June 6, 2016
Taiwan’s Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan said on Monday that Taipei would not recognize any air-defense zone set up by Beijing over the disputed waters of the South China Sea.
Reuters reports that his declaration comes in anticipation of a verdict from the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration on disputed maritime boundaries between the Philippines and China. There are fears that the court’s ruling will prompt China to declare an air-defense zone in the region, which it did in 2013 in the East China Sea.
China has not confirmed any plans to establish a South China Sea air-defense zone but maintains the right to do so. Beijing has aggressively increased its presence in the South China Sea in recent years, antagonizing its neighbors — the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei — who all lay claims to a maritime channel where $5 trillion worth of trade passes annually.
Taiwan’s new President Tsai Ing-wen, inaugurated last month, is expected to pursue a less conciliatory policy to Beijing than her predecessors did.