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Ex-AIT chairman lauds Ma's East China Sea peace initiative

2012/09/12 18:07:38

Taipei, Sept. 12 (CNA) A former U.S. representative to Taiwan on Wednesday praised President Ma Ying-jeou's proposed initiative to deal with East China Sea disputes, but said he is not surprised about the lack of immediate response from other countries.

Ma's East China Sea Peace Initiative is "constructive and sensible," Richard Bush, former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), said at the launch of the Chinese version of his book on China-Japan security ties.

"He in no way gave up the ROC's (Republic of China's) claim to Diaoyutai. On the other hand, he was focusing on the right issues: peace, stability, avoiding conflict, and encouraging cooperation where it's possible," said Bush.

However, he said he is not too surprised that there has not been "an immediate response from some of the other countries concerned."

"I suspect they are not ready to hear this kind of approach," he said.

Taiwan should use its diplomatic efforts not only to promote and elaborate on the initiative as a way of showing its seriousness, but also to remind the other countries that "there are other ways of addressing these disputes," Bush said.

His remarks came a few days after Douglas Paal, former director of the AIT's Taipei office, said in Washington that Ma's initiative is "sensible" and "the only way out."

The initiative, proposed on Aug. 5, calls on all claimants to the disputed Diaoyutai Island chain to put aside differences, embark on peaceful dialogue and cooperate to develop the resources.

The Japanese government signed a deal on Tuesday to purchase three of the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, which are claimed by Japan, Taiwan and China. Japan's decision caused tensions to rise in the region, with the Taiwanese and Chinese governments voicing strong protest against the move.

Asked if the United States would encourage multilateral talks to resolve the disputes in the East China Sea and South China Sea regions, Bush said it is his guess that the United States, being pragmatic, would encourage any initiative to enhance peace and stability and solve problem.

In addition to holding talks, Bush said it is also important to avoid further conflicts at sea, such as clashes between Chinese surveillance boats and Japanese coast guard vessels.

The Diaoyutai Islands, called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan. Its nearby waters hold rich fish stocks and possibly oil reserves.

China acknowledges that the islands fall under the jurisdiction of Taiwan, but stakes its claim to the Diaoyutais on its contention that Taiwan is part of its territory.

Bush's book, "The Perils of Proximity: China-Japan Security Relations," focuses on interactions between China and Japan in the East China Sea. Issues discussed include territorial disputes between the two powers based on national security, national dignity and energy needs.

(By Christie Chen)