Letters to the Editor

Taiping is an island

Re the March 24 article Pushing territorial claim, Taiwan says ‘rock’ is an island: The South China Sea matter is becoming increasingly complex. Taiwan is one of the claimant countries in the sovereignty dispute, but it has no voice during international negotiations. Taiwan must make itself visible however it can and avoid being sidelined and sacrificed. This is why Taipei conducted a tour for the international media of its largest island holding.

The island has around 200 residents, the majority of which are coast guard personnel. Inhabitants grow crops of fruits and vegetables, and the tap water is reportedly potable.

The tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, and the Philippine government and its lawyers, should understand that Taiping Island fully meets the definition of an island as laid out in Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, namely, that it can sustain human habitation and has an economic life of its own. Therefore, Taiwan is entitled to claim a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone and a continental shelf.

Kent Wang, research fellow, Institute for Taiwan-America Studies, Washington, D.C.