South China Sea.  Chinese bases around Itu Aba, Taiwan's naval stronghold in the Spratly Islands

China has built three massive military bases around Itu Apa, Taiwan's main stronghold in the disputed South China Sea, Taiwan's foreign minister said. Itu Aba is the largest and most important natural island in the Spratly Archipelago, and one of the hotspots in East Asia.

Itu Aba is the most important island occupied by the Taiwanese army in the disputed South China Sea. Due to its elongated shape, on this small piece of land it was possible, among other things: to create a military airstrip of strategic importance.

On Wednesday, when reporters asked Taiwan's foreign minister about Itu Aba, he admitted that China had established a ring of powerful military bases around this important island. “China has established huge military bases in the South China Sea on three islands surrounding Itu Aba: Subi Reef, Fiery Cross Reef, and Mischief Reef. They are all very close to our island,” Joseph Wu was quoted as saying by the Japanese newspaper Nikkei Asia.

See also: The scenario that happened 90 years ago is repeating itself. “Concerned Asia prepares for war”

A Taiwanese stronghold in a disputed sea

Itu Aba is the largest naturally formed island in the disputed Spratly Archipelago. However, China is artificially adding new land to the reefs and surrounding shoals, thus creating artificial islands – in contravention of international law. Although Itu Aba is Taiwan's most important military base in the disputed South China Sea, and the island, in addition to the runway, also has a newly modernized port, it is inferior to the surrounding Chinese outposts in terms of the number of soldiers and weapons.

Artificially enlarged Subi coral reef, archive photo Francis R. Malaysia/PAP/EPA

Now some politicians from both of Taiwan's main political parties are calling on President Tsai Ing-wen, who will leave in May, to visit Ito-apa before leaving office, thus asserting Taipei's sovereignty over the island. Two former presidents of Taiwan have made such visits. However, the minister on Wednesday did not directly answer the question of whether the president, who is finishing his second term, would also make such a visit, only stressing that “there is no doubt that the island belongs to Taiwan and that the government will defend it.” Her sovereignty over him.”

“As the conflict continues to escalate, we in Taiwan must think about how to use peaceful means to resolve the South China Sea issue and not let others think that we are causing problems,” Joseph Wu continued, adding that “if Taiwan has the opportunity, it will prove its sovereignty over Itu Aba.” In the best way possible.” But he did not explain what this method was.

See also: Powerful ships and artificial islands. “Great Chinese Chessboard”

The disputed sea

The Spratly Islands are one of the hotspots in the South China Sea. This sea has been a controversial area for years due to its natural resources, strategic importance, and the fact that it passes through some of the world's most important maritime trade routes. The Chinese authorities claim rights to 90% of the entire sea, and their territorial claims also apply to areas belonging to the surrounding countries – Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei – under applicable international law. Taiwan also has its own sovereignty claims over the South China Sea.

In 2016, an international arbitration court in The Hague rejected China's claims in the South China Sea, but Beijing has not recognized this ruling and is working to intensively increase its military presence in this region.

See also: Ship collision and injured sailors. Things are heating up in the disputed archipelago

South China SeaPAP

Main image source: Francis R. Malaysia/PAP/EPA

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