Outgoing Taiwanese president to visit contested island

  • The outgoing president of Taiwan, Ma Ying-jeou, plans to visit the Itu Aba island on Thursday. +
  • Itu Aba, also known as Taiping, is part of the Spratly Islands and is one of a number of contested islands in the South China Sea. 

  • The trip is dependent on weather conditions being good in the area.

  • China has been developing a number of airstrips on artificial islands in the South China Sea, significantly escalating tensions in the region. 

  • Last week, a report commissioned by the U.S department of defence warned that if the current state of affairs continues, the South China Sea would effectively be a 'Chinese lake' by 2030.

  • President Ma met with his Chinese counterpart, President Xi, in November last year - the first meeting between the leaders of China and Taiwan. 

  • Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's president elect from the less 'China friendly' Democratic Progressive Party, does not take office until May and is not sending a representative on the trip. 

China lands plane on controversial artificial island

  • China landed what it said was a civilian aircraft on an artificial island it has constructed in the South China Sea to test a runway. 
  • Vietnam accused China of violating its sovereignty through its actions on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands.

  • China responded by saying it has 'indisputable sovereignty' over the islands and their surrounding waters. *

  • In April, satellite imagery published by IHS showed the beginning of construction on a runway on Fiery Cross Reef by China. +