WASHINGTON—The United States appealed for calm Friday after Taiwan apparently prepared to deploy missiles in the West Philippine Sea over concerns that rival claimants to disputed islands are building up their arms.
“We encourage all claimants to resolve their disputes through peaceful means, in accordance with international law and without resorting to the threat or use of force,” Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters.
Taiwan’s defense minister Kao Hua-chu endorsed a proposal passed by the country’s defense committee Wednesday demanding coastguard units in Taiping and the Pratas islands — claimed by China — be armed with Chaparral or Tien Chien I missiles.
China claims all of the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), including hundreds of Spratly islands and reefs.
Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, China, Malaysia and the Philippines claim all or part of the Spratlys, which could lie on top of large oil reserves.
The Taiwanese coastguard currently has a 130-strong garrison on Taiping, the biggest island in the Spratlys archipelago.