Sun, Oct 21, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Taiwan waging US Diaoyutai Islands campaign

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

The administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) is intensifying efforts to win Washington’s support for its disputed claim to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

After spending US$500,000 on full-page advertisements in the US press earlier this month, Taipei launched a diplomatic blitz. On Oct. 17 it sent former representative to the US Stephen Chen (陳錫蕃) to tell a meeting at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) about the fine details of Taiwan’s claim to the islands. The next day, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) argued for Taiwan’s right to the islands on the Web site of the Foreign Policy Magazine.

Throughout the month Taiwanese officials have been lobbying the administration of US President Barack Obama and members of the US Congress. In particular they have been trying to win support for Ma’s proposed peace plan for managing the ownership dispute, which involves China and Japan, by agreeing to share resources.

Sources close to the Washington administration have told the Taipei Times that the US has continued to refuse to take sides in the argument, but one source who refused to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the issue said that within the US Department of State many officials were privately leaning toward the Japanese claim.

“While most attention has focused on the standoff between China and Japan, the Diaoyutai Islands actually form an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China [Taiwan] based on the islands’ geographical location, geological structure, relevant historical evidence and international law,” Lin wrote.

“Japan’s claim over the islands simply does not stand up to close scrutiny,” he said.

However, Lin stressed that while Taiwan had a “compelling case” for sovereignty over the islands Ma was “mindful of the need” to foster regional peace and stability. He recalled that Ma had proposed an East China Sea peace initiative calling on all parties concerned to refrain from taking any antagonistic actions, shelve controversies, resolve disputes through peaceful means and seek a consensus with the aim of establishing a code of conduct for cooperation in the East China Sea.

“While Taiwan sovereignty is indivisible, resources in the Diaoyutai region can be shared,” Lin said.

“Under the circumstances, President Ma’s peace initiative offers a constructive approach to reducing tensions in the region and resolving disputes between the parties concerned in a peaceful manner,” Lin added.

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