Wed, Jun 02, 2004 - Page 1 News List

Cabinet bill aims to spell out national boundaries

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's territory should cover the islands of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu and the more controversial Pratas, Spratly and Diaoyu islands, according to the Cabinet.

Dubbed the "constitution of the land," the draft national land planning law would, for the first time, specify the Republic of China's (ROC) territory, specifying land, coastal and sea areas.

The Constitution does not clearly define the "existing national boundaries" and an interpretation by the Council of Grand Justices in 1993 failed to resolve the politically sensitive issue.

The ROC Territorial Waters and Neighboring Areas Law (中華民國領海及鄰接區法) declares that the ROC's territorial waters are those 12 nautical miles (22km) from shore.

The Taiwan Strait is only 200km wide, making a clear delineation between China and Taiwan difficult.

The Pratas Islands are 440km southwest of Kaohsiung and 260km south of China's Guangdong Province. The Spratly Islands are 70km north of Hong Kong. The eight uninhabited Diaoyu Islands are 220km northwest of Taiwan.

Besides Taiwan, the Philippines, China and Indonesia claim the Spratly Islands. The Pratas Islands are claimed by China, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

Only Taiwan, however, has personnel -- armed coast guards, who recently replaced a marine garrison -- stationed on the Spratly and the Pratas Islands.

Arguments have also been going on between Taiwan, China and Japan since 1971 over the Diaoyutais.

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