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Taiwan calls for peaceful resolution of South China Sea disputes

2015/10/27 15:53:27

Taipei, Oct. 27 (CNA) Taiwan on Tuesday called for peaceful resolution of the territorial issues in the South China Sea, in response to reports of a United States warship patrolling within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands built in the area by China.

Taiwan would like to see all parties concerned adopt conduct that would contribute to regional peace and stability, said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Eleanor Wang (王珮玲) in response to media questions about the reported U.S. Navy mission.

Foreign wire services reported earlier in the day that the U.S. Navy has sent a guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial island built by China on Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands.

According to a U.S. defense official on CNN, the USS Lassen "conducted a transit" within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, the territorial limit that China claims around the islands.

Meanwhile, quoting an unnamed U.S. official, Reuters reported that the Navy patrol was "a challenge to China's territorial claims in the area."

In her statement Tuesday, Wang called on all concerned not to raise tensions in the region and to resolve disputes by peaceful means.

Taiwan's government would be pleased to see all sides behaving in ways that would contribute to regional peace and stability, she said.

Wang said Taiwan also hopes the parties involved would show respect for the principles and spirit of the relevant international laws, including the Charter of the United Nations and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

Under the latter, territorial waters are defined as an area extending at most 12 nautical miles from the low-water mark of a coastal state and are regarded as the sovereign territory of that state. However, the UN law states that foreign vessels, both military and civilian, are allowed innocent passage through territorial waters.

In her statement, Wang reiterated Taiwan's territorial claim to the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, Shisha (Paracel) Islands, Chungsha Islands (Macclesfield Bank), and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands and their surrounding waters.

Whether from the perspective of history, geography, or international law, those islands are an inherent part of the Republic of China's territory and waters, Wang said.

"The Republic of China (Taiwan) enjoys all rights over them in accordance with international law," she said. "The ROC government will not recognize the right of any country to claim or occupy them for any reason or by any means."

The ROC is ready to conduct dialogue with the parties concerned, on the basis of equality and mutual benefits, in a bid to turn the South China Sea into a "Sea of Peace and Cooperation," Wang said.

In his efforts to deal with the territorial dispute among China, Brunei, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had earlier put forward a proposal that he called the South China Sea Peace Initiative.

The five-point initiative called on all the claimants to first, exercise restraint, safeguard peace and stability in the sea area, and refrain from taking any unilateral action that might escalate tensions.

Second, they should respect the principles and spirit of relevant international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, peacefully deal with and settle disputes through dialogue and consultations, and jointly uphold the freedom and safety of navigation and overflight through the South China Sea, according to Ma's proposal.

Third, all parties concerned should be included in mechanisms or measures that enhance peace and prosperity in the South China Sea, Ma said, suggesting for example a maritime cooperation mechanism or code of conduct.

Fourth, the claimants should shelve sovereignty disputes and establish a regional cooperation mechanism for the zonal development of resources in the South China Sea under integrated planning, he said.

Fifth, Ma called for coordination and cooperation mechanisms for such non-traditional security issues as environmental protection, scientific research, maritime crime fighting, and humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

(By Tang Pei-chun and Elizabeth Hsu)
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