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Taiwan reaffirms sovereignty over Diaoyutai Islands amid increased tensions

Four Chinese vessels entered waters off Diaoyutai Islands this week, alerting Japan's Coast Guard

Diaoyutai Islands

Diaoyutai Islands (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Thursday (Feb. 18) reiterated that the country claims sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, urging Japan and China to resolve disputes peacefully amid heightened tensions in the area this week.

The government has been closely monitoring the situation around the Diaoyutai Islands, and it calls on neighboring counties to resolve disputes peacefully and with reason, said MOFA Spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) at a press briefing on Thursday.

The government has expressed “concern” over legislation recently implemented by China that allows armed vessels to enter the disputed area, said Ou. It also condemned the deployment of Chinese Coast Guard ships off the Diaoyutai Islands to disperse fishing boats from other nations, she added.

The spokesperson reaffirmed that the islands, which are located to the northeast of Taiwan, are part of Taiwanese territory and that the country will firmly defend its sovereignty.

Japan and China also claim sovereignty over the islands. The islands are controlled by the Japanese, who refer to them as the Senkaku Islands.

Japanese media reported earlier this week that four Chinese vessels had entered waters near the Diaoyutai Islands Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 15 and 16), one of which seemed to be equipped with an "autocannon." According to the Japanese Coast Guard, the ship showed no sign of using the weapon, but Japan raised the alert, as fishing boats were operating in the area.

Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang (KMT) party on Wednesday (Feb. 17) urged both the Chinese and Japanese authorities to practice discipline and refrain from escalating tensions. The KMT also called on the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to take action in defense of Taiwan’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands.

The DPP has not publicly commented on the issue.