Sun, Apr 01, 2012 - Page 3 News List

MOFA reiterates claim over island

CONSTRUCTION:The Philippines had issued a statement in response to China’s protest of Manila’s construction of a pier on Jhongye Island, known also as Pagasa Island

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday reiterated its position that the Republic of China (ROC) “has indisputable sovereignty” over Jhongye Island (中業島) in the South China Sea, in response to the Philippines’ plan to construct a pier in the disputed region.

In a statement issued at 12:20am yesterday, Taipei repeated its three-point position on the South China Sea after the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) defended the construction of the wharf and insisted that the area is its territory on Friday.

According to the Manila Times, the Philippines said the building of a ferry pier on the island, known in the Philippines as Pagasa, is a “clear exercise” of Philippine sovereignty.

DFA spokesman Raul Hernandez was quoted as saying that “Pagasa Island is ours. It is part of the municipality of Kalayaan.”

It is the government’s obligation to bring progress and development to the municipality of Kalayaan for Filipinos living in the islands of the municipality, Hernandez was quoted as saying, adding that the pier would facilitate the delivery of basic necessities and government services for the Filipinos in Pagasa.

Manila issued the statement in response to a protest lodged by the Chinese foreign ministry against its construction of the wharf.

In Taipei, MOFA said Jhongye Island — which is part of the Spratly Islands (南沙群島) — along with Paracel Islands (西沙群島), Macclesfield Bank (中沙群島), Pratas Islands (東沙群島) and their surrounding waters are all “an inherent part of the ROC’s territory from the perspective of history, geography or international law.”

The ROC government reasserts that it enjoys all rights over the islands and their surrounding waters and that it does not accept any claims to sovereignty over, or occupation of, these areas by other countries, MOFA said.

Taipei’s policy on the South China Sea calls for countries in the region to respect the principles and spirit of the UN Charter and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, and to refrain from adopting unilateral measures that could threaten peace and stability in the region.

“Our country remains willing to participate in dialogue that seeks to find resolutions to disputes and to promote regional peace, stability and development,” MOFA said.

Taipei says that it upholds the basic principles of “safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint exploration” and remains willing to cooperate with other countries to explore for resources in the South China Sea.

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