IBTimes UK

Three Taiwanese fishing boats arrived at a port of Republic of China-administered Taiping Island in the Spratlys of South China Sea on Monday, seeking to resupply their ships.

It was earlier confirmed by the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) that the fishermen, who sailed from southern Taiwan, would be allowed to step onto the island's pier to restock the ship.

"[We] should respect government regulations since we are citizens of the R.O.C. But as a fishing vessel and coming ashore for restocking, I think this falls under the category of humanitarian aid and believe the government will not reject [the request],"said spokesman Luo Chiang-fei.

However, Tung Chen-yuan, Cabinet spokesman, said to the local media that civilians are normally not allowed to visit the military controlled island if they have not applied for permission beforehand, but promises to extend "all necessary assistance" in case of emergency accordance with the applicable regulations.

The Ministry of National Defense also stated that one needs to apply for the permission to visit Taiping 45 days before a scheduled trip.

Concerns were also raised regarding the entry of a Hong Kong-based journalists embedded with the fishermen in Taiping.

According to the journalist the statement has anger the fishermen. "The fishermen were extremely angry upon hearing this, even going as far to say the move was 'cold-hearted'," he said.

To prevent the "loss of focus," the contingent announced that one of the four ships carrying reporters would not dock.

The ships are expected to start their return journey to Taiwan on Tuesday.

Initially, five ships embarked upon the journey, but one ship returned to Taiwan due to technical problems.

Lin Te-fu, Opposition Kuomintang caucus leader, lauded the actions of the fishermen, calling them extremely 'brave'.

"These fishermen have risked so much to defend our sovereignty and our fishing claims, and I believe they are more courageous than our president [and have] gained the people's respect and esteem," Lin said as doubts lingered over whether the boats would be allowed to dock.

IBTimes UK