Tue, Jun 12, 2018 - Page 3 News List

Ministry denies rumor that it will lease island to US

Staff Writer, with CNA

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has categorically denied a rumor that Taiwan was planning to lease Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) in the disputed South China Sea to the US.

“The government has no plans to lease Taiping Island to any other nation,” ministry spokesman Andrew Lee (李憲章) said late on Sunday, adding that neither the US nor any other nation has made such a request.

“The fabricated report was meant to create instability in the region or conflict between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait,” Lee said, referring to a news report on the issue on the China-based news site xilu.com.

“All parties must stop spreading the rumor and refrain from attacking the Republic of China government for such a groundless reason,” Lee said.

Taiwan is a constructive member of the international community and will deal with issues related to the South China Sea based on the “four principles” and “five actions” put forth by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in July 2016 with the aim of making Taiping Island a hub for international assistance and scientific research, Lee said.

Under the four principles, the government thinks all disputes related to the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully in line with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea to guarantee freedom of navigation in and overflight of its waters, Lee added.

Furthermore, Taiwan believes that all military construction and other activities that could increase tensions in the region must be stopped to ensure peace and stability, he said.

The five actions put forth by Tsai are to safeguard Taiwan’s fishing rights and its rights to participate in multilateral negotiations, to promote scientific cooperation, to boost humanitarian response, and to continue nurturing and encouraging research talent in the law of the sea.

Taiping Island, which lies about 1,600km from Kaohsiung, covers 0.51km2 and has 200 Taiwanese troops stationed there, but no civilian residents.

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