Taiwan urges role in South China Sea discussions

An aerial view of Pag-asa Island, part of the disputed Spratly group of islands, in the South China Sea located off the coast of western Philippines, July 20, 2011.

Taiwan should be a participant in Association of Southeast Asian Nations discussions on a code of conduct for the South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Taiwan said July 31.

Exclusion of Taiwan would render the results of any such talks “incomplete and regrettable,” according to James Chou, deputy director-general of MOFA’s Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

“MOFA has kept a close eye on related developments from the meeting of foreign ministers during ASEAN’s regional forum in mid-July,” Chou noted.

The ministry has reiterated ROC sovereignty over the Dongsha (Pratas), Nansha (Spratly), Xisha (Paracel) and Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank) island groups and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea, he pointed out.

“The ROC advocates joint development in the region, with all disputes set aside,” he added.

MOFA does not recognize any of the recent actions by certain countries aimed at enhancing their territorial claims in the region, he said.

“The ROC government solemnly urges neighboring countries to act in accordance with the spirit of international law, show self-restraint by avoiding any unilateral moves that might undermine peace and stability in the South China Sea, and work to resolve disputes peacefully through rational dialogue.”

Chou said the ministry has relayed its position to related countries through various channels and they all understand the nation’s stance on the issue.

In addition, Taiwan has taken advantage of every opportunity to explain the country’s position to officials and academics from ASEAN countries, the U.S. and other countries in the region, he said.

Taiwan Today