By: Elena Grace Flores
It seems like China found a new ally in Taiwan after an international court dismissed their shared claims to more than 80 percent of the South China Sea. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen immediately sent a naval frigate to patrol the disputed waterway just to show the government’s “determination” to defend its national interest. The order came hours after the July 12 ruling came about in favor of the Philippines.
The court found the largest natural feature in the contested Spratly Islands, the Taiwanese-held Itu Aba, that it was a “rock” rather than an island and didn’t qualify for a 200-nautical mile (370 kilometer) exclusive economic zone. The frigate’s planned patrol included a resupply stop at the feature, which Taiwan calls Taiping, a defense ministry spokesman said; as published by Bloomberg.
China refused to participate in the tribunal proceedings but it did submit a paper outlining its position and worked behind the scenes to lobby the court. Taiwan, under former President Ma Ying-jeou also filed a brief to the panel stating a case for an exclusive economic zone around Itu Aba, citing its ability to support life – but both failed in the arbitration against China since they have similar cases.