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Taiping Island

taiping island, taiping island location
Taiping Island, better known internationally as Itu Aba Island, and also known by various other names, is the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea12345 The island is elliptical in shape being 14 kilometres 087 mi in length and 04 kilometres 025 mi in width, with an area of 46 hectares 110 acres It is part of the Tizard Bank Zheng He Reefs; 鄭和群礁 The runway of the Taiping Island Airport is easily the most prominent feature on the island, running its entire length

The island is administered by the Republic of China ROC/Taiwan, as part of Cijin, Kaohsiung It is also claimed by the People's Republic of China, the Philippines and Vietnam In 2016, in a ruling by an arbitral tribunal in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the case brought by the Philippines against China, the tribunal classified Itu Aba as a "rock" under United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and therefore not entitled to a 200 nautical mile exclusive economic zone and continental shelf ROC/Taiwan rejected this ruling678

The nearby Zhongzhou Reef is also under the control of the ROC/Taiwan


  • 1 Names
  • 2 History
  • 3 Government and politics
  • 4 Facilities
  • 5 Coast guard
  • 6 Geography
    • 61 Ecology
    • 62 Geology and landform
    • 63 Natural resources
    • 64 Weather
  • 7 Tourist attractions
  • 8 Sister cities
  • 9 See also
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links


Prior to 1946 the Island was best known internationally as Itu Aba

In 1946 the Republic of China named it Taiping Island Chinese: 太平島; pinyin: Tàipíng Dǎo; literally: "peace island" in honor of a Nationalist Chinese Navy warship which sailed to the island when Japan surrendered after the Second World War910 The name Taiping Island is used by both Taipei11 and Beijing12 The island was also called Huángshānmǎ Jiāo 黃山馬礁 and Huángshānmǎ Zhì 黃山馬峙 by Chinese fishermen

Another commonly used international name for the island is Itu Aba At least three different etymological origins have been proposed for this name: that it is a Malay expression meaning "What's that" spelled itu apa in the current orthography; a corruption of Hainanese Widuabe Huángshānmǎ 黃山馬, or that it was named after two Vietnamese maids Tu and Ba of a French Indochina official charged with mapping the Spratly Islandscitation needed Some nonpartisan sources including US government publications continue to use "Itu Aba" as the primary designator of the land feature, often with "Taiping" in parentheses

The Vietnamese name for the island is Ba Binh Chinese: 波平; Vietnamese: Đảo Ba Bình; literally "calm wave" or "calm sea"1314 and the Philippine name is Ligao or Ligaw, meaning "lost" or "wild" island

During the Japanese occupation of the island 1939–45, the name Nagashima 長島, Long Island was used15


From before the 1870s the island was used by fishermen from Hainan They had a semi-permanent settlement Supplies were shipped from Hainan to island in exchange for turtle shells16

China first asserted sovereignty in the modern sense to the South China Sea’s island when it formally objected to France’s efforts to incorporate Itu Aba and other islands and rocks into French Indochina during the 1884 – 1885 Sino-French war The 1887 boundary convention signed between France and China places the Spratly and Paracel islands under Chinese rulecitation needed Chinese maps since then have consistently shown China’s claims, first as a solid and then as a dotted line

At first, France recognized Chinese sovereignty of Spratly and Paracel islands, in exchange for Chinese recognition of Vietnam as a French territorycitation needed In 1932, a year after the Japanese formally invaded northeast China Manchuria, France formally claimed both the Paracel and Spratly Islands China and Japan both protested In 1933, France seized the Paracels and Spratlys, announced their annexation, formally included them in French Indochina, and built a couple of weather stations on them, but did not disturb the numerous Chinese fishermen it found there In 1938 Japan took the islands from France, garrisoned them, and built a submarine base at Itu Aba now Taiping / 太平 Island In 1941, the Japanese Empire made the Paracel and Spratly islands part of Taiwan, then under its rule

