President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday said China’s announcement of a new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea has not helped with cross-strait development and the government would urge Beijing not to demarcate a similar zone over the South China Sea.
In an interview with Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun, Ma said China’s ADIZ over the East China Sea had sparked great concern in the region because the zone includes the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), which are the territory of the Republic of China (ROC).
The Diaoyutais, which lie about 120 nautical miles (220km) northeast of Taipei, are also claimed by China and Japan, which call them the Senkaku Islands.
“The move does not bring positive development to cross-strait relations. In the future, we will talk to mainland China and ask them not to set up a similar ADIZ over the South China Sea,” he said.
When asked to comment about Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s plans to push for a change in the Japanese constitution regarding its self-defense rights, Ma said the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the US and Japan has played an important role in stabilizing Asia, and the Republic of China government has been supportive of the treaty.
“As a mature democratic nation, I think Japan will take neighboring countries’ reactions into consideration and act wisely,” he said.
The government issued a statement reiterating the ROC’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutais shortly after China announced its new air defense zone on Nov. 23, while promoting Ma’s East China Sea peace initiative calling on the concerned parties to resolve disputes through negotiations.
Japan and South Korea have ignored China’s demand to be notified about any flights passing through the zone and have sent military aircraft into the area in recent days, after US military aircraft flew through it.
The issue of China’s ADIZ has also been a key issue on the agenda for US Vice President Joe Biden’s current tour of Japan, China and South Korea.
Ma yesterday reiterated the efforts by the government to promote peace across the Taiwan Strait, and said it has never avoided political issues affecting cross-strait relations.
Citing the signing of cross-strait agreements and the proposed establishment of cross-strait representative offices, Ma said these issues carried some political significance, and the government is also promoting the service trade agreement to enhance exchanges and enable Taiwanese to profit from them.
He said the government will continue to adopt an “economics first, politics later” policy for dealing with China, and will address political issues when the timing is right.
In related news, American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) Chairman Raymond Burghardt is to arrive in Taipei tomorrow for a five-day visit.
Burghardt is set to meet with Ma and key political and business figures during his stay.
The visit has sparked the local media’s interest because of its timing, coming in the wake of China’s air defense zone declaration and Biden’s tour.
The AIT said the visit will be Burghardt’s 15th trip to Taiwan since he became chairman in February 2006.
Additional reporting by CNA
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