Thu, Sep 06, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Taiwan urges restraint in isle dispute

SEA PATROL:The president called for increased coast guard surveillance around the Diaoyutais, especially during the fishing season, to protect fishermen’s rights

By Shih Hsiu-chuan and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff reporters

Taiwan yesterday called on Japan to exercise self-restraint and refrain from disturbing peace in the region, following media reports that the Tokyo government had agreed to buy part of the contested Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

Citing unnamed government sources, Japan’s Yomiuri Shimbun and Kyodo News reported yesterday that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s Cabinet had reached a deal to buy three of the Diaoyutai Islands — including the largest, known as Uotsurijima in Japanese and Diaoyu Dao (釣魚島) in Chinese — for ¥2.05 billion (US$26 million) from the landowners.

Japanese Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Hiroyuki Nagahama reportedly met the islands’ owners on Monday and struck the deal. The Asahi Shimbun reported that the Cabinet would soon approve the plan to nationalize the islands and allocate funds for the purchase.

Responding to the reports, the Executive Yuan yesterday said that nothing can change the fact that the Republic of China (ROC) exercises sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands.

“The government’s stance on safeguarding its territorial sovereignty is unwavering,” the Executive Yuan said.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said the ministry urged the Japanese government to refrain from actions that would cause a regional disturbance.

It is an undisputable fact that the Diaoyutais are an inherent territory of the ROC and affiliated islands of Taiwan from the perspective of history, geography, geology, international law and based on traces of ancient settlements, Hsia said.

Given these facts, the ministry does not recognize any unilateral moves by the Japanese government to assert sovereignty over the islands, he added.

Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) confirmed yesterday that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九), who is to visit Pengjia Islet (彭佳嶼) tomorrow, would make a statement on the sovereignty dispute and reiterate his previous proposal calling for a peace initiative and for all parties to shelve disagreements and jointly explore potential resources.

Pengjia is situated about 55km north of Keelung and 141km east of the Diaoyutais. It is the closest Taiwan-occupied territory to the disputed Diaoyutai island chain. Tomorrow’s inspection tour will mark Ma’s first visit to the islet since taking office in 2008.

Officials from the Ministry of National Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and related government bodies will accompany Ma on the inspection trip. The Presidential Office said it would also invite legislators across party lines to join the trip.

Ma will take a helicopter to Pengjia. Aside from visiting the weather station and inspecting the coast guard deployment on the islet, he is expected to hear a report on the Diaoyutais.

Ma, who presided over a meeting of the Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) Central Standing Committee yesterday, spoke on the government’s efforts to defend the nation’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutais. He said he had instructed the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) to patrol the area every day during the fishing season.

“The CGA should protect the personal safety and rights of our fishermen and defend our sovereignty. It should patrol the area every year, every month and even every day during the fishing season,” he said.

The CGA was established in 2000 to protect the safety and rights of fishermen in Keelung and Yilan who fish in the waters of the Diaoyutais, the president said.

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