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President defends Taiwan's stance on China's ADIZ declaration

2013/12/11 19:16:20

Taipei, Dec. 11 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Wednesday in a meeting with the top U.S. official in charge of relations with Taiwan that Taiwan reacted firmly to China's declaration of an air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea.

The president told Raymond F. Burghardt, chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), that his government issued a statement shortly after the announcement that reiterated the Republic of China's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and its fishing rights in the area.

Recognizing that China was trying to assert its claims to the Diaoyutais by covering them in the ADIZ, Ma said his government told China: "We were not notified beforehand. We believe this kind of action is not helpful to cross-Taiwan Strait relations."

China's declaration of the ADIZ was highly controversial because it covered a wide swath of territory that included the islands, which are controlled by Japan and claimed by Taiwan and China.

Japan and South Korea reacted angrily, but the Ma government was criticized at home for its more muted response, criticism that was repeated early this week by opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang in a meeting with Burghardt.

The attacks focused in part on Taiwan's decision to help commercial airlines file flight plans with China before passing through the new ADIZ -- seemingly acquiescing to Beijing's move -- but Ma defended the move in his encounter with the AIT chairman.

The president said Taiwan's aviation regulator, the Civil Aeronautics Administration, agreed to submit flight plans to China due to security concerns.

The U.S. and South Korean governments have since agreed to also have their own carriers submit flight plans when entering the zone, and all but two civilian carriers in Japan are doing the same, Ma said.

Citing past practices, Ma said Taiwan's Flight Information Region and Japan's ADIZ narrowly overlap in the East China Sea and that Taiwanese airliners have sent their flight plans to Japan when traveling through the overlapping air zone since 2009.

He said civilian flights from Taiwan have at times been harassed by Japanese military aircraft within the two nations' overlapping air space in the East China Sea up to the end of 2012, but no such incident has occurred since then.

Ma also reiterated his East China Sea Peace Initiative, which calls for resolving the sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyutais through peaceful dialogue and encourages related parties to exercise self-restraint to avoid elevating tensions in the East China Sea.

He again called on related parties in the dispute to quickly hold bilateral dialogue to resolve issues related to overlapping ADIZs in the East China Sea.

(By Lee Shu-hua and Y.L. Kao)