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  • Joining search for plane shows int'l assimilation: scholars

    Taipei, March 14 (CNA) The Republic of China's move to send Navy and Coast Guard Administration vessels to help with the international search for a missing Malaysia Airline plane has highlighted the nation's contribution to non-conventional security issues and its role in assimilating into international cooperation, scholar have said.

    In a show of the spirit of humanitarian rescue, Taiwan has dispatched a Lafayette-class vessel, the Chengkung-class Navy frigate and two Coast Guard Administration (CGA) vessels to join the international search.

    Tiehlin Yen, deputy executive director of the Center for Security Studies in Taiwan under National Chengchi University's Institute of International Relations, said he is happy to see that the government has taken the positive action.

    Viewed from the perspective of changes in the international situation, it's best for Taiwan's diplomacy to participate in "non-conventional issues" such as climate change, natural disasters and rescue operations, he said.

    By doing so, Taiwan will have the opportunity to improve its international image, he said.

    Yen said that the search operation cannot be accomplished by one single nation alone, and Taiwan's participation and the process of multinational coordination, mission assignment and cooperation with other nations, have demonstrated Taiwan' s assimilation into international cooperation.

    Huang Kuei-po, secretary general of the Association of Foreign Relations, said the government's dispatch of Navy and CGA ships is in line with the spirit of East China Peace Initiative put forth by President Ma Ying-jeou, which advocates that relevant parties set aside disputes and jointly tap resources.

    But Huang also said that the humanitarian rescue mission should be simple with nothing to do with sovereignty.

    Amid criticism that Taiwan's rescue has come too late, Premier Jiang Yi-huah also said that although "we have been a little late, we have not been absent from the rescue operation."

    Taiwan's Navy frigate and two CGA vessels arrived Friday evening in an area of the South China Sea where the Boeing 777-200 possibly went missing.

    In addition, its Air Force has been sending a transport plane every day to its assigned sea area starting March 10. It takes the plane three hours to reach the area, where it searches for two hours, and spends 3.5 hours on its return trip, so it's on duty between eight to 10 hours daily.

    Taiwan's participation in the search has won international recognition and Taiwan has been assigned search areas. In view of logistic needs, Taiwan's vessels have also obtained consent from Malaysia to dock in its port.

    Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared from radar screens in the early hours of March 8 after taking off from Kuala Lumpur en route to Beijing.

    Air traffic controllers lost contact with the aircraft, which was carrying 227 passengers -- including Taiwanese national Chuang Hsiu-ling -- and a 12-member crew.

    No debris from the plane has been discovered so far, leaving investigators perplexed, without any clues to determine what might have happened to the plane.

    (By Tang Pei-chun and Lilian Wu)
    Photo courtesy of the Coast Guard Administration.