Any downgrade of Taiping Island to a ‘rock’ illegal: Ma

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President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) on Thursday reiterated that Taiwan holds sovereignty over Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island, 太平島) and said that any international court ruling that downgrades the legal status of Itu Aba from an “island” to a “rock” would be illegal and would hurt Taiwanese sovereignty.

“Whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, it is indisputable that the Spratly Islands [Nansha Islands, 南沙群島], Paracel Islands [Xisha Islands, 西沙群島], the Macclesfield Bank [Zhongsha Islands, 中沙群島] and Pratas Islands [Dongsha Islands, 東沙群島] in the South China Sea, and their surrounding waters, are inherent parts of the territory of the ROC [Republic of China],” Ma said at a seminar on South China Sea disputes and international law.
That is why when Philippine lawyers argued in an international arbitration court that Itu Aba Island was not an island, but a rock, the government felt compelled to defend the legal status of Taiwan’s territory, Ma said.

The Philippines is trying to prove that Itu Aba Island is not an island and that, therefore, smaller islets claimed by China in the region are also rocks and are not entitled to an economic exclusive zone under international law.

http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2016/04/16/2003644081

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