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Ma proposes Taiwan-Japan-China talks on Tiaoyutais

ROC Central News Agency

2012/09/07 21:33:44

Taipei, Sept. 7 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said on Friday that Taiwan, Japan and mainland China should shelve their differences over the sovereignty of the Tiaoyutai Islands and hold peaceful dialogue before jointly exploring and developing resources in nearby waters.

The president made the call in a speech delivered on Pengjia Islet, during which he proposed guidelines for implementing his East China Sea Peace Initiative that he first outlined on Aug. 5.

Pengjia Islet, a 1.14-square-kilometer islet 33 nautical miles off Taiwan's northern coast, is only 76 nautical miles to the west of the Tiaoyutai Islands and is the part of Taiwan closest to the island chain.

Ma insisted that the Republic of China, Taiwan's formal name, will never make any unilateral concessions on its sovereignty over the Tiaoyutais, but that did not mean the sovereignty dispute could not be overcome.

"Rather we would like to urge all parties concerned to commit to resolving disputes through peaceful means, to shelve controversies and engage in dialogue, and to jointly explore and develop resources in the East China Sea," he said.

"Implementation is to take place in two stages: firstly, holding peaceful dialogue and mutually beneficial talks," Ma said, followed by "cooperating on exploring and developing shared resources."

In terms of practical measures for undertaking the East China Sea Peace Initiative, