The Taiwanese Marine Corps has been temporarily deployed to the Dongsha Islands in the South China Sea amid reports that the Chinese military is planning to conduct military exercises in the region in August.

Ms. Tsai Ing-wen (white shirt) during a visit to Taiwanese marines. Photo: CNA
Ms. Tsai Ing-wen (white shirt) during a visit to Taiwanese marines. Photo: CNA

CNA news agency quoted the Ministry of National Defense of the Republic of China (MND) on June 22, 2020 saying that a number of marines were brought to the Dongsha Islands to participate in the training program.

The official said the training will only last for a short time, in order to strengthen the defenses and equipment maintenance and logistics skills of Taiwanese coast guard on the island.

The Taiwan official did not disclose other details, such as the number of Marines deployed to the island and how long they would stay.

Taiwan’s leadership office hinted at the deployment of the force on 20 June, announcing that Tsai Ing-wen leader called a military commander and demanded that he take good care of the soldiers on the Dong Sa archipelago.

The move came after Kyodo News on May 12 announced that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) planned to hold an exercise in the South China Sea in August, with a scenario of occupying the Dongsha archipelago.

Taiwan has deployed many artillery to the Dong Sa Islands. Photo: Taiwan Coast Guard
Taiwan has deployed many artillery to the Dong Sa Islands. Photo: Taiwan Coast Guard

According to Kyodo News, the exercise will be overseen by the Southern Theater Command, with the participation of many amphibious ships, hovercraft and marines.

Dongsha is strategically important for Beijing because Chinese warships must travel through the islands when traveling from Hainan to the Pacific.

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