Friday, May 06, 2005
Taiwan demanded yesterday that a Chinese oil exploration vessel leave waters near Taiwanese-held islands also claimed by China, and said that the Coast Guard had sent a vessel to the area in the South China Sea. Because China "has not asked our government's permission, and this exploration vessel's actions have clearly broken our laws and regulations, our Coast Guard has sent a ship to handle the situation," Taiwan said in a message to China, its longtime political rival. The message did not specify what action, if any, the armed Coast Guard vessel might take. Taiwan's semi-official Straits Exchange Foundation, which handles contacts with China, said it had sent the message to its counterpart in China, asking that the ship leave the waters around the Pratas Islands. The islands are administered by Taiwan. However, several nearby governments, including China and Vietnam, claim sovereignty over the area, thought to be rich in minerals, natural gas and oil deposits. The Pratas Islands are about 400km southwest of Taiwan proper. Taiwan identified the ship as the Tanbao, a government-owned oil exploration vessel from the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.
Taiwan Coast Guard