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Ex-U.S. official welcomes East China Sea dialogue proposal

2013/12/04 17:45:42

Taipei, Dec. 4 (CNA) A former U.S. official said Wednesday in Taipei that Taiwan's call for dialogue to address tensions over territorial disputes is welcomed.

Speaking at the launch of the non-profit Association of Foreign Relations, former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg likened Taiwan's call for dialogue over the East China Sea to the U.S. strategy of insisting on agreements to resolve disputes while taking no positions on sovereignty.

"And that's why the effort here in Taiwan by President Ma (Ying-jeou) to promote dialogue to manage these territorial disputes is so welcome," he said.

Ma has proposed an East China Sea Peace Initiative, a call for the shelving of arguments and joint exploration of the area.

The philosophy is the reason behind the U.S. advocacy of a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, another disputed region, and it is also why Washington has opposed China's unilateral declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea, Steinberg said.

China's demarcation of the new ADIZ includes the disputed Diaoyutai Islands, which are also claimed by Taiwan and Japan.

Although China insists it is committed to peaceful development, Beijing's recent moves have thrown its pledges into doubt, he added.

Regional stability will rely on decisions made by leaders in the region, including those representing the U.S., China, Japan and Taiwan, he said.

Steinberg, who served in his post as deputy secretary of state from 2009 to 2011 and now heads the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, is in Taipei on a three-day visit which will see him meet with President Ma and other government officials and politicians as well as academics.

His visit comes after China's ADIZ announcement drew concerns from neighboring countries, prompting the Ma administration to call for talks between concerned parties to restore regional calm.

(By Elaine Hou)