Sat, Aug 06, 2011 - Page 1 News List

Academics suggest cross-strait effort on sea dispute

COOPERATION:Taiwanese and Chinese academics said the two sides should set aside disagreements over ‘one China’ and work together on the South China Sea issue

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

A recently released book co-written by a group of Taiwanese and Chinese academics suggested that the two sides should make joint efforts to safeguard sovereignty over disputed territories in the South China Sea, which they said belong to “one China.”

They also cast doubt on the legality of international laws and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) cited by the US to support Southeast Asian countries’ claim to the region.

The book, published last month, was co-produced by the MacArthur Center for Security Studies of the Institute of International Relations at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University and China’s National Institute for South China Sea Studies, which is affiliated with the Chinese foreign ministry.

Center executive director Liu Fu-kuo (劉復國) said the publication was aimed at providing both Taiwan and China with forward-looking views on ways to settle disputes in the South China Sea through cross-strait cooperation.

“Both sides of the [Taiwan] Strait have agreed to tackle economic matters first in the course of negotiations, leaving many issues unaddressed. But internationally, it’s a pressing issue to settle the dispute over the South China Sea,” Liu said.

The academics recommended establishing non-government agencies under the auspices of respective authorities on both sides so that they can work together on comprehensive issues ranging from fishing to resources exploration, maritime enforcement against trafficking and crimes, environmental protection, and military cooperation on information exchange and patrolling the area.

They suggested that the two sides set aside disagreements over the definition of “one China” to build up a basis for these cooperation projects.

SUPPORT FROM CHINA

As cross-strait rapprochement continues, China would give Taiwan appropriate support to take part in international negotiations in the South China Sea disputes in an appropriate capacity on condition that Taiwan will not use the occasion to promote “two Chinas,” the book said.

Taiwan has been denied access to the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea since it was signed in 2002 because it was not considered a sovereign state, the book said, adding that Taiwan has to seek China’s understanding and approval first if it wants to make progress in this regard.

In a chapter regarding the US’ policy on the South China Sea dispute, the academics said that Washington would continue its strategy of cooperating with Southeast Asian countries and actively intervene in the region with a view to counterbalancing China.

That the US cited international law and the UNCLOS to side with the Southeast Asian countries’ claim over the region disregarded the fact that these countries have occupied the islets illegally, the academics said, adding that this was far less convincing than China’s historical claim to the region.

Asked for a comment, Baushuan Ger (葛葆宣), deputy secretary-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs, said: “It’s been the government’s position that we [Taiwan] do not cooperate with China on the sovereignty issue in the South China Sea dispute. We would like to work with relevant countries in projects such as humanitarian aid, oil exploration, maritime rescue missions and crime fighting.”

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