Sat, Dec 01, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Minister urges restraint over South China Sea spat

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin (林永樂) yesterday urged China to exercise restraint and respect internationally recognized freedoms of navigation over a territorial row in the South China Sea involving several countries.

It is an internationally accepted principle that all countries have freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, “which in our view is part of our territorial waters,” Lin said, adding that any move by China would not stop Taiwan from continuing with its activities in the region.

“We hope China will exercise as much restraint as possible in this regard,” he said.

Lin was responding to a report by the China Daily, a mouthpiece of the Chinese Communist Party, on Thursday that China’s Hainan Province as of Jan.1 will allow its police to board and seize control of foreign ships which “illegally enter” Chinese waters.

Under a set of regulation revisions the Hainan People’s Congress approved on Tuesday, provincial border police are authorized to board or seize foreign ships that “illegally” enter the province’s waters and order them to change course or stop sailing, the paper said.

According to the paper, the full texts of the regulations, which have not yet been released, state that entering the province’s waters without permission, damaging coastal defense facilities and engaging in publicity that threatens national security will be deemed illegal.

The report ratcheted up tensions between claimants to the disputed waters which recently flared up again after news that new Chinese passports include a map including the whole South China Sea region was reported by the Financial Times last week.

The Mainland Affairs Council, said in a separate statement that “for many years fishing vessels from the Republic of China have operated in its territorial waters and the Coast Guard Administration will protect legal fishing activities. The international community should give them due respect.”

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