Thursday, September 22, 2016

Taiwan asks Google to blur images showing new South China Sea facilities

Taiwan's defense ministry said on Wednesday it is asking Google to blur satellite images showing what experts say appear to be new military installations on Itu Aba, Taipei's sole holding in the disputed South China Sea.
The revelation of new military-related construction could raise more tensions in the contested waterway, where China's building of airstrips and other facilities has worried other claimants and the United States.

"Under the pre-condition of protecting military secrets and security, we have requested Google blur images of important military facilities," Taiwan Defense Ministry spokesman Chen Chung-chi said on Wednesday, after local media published the images of Itu Aba. Defense experts said that based on the imagery of the structures and their semi-circular layout, the structures were likely related to defense and could be part of an artillery foundation.
Taiping Island, also known as Itu Aba Island and by various other names, is the largest of the naturally occurring Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. The international tribunal’s July 12 ruling that Itu Aba is legally a “rock,” and not an "island" was based on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In terms of maritime rights, that means Itu Aba generates a 12-nautical-mile territorial sea around it. The far more valuable designation of “island” produces an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of 200 nautical miles.