Taiwan's Defence Minister Chiu Kuo-cheng has announced that the authorities of the island, which Beijing considers its province, will be bolstering their military foothold in the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Specifically, the island plans to boost its military presence on Itu Aba Island – a part of the Paracels archipelago, which is partially controlled by Mainland China.
At the same time, the minister, who presented his report to the island's parliament, noted that Taiwan is not planning to establish a permanent military base on Itu Aba. Kuo-cheng claimed that the move was Taiwan's response to the alleged "expansionism" of Beijing in the region.
"My goal is for us to be ready at all times", Kuo-cheng stated.
The defence minister further revealed that the US had approved the sale of equipment and parts that would allow Taiwan to fulfil its plans to build a submarine fleet. These plans were first announced in 2020 amid tensions between China and Taiwan and increasing cooperation in the military sphere between the island and Washington.
The US has recently been in talks with Taiwan to supply it with weapons amid the alleged threat of an invasion by Beijing, despite voluntarily having adopted the “One-China” policy in the 20th century. The policy stipulates that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, even though de facto the island is autonomous.
In addition to talks on the sale of armaments and equipment, the US routinely sends aircraft and warships to the Taiwan Strait and the disputed waters of the South China Sea, ignoring Beijing's protests. Washington carries out these operations under the pretext of "freedom of navigation operations", claiming that China limits the free passage of vessels through the waters, which are disputed by five nations and Taiwan, but which are mostly controlled by China's military. The Chinese government has repeatedly warned the White House that one day, such "provocations" on its part might result in an armed accident and has urged Washington to cease these activities.