Fri, Nov 05, 2010 - Page 3 News List

US offer concerns Taiwan

LEFT OUT:The government said it was a major player in the region, and its claim of sovereignty over the disputed islands could not be ignored by the US, Japan and China

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff Reporter

The Taiwanese government has expressed concern to the US regarding a recent offer by US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to mediate between Japan and China on the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), over which Taiwan also claims sovereignty, a foreign affairs official said yesterday.

“We have let the US know that [Taiwan] is one of the countries claiming sovereignty over the -Diaoyutai Islands and therefore the US ought to keep in mind our claim and interests,” said Bruce Linghu (令狐榮達), director-general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Department of North American Affairs.

Linghu made the remarks when asked to comment on Clinton’s offer to host a three-way meeting between the US, Japan and China to resolve the dispute between Beijing and Tokyo over the islands in the East China Sea, which has led to escalating tensions between the two Asian countries.

Without elaborating on how the US responded to Taiwan’s concerns, Linghu said the ministry would continue to observe subsequent actions taken or statements made by the US on the matter.

“It’s premature to say ... but, my thinking is that, for the moment, the US wouldn’t go so far as to come up with concrete or specific actions to carry out mediation,” Linghu said.

Saying that Taiwan is also an important player in the region, Linghu added that he believed Taiwan would not be left out of discussions that could lead to solutions to the controversy.

The US government had made it clear that it does not take a position on who controls the Diaoyutai Islands, and hoped that the countries claiming sovereignty over the islands could seek a peaceful resolution of any disagreements that they have, Linghu said.

“We are of the same opinion as the US in this regard,” he said.

Last week, a plan by the legislature’s Internal Administration Committee to inspect the contested islands, also known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, was temporarily called off, with bad weather conditions cited as the primary concern.

However, sources suggested that the real reason was that the pan-blue camp had mobilized to cancel the trip to avert a possible crisis ahead of the Nov. 27 special municipality elections, especially because the consequences of such a tour are unpredictable.

Sources said that top officials at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were “scared half to death” because a tour could directly jeopardize relations between Taiwan and Japan.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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