In 1945, in accordance with the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations and with American help, the armed forces of the Republic of China government at Nanjing accepted the surrender of the Japanese garrisons in Taiwan, including the Paracel and Spratly Islands Nanjing then declared both archipelagoes to be part of Guangdong Province It was administratively attached to the municipality of Takao Kaohsiung in the Japanese colony of Taiwan On 6 November 1946, the ROC government sent four warships to the South China Sea to secure islands within the region, commanded by Lin Zun and Yao Ruyu 姚汝鈺: ROCS Chung-Yeh 中業號, ROCS Yung-hsing 永興號, ROCS Tai-ping 太平號 and ROCS Chung-chien 中建號 The warships departed from Guangzhou and headed towards the Spratly and Paracel island groups On 12 December the two ships led by Lin Zun, ROCS Tai-ping and ROCS Chung-Yeh, arrived at Taiping Island In commemoration of the island being secured, the island was chosen to be named after the ROCS Tai-ping warship, and thus a stone stele reading "Taiping island" was erected on a breakwater tip southwest of the island9 The other three ships likewise had their names used: Woody Island in the Paracels was named Yongxing Yung-hsing Island presently PRC-occupied, Triton Island Paracels was named Zhongjian Chung-chien Island presently PRC-occupied, and Thitu Island Spratlys was named Zhongye Chung-Yeh Island presently Philippines-occupied

After being secured by Nationalist China, the island was placed under the administration of China's Guangdong Province When the Chinese Communists gained control of mainland China, the defeated Nationalists retreated to Taiwan, but retained control of the Taiping garrison17 Japan officially renounced its control and transferred the island to the trusteeship of the Allied Powers within the San Francisco Peace Treaty on September 8, 195118 A different interpretation is that Japan officially renounced its sovereignty and transferred the island to the Republic of China under the provisions of the Taipei Peace Treatywhen19

In 1952, a Philippine civilian began to mine sulfur from Taiping Island and that same year, a note attached to the Treaty of Taipei provided the Nationalist Chinese arguments for sovereignty over the island The Nationalists established a permanent presence on the island in July 195620

From 2000, a detachment of the ROC Coast Guard Administration was stationed on the island, replacing the Marine Corps detachment The Taiping Island Airport was completed in December 2007,21 and a C-130 Hercules transporter airplane first landed on the island on 21 January 2008

On 2 February 2008, ROC president Chen Shui-bian personally visited the island accompanied by a significant naval force including two fleets with Kidd class destroyer flagships and two submarines22 On 19 April 2011, it was announced that the Marine Corps would once again be stationed on the island23

In February 2012, the ROC began construction of an antenna tower and associated facilities with the purpose of providing navigation assistance for aircraft landing The tower had a planned height of approximately 7 to 8 metres, and was scheduled to be completed in April 2012, and fully functional after proper testing in September 201224 In July 2012, ROC authorities revealed a project which intended to extend the runway by 500 metres, which would allow the island to accommodate various kinds of military aircraft25

In late August 2013, the ROC government announced that it would spend US$112 million on upgrading the island's airstrip, and constructing a dock capable of allowing its 3,000-ton Coast Guard cutters to dock, due to be completed by 201626

On July 12, 2016, a tribunal of the Permanent Court of Arbitration backed the Philippines in an arbitration proceedings against China's "nine-dash line" claim which includes Taiping Island controlled by Taiwan272829 Both China and Taiwan have strongly rejected the ruling3031

Government and politicsedit

The island, along with the rest of the Spratlys, is disputed by four countries on historical, geographic, legal and/or technical grounds, in pursuit of fishing rights, shipping lanes, and the potential of petroleum and natural gas beneath the South China Sea Although it is anticipated that the South China Sea basin is abundant in oil and natural gas, the waters surrounding Taiping Island have yet to be formally surveyed or extracted Kuomintang legislator Lin Yu-fang has stated that the Chinese Petroleum Corporation has not excluded the option of prospecting territorial waters in the near future, with the military providing naval escort assistance upon directive from the National Security Council of the Republic of China32

