Taipei, May 13 (CNA) Taiwan should develop a long-term strategic plan to deal with ongoing territorial disputes over the South China Sea and cooperate with China to share natural resources in the area, Taiwanese scholars argued Saturday.
The South China Sea became a hot-button issue in Taiwan in April following a standoff between China and the Philippines over the Scarborough Shoal.
Both China and the Philippines used the incident to more boldly assert their sovereignty over the area, according to Sung Yen-hui, a scholar with Academia Sinica's Center for Asia-Pacific Area Studies.
China, in particular, took advantage of the opportunity to "'normalize' its protection of sovereignty " over the South China Sea through the dispute with the Philippines.
Manila wanted to use the showdown to spark nationalist fervor and internationalize the issue, hoping to draw the United States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations into the dispute to counter China's growing strength.
Sung said Taiwan, which has had a military and administrative presence on Taiping Island -- the biggest in the Spratly Island chain -- since 1956, would inevitably have to also assert its sovereignty over the South China Sea area.
In the face of China's increasing regional and global influence, however, Taiwan should negotiate with China to jointly collaborate to develop the area, which is said to be rich in fishery and oil resources, Sung contended.
Lee In-ming, a scholar with the Kuomintang-linked National Policy Foundation, said in an article published in late April that Taiwan should include the joint development of the South China Seas in the agenda of cross-strait talks.
Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, and Vietnam and Indonesia claim sovereignty over all or part of the islands and waters in the South China Sea.
(By Tsai Su-jung and Hanna Liu)