Taiwan's defence minister says he got island's name wrong in South China Sea announcement

Itu Aba island in the Spratlys.
Itu Aba island in the Spratlys.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAIPEI - Taiwan's new defence minister said he had made a mistake in saying the military would ship ammunition to Itu Aba island in the Spratlys, when he should have said Pratas Islands, according to a report.

Both islands are under Taiwan's control in the South China Sea. But Itu Aba is part of the much disputed Spratlys archipelago and located 1,600km south of Taiwan.

The Pratas is only 444 km southwest of southern Taiwan's Kaohsiung city, while Taiping Island is ..

Feng Shih-kuan told lawmakers during a question-and-answer session in Taiwan's parliament on Tuesday (June 7) that he had made "two mistakes" when speaking to lawmakers a day earlier, Central News Agency reported.

Feng had said then that the military will ship 40,000 rounds of ammunition for 40 mm guns to Itu Aba, or Taiping, between late June and early July.

He also said his government would not recognise any air defence identification zone (Adiz) which Beijing may proclaim in the disputed South China Sea.

On Tuesday, Feng said it was unnecessary to disclose the exact amount of ammunition to be shipped, reported CNA. He also got the destination wrong; the shipment is for the Pratas Islands, not Taiping Island, he said.

Also, the ammunition is intended for various types of weaponry, not just the 40 mm guns, Feng was quoted by CNA as saying.

He stressed that the shipment is merely a routine resupply and that Taiwan has not increased its military deployment in either the Pratas Islands or the Spratly Islands.