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ROC will not give up territory in South China Sea: President Ma

ROC will not give up territory in South China Sea: President Ma

Taipei, April 8 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (???) said Wednesday that his administration will not give up the Republic of China's territory in the South China Sea, but will continue to seek peaceful means to address the territorial disputes in the region. Although some have advocated that Taiwan should abandon the disputed territories in the South China Sea, Ma said, they are part of the ROC and cannot be given up easily. The islands in the South China Sea "are very important," he said in response to questions at a press conference with foreign correspondents based in Taiwan. The region is rich in natural resources and is an important navigation channel for the ROC, Ma said. "We should try to resolve the disputes through peaceful means, rather than give up the territory to deal with the problem," Ma said. Even if Taiwan abandons its claims, the territorial disputes would still remain among the various claimants, he added. The president reiterated his stance that all parties concerned should engage in negotiations in an effort to alleviate tensions and find resolutions. "Our basic stance is that sovereignty cannot be compromised, but natural resources can be shared," he said. Based on those principles, Taiwan was able to address fishing disputes with Japan and the Philippines, he said, adding that the same model can also be applied to deal with the disputes in the South China Sea. The ROC government claims that the Spratly, Paracel and Pratas islands and the Macclesfield Bank, and their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of the country. But the islands in the resource-rich South China Sea and their surrounding waters are also fully or partially claimed by China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Asked whether the ROC government is worried about China's landfills in the South China Sea, Ma said international law does not forbid such actions. China is not the only one taking such actions, he said, adding that Vietnam is also doing the same. Actions that will trigger tensions in the region are not welcome, Ma said, urging joint efforts by all parties to explore resources. On the question of whether Taiwan should deploy military personnel on Taiping Island (Itu Aba) amid the simmering tensions in the South China Sea, Ma said that Taiwan will continue to post coast guard personnel there to defend its claim to the island. "I don't think the use of force would be the best solution," he said. Taiwan currently occupies Taiping, the largest island in the Spratlys, as well as Dongsha in the Pratas Islands. On the issue of cross-Taiwan Strait ties, Ma said the establishment of reciprocal representative offices is among the top priorities in the development of links between Taiwan and China. In his opening remarks, he also mentioned Taiwan's efforts to participate in regional economic integration. Taiwan has expressed its wish to join the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) trade blocs, Ma said. "The year 2015 is important because the second round of TPP negotiations will be held, and the RCEP plans to open membership to non-ASEAN nations," Ma said. "So this year, it is critical for the ROC to go all out to participate in regional economic integration." To garner more support from the TPP and RCEP negotiating countries, Taiwan will continue its market liberalization and deregulation efforts to establish a legal environment that reflects international standards, the president said. (By Elaine Hou)


Updated : 2021-09-19 01:53 GMT+08:00