Non-official, private and academic dialogue is needed to push for the East China Sea peace initiative proposed by Taiwan, according to Song Yann-huei (宋燕輝), a research fellow at the Institute of European and American Studies at Academia Sinica.
The initiative was proposed by President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Aug. 5 last year and calls for all parties that lay territorial claims to the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) — known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan — in the East China Sea to put aside their disputes and jointly explore the island groups and adjacent waters. It has won the support of many academics around the world.
Saying that Ma has said it might take some time for the initiative to be fully realized, Song said the process could be speeded up if more effort is put into it.
The initiative cannot be achieved at one stroke; rather, it needs the joint efforts of many different government organizations and they have to flesh it out with more detailed, and well-conceived plans, he said.
He suggested dialogue similar to the South China Sea Conference that has been staged annually since 1990 to discuss the potential for conflict in the South China Sea. Although it is a non-official forum, its participants are mostly government representatives of different countries who have worked out a code of conduct for the South China Sea.
If there is a trilateral dialogue among think tanks, academics and civic groups from Taiwan, Japan and China, such as a dialogue between their fishermen’s groups, very sensitive issues can be discussed because they are not official representatives, he said.
With regard to bilateral dialogue between the three parties, Song said that senior Chinese and Japanese officials were sure to meet. Taiwan and Japan will also hold such a dialogue, which could cover issues other than fishing rights, such as environmental protection and a tsunami warning system, he said.