Ministry voices concern over Vietnamese law

Staff writer, with CNA

Sat, Jan 05, 2013 - Page 3

Taiwan has voiced strong concern over a new maritime law enacted by Vietnam that claims two disputed island chains in the South China Sea as its territories, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia (夏季昌) said on Thursday.

The law, which took effect on Tuesday, claims Vietnam’s sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Paracel (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) and Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) in the South China Sea.

“We have expressed concern and strong protest over the Vietnamese law,” Hsia said, referring to a statement issued by the ministry late on Wednesday.

The ministry has directed Taiwan’s representative office in Vietnam to convey the government’s stance to Vietnamese authorities.

In its statement the ministry said whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島), the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), their surrounding waters, sea beds and subsoil, are inherent parts of the territory of the Republic of China (ROC).

The island groups and their surrounding waters are claimed either entirely or in part by Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The ministry said the ROC holds indisputable sovereignty rights over the four island chains and surrounding waters, and will not recognize any advocacy for or occupation of them by any other country for any reason.

Nevertheless, the ministry said, Taiwan is willing to work with other countries to maintain freedom of navigation and explore resources in the South China Sea, based on the basic principles of “safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint exploration.”