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Ma reaffirms Taiwan's sovereignty over South China Sea islands

ROC Central News Agency

2012/05/20 14:10:13

Taipei, May 20 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou on Sunday reaffirmed Taiwan's sovereignty in the South China Sea, vowing to adopt peaceful approaches to resolving territorial disputes amid growing tensions in the region.

"Our policy on the region remains unchanged, which is 'safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, rationality and peace, and joint exploration,'" Ma said at a news conference held shortly after he was inaugurated into his second term in office.

Fielding a reporter's question on how Taiwan would respond as the South China Sea dispute simmers, Ma said Taiwan will continue its territorial assertion over the region and will adopt peaceful approaches in addressing competing claims with other countries.

The South China Sea region, thought to be rich in oil deposits and marine biodiversity, is claimed either entirely or in part by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines.

Recent tensions in the region include an ongoing standoff between China and the Philippines that erupted on April 10 over the Scarborough Shoal off the coast of the Philippines.

A Vietnamese patrol ship and foreign fishing vessels were also found to have entered the restricted waters near Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island in late March, according to Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration, which is responsible for safeguarding Taiping.

Taiping Island is the largest of the Spratly Islands, which lie about 1,600 km southwest of Kaohsiung, southern Taiwan.

Taiwan also controls Pratas Island, which is located 450 kilometers off Taiwan's southwestern coastline.

(By Elaine Hou)

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