Ma urges peaceful resolution of South China Sea issues


Taiping Island is the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha chain and boasts freshwater, a permanent contingent of Coast Guard Administration personnel and infrastructure like a hospital, airport and wharf. (Courtesy of CGA)
President Ma Ying-jeou called for peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes through negotiations April 14, urging proper recognition of Taiping Island’s status as an island based on fact and international law.

“Whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Nansha [Spratly], Shisha [Paracel], Chungsha [Macclesfield Bank] and Tungsha [Pratas] islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of the nation’s territory,” Ma said. “They were first discovered, named and incorporated into national territory during dynastic Chinese rule, and returned by Japan to the ROC after the end of World War II.

“It is indisputable that the nation enjoys all rights over these islands and waters accordingly,” he added. “The government is seeking a viable path to advocate regional development in accordance with the principles of safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity and promoting joint development.”

Ma made the remarks during his keynote speech for an international conference on South China Sea issues in Taipei City. He highlighted the Nansha’s significance to the nation’s territorial integrity while reaffirming the government’s stance on solving related disputes through negotiations.

Efforts in this regard are illustrated by the East China Sea Peace Initiative proposed by the president in 2012. This helped pave the way for the signing of the landmark Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement the next year.

“This was achieved by replacing confrontation with dialogue, and shelving territorial disputes through negotiations,” Ma said. “Building on the success of such a pragmatic approach, I proposed the South China Sea Peace Initiative in 2015, which saw equally positive results in reaching an agreement on facilitating bilateral cooperation in fisheries law enforcement between Taiwan and the Philippines last November.”

But recent sovereignty claims by other parties regarding Taiping Island—situated 1,600 kilometers south of Kaohsiung City in southern Taiwan, and the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha chain—have made the region one of international concern.

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