Taiping Island, the largest of the Spratly chain, is administered by Taiwan. (File photo/China Times)
Taiwan has begun publishing weather information for the Pratas and Spratly islands on its official weather website as part of efforts to assert sovereignty over the disputed South China Sea region, an official said Tuesday.
Current weather conditions such as temperatures and precipitation on the two island groups were made accessible on the Central Weather Bureau's website from a day earlier, said Lee Hsing-yuan, spokesperson for the bureau.
The initiative, "in a sense, is aimed at asserting sovereignty" over the South China Sea region, Lee told CNA.
In recent months, there has been growing tension between countries with competing claims in the region, chiefly between China, Vietnam and the Philippines.
The bureau has been cooperating with Taiwan's Navy and the Coast Guard Administration, which have personnel stationed on the Pratas and Spratly islands, to collect weather information, Lee said. The weather data is updated every hour, he added.
The information is available only in Chinese, although an English version will be included at an as-yet undetermined point in the future, Lee said.
Taiwan controls the Pratas Islands, 450 km off Taiwan's southwestern coast, as well as Taiping Island, the largest of the Spratlys, which lie about 1,600 km southwest of southern Taiwan.
The islands of the South China Sea region, thought to be rich in oil deposits and marine biodiversity, are claimed in whole or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.