President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Thursday reiterated that Taiwan holds sovereignty over Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) and said that any international court ruling that downgrades the legal status of Itu Aba from an “island” to a “rock” would be illegal and would hurt Taiwanese sovereignty.
“Whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, it is indisputable that the Spratly Islands [Nansha Islands, 南沙群島], Paracel Islands [Xisha Islands, 西沙群島], the Macclesfield Bank [Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島] and Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島] in the South China Sea, and their surrounding waters, are inherent parts of the territory of the ROC [Republic of China],” Ma said at a seminar on South China Sea disputes and international law.
That is why when Philippine lawyers argued in an international arbitration court that Itu Aba Island was not an island, but a rock, the government felt compelled to defend the legal status of Taiwan’s territory, Ma said.
The Philippines is trying to prove that Itu Aba Island is not an island and that, therefore, smaller islets claimed by China in the region are also rocks and are not entitled to an economic exclusive zone under international law.
In its lawsuit in The Hague, the Philippines said that “some rocks” do not qualify for a claim to territorial waters in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Ma said that although Taiwan is an important claimant in the case, it has not been invited to appear before the court.
If the court accepts the argument made by Philippine lawyers, it would seriously hurt Taiwan’s sovereign rights and constitute a violation of the UNCLOS, Ma said.
Itu Aba, the largest island in the disputed Spratly archipelago, meets the description of an island as defined in Article 121 of the UNCLOS, Ma said.
Ma said he has invited Philippine officials, representatives and lawyers to visit Taiping to witness the high-quality fresh water source and the ecology.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yesterday invited international law academics who participated in the seminar to tour Taiping.
Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei claim all or part of the islands and reefs in the South China Sea, which are thought to be rich in oil and natural gas reserves.
President Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文) administration is seeking to join an Indo-Pacific economic framework being planned by the US, a senior official said. The government is paying close attention to the regional economic pact being touted by US President Joe Biden, although too few details have emerged from Washington for Taipei to make specific plans, the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The US is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific economic framework next month after negotiations with Australia, India and Japan, the official said. The economic initiative is to tackle trade facilitation, standards for the digital economy and technology, supply-chain resiliency and
PIVOTAL ROLE: Taiwan’s importance in the global chip supply chain can be bolstered by domestic equipment manufacturing, President Tsai Ing-wen said Efforts must be made to better secure Taiwan’s place in the global supply chain by localizing production of equipment and facilities used by the semiconductor industry, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said yesterday. Tsai discussed the issue during a meeting with representatives from the Taiwan Electronic Equipment Industry Association at the Presidential Office in Taipei. Product shortages throughout the COVID-19 pandemic — particularly of automotive chips — highlighted the pivotal role of Taiwan in the global supply chain, she said. Tsai thanked the association for cooperating with the government on the shared goal of localizing production of important semiconductor industry equipment.
SEPARATE CASE? A woman tested positive when she went with her daughter to be tested, because her daughter had taken the same bus to school as a steakhouse worker The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 10 local COVID-19 cases, six of whom had visited a steakhouse in Taoyuan where an infection cluster has been reported. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said that of the 10 local infections, one case — No. 17,928 — is a Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport disease prevention staffer who works in the area where inbound travelers collect their saliva for a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, and sometimes at the fever screening station. The staffer had tested negative in a PCR test on Jan. 9 and
TRACING UNDER WAY: The CECC has identified six transmission chains among 25 recently confirmed COVID-19 cases, including those linked to a restaurant and a bank The Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) yesterday reported 54 new COVID-19 infections — 44 imported and 10 local — and identified six transmission chains among local cases. Minister of Health and Welfare Chen Shih-chung (陳時中), who heads the center, said the imported cases are 18 who tested positive upon arrival at the airport and 26 who tested positive during quarantine. Of the local cases, seven are associated with a cluster infection at a Tasty Steak (西堤牛排) outlet in Taoyuan’s Zhongli District (中壢), one is linked to a family of four with COVID-19 reported on Monday, one is a family member of an