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KMT backtracks on remarks backing China’s Taiwan Strait claims

Opposition party says it welcomes foreign vessels to transit Taiwan Strait

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KMT Department of International Affairs Chairman Alexander Huang. (Twitter, Sinostrategy photo)

KMT Department of International Affairs Chairman Alexander Huang. (Twitter, Sinostrategy photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The Kuomintang (KMT) on Wednesday (June 29) backtracked on remarks made by its U.S. envoy that seemed to support China’s recent assertions that the Taiwan Strait is not considered international waters.

On Tuesday (June 28), the KMT’s Director of International Affairs Alexander Huang (黃介正) during an online interview said that while the KMT did not accept Chinese claims that the Taiwan Strait is its internal waters, Beijing did have the right to claim waters beyond its maritime boundaries as its exclusive economic zone. Huang also went on to say that the U.S. has no legal basis to claim the Taiwan Strait as an “international waterway.”

On Wednesday morning, the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) held a press conference to respond to Huang’s remarks, according to SET News. The DPP said that China’s unilateral claims over the Taiwan Strait have already been questioned by countries around the world, in addition to being rejected by Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Mainland Affairs Council.

Blowback from Huang’s statements forced the KMT to release a statement on Wednesday clarifying its stance. The KMT said it rejects China’s claim that the strait is its internal waters, and that it welcomes other countries’ marine vessels and aircraft to transit the Taiwan Strait in accordance with international law.

The KMT also added that foreign vessels transiting the strait would also help maintain regional peace and security for Taiwan.

Chinese military officials in meetings with U.S. counterparts in recent months have repeatedly tried to claim that the Taiwan Strait is not considered international waters. Meanwhile, Taiwan, the U.S., and American allies say most of the strait is open, with the U.S routinely sending naval ships through it as part of freedom of navigation exercises.