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President vows to put peace initiative into practice

President vows to put peace initiative into practice

Taipei, Aug. 27 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Monday his administration will use every possible means to promote his East China Sea Peace Initiative to prevent regional tensions and unrest over the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands. The uninhibited cluster of islands in the East China Sea is currently under Japan's control but is also claimed by Taiwan and China. Ma came up with the five-point peace initiative early this month, urging neighboring countries to show restraint and seek peaceful means to settle the territorial dispute. The spat has since been ramped up, however, by successive landings on some outcrops of the island chain by Hong Kong activists and Japanese politicians and activists. Ma said in an exclusive interview with CNA Monday that his initiative was aimed at maintaining regional peace and stability by tackling the issue in a rational and peaceful manner. "I believe no country would like to see the dispute escalate or flare up into armed conflict," Ma said. Noting that the Tiaoyutais, known as the Diaoyutais in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, are closest to Taiwan, Ma said it is undisputable that the cluster of islets is part of the Republic of China's inherent territory. "The island chain is affiliated with Taiwan and the vast expanse of waters surrounding it have been Taiwan's traditional fishing grounds for over a century," Ma explained. The government has been criticized recently, however, for being weak and not doing enough to defend Taiwan's sovereignty claim and protect local fishermen's legitimate rights to operate in the area. The president noted that over the past four years, Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA) has sent patrol vessels to protect local fishermen from harassment by Japanese maritime defense forces on 10 occasions. "On one such mission, our CGA ships stood off with their Japanese counterparts for five hours," Ma said. In addition to negotiating fishing rights with Japan, Ma said, his administration "also hopes sovereignty question can also be negotiated." "We will not rule out any feasible means to peacefully settle the Tiaoyutai row," Ma said, adding that any such effort will be based on the conviction that territorial integrity cannot be compromised while natural resources in the disputed area can be shared. He also suggested that discussions or negotiations over the Tiaoyutais require the participation of all interested parties, including the Chinese mainland and Japan. Ma's peace initiative requires all parties to refrain from taking hostile action, to shelve their differences, to not abandon dialogue, to observe international law and to resolve the dispute via peaceful means. All sides should also seek consensus on a code of conduct for the East China Sea, and establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the region. All parties concerned should admit the existence of the dispute, while pursuing peaceful means to resolve it.
(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Sofia Wu)


Updated : 2021-05-09 07:57 GMT+08:00