Sat, Jul 23, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Tsai rejects Itu Aba ruling in US interview

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter, with CNA

President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) reiterated Taiwan’s stance of not accepting an international court’s ruling on the South China Sea in an interview with the Washington Post, calling for a peaceful resolution of the disputes.

“We will not accept their decision,” Tsai told the newspaper when asked about Tuesday last week’s ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, the Netherlands.

Taiwan opposes the ruling because although it is an interested party in the South China Sea, the country was not invited to participate in the proceedings, Tsai said.

In a transcript of the interview released by the Presidential Office yesterday, the president also said Taiwan objected to the country being referred to as “the Taiwan Authority of China” and to Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) being described as a “rock” rather than an “island” in the ruling.

The arbitration case, brought in 2013 by the Philippines against China under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), determined that Itu Aba, along with other land formations in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), are legally rocks and are therefore not entitled to 200 nautical mile (370.4km) exclusive economic zones.

While the Washington Post only published the reasons Tsai gave for Taiwan’s rejection of the ruling in the interview, the Presidential Office’s transcript showed that the president elaborated on her position, giving her administration’s proposed solutions to the disputes in the South China Sea.

Taipei believes the South China Sea disputes should be solved peacefully under international law, including the UNCLOS, and the nation should be included in multilateral talks to solve the disputes, Tsai said.

All claimants have the obligation to ensure free passage of ships and aircraft in the region, and Taipei calls for the countries involved to set aside their disputes and jointly explore and develop a region that is believed to have rich deposits of natural resources, she said.

Turning to US-Taiwan ties, Tsai said she is not clear about what Washington means by referring to Taipei as an “entity,” a term the president said is open to interpretation.

“As far as Taiwan’s concerned, we have a complete government and democratic mechanism. We have our own army and it is a country that can make decisions for itself,” Tsai said.

Maybe the US and other countries have different opinions about that, Tsai said.

“But from our point of view, the majority of Taiwanese people regard us as a country,” she said.

Tsai did not give a direct response when asked if she intends to repeat former president Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) request to purchase 66 new F-16C/D fighter jets from the US, saying that Taiwan is endeavoring to develop its own submarines, one of the three military areas for which the nation has seen an urgent need.

She also declined to choose sides in the US’ upcoming presidential election, but expressed hopes that ties between the two countries could progress, regardless of which candidate wins the race.

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