Taiwan's former VP proposes idea to settle Tiaoyutais dispute

New York, April 7 (CNA) Taiwan's former Vice President Annette Lu has made a proposal for resolving the territorial dispute over an island group in the East China Sea, saying during a visit to New York on Sunday that all the claimants should agree not to develop the resources in the area. She also suggested the establishment of a peace zone, extending 12 nautical miles from the Tiaoyutai Islands, in which no military or nuclear activities would be allowed. Lu told the Chinese-language media in New York that her ideas on the issue are similar to those presented by President Ma Ying-jeou in his East China Sea Peace Initiative, except that she does not think there should be any moves toward joint development of the rich natural resources in the area. Once such development starts, "national interests will definitely surface," destroying any agreements, said Lu, who served as vice president in the Democratic Progressive Party administration of Chen Shui-bian from 2000 to 2008. The Tiaoyutai Islands, called the Senkakus in Japan and the Diaoyu Islands in China, lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan and are claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China. China acknowledges that the islands fall under Taiwan's jurisdiction but stakes its claim to the Tiaoyutais based on its contention that Taiwan is part of its territory. Lu said she supports Ma's peace initiative, in which he advocates shelving all sovereignty disputes over the East China Sea island group until the claimants reach an acceptable and peaceful resolution. The former vice president said the disputed area should be designated as a marine conservation zone, creating a clean and natural marine park for future generations. She is in New York on the second leg of a two-week visit to the United States that began with a stop in Seattle. Lu is scheduled to meet Taiwanese expatriates in New York and give speeches at the Council on Foreign Relations and the Universal Peace Federation on her vision for the development of the Asia-Pacific region. Also on her itinerary is a meeting Monday with Taiwanese-Canadian fashion designer Jason Wu, who has shot to fame since 2009 when American First Lady Michelle Obama wore one his designs at the presidential inaugural ball. During the meeting, Lu is expected to invite Wu to design "an energy-efficient shirt with Taiwanese characteristics." It should be a functional shirt that would be comfortable to wear to work and would keep the wearer cool in summer time, she said. With Wu's reputation, such a design would not only help promote Taiwan in the international community but also help save energy because there would be no need for heavy use of air conditioners in offices, Lu said. The idea is an extension of her campaign for nuclear-free homeland in Taiwan, she said, noting that Taiwan is currently embroiled in a heated debate on whether to scrap a controversial nuclear power plant project in New Taipei. Taiwan residents should first learn to save energy and electricity in their daily lives so as to reduce energy demand, she suggested. Lu is scheduled to visit Washington D.C. and Los Angeles on the next leg of her U.S. trip. (By Leaf Chiang and Elizabeth Hsu)