The Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday reaffirmed Taiwan’s sovereignty over disputed islands in the South China Sea and called on all claimants to peacefully resolve the impasse.
The comments came after an editorial published in the Chinese-language edition of the Chinese Communist Party-run Global Times called on the Beijing government to declare war on Vietnam and the Philippines, two countries that have been proactive in defending their claims over the islets.
The op-ed, titled “A good time to take military action in the South China Sea,” was penned by Long Tao (龍韜), a strategic analyst at the non-governmental China Energy Fund Committee and also at Zhejiang University’s Non-Traditional Security and Peace Development Research Center.
“Do not worry about small-scale wars; it is the best way to release the potential of war. Play a few small battles and big battles can be avoided,” Long wrote, adding that military action should be focused on striking the Philippines and Vietnam, “the two noisiest troublemakers,” to achieve the effect of killing one chicken to scare the monkeys.
Through military action, he wrote, China could transform the South China Sea into “a sea of fire,” an act made possible by the fact that “of the more than 1,000 oil rigs and four airfields on the Spratly Islands, none belongs to China.”
On the risks of military action inviting intervention by the international community, the author took an optimistic note.
“The US has not withdrawn from the war on terrorism and the Middle East ... so it cannot afford to open a second front in the South China Sea,” he wrote, adding that the “decisive shot” by Russia in the Caspian Sea in 2008 served as a model. “[Military] action by a big country in the international arena may result in initial shock, but in the long run, regional stability can be achieved through great power strategic reconciliation.”
Taiwan, along with Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and China, claims sovereignty over archipelagos in the area, which are believed to have rich oil and natural gas resources.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman James Chang (章計平) said the ministry would not comment on Chinese media reports.
However, Chang reiterated the government’s position that the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Islands, Pratas Islands and nearby waters were part of Taiwan’s territory and territorial waters, and called on claimants to peacefully resolve disputes surrounding the region through negotiation and dialogue.
Taiwan has always upheld the principle of shelving sovereignty disputes and jointly exploring resources based on the principle and spirit of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea, he said.
Taiwan does not recognize any resolution reached without its participation and has called for a multilateral mechanism for countries in the region to participate in discussions to seek peaceful development of the region, he added.
Additional reporting by Shih Hsiu-chuan