A US academic is urging President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) to defuse tensions in the South China Sea by clarifying the “nine-dash line” and bringing Taiwan’s maritime claims into conformity with international law, especially the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Center for Strategic and International Studies senior Asia adviser Bonnie Glaser said that while the Ma administration has been “creative and constructive” in its East China Sea diplomacy, it has remained “mostly silent” as tensions have risen among claimants in the South China Sea.
“By clarifying its claims, Taiwan can remind the other claimants and the international community that it has important interests at stake in the South China Sea and is willing to be a constructive player in managing the disputes,” she said in a paper published this week by the center.
Glaser said that the primary source of instability in the South China Sea is the nine-dash line, which was originally an 11-dash line drawn by the Republic of China government in 1947.
She said that Jeffrey Bader, a former senior director for East Asia on US President Barack Obama’s national security staff, recently proposed that Washington discuss with Taiwan whether it can clarify its position on the nine-dash line.
“A first step could be for Taiwan to thoroughly review the Republic of China historical archives to fully understand the original intention behind the drawing of the 11-dash line,” Glaser said.
Taiwan should identify which of the land features that it claims are islands it believes are entitled to a 200 nautical mile (370km) exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and which are rocks that are only entitled to a 12 nautical mile territorial sea, she added.
In accordance with UNCLOS, the full EEZ limits could be claimed for islands in the central part of the South China Sea, Glaser said. EEZ claims for islands that are close to China’s coast or main archipelago of the ASEAN claimants would be limited to the mid-point in the waters from the islands claimed by Taiwan to the land belonging to the other claimant states, she said.
“Such a clarification of Taiwan’s claim would not necessitate revision of the [ROC] Constitution, as some experts have maintained, since Taipei would not need to modify its national boundaries or alter its sovereignty claims,” Glaser said.
In response to Taiwan’s positive approach, ASEAN might respond by supporting Taiwan’s inclusion in discussions with Beijing on establishing a code of conduct for the South China Sea, she said.
Most importantly, Taiwan’s action would put pressure on Beijing to also clarify its maritime claims in the South China Sea, which are based on the original 11-dash line that the People’s Republic of China inherited when it took over China in 1949, she said.
“If Mainland China were to follow in Taiwan’s footsteps and clarify its claims in accordance with UNCLOS, discussions could ensue on how to manage areas of overlapping claims, including joint development arrangements and peace and stability could be significantly enhanced in the region,” Glaser said.
She said that Beijing “would likely not welcome” a decision by Taiwan to clarify the meaning of the nine-dash line and abandonment of “historic rights” to natural resources in areas in the EEZ or continental shelf of other nations as required by UNCLOS.
China prefers joint cooperation to assert the “common” claims of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, she said.
“President Ma has rejected such cooperation, however,” Glaser said. “Clarification of Taiwan’s South China Sea claim, based on its own national interests, is unlikely to cause a reversal of the general trend of improving cross-strait relations, which benefits both sides.”
“As a claimant in the South China Sea dispute and a law-abiding nation, Taiwan has the opportunity to set a positive example and chart a peaceful course toward management and eventual resolution of maritime disputes in East Asia,” she said.
‘CORNERED ENEMY’: China’s rise is threatening peace and stability, and the US would aim to restrict it with help from allies in the Asia-Pacific, Soong Hseik-wen said A draft bill on protecting Taiwan from invasion is likely to be passed by the US Congress, but it remains to be seen how US President Joe Biden’s administration would implement the act if it is passed, Taiwanese academics said on Sunday. US Senator Rick Scott and US Representative Guy Reschenthaler on Thursday reintroduced the proposed Taiwan Invasion Prevention Act, which was shelved in September last year due to the impending US presidential election. Arthur Ding (丁樹範), a professor at National Chengchi University’s College of International Affairs, and Soong Hseik-wen (宋學文), a professor at National Chung Cheng University’s Graduate Institute
OVERHAUL NEEDED: The government should improve its agricultural processing capabilities and expand to new markets to limit its reliance on China, an expert said China’s ban on Taiwanese pineapples was “unsurprising,” and Taiwan should have years ago altered its produce export strategies and target customers, experts said. China on Friday abruptly suspended imports of pineapples from Taiwan, saying that it had on multiple occasions discovered “harmful biological entities” on the fruit. Calling it an “unfriendly” move, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said that 99.79 percent of the pineapples sent to China since last year have met China’s import standards. Chiao Chun (焦鈞), the author of Fruits and Politics — A Recollection of Cross-strait Agricultural Interaction Over the Past Decade (水果政治學：兩岸農業交流十年回顧與展望), said that China’s announcement is clearly targeting
‘NOT COLD ENOUGH’: Schools are disregarding Premier Su Tseng-chang’s instruction that students may wear out-of-uniform clothing to stay warm, an association said An investigative report revealed that 72.5 percent of the nation’s senior-high schools and 95.6 percent of junior-high schools punish students for wearing unapproved winter clothes in contravention of educational guidelines, lawmakers and student rights advocates said yesterday. Speaking at a news conference at the Legislative Yuan, the Taiwan Youth Association for Democracy said there is an endemic disregard for the Ministry of Education’s regulations and that private schools are more likely to contravene ministry rules. The report is a compilation of 2,856 student reports about dress code reinforcement at 425 high schools and vocational high schools, the association said. Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌)
DISSATISFACTION? If the referendums collect more than 700,000 signatures each, they would have gotten the most signatures in the shortest time, the party said The Chinese Nationalist Party’s (KMT) two referendum petitions — one on banning the importation of pork with traces of ractopamine and the other on holding referendums on the same day as national elections — had as of Thursday gathered 691,398 and 674,497 signatures respectively, the party said yesterday. If the petitions collect more than 700,000 signatures apiece, they would have garnered the most signatures in the shortest time since the Referendum Act (公民投票法) was amended in 2017, party officials said. The KMT proposed the “anti-ractopamine pork” or “food safety” referendum just days after President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) announcement on Aug. 28 last