Taiwan is closely monitoring developments related to an upcoming International Court of Arbitration ruling on a dispute between Manila and Beijing over the South China Sea, and has been preparing for various scenarios, Presidential Office spokesman Alex Huang (黃重諺) said on Tuesday.
The government will deal with the issue based on three principles, Huang said.
First, the government maintains that all parties concerned in territorial disputes in the South China Sea should base their claims on international law, he said.
Second, all claimants should respect freedom of navigation and overflight in the region, he said.
Third, all claimants should address disputes through peaceful means and Taiwan should be included in any multilateral mechanism to deal with such disputes, he said.
Huang’s remarks come as the court in The Hague is expected to rule on the dispute between China and the Philippines on Tuesday.
The Philippines brought the case to the international court to challenge China’s claim that it has sovereignty over the South China Sea in 2013.
Manila argues that the land formations China claims in the South China Sea are nothing more than reefs and therefore not entitled to 200-nautical-mile (370.4km) exclusive economic zones, claims that buttress Beijing’s insistence that it has sovereignty over the territory.
China has repeatedly rejected the tribunal’s jurisdiction over the case since it was filed.
Although Taiwan is not a party to the case, its claims in the South China Sea are similar to China’s, and Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島), which is controlled by Taiwan, was brought up in testimony during court hearings.
Should the court rule that Itu Aba is not an island under international law, it would also undercut some of Taiwan’s claims.
Taiwan has no way of knowing what the ruling will be, but the government has prepared for various scenarios, and Taiwan will make clear its stance when the ruling is announced, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lee (李大維) said on Monday.
Six nations — Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — claim part or all of the islands in the resource-rich South China Sea and their surrounding waters.
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