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Taiwan rejects advice to drop South China Sea claims

2014/09/13 20:04:15

Taipei, Sept. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's Foreign Ministry reiterated its territorial claims in the South China Sea on Saturday after a former U.S. diplomat urged Taiwan to stop using a demarcation line it has long adhered to in laying claim to the disputed waters.

The Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Bank and Pratas Islands as well as their surrounding waters are inherent parts of the Republic of China's (Taiwan) territory "from the perspective of history, geography and international law," ministry spokeswoman Anna Kao said.

She was responding to a suggestion by a former representative of the United States in Taiwan that Taipei stop using a nine-dash line to demarcate large swathes of the South China Sea as its territory and instead base its claims on international law.

"It is precisely because the territorial disputes over the South China Sea are so dangerous and so intractable that Taiwan should seriously consider abandoning its claims to the entire sea based on the nine-dashes," said William Stanton, former director of the Taipei office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

The AIT handles U.S. relations with Taiwan in the absence of formal diplomatic ties.

In a speech on the U.S. "rebalance" to Asia at a conference in Taipei on regional security Saturday morning, Stanton urged Taiwan to bring its claims into conformity with international law, and especially the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.

According to the 1982 U.N. convention, maritime claims must be derived from land features, Stanton said, citing a paper by Bonnie Glaser, a senior fellow of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

He said the U.S. has made the same proposal to China, which also uses the nine-dash line to assert sovereignty over nearly the whole of the South China Sea.

The line extends as far south as just off the coast of East Malaysia, far away from China or the island of Taiwan.

Taiwan's main presence in the South China Sea is on Taiping Island, the largest of the disputed Spratly Islands, where it has deployed Coast Guard personnel.

Some or all of the Spratly Islands are also claimed by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The retired diplomat said Taiwan has already set an example of "how Asia neighbors should interact" in territorial rows by inking agreements with Japan and the Philippines to tackle fishing disputes in overlapping waters.

The U.S. should make the effort to help Taiwan reduce its reliance on the nine-dash line at the same time as it helps fulfill the promise of the U.S. pivot to Asia, Stanton said.

He argued that the U.S. should make sure the Senate ratifies the 1982 U.N. convention and also help Taiwan better defend itself and join the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade bloc or reach a similar bilateral agreement with the U.S.

Stanton's speech was made at the International Symposium on U.S. Presence in Asia and Regional Peace and Security in Taipei, held by the Taiwan National Security Institute, which is affiliated with the pro-Taiwan independence organization the World United Formosans for Independence.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Scully Hsiao)
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Related stories:
●Sept. 13: DPP head vows new model for interaction with China
●May 9: Taiwan expresses concern, reiterates claim over South China Sea


(Graphic from http://maritimeinfo.moi.gov.tw/marineweb/Default1E.aspx)