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MOFA reaffirms stance on island group in South China Sea

2012/04/20 22:17:33

Taipei, April 20 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed Taiwan's position on the South China Sea Friday amid reports of a standoff between the Philippines and China over a disputed island group.

Reports said the standoff began on April 8 when a Philippines naval plane spotted eight Chinese fishing vessels in the lagoon of Scarborough Shoal, an uninhabited reef about 220 kilometers off the western coast of Luzon that the Philippines claims as its territory.

A Philippines naval vessel was sent to the area in an attempt to detain the Chinese fishing boats, but China dispatched vessels to take turns blocking the Philippines ship.

The Foreign Ministry reaffirmed in a statement that whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and the Pratas Islands as well as their surrounding waters, sea beds and subsoil, are all inherent parts of the territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

The ROC government reasserts that it enjoys all rights over the islands and their surrounding waters, and that it does not accept any claim to sovereignty over, or occupation of, these areas by other countries, the ministry said.

Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all claim large parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop vast deposits of natural gas and oil.

The ministry strongly urged the countries concerned to exercise self-restraint so that peaceful resolutions to the disputes can be reached through consultation and dialogue.

Taiwan remains willing to participate in dialogue that seeks to find resolutions to disputes and to promote regional peace, stability, and development, it said.

The ministry reiterated that it upholds the basic principles of "safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint exploration" and remains willing to work with other countries on exploring resources in the South China Sea.

(By Emmanuelle Tseng and Lilian Wu)