Sun, Dec 09, 2012 - Page 3 News List

Academics appeal for US support on island claims

By William Lowther  /  Staff reporter in WASHINGTON

Two representatives of the administration of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Friday appealed to the US Congress to support Taiwan’s claim to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台).

“We are facing a brick wall trying to talk to Japan,” National Chengchi University fellow Shaw Han-yi (邵漢儀) said.

He said that repeated attempts to talk with Japan about Taiwan’s fishing rights around the islands had led nowhere.

“We are all vested in this and we hope that the US will play a role in supporting our peace initiative,” he said.

“This is not asking the US to take sides, but we do need your help. Our claims have merit, but for us, the best route to Tokyo is through Washington,” he added.

Shaw was addressing a crowded meeting of US Congressional staffers held in the Rayburn House Office Building and sponsored by the Hudson Institute and the Congressional Taiwan Caucus.

Research fellow at the Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies at Academia Sinica Song Yann-huei (宋燕輝) said: “We don’t expect an instant outcome for the East China Sea peace initiative, but it would be very good to have an exchange of views and to share information.”

“We think that President Ma’s peace initiative is consistent with US national interests and will lead to peace and security in the region,” he said.

Shaw and Song have spent this month touring the US, talking about the island issue with groups in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Washington.

US President Barack Obama and his most senior aides have repeatedly said that the US will not takes sides on the question of the island’s ownership — whether they belong to Taiwan, Japan or China.

However, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in 2010 that Washington’s 1960 defense pact with Japan covers the islands.

In September, US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia Kurt Campbell said that the disputed islands, known as the Senkakus in Japan, were “clearly” covered by the treaty which obliges the US to come to Japan’s aid if attacked.

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