AIT Chairman Raymond Burghardt (CNA file photo)
Washington, April 23 (CNA) The chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) said Tuesday in Washington, D.C. that Taiwan and Japan have "well-handled" the fishing rights dispute surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.
Raymond Burghardt said the agreement between Taiwan and Japan to solve the dispute "really mapped the interest of both sides in a rather neat way."
It was clear that for Taiwan and President Ma Ying-jeou, the "sovereignty issue could be set aside in an agreement that would deal with the important practical issue of protecting fishing rights," Burghardt said while answering questions after a keynote speech in a seminar on U.S.-China relations.
"It was something that was rather well-handled by both sides," he said.
Taiwan and Japan signed an agreement April 10 that defined their respective fishing rights in overlapping territories in the East China Sea and allowed an expansion of Taiwan's fishing grounds. Under the terms of the agreement, Taiwanese and Japanese boats can operate freely in a 7,400-square-kilometer area around the Diaoyutais.
Meanwhile, in terms of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, Burghardt said that the U.S. provides Taiwan with efficient deterrent capability and that the U.S. arms strategy goes "beyond weapons" by helping Taiwan develop indigenous weapons.
Burghardt said the U.S. government and enterprises welcome Ma's policy of seeking dialogue with China, adding that when former President Chen Shui-bian was in office, the lack of communication across the Taiwan Strait had an impact on U.S. national security interests.
He also noted that only the political leaders in Taiwan can decide on the pace of discussions with China and that would be wrong and inappropriate for the U.S. or other countries to interfere.
(By Tony Liao and Jamie Wang)