Taiwan to stage live-fire exercise at Spratlys

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 March, 2013, 4:38am

Taiwan's coastguard will stage a live-fire exercise next month in disputed South China Sea islands, a move that could raise regional tensions.

The drill will take place on Taiping Island between April 9 and 11 in the Spratlys, a sprawling group of islands claimed in whole or part by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Brunei.

Among other weaponry, the drill will involve 40mm artillery and 120mm mortars, both shipped to the island last year to boost Taiwan's defence capability in the Spratlys.

Taiping is the biggest island in the Spratlys and has long been governed by Taiwan, which maintains a small coastguard garrison there.

Vietnam voiced anger after Taiwan moved the new, longer-range artillery and mortars to Taiping Island last year.

All claimants except Brunei have troops on the archipelago of more than 100 islets, reefs and atolls, which cover a vast area but have a total land mass of less than five square kilometres.

The Philippines and Vietnam have complained that China is becoming increasingly aggressive in its actions in the area - such as harassing fishermen - and also through bullying diplomatic tactics.



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