Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou commended Taiwan fishermen Sept. 26 on their voyage to the Diaoyutai Archipelago a day earlier to protect their fishing rights in the region.
“This action was a declaration to the world that the Diaoyutais are an inherent part of ROC territory, an island chain illegally occupied by Japan for 117 years,” Ma said.
“The government’s principle for demonstrating our sovereignty is no provocation, no conflict and no avoidance,” he added, reiterating his praise for the Coast Guard Administration’s effective escort of the fishing fleet.
Ma stressed that as long as Taiwan fishermen are legally operating in their traditional fishing grounds, the government will do all that is necessary to safeguard their rights.
“Rows over the Diaoyutai Archipelago must be settled in a peaceful manner, starting from the premise that all concerned parties admit the existence of disputes and simultaneously put them aside so negotiations can progress,” the president said. Unilateral actions will only make the disagreements more difficult to tackle, he added.
“We will continue to protect our sovereignty and fishing rights based on the principles of ROC sovereignty over the archipelago, the shelving of disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint development,” Ma pointed out. “Peaceful resolution and joint exploration of resources are our unchanged goals.”
Separately, prior to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s address to the U.N. General Assembly in New York Sept. 26, more than 100 overseas Chinese gathered in front of the U.N. building to protest Japan’s recent “nationalization” of the Diaoyutais.
In Brussels, Catherine Ashton, high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, released a declaration Sept. 25 stating that “with its significant interests in the region, the EU is following with concern developments in East Asia’s maritime areas.”
“The EU urges all parties concerned to seek peaceful and cooperative solutions in accordance with international law, in particular the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea and to clarify the basis for their claims. The EU calls on all parties to take steps to calm the situation.”
The ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Ashton’s statement is in accordance with Ma’s East China Sea peace initiative, urging “all concerned parties to deal with the dispute peacefully.”
“We welcome such comments,” the MOFA said. (THN)