GLORIA'S GOVERNMENT RATTLED BY TAIWAN PRESIDENT'S VISIT AT THE SPRATLEY'S
by Napanice (no login)
IF THE PHILIPPINES THINK THE HUGE OIL DEPOSIT BENEATH THE SPRATLEY'S WILL REMAIN UNTOUCHED BY OTHER CLAIMANTS LIKE CHINA, IT IS SADLY MISTAKEN. WATCH GLORIA AND HER MILITARY DOG ESPERON GO RUNNING TO THE U.S. FOR MILITARY HELP WHEN TAIWAN AND OTHERS DECIDE TO START DRILLING FOR OIL.
Taiwan president visit to Spratlys 'irresponsible posturing'
The Philippines on Saturday described as "irresponsible political posturing" a landmark visit of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian to the disputed Spratly Islands.
In a statement, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alberto Romulo said Chens decision to push through with his visit to what the Philippines calls as Ligao Island "works against the joint efforts by claimant countries in the South China Sea to achieve peace and stability in the region in accordance with the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DoC)."
China signed a non-binding DoC with the 10-member Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Phnom Penh in 2002 to help ease tension after they agreed to a ban on military activities in the Spratlys.
"It is unfortunate that Taiwan is resorting to what may be considered as irresponsible political posturing that could be of no possible advantage to the peace-loving Taiwanese people," Romulo said.
The Philippines is urging other claimant countries to exercise prudence, self-restraint and use diplomacy as the tool to settle disputes in keeping with the spirit of the DoC, Romulo added.
Citing military sources, Reuters reported that Chen, dogged by criticism that he accomplished too little as his eight-year term winds down, flew in a military aircraft to Taiping Island in the Spratlys, to visit a recently completed airstrip for maritime rescue work.
Taiwan media said the trip is aimed at drumming up support for Frank Hsieh, the candidate for Chen's independence-leaning ruling Democratic Progressive Party in the March 22 presidential election. During the March election, a referendum will also be held to ask voters whether Taiwan should join the United Nations under the name "Taiwan."
Hsieh is locked in a heated race with opposition Kuomintang's Ma Ying-jeou to succeed Chen, who is to retire in May after eight years in office.
"The President will be there around noon today," said an official at Taiwan's defense ministry. He declined to give further details.
Analysts said Chen was making the visit for several reasons. "He wants to tell the Taiwan people that he's still in control. It is also a strong signal to assert Taiwan's sovereignty ahead of the UN referendum," said Andrew Yang, a political analyst at the Chinese Council of Advanced Policy Studies.
The 1,150-meter (3,770-ft) airstrip completed in late January will supplement Taiwan coastguard and military facilities on Taiping, which is the biggest in the Spratly chain at 489,500 square meters (120 acres) and 1,000 km south of Taiwan.
"He's going to show he's the president, for face, that's the most obvious," said Su Chi, a defense specialist with the Nationalist Party (KMT). "Whether this will lead to more conflict isn't certain."
The Spratly Islands are being claimed by six countries including Vietnam, China, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei and the Philippines. Each country claims all or part of the group of islands.
The Philippines is claiming 53 islands, reefs and rocks in the Spratlys which the Philippines call as Kalayaan island group.
All but Brunei have a military presence in the area, which is believed to contain substantial petroleum reserves.
Posted on Feb 2, 2008, 1:58 AM from IP address 18.104.22.168