Taiwan to Expand Joint Rescue Operations in Disputed Sea
Taiwan said Tuesday it will continue doing "humanitarian" search and rescue work in the South China Sea, where it holds the largest of about 500 tiny islets. In a statement, the Coast Guard Administration said it will "deepen its cooperation mechanism" with surrounding countries, the agency said. China, the most powerful claimant to the 3.5 million-square-kilometer sea that's rich in fisheries and fuel reserves, calls Taiwan its own despite self-rule of some 70 years. Officials in Beijing demand that other countries, including the four Southeast Asian states with competing claims to the sea, avoid any formal relations with Taiwan. But joint search-and-rescue work, even if not publicly supported by other countries, would give Taiwan a welcome name abroad for cooperation rather than for extending the sovereignty dispute. Taiwan has tried over the past decade to stand out from China, which has bilateral issues with an array of countries, by spreading its culture, disaster relief and economic aid overseas. "The best way at the moment for us to make entry is truly through humanitarian rescue work," said Huang Chung-ting, a Chinese politics and military affairs assistant research fellow with the Taipei-based policy analysis nonprofit Institute for National Defense and Security Research. "Only under this framework can we possibly raise the odds of South China Sea cooperation with surrounding countries and even the United States." Search-and-rescue legacy Taiwan started describing Taiping Island as a search-and-rescue hub for the contested sea's Spratly Islands in 2015. Taiwanese personnel on the island were already helping about 10 boats a year from China or Vietnam, usually during storms, a coast guard official said then. That year ex-president Ma Ying-jeou called Taiwan a humanitarian player in the sovereignty dispute and urged all claimant countries to share resources. The following year Taiwan's coast guard and navy held search-and-rescue... If you wish to read this full breaking news headline, plus more articles from around Thailand and Asia like, Taiwan to Expand Joint Rescue Operations in Disputed Sea, simply click on 'Read full story' below, but 1st please give us a 'LIKE' or 'SHARE' before you leave. Thank you
Published By: VOA NEWS - Friday, 24 May
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