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President-elect vows to safeguard Taiwanese fishermen's rights

2016/04/29 22:11:08

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) pledged Friday to safeguard the rights of Taiwanese fishermen, in the wake of the detention of a local fishing boat by Japan on the high seas in the Pacific, near the Japan-controlled atoll of Okinotori.

The incident was one of the issues included in a briefing given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) to Tsai on Friday, according to Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂).

Lin said that during the briefing, he explained to Tsai about the course of the incident and the steps taken by the government, such as lodging a strong protest with Japan.

In response, Tsai said Taiwan should continue to negotiate with Japan to try to find a resolution to the dispute, according to Lin.

When asked by reporters how she is going to protect the rights of fishermen in the future, Tsai held up her right fist and said: "Going all-out to safeguard."

Taiwan's government has lodged a strong protest with Japan after Japanese authorities refused to release the boat until after the owner had paid a security deposit of US$54,000.

Japan claims the atoll is an island and that it is therefore entitled to an exclusive economic zone extending out 200 nautical miles from Okinotori. But Taiwan has insisted it's not an island because it can't sustain human habitation and accused Japan of using land reclamation to expand the atoll.

Alex Huang (黃重諺), director of the Democratic Progressive Party's News and Information Department, said during her visit to MOFA Tsai expressed her appreciation to MOFA personnel for fighting for Taiwan's status in international organizations.

In a globalized era, no country can isolate itself from the international community if it wants to move forward and develop, he cited Tsai as saying.

She said the government must be a diplomatic vanguard and should create a road when there is no road ahead. It must also be the people's backup force and should try to find solutions when people have problems, she added.

She said diplomacy is a continual work and that no matter which political party is in power, the general diplomatic situation faced by Taiwan is the same.

On the foreign policy of her incoming administration, Tsai said the new government will proactively strengthen Taiwan's relations with other countries and work with nations in the region to maintain regional peace and stability.

Reiterating her plan to promote a "new south-bound policy," Tsai said she hopes to make full effort to develop interactions and exchanges with Southeast Asia and India.

She pledged to deepen Taiwan's democracy, promote sustainable innovation and seek peaceful resolutions to conflicts to make Taiwan a model of the "new Asian values."

She later said in a Facebook post that "letting Taiwan access the world and letting the world access Taiwan" is the goal of the country's diplomacy.

In the future, Taiwan's diplomacy will have three major missions: committing to regional peace and stability; making a greater contribution to the international community; and promoting diplomacy with full efforts both at the government level and the people-to-people level, she said.

Tsai stressed that political affiliation is not a consideration of her new administration when it comes to talent recruitment and she encouraged all MOFA staff to unite together and be the country's diplomatic vanguard.

(By Tang Pei-chun, Sophia Yeh and Y.F. Low)