Mon, Jul 14, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Ministry urges talks to resolve disputes over territory

Staff writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday reaffirmed Taiwan’s sovereignty over four island groups in the South China Sea, while urging countries and territories involved in territorial disputes in the area to resolve their differences through dialogue and negotiation.

From the perspective of history, geography and international law, the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), as well as the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島) and the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), and their surrounding waters are all undoubtedly an inherent part of the Republic of China (ROC) territory, ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao (高安) said.

The government is willing to uphold the basic principles of “safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, promoting peace, reciprocity and joint exploration,” and work with other countries to maintain regional peace and stability, Kao said.

The government is also urging neighboring countries to exercise self-restraint so that the South China Sea disputes can be resolved peacefully through dialogue and consultation, Kao said.

She was commenting on a proposal on Friday by US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Strategy and Multilateral Affairs Michael Fuchs that claimant states clarify and agree to voluntarily freeze certain actions and activities that escalate disputes and cause instability in the region.

Fuchs said the US wants the 10-nation ASEAN and China to have “a real and substantive discussion” to flesh out a call for self-restraint contained in a declaration of conduct they agreed to in 2002, with a view toward signing a formal maritime code of conduct.

He said it would be up to the claimants to decide what elements should be included in a freeze, but these could include recommitting to not establishing new outposts or seize territory another claimant had occupied before the 2002 declaration.

Claimants could also define what types of actions would be considered provocative and what would merely be efforts to maintain a long-existing presence dating back to before 2002, Fuchs said.

Kao said that Taiwan and the US have maintained an effective communication channel and have a good understanding of each other’s stance on a peaceful resolution to the South China Sea territorial disputes.

Taiwan is working to further exchange views with the US on its proposal and the situation in the South China Sea, she added.

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