Taiping Island is administered under the Municipality of Kaohsiung City, Qijin District, by the Republic of China Taiwan Postal service is provided by Chunghwa Post under the assigned area code "819" The Republic of China Taiwan military postal service uses the designation "68局" for postage services for the island The total population of the island is about 600 with no civilians Land pricing is managed by the Kaohsiung local government, although there have been no cases of actual transactions being made In 2007, the announced land value adjustments placed the value of land on Taiping Island at NT$400 per square metre

Prior to 2012, the island's coast guard defense forces held 106 mm 4 in recoilless guns and 81 mm 3 in mortars These were planned to be replaced by eight sets of 40 mm 2 in autocannons and a number of 120 mm 5 in mortars by the end of August 201233


Taiping Island has four existing wells The proportion of fresh water in four of them is 991, 758, 975, and 968 percent, respectively, averaging 923 percent About 65 metric tons of water can be pumped from these wells daily to provide drinking water and meet cooking and everyday needs Apart from well water, there are water-retaining facilities mainly used for farming34

Since December 2014, the island has been powered by a 40 kWp photovoltaic power station with a 612 kW storage facility that will generate an estimated 50MWh per year The project was divided into two phases: the first phase was completed in December 2011; and the second in December 2014 The entire solar power system will generate an estimated 189,492 kWh per year, saving an estimated 49,000 litres of diesel fuel per year It was funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs35

The Taiping Island Airport features an airstrip which caters for C-130 transport planes of the ROC Air Force, with one sortie arriving every two months No re-fueling facilities are available Depending on sources, the runway is either 1150 or 1200 metres long, 30 metres wide, and has a large hard-standing area capable of accommodating two C-130 aircraft The island also has a helicopter platformcitation needed

Additional facilities located on the island include a shelter for fishermen, a hospital including a civilian doctor, satellite telecommunications facilities, radar surveillance equipment, and other communications equipment Five public telephones are connected via satellite The island also has Internet connectivity Mobile phone reception is available for individuals with international roaming; a signal from China Mobile can be accessed from a GSM base station located on Nanxun Reef In 2013, Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom established a satellite-based cellular base station on the island to provide the coast guard with communication servicescitation needed

The ROC maintains a large meteorological station on Taiping island The station collects weather information using surface instruments, launching weather balloons daily36 The ROC Central Weather Bureau has an employee presence on the islandcitation needed

Guanyin Temple, built in 1959, and nearby tombstones dating back to the Qing dynasty can show traces of Chinese activity on the island37

Coast guardedit

Three ROC Coast Guard boats of the M8 model, designated Nanhai 4, Nanhai 5, and Nanhai 6 Chinese: 南海四號, 南海五號, 南海六號, "Nanhai" literally translates to "South Sea" or "South China Sea", respectively, are prepared to patrol the island but are not considered sufficient to adequately monitor the island's surroundings Bridge piers were constructed in 1992 but some had been damaged In December 2006, rebuilding began on a damaged L-shaped pier, the Southern Star Ferry Pier Chinese: 南星碼頭, in order to improve the transportation and supply of materials for the Coast Guard Currently,when a military supply ship services the island during a single voyage in April and November each year, anchoring for one day to deliver personnel and military supplies Additionally, a civil merchantman arrives with general goods every 20 days, anchoring for 1 to 2 days at a time This ship may be used as a transport for the stationed coast guard personnelcitation needed



The flora and fauna present on and surrounding the island include swallows, papaya plant, coast oak, terminalia trees, lotus leaf tung tree, goodeniaceae, sea lemon, long stem chrysanthemum, long-saddle rattan, gray grass, coconut tree, banana tree, white-tailed tropicbird, sparrow hawk, tropical fish, jellyfish and various other organisms The Island is also a nesting ground for green sea turtles migrating from Philippines3839

Geology and landformedit

The island has a long and narrow shape that is low and flat, that is approximately 1,2893m long and 3657m wide The area of the north-south coastline is 413 hectares, and the coastal vegetation line range is 366 hectares The mean tide water over land area is approximately 49 hectares 049 square km, and during low sea tides the water reefs and land area is 98 hectares 098 square km, 4-6m above sea level

