Taipei, May 1 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that Taiwan remains willing to work with other countries on exploring resources in the South China Sea, while reaffirming the nation's claim to several disputed island groups and surrounding waters in the region.
Cooperation in exploration will be based on the principles of "safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, along with joint exploration" the ministry said in a report submitted to the Legislative Yuan prior to a special presentation to the Foreign and National Defense Committee slated to take place the following day.
Foreign Minister Timothy Yang and National Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu will report on what measures should be taken to protect the country's sovereignty over the disputed islands in view of the simmering situation in the region.
The ministry said 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 the surrounding waters, sea bed and subsoil, are all inherent parts of the territory of the Republic of China.
The Philippines' claim of sovereignty over the Scarborough Shoal, known as Huangyen Island in Taiwan and mainland China, is illegal and so is its deployment of vessels to the area to "enforce the law," according to the report.
Both the ministry and its representative office in the Philippines have established task forces to monitor the situation following a standoff between armed Chinese and Philippine vessels in the region, the ministry noted.
The office is also staying in close touch with Taiwanese expatriate associations in the Philippines to prevent any potential impact on them, the ministry added.
Also in the report, the ministry remains firm on the ROC's ownership of the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea after Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara said in mid-April that Tokyo has been negotiating with what the Wall Street Journal has described as the "private owners" of the islands and is close to reaching an agreement to purchase the uninhabited islands.
The ministry has expressed Taiwan's concern to the Interchange Association, Japan, the Japanese agency that handles exchanges with Taiwan in the absence of diplomatic relations between the two countries.
Whether the Japanese authorities refer to any of the Tiaoyutai islets as "national territory" or "private property" and whether they are for sale or not, ROC sovereignty will not change, the ministry added.
Taiwan is extremely sorry about Ishihara's remarks and hopes Japan will carefully handle any statements by Japanese politicians that could harm the ROC's territorial sovereignty, the ministry went on.
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 added.
It strongly urged the countries concerned in all the disputes to exercise self-restraint so that peaceful resolutions can be reached through consultation and dialogue.
The National Defense Ministry also said in its report that ROC officials will make regular visits to the South China Sea region and help make sure that Coast Guard Administration forces on Taiping Island -- Taiwan's only armed forces in the area -- have "combat ability as strong as that of the Marine Corps," units of which until recently were stationed there.
(By Justin Su and Kendra Lin)