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No plans for president to visit Taioyutais: Foreign Ministry

ROC Central News Agency

2012/08/16 14:50:45

Taipei, Aug. 16 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou has no plans to visit the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Thursday in response to a call from a local official for Ma to make such a trip.

"There are currently no plans for the president to visit the Tiaoyutais," ministry spokesman Steve Hsia said at a routine press briefing.

Hsia, however, added that the government will "take active measures to secure the country's sovereignty," such as having coast guard vessels escort fishing boats to the surrounding waters when necessary.

Hsia's remark came after Yilan Magistrate Lin Tsung-hsien proposed that Ma sail to the Tiaoyutais to defend the country's claim over them.

The territorial disputes over the Tiaoyutais -- claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan -- have experienced heightened tensions due to a series of moves recently made by the various claimants.

A day earlier, activists from Hong Kong and China who traveled by boat to the Tiaoyutais were arrested by Japanese coast guard personnel for alleged illegal entry.

Reasserting Taiwan's sovereignty over the uninhabited islands, Hsia said that Japan's arrest of the Hong Kong activists "is of no help to regional peace" and he urged all claimants to refrain from taking unilateral actions that might hinder the region's stability.

Meanwhile, asked by reporters whether Ma will visit Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island -- the biggest island in the Spratly Island archipelago in the South China Sea -- as a display of sovereignty, the spokesman said there are no plans for such a trip.

Last month, Vietnam blasted Taiwan for its plan to extend an airstrip on the island.

(By Nancy Liu)

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