U.S. slams Taiwan president’s planned visit to contested South China Sea island

Washington under the current Obama administration have chosen to take sides of its traditional adversaries instead of its traditional allies. Iran being the first major example with the nuclear ‘deal’, turning the entire Middle East into a powder keg and putting Israel’s existence into jeopardy. Now they’re playing into China’s hands by slamming Taiwan, an independent nation the United States is legally bound to protect and defend — despite the interpretations of the Taiwan Relations Act by those who despise Taiwan.

 

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s planned trip to the Taiwanese-held island of Itu Aba in the disputed South China Sea is “extremely unhelpful” and won’t do anything to resolve disputes over the waterway, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.

Ma’s office earlier announced that the president, who steps down in May, would fly to Itu Aba on Thursday to offer Chinese New Year wishes to residents on the island, mainly Taiwanese coastguard personnel and environmental scholars.

But Ma’s one-day visit to Itu Aba, known as Taiping in Taiwan, comes amid growing international concern over rising tensions in the waterway and quickly drew the ire of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

“We are disappointed that President Ma Ying-jeou plans to travel to Taiping Island,” AIT spokeswoman Sonia Urbom said in an email to Reuters.

“Such an action is extremely unhelpful and does not contribute to the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.”

The United States wanted Taiwan and all claimants to lower tensions, rather than taking actions that could raise them, Urbom added.

NEW PORT AND LIGHTHOUSE

Itu Aba lies in the Spratly archipelago, where China’s rapid construction of seven man-made islands has drawn alarm across parts of Asia and been heavily criticised by Washington.

Taiwan has just finished a $100 million port upgrade and built a new lighthouse on Itu Aba, which has its own airstrip, a hospital and fresh water.

Ma’s visit follows elections won by the independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Ma’s office said it had asked DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen to send a representative, but the party said it had no plans to do so.

Beijing, recognised by most of the world as the head of “one China”, deems Taiwan a wayward province to be retaken by force if necessary.

Full article: U.S. slams Taiwan president’s planned visit to contested South China Sea island (Reuters)

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