Taiwan seeks talks on South China Sea with ASEAN

Taiwan is seeking to hold discussions with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on a code of conduct in relation to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs official said Oct. 30.

“Any conclusions on a code of conduct reached without the participation of the ROC would be incomplete,” according to Chou Yin-hwou, deputy director-general of the MOFA Department of East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Chou pointed out that the ROC has sovereignty and administrative control over Taiping Island, Zhongzhou Reef and other islets in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands and will not recognize any other claims. The country also holds sovereignty over the Dongsha (Pratas), Xisha (Paracel) and Zhongsha (Macclesfield Bank) island chains in the region.

The government will deal with South China Sea disputes based on the principles of safeguarding sovereignty, shelving differences, maintaining peace and reciprocity, and pursuing joint development of resources, he reiterated.

South China Sea territorial issues could be discussed at the ASEAN summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in mid-November, Chou said. The MOFA is closely monitoring developments regarding possible proposals by members that are also claimants to disputed areas, he said, adding that it would be regrettable if Taiwan were excluded from discussions.

In 2011 the organization set a precedent by inviting some nonmember countries to take part in talks on the matter, he noted.

Other claimants to territory in the South China Sea are Brunei, Malaysia, mainland China, the Philippines and Vietnam. All except mainland China are ASEAN members.