Since Taiping island is a coral island, the surface includes fine sand and coral reefs formed by weathering Around the island are sandy beaches, with narrower beaches on the south and north sides 5 metres wide, on the east side 20 metres wide, and on the southwest side 50 metres wide The sand accumulated on the beach is rosy coloured, mainly formed from red coral fragments and shell debris

Natural resourcesedit

The island has historically been mined for phosphates to the point of exhaustion, and today has no major natural resources There is potentially a large amount of undiscovered reserves of oil and natural gas beneath surrounding waters within the South China Sea Basin, however there has yet to be formal exploration and mining conducted


Taiping Island has a tropical climate, with the temperature varying between 21 and 35 degrees Celsius There is a strong southwest monsoon in summer months in June and July, with strong southwest wind and currents, and during the time typhoons become frequent there is abundant rainfall The rainy season occurs during November and December

Tourist attractionsedit

A temple on the island exists as a common visiting place The southeast side of the island contains old Japanese constructions The "Taiping Cultural Park" Chinese: 太平文化公園 is located near the pier There is also a pillar erected on the island that declares Taiping Island as a territory of the Republic of China

Sister citiesedit

The following are sister cities with Taiping Island:

  • Lincoln, Nebraska, US40

See alsoedit

  • Taiping Island Airport
  • Zhongzhou Reef
  • List of maritime features in the Spratly Islands
  • Dongsha Islands Pratas Islands
  • South China Sea Islands
  • List of islands of the Republic of China


