The government on Friday reiterated its claim over the disputed Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) in the South China Sea while expressing concern over escalating tensions between Vietnam and China over a large Chinese oil rig in the area.
Tensions in the broad swath of sea have so escalated that as many as dozens of Chinese and Vietnamese ships are in a standoff, sparking worries that a larger conflict could be brewing.
As the two claimants continued to rebuke each other over the incidents, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs rejected their claims of sovereignty over or occupation of the islands, which it said rightfully belong to the Republic of China (ROC) government.
The ministry reiterated its position that “from the perspective of history, geography and international law,” the ROC’s inherent territory extends to the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), Paracels, Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島) and Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島) as well as their surrounding waters and respective seabed and subsoil.
“There is no doubt that the Republic of China has sovereignty over the archipelagos and waters,” the statement said.
It went on to restate the basic principles proposed as part of President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) East China Sea peace initiative: safeguarding sovereignty while working to shelve disputes, promoting peace and reciprocity among claimants, and jointly exploring the region’s resources.
As for the ongoing clashes, the ministry urged self-restraint and a peaceful resolution to be reached through consultation and dialogue.