TAIPEI, May 13 (Reuters) – Taiwan on Friday called on an international tribunal not to make a ruling on a disputed South China Sea island if the judges don’t visit first to see for themselves it can sustain life.
Taiwan wants to prove Itu Aba is not just a rock, but a real island that can qualify for a maritime economic zone.
China refuses to recognise a case lodged by the Philippines with the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague over the South China Sea and says such disputes should be resolved through bilateral talks.
The panel does not rule on sovereignty but it does outline a system of economic zones that can be claimed from features such as islands.
“The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan’s formal name) once again solemnly invites the five arbitrators (in the Philippine case) to conduct a field study on Taiping Island,” Taiwan’s foreign ministry said in a statement.
“If the tribunal decides not to respond to our kind invitation, then it should not rule on the legal status of Taiping Island.”
Last month, the panel allowed written evidence from a government-linked Taiwanese group pressing Taipei’s position that Itu Aba is not a rock and is entitled to part of the disputed waterway as an economic zone.
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