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Taiwan reiterates sovereignty over Taiping Island

2012/08/10 23:23:59

Taipei, Aug. 10 (CNA) Taiwan reiterated Friday its sovereignty over Taiping Island, saying that because it has been under the administration of the Republic of China government for a long time, "the country's sovereignty over the island is beyond doubt."

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) issued the statement in response to a Vietnamese newspaper report that quoted Vietnamese foreign affairs officials as saying Taiwan's recent move to beef up its defenses on Taiping Island infringed on Vietnam's sovereignty over the island.

Taiping is the biggest island in the Spratly Island archipelago in the South China Sea.

The MOFA statement stressed that in terms of history, geography and international law, the Spratly, Paracel, and Pratas islands, the Macclesfield Bank, and waters surrounding the island groups are all ROC territory.

The ROC government does not recognize any other country's claim for any reason, the statement said.

The government urged the countries close to the South China Sea to refrain from taking unilateral actions that will affect the region's peace and stability.

It also called on the countries to resolve territorial disputes in the region through dialogue and negotiation, the MOFA said.

The Ministry of National Defense recently decided to equip a Coast Guard patrol force on Taiping Island with anti-aircraft guns and mortars to strengthen its defense capability.

Taiping Island, which lies about 1,600 kilometers southwest of Kaohsiung, was first claimed by the Republic of China in 1947. The country has had a permanent presence there since 1956.

The South China Sea region, widely considered to be rich in oil deposits and marine biodiversity, is claimed either entirely or in part by Brunei, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Elizabeth Hsu)