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Taiwan not siding with China on Tiaoyutai issue: MOFA

2010/09/14 16:46:09

Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) The Taiwan government said Tuesday it isnot siding with China in an incident involving the collision of aChinese fishing boat and two Japanese patrol vessels in the area ofthe disputed Tiaoyutai Islands on Sept. 7.

The presence of a boat carrying two Taiwanese activists in thearea Monday was the result of "a spontaneous reaction by Taiwanesenationals" to make clear their opinion that Taiwan holds sovereigntyover the Tiaoyutai Islands, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA)spokesman James Chang said.

"The Taiwan government is responsible for protecting theirsafety, " Chang said at a press conference, in reference to Taiwan'sdecision Tuesday morning to dispatch 12 Coast Guard vessels to thearea.

"Taiwan is not teaming up with China in the controversy," Changsaid.

However, he said, the Taiwan government is against theaction by Japan's Coast Guard to prevent the Taiwanese boatfrom further approaching the disputed islands, which lie about 100nautical miles off Taiwan's northeast tip in the East China Sea.

All activities by boats in the vicinity of the Tiaoyutais are under Taiwan's jurisdiction, Chang said, reiterating Taiwan'ssovereignty over the islands.

Known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islandsin Japan, the uninhabited islands are claimed by Japan, China andTaiwan, but are controlled by Japan.

The latest dispute was set off by the arrest of a Chinese fishingboat skipper after his trawler and two Japanese Coast Guard vesselscollided on Sept. 7.

The fishing boat crew was questioned on suspicion of violating thefisheries law and on their alleged rejection of a request by theJapan Coast Guard to inspect the boat, according to internationalwire reports.

On Monday afternoon, two Taiwanese activists set off for theTiaoyutais to show support for Taiwan's claim to the islands, buttheir action was thwarted Tuesday morning by Japan's Coast Guard.

Also on Monday, Taiwan's Deputy Foreign Minister Shen Lyu-hsunsummoned Japan's top envoy to Taiwan Tadashi Imai and reiterated thatTaiwan held sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais.

In response to reporters' questions, Chang said Shen's move hadnothing to do with China, which also summoned the Japanese ambassadorthere to express concern over the detention of the fishing boatskipper.

In terms of the fishing rights in the Tiaoyutais, Chang said,Taiwan advocates "collaboration" between Taiwan and Japan throughbilateral consultation.

He declined to answer a question on whether Taiwan had consultedwith China on the latest Tiaoyutai dispute.

Chang said that Taiwan hopes the issue of fishing rights, which

has been discussed in the last 16 fishery talks between Taiwan andJapan, will not jeopardize the ties between them, which have beengrowing since President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.

The latest Tiaoyutai dispute spurred a protest in Taiwan by about100 people, who gathered Tuesday in front of the InterchangeAssociation, Japan's representative office in Taipei in the absenceof official bilateral diplomatic relations.

(By Chris Wang)
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