A relatively minor incident with a Taiwanese Lockheed C-130H Hercules on Wednesday 26 May 2015 again puts the focus on the ongoing military and geopolitical play in the South Chinese Sea.
The Republic of China Air Force (RoCAF) airlifter landed at Nansha Taiping Island to have officials of the ministries of Defence and Transportation plus the Coast Guard inspect recent upgrades and the modernization of the Zhengjian Taiping Airport runways, navaids and facilities. The airport is small as such, but compared to the size of the island the 4,000 feet long airstrip occupies almost the entire length of the island. A oversized habour is located south of it.
Lift-off back to Taiwan was aborted because of an apparent failure in one of the flaps. But after some mechanical work on the ground, the plane left just before the evening anyway with a five hour delay.
The Herc problem has again put the Spratlys – an archipellago of atolls, islands, islets, cays and reefs in the South Chinese Sea in between the Philippines, Malaysia and Vietnam – again in the footlight of the ongoing tensions in Asia. Although the Taiping Island in question is officially administered by Taiwan, it is situated 900 miles (1450 km) from the southern tip of the country. Mainland China (630 miles / 1020 km away), the Philippines (290 miles / 480 km), Malaysia (290 miles / 480 km) and Vietnam (380 miles / 610 km) say that the area is theirs as well.
During the last decades the countries have many times faced each other, but so far not with any serious military escalation yet. But as the search for oil and power intensifies with an ever strong mainland China, many wonder for how long the status quo can be maintained.
© 2015 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger
Featured image: A RoCAF (Taiwanese) C-130H Hercules landing at Chih Hang AFB in 2013 (Image (CC) Xuán Shǐshēng)