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Taiwan reasserts sovereignty over Spratlys amid Philippines oil plans

2012/03/13 15:09:09

Taipei, March 13 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday reasserted Taiwan's sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, just days after the Philippines expressed the intention to invite investors to co-explore oil and gas in waters off the disputed archipelago.

The Spratlys are Taiwan's undisputed territory, said Tien Chung-kwang, director-general of the ministry's Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

"We have informed the Philippines authorities of our position," he said.

The Philippines is planning to seek bids from foreign investors to jointly explore for gas and oil in areas northwest of the Palawan Islands and Reed Bank, the ministry said in a statement issued Monday.

"The Reed Bank is a part of the Spratly Islands. They have long been our territory," the statement said.

"We reject any claim or occupation by any means of the islands and the surrounding waters," the ministry added.

The statement was the seventh issued by the ministry since early 2011 related to the sovereignty of the disputed islands.

Taiwan, China and other countries in Southeast Asia claim all or part of the Spratlys, whose surrounding waters are said to be rich in oil reserves.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) has always advocated shelving the dispute and jointly developing the area's resources with neighboring countries on the principle of peace and reciprocity, Tien said.

He said the government will continue to devise mild, non-provocative ways to communicate its appeal to neighboring countries.

(By Nancy Liu)