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Taiwan will not work with China on South China Sea issues: official

ROC Central News Agency

2012/05/21 15:32:32

Taipei, May 21 (CNA) It is impossible that Taiwan will cooperate with China on issues related to the disputed South China Sea region at present, an official told lawmakers Monday.

"We will not cooperate with China on such issues at present," National Security Bureau Director-General Tsai De-sheng said, when asked on the possibility of Taiwan-China collaboration to address disputes in the region, which is seeing growing tensions.

How Taiwan should respond to any flare-up in the South China Sea was the focus at the Legislature's Foreign and National Defense Committee meeting, during which Tsai fielded many questions from lawmakers across party lines.

Recent confrontations 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.

Asked by opposition Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Ming-wen on whether Taiwan would help China in the event of conflict in the region, Tsai dismissed such a possibility.

"It is impossible at the moment," Tsai said, adding that Taiwan has advocated that disputes over islands in the South China Sea should be resolved peacefully.

Tsai added that countries such as Vietnam and the Philippines have also asked Taiwan not to cooperate with China on South China Sea issues.

Tsai also said the bureau is aware of the recent visit by Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Fu Ying to the South China Sea area.

Meanwhile, ruling Kuomintang Legislator Lin Yu-fang said there was a trend of more and more Vietnamese ships entering the restricted waters near Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island recently.

Citing it as a sign of Vietnam's growing aggression amid competing claims in the region, Lin urged the government to establish permanent infrastructure on Ban Than Reef, which is near Taiping, to further defend Taiwan's sovereignty.

In response, Tsai said he backed any measure to safeguard Taiwan's territory.

The bureau has also been closely monitoring situations near Taiping recently by taking more satellite images, he added.

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

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

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.

(By Elaine Hou)

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