MOFA decries Philippines’ plan to refurbish airport

By Shih Hsiu-chuan  /  Staff reporter

Thu, Jan 17, 2013 - Page 3

The recent moves by the Philippines regarding developments on Zhongye Island (中業島) in the South China Sea have constituted infringements on the rights and interests of the Republic of China (ROC), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said in a statement.

On Tuesday night, the ministry issued the statement to condemn the Philippines’ plans to refurbish an airstrip on Zhongye Island, known as Pagasa in the Philippines, and develop a number of other islets in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) as tourist destinations.

The ministry called on the Philippines to refrain from engaging in “illegal behavior” and said that the plans “infringed upon our [ROC] interests.”

Whether from a historical, geographical or legal perspective, Zhongye, part of the Spratlys, is an integral part of the ROC’s territory, so are the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島), Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島), Macclesfield Bank (Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島) and their adjacent waters in the South China Sea, the ministry said.

The ministry said in the statement that “the ROC enjoys all rights over the islands and their surrounding waters and it does not accept any claims to sovereignty over, or occupation of, these areas by other countries.”

Saying that the ROC is willing to take part in dialogue about the peaceful settlement of disputes in the South China Sea, the ministry urged other claimants to show self-restraint and avoid taking any unilateral steps that could undermine peace and stability.

The ROC is also willing to cooperate with other countries to develop resources in the region, based on the principles of ROC sovereignty over the islands, the shelving of disagreements, peace and reciprocity and joint development, the ministry said.