President Ma Ying-jeou on Friday visited Pengjia Islet, the part of Taiwan closest to the the Tiaoyutai Islands, to assert the country's sovereignty over the disputed island group that is currently controlled by Japan.
Ma proposed during the visit that Taiwan, mainland China and Japan seek to resolve the territorial dispute over the Tiaoyutais by beginning with bilateral dialogue on three parallel tracks that eventually converge into trilateral negotiations. This is a bold, positive and creative initiative.
For the first time, Taipei is recognizing Beijing's role in negotiations on the Tiaoyutai issue.
This does not necessarily mean that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait will ally against Japan. Although they are both opposed to Japan's occupation of the Tiaoyutais, there are basic sovereignty conflicts between themselves as well.
In spite of this fact, if Ma's initiative can be adopted to tackle realistic issues such as development of marine resources and fishing rights, it probably will open new possibilities for handling the problem.
When asked to comment on Ma's proposal, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hung Lei did not give a substantial response, saying only that "ethnic Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait have the responsibility to uphold the sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands."
It remains to be seen whether Beijing will echo Ma's idea, which seems acceptable to Beijing.
There is no easy solution for the Tiaoyutai dispute, but Ma's proposal has at least offered a rational and positive option. (Editorial abstract -- Sept. 8, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)