Ing-wen’s visit to the South China Sea comes from recent revelations about China’s military expansion in the region. Taiwan has identified significant Chinese military installations on islands near Itu Aba, increasing regional tensions. Taiwan’s Foreign Minister, Joseph Wu, highlighted the construction of large military bases by China on Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Mischief Reef.

China also recently announced of a 7.2% increase in military spending for 2024. The rise in the defense budget to 1.67 trillion yuan is part of a series of increases over the past years, coinciding with heightened tensions and an anti-corruption probe within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). China has vowed to deter Taiwan’s ‘Separatist Activities,’ signaling a firm stance against any moves perceived as challenging its territorial claims.

Read Next: Taiwan Reports Massive Chinese Military Bases Near Island: ‘Must Consider How To Use Peaceful Means To Resolve’

Photo by Andreanicolini on Shutterstock

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Posted In: NewsPoliticsGeneralChina-TaiwanPooja RajkumariSouth China Sea
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