Taiping rescue drill will not raise S China Sea tensions: Official

Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung says that a humanitarian rescue drill held on Taiping Island Tuesday will not raise tensions in the South China Sea.

Taiping Island is the largest of the Spratly Islands, a disputed chain of islands in the South China Sea. The rescue drill simulated a fire on board a cargo ship and was meant to test coordination between the coast guard and government ministries. The drill was held as part of President Tsai Ing-wen’s plan to turn Taiping Island into a center for humanitarian rescue missions.

However, the drill brought a protest from Vietnam, which also claims the island. During a press conference Wednesday, Cabinet spokesman Hsu Kuo-yung said that the drill will not increase tensions in the area because Taiwan helps ships and crews of all nationalities. Since 2000, the Coast Guard has assisted 100 persons in 70 emergencies in South China Sea waters. One journalist had an medical emergency while covering the event on Tuesday and was successfully taken to a hospital in Kaoshiung.

During the press conference, head of the coast guard Lee Chung-wei also reiterated Taiwan’s sovereignty in the South China Sea and said that Taiwan will hold more drills to prepare for emergencies in South China Sea waters.

Source: Radio Taiwan International