The US might encourage Taiwan to play a larger role in the growing South China Sea dispute, a US official said.
US Department of State spokesman Jeff Rathke on Tuesday offered support for President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) peace initiative, while Washington policymakers are expected to discuss the issue with Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) when she visits the city next week.
In addition, the Brookings Institution has published a lengthy paper urging Taiwan’s inclusion in negotiations related to the South China Sea.
“We appreciate Taiwan’s call on claimants to exercise restraint, to refrain from unilateral actions that could escalate tensions and to respect international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention,” Rathke said.
Asked about Ma’s plan to emphasize that resources can be shared even though sovereignty cannot be divided, Rathke stressed that the US position on the South China Sea was long-standing and had not changed.
“With regard to claims of sovereignty over land features in the South China Sea, our position is that maritime claims must accord with the Law of the Sea, and we have a strong interest in peace and security, and in the manner in which claimants address their disputes,” Rathke said.
“As to the question of sovereignty over islands claimed by Taiwan or other land features claimed by claimants, we don’t take a position on the sovereignty of land features,” he said.
Rathke said that China’s extensive land reclamation efforts in the region had contributed to rising tensions and that under international law land reclamation could not change the maritime zones of a geographic feature.
Washington sources have told the Taipei Times that the administration of US President Barack Obama would be interested to learn Tsai’s plans for the South China Sea and said she would face questions on the subject.
They also suggested that Taiwan should expand its role as a peacemaker in the region.
Meanwhile, Lynn Kuok, a foreign policy academic at Brookings, released a paper entitled Taiwan’s Evolving Position in the South China Sea.
Kuok said that all parties who have an interest in better management of the dispute and a more peaceful region — including China — should support Taiwan’s inclusion in negotiations and activities relating to the South China Sea.
“This can be done in ways consistent with China’s ‘one China’ principle,” Kuok said.
She added: “Proper management of the dispute necessarily involves Taiwan — Taiwan controls the largest land feature in the South China Sea, its vessels regularly patrol the area and it has one of the biggest fishing industries in the Pacific.”
Kuok said that, for China, supporting Taiwan’s participation in cooperative activities would show Beijing’s desire for better cross-strait relations and its dual-track approach to the dispute; seeking one-on-one negotiations on sovereignty issues and multilateral arrangements within the region to promote peace and stability.
She said that Taiwan should clarify its claims, avoid unleashing nationalist sentiment, which would limit policy options, and continue promoting Ma’s peace plan.
In addition, Taiwan should push from behind the scenes for participation in code of conduct negotiations and in cooperative activities involving all claimants, she said.
PILLAGING PENGHU: A 7,539-tonne Chinese ship found mining sand in the Formosa Banks area was escorted by several CGA ships to a Kaohsiung harbor The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) yesterday announced that it had dispatched ships to intercept Chinese dredging vessels operating in the nation’s territorial waters near Penghu and detained 10 crew members, who were transported to Kaohsiung. A coast guard patrol discovered more than 20 dredging vessels in an area known as the Formosa Banks, 46 nautical miles (85km) southwest of Penghu County’s Cimei islet (七美) at about 5am on Wednesday. The agency responded by dispatching two patrol boats, the 3,000-tonne Kaohsiung and the 500-tonne Penghu, along with two frigates, to intercept the Chinese vessels, while an airborne observation unit was used to monitor
‘HONEYMOON’ IS OVER: A political science professor said that the Tsai administration’s popularity peaked after it successfully contained COVID-19, but is waning President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang’s (蘇貞昌) approval ratings fell significantly this month in the wake of the government’s handling of the distribution of relief funds and stimulus coupons to people and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, a poll released yesterday by the New Power Party (NPP) showed. The poll showed that 68 percent of respondents said they were satisfied with Tsai’s performance, down 8.9 percentage points from last month, while 21 percent said they disapproved of her performance. Her approval among respondents aged 20 to 29 fell 14.7 percentage points, the largest decrease when compared with other age
CAUTION: The CECC would first observe how the nation fares after easing domestic restrictions and wait for the pandemic to further subside before making its next move The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday said that relaxing domestic restrictions and border controls simultaneously might complicate efforts to reopen the nation, amid discussions about Taiwan’s exclusion by other countries in their first lists of tourists. The center hopes for there to be a period of observation following the easing of domestic restrictions, before it decides what to do next, Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, told a daily news briefing in Taipei. Chen was responding to a question about the reasoning behind the central government’s decision not to allow foreign students into the
Taiwan respects other countries’ decisions not to include it in their first lists of tourists allowed entry when they reopen their borders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday. The Yomiuri Shimbun on Sunday reported that the Japanese government was considering reopening the country to tourists from Thailand, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand first. Greece on Friday announced that from June 15, it would allow visitors from 29 countries, including Australia, China, the Czech Republic, Japan, Israel, New Zealand, South Korea and Germany. Japan has not yet finalized its visitor list, but the ministry has conveyed its hope that Tokyo would