Mainland Affairs Council Deputy Minister Lin Cheng-yi (林正義) yesterday said that a telephone hotline connecting the two sides of the Taiwan Strait was not used after an international court’s ruling on a South China Sea case was announced on Tuesday, but as the decision could be a major diplomatic challenge to Beijing, it is likely to take a more conciliatory stance on cross-strait issues.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled that China’s claims to all the waters within the “nine-dash line,” based on its “historic rights,” had no legal basis, and also said that Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) to a “rock.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lo Chih-cheng (羅致政) asked Lin at the legislature’s Foreign and National Defense Committee meeting how the ruling might affect the cross-strait relationship, to which Lin said cross-strait issues might not be Beijing’s priority now as the diplomatic threats and challenges it faces are in the South China Sea.
Photo: Chien Jung-fong, Taipei Times
Therefore, the ministry estimates that the cross-strait relationship might be less tense, Lin said.
However, he said that the two sides would not cooperate on issues regarding sovereignty claims.
Lo said Chinese media and academics have been proposing cross-strait cooperation on the South China Sea issue and asked for the ministry’s view.
Lin said that had long been the view of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the office had been trumpeting it both before and since the ruling, but so far the cross-strait hotline has not rung.
The lawmaker said that while Taiwan and China’s arguments over territorial claims seem similar, the foundations and reasons are different.
“While China upholds its historical rights, we respect the [UN Convention on the Law of the Sea] and should defend our de facto occupation of the island [Itu Aba],” Lo said, asking the ministry to pay extra attention when responding to China’s calls.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said he was “dumbfounded” when he saw the reports provided by the ministries and departments that attended the meeting, as post-ruling evaluations of possible repercussions were not given.
He urged agencies to present response strategies.
Additional Reporting by CNA
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