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Taiping Island wharf expansion to begin next year
Publication Date : 30-07-2013
Work to expand the Taiping Island wharf, to allow it to accommodate larger vessels will begin next year, as part of Taiwan's on-going military enhancements in the region, a local newspaper reported on Monday.
The Taiwan government has decided to allocate NT$3.3 billion (US$110 million) to upgrade Taiping Island's wharf facilities, Chinese-language United Evening News reported.
The disputed Taiping Island is the largest of the Spratly Islands located on the South China Sea, and the only one with its own natural fresh water source. It is currently under the administration of the Republic of China (Taiwan) as part of Cijin, Kaohsiung, but is also claimed by the Philippines and Vietnam.
The newspaper reported that Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA), which is responsible for defending the outlying islet, is expected to use the money to make improvements allowing vessels weighing 500 tonnes and above to dock at the port.
The administration will launch a two-year project to boost the island's defense capabilities. The wharf expansion is expected to begin in 2014 and to be completed by the end of 2015.
The project is part of the coast guards' plans to enhance its military presence in the area amid escalating tensions in the region.
In September last year, eight sets of 40mm autocannons and several 120mm mortars were installed on the Taiwan-controlled islet.
The wharf at Taiping Island is in need of upgrading, as currently only small speedboats may dock at its facilities.
Other than the wharf, facilities on Taiping also include a radar station, a meteorological centre, a power plant and an airstrip, which was built in 2008, as well as a shelter for fishermen.
It is reported that Taiwan's air forces are also considering expanding the length of the airstrip to 1,500 metres from 1,150 metres, for the safety of aircraft landing and takeoff at the off-shore islet.