  1. ^ Note that from 2014 the PRC embarked on seven major reclamation projects in the Spratly Islands area It appears that the largest of these are at Subi Reef and Mischief Reef The reclamation at Fiery Cross Reef is of at least 60 hectares, and according to some unverifiable sources, possibly as large as 150 ha Kristine Kwok and Minnie Chan 2014-06-08 "China plans artificial island in disputed Spratlys chain in South China Sea" South China Morning Post Retrieved 2014-09-28 
  2. ^ C Michael Hogan 2011 South China Sea Topic ed PSaundry Ed-in-chief CJCleveland Encyclopedia of Earth National Council for Science and the Environment Washington DC
  3. ^ "Taiping Island" Spratly islands Marine National Park Headquarters Republic of China Retrieved 21 March 2014 
  4. ^ "Itu Aba – Inquirer Global Nation" Philippine Daily Inquirer Retrieved 19 Aug 2014 
  5. ^ Michael Gold "Taiwan Considers Permanent Armed Ships For Disputed South China Sea Island" Reuters Retrieved 16 Oct 2014 
  6. ^ Tiezzi, Shannon 2016-07-13 "Taiwan: South China Sea Ruling 'Completely Unacceptable'" The Diplomat Retrieved 2016-07-13 
  7. ^ Hsu, Stacy 2016-07-13 "Government rejects South China Sea ruling" The Taipei Times Retrieved 2016-07-13 
  8. ^ Chow, Jermyn 2016-07-12 "Taiwan rejects South China Sea ruling, says will deploy another navy vessel to Taiping" The Straits Times Singapore Press Holdings Ltd Co Retrieved 2016-07-13 
  9. ^ a b 吕一燃 Lu Yiran, 2007 中国近代边界史 A modern history of China's borders, Vol 2 四川人民出版社 Sichuan People's Publishing, pp1092–1093 ISBN 7220073313
  10. ^ "Itu Aba Island Taiping Island, Spratly Islands" GlobalSecurityorg 9 July 2011 
  11. ^ Soong, Grace, "Taiping Island camp shows sovereignty: Ma", The China Post, July 19, 2011
  12. ^ Zhu Xianlong, "Commentary: Taiwan Independence No Easy Thing", People's Daily Online, August 14, 2002
  13. ^ "VN demands a stop to violation of sovereignty", Vietnam+, May 10, 2012
  14. ^ "Historical documents on Vietnam’s sovereignty over Paracel and Spratly islands", VietNamNet, June 24, 2011
  15. ^ D J Hancox, John Robert Victor Prescott, 1997 Secret hydrographic surveys in the Spratly Islands Maritime Institute of Malaysia, p91 ISBN 9839275100
  16. ^ Tizard Bank - Footnote, The China Sea Directory, Hydrographic Office - Admiralty, published by J D Potter, London 1879, page 66
  17. ^ Spratly Islands Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2008 Archived from the original on 2009-11-01 
  18. ^ "Cable: 1973MANILA00858_b – Spratley Islands" wwwwikileaksorg 23 January 1973 
  19. ^ "Taipei Peace Treaty" Retrieved 26 October 2014 
  20. ^ Severino, Rodolfo, Where in the World Is the Philippines: Debating Its National Territory, 2011, p 79, ISBN 978-981431170-0
  21. ^ "MND admits strategic value of Spratly airstrip" Taipei Times 6 January 2006 p 2 MND is the ROC Ministry of National Defense
  22. ^ Shih Hsiu-chuan, Hsu Shao-hsuan, and Jimmy Chuang "President visits disputed islands" Taipei Times 3 February 2008 p 1
  23. ^ Cindy Sui, 19 April 2011, Taiwan to boost forces in disputed Spratly Islands, BBC News
  24. ^ 6 February 2012, 太平島 將建助導航塔, Liberty Times
  25. ^ July 15, 2012, Taiwan mulls extending runway in Spratlys: report, The West Australiandead link
  26. ^ 2013-09-02, Taiwan Plans New Infrastructure for Disputed South China Sea Claim, Voice of America
  27. ^ "Timeline: South China Sea dispute" Financial Times 12 July 2016 
  28. ^ "A UN-appointed tribunal dismisses China’s claims in the South China Sea" The Economist 12 July 2016 
  29. ^ "South China Sea: Tribunal backs case against China brought by Philippines" BBC 12 July 2016 
  30. ^ Perez, Jane 12 July 2016 "Beijing’s South China Sea Claims Rejected by Hague Tribunal" The New York Times 
  31. ^ Jun Mai, Shi Jiangtao 12 July 2016 "Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island is a rock, says international court in South China Sea ruling" South China Morning Post CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter link
  32. ^ 蕭照平, 3 May 2012, 太平島勘油軍艦護航?國防部:跟海巡署協調, China Times WebCite archive
  33. ^ Joseph Yeh, 25 July 2012, Cannons and mortars to be deployed on Taiping in South China Sea: MND, The China Post Taiwan
  34. ^ "ROC Minister of the Interior Chen Wei-zen presides over a ceremony marking the opening of a wharf and lighthouse on Taiping Island" Press release Ministry of Interior ROC, Taiwan 12 December 2015 Retrieved 2016-01-13 
  35. ^ "Solar power system expanded on Taiping Island" Focus Taiwan 14 December 2014 
  36. ^ "ROC to upgrade weather stations in disputed Spratlys" Government of the Republic of China Retrieved 2015-03-17 
  37. ^ "Taiping Island is an island, not a rock, and the ROC possesses full rights associated with an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with UNCLOS" MOFAROC 
  38. ^ "Our Island: The Atlas of Taiping Island of the Republic of China Taiwan, Vol 1" pdf Retrieved 2016-08-16 
  39. ^ "Introducing the Republic of China’s Taiping Island" pdf 2015 Retrieved 2016-08-16 
  40. ^ "InterLinc – City of Lincoln – Mayor's Dept Sister Cities" City of Lincoln, Nebraska Archived from the original on 19 December 2013 Retrieved 24 December 2013 

External linksedit

  • The International Portal of Taiping Island Taiping Island – The Beautiful and Sustainable Island
  • Satellite image of Taiping Island by Google Maps
  • Putative States in the Spratly Archipelago
  • "Ecological Resources" Discovering the South China Sea vmnthuedutw Archived from the original on 2005-11-24 
  • "Itu Aba Island" Discovering the South China Sea vmnthuedutw Archived from the original on 2006-02-09 
  • paperwenweipocom – Perhaps Contains an undoctored 2008 satellite photo of the island showing the runway and one adjacent "standing area"

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