UN official suggests bilateral talks for East China Sea

Staff Writer, with CNA

Tue, Sep 04, 2012 - Page 3

A visiting UN official yesterday would not comment on President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) recent peace proposal for the East China Sea, but suggested that Taiwan hold bilateral negotiations with its neighboring countries over such disputes.

“Undoubtedly, every time a country engages constructively with neighbors is a good thing, but we cannot comment on individual cases,” said Galo Carrera, a former chairman and current member of the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf, on the sidelines of a seminar in Taipei.

The two-day seminar, held by National Taiwan Normal University, was attended by 19 local and foreign experts who will share their opinions on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and the resolution of territorial disputes.

Early last month, Ma advocated the establishment of a code of conduct for the East China Sea and cooperation on the development of the region’s resources as ways of getting around territorial disputes, especially competing claims over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台). The islands, which are located about 100 nautical miles (185km) away from Taiwan, are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.

“It is a delicate issue in which I do not have advice on policy issue related to sovereignty or government issues,” Carrera said.

The best avenue for Taiwan to solve the disputes is to enter into bilateral negotiations with its neighbors, he said, adding that recent events in the South China Sea should be taken as lessons.

Meanwhile, Deputy Minister of the Interior Lin Tzu-ling (林慈玲), who was invited to make the opening remarks at the event, reaffirmed Taiwan’s claim to the South China Sea and East China Sea.

“It is indisputable that the Republic of China holds sovereignty over the two regions from the perspectives of geography, history and international law,” Lin said.

The results of the seminar will serve as reference for the government’s future policymaking on similar issues and policies, she said.

Taiwan has made efforts to have a stronger presence amid the growing disputes. In addition to Ma’s East China Sea Peace Initiative, several senior officials visited Taiping Island (太平島) in the South China Sea to assert sovereignty last month.