Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s planned trip to the Taiwanese-held island of Itu Aba in the disputed South China Sea is “extremely unhelpful” and would not do anything to resolve disputes over the waterway, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.
Ma’s office earlier announced that the president, who steps down in May, would fly to Itu Aba on Thursday to offer Chinese New Year wishes to residents on the island, mainly Taiwanese coastguard personnel and environmental scholars.
But Ma’s one-day visit to Itu Aba, known as Taiping in Taiwan, comes amid international concern over rising tensions in the waterway and quickly drew the ire of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), the de facto U.S. embassy in Taipei in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.
“We are disappointed that President Ma Ying-jeou plans to travel to Taiping Island,” AIT spokeswoman Sonia Urbom said.
“Such an action is extremely unhelpful and does not contribute to the peaceful resolution of disputes in the South China Sea.”
The United States wanted Taiwan and all claimants to lower tensions, rather than taking actions that could raise them, Urbom added. Read More