ECR backs East China Sea peace initiative

Ma Ying-jeou welcomes Martin Callanan, European parliamentarian and ECR chairman, to the Presidential Office Oct. 30 in Taipei City.

The Taiwan government’s East China Sea peace initiative would help resolve disputes over the Diaoyutai Archipelago and contribute to fostering peace, security and stability in the region, according to Martin Callanan, European parliamentarian and chairman of the European Conservatives and Reformists Group, Oct. 31 in Taipei City.

“We see the initiative as a useful way of getting Taiwan, Japan and [mainland] China to sit down and sort out problems over the islands without bloodshed,” Callanan said. “Avoiding confrontation and pursuing peaceful negotiations is in the best interests of all.”

The lawmaker, who wraps up a five-day fact-finding trip to Taiwan Nov. 1, said the principle of dialogue, nonaggression and common development should be the basis for finding a long-lasting solution to the dispute over the Diaoyutais. It is crucial that all parties refrain from any provocations and engage in meaningful dialogue, he added.

“We commend Taiwan’s commitment to peace and security throughout East Asia, which has raised the prospect of a permanent reduction in tension throughout the area.”

Callanan explained that the ECR elected to get behind the initiative because it is the best way of tackling a problem that left unaddressed, could destabilize the region and hamstring economic development.

“In the case of [mainland] China, the leadership transition has resulted in a degree of instability that is potentially very dangerous,” he said. “We want to see a peaceful resolution of this issue that satisfies all parties.”

The ECR vote of confidence was welcomed by the ROC Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which reaffirmed national sovereignty over the Diaoyutais and pledged to continue working with the EU to promote peace in the region and throughout the world.

“All parties should embrace the initiative and join in forging a path of coexistence and mutual prosperity,” the MOFA said.

Proposed Aug. 5 by ROC President Ma Ying-jeou, the five-point initiative urges all parties to refrain from antagonistic actions; not abandon dialogue; observe international law; resolve disputes through peaceful means; and form a mechanism for exploring and developing resources on a cooperative basis.

Callanan said ECR backing of the initiative continues the group’s tradition of supporting ROC government efforts to improve cross-strait relations and expand participation in relevant international bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization, U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change and World Health Organization.

This position was underscored Sept. 12 when the European Parliament passed a wide-ranging resolution commending the ROC government on a variety of policy initiatives. These include maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and improving cross-strait relations, especially economic links.

The parliament also pledged to take “concrete steps” to further enhance Taiwan-EU trade ties, facilitate the negotiation of a bilateral economic cooperation agreement, and encourage closer cooperation in culture, education, environmental protection and R&D.

Callanan said as one of the resolution’s main backers, the ECR has made it a priority over the next year to ensure parliament affords Taiwan the same benefits as other countries. “There is very wide support for Taiwan and the resolution but this cannot be left unattended.

“We will be at the forefront in pushing this agenda and opening dialogue with commissioners, state representatives and other groups within parliament. It is imperative that we present Taiwan with the opportunities that allow both sides to gain from the relationship.”

John Scott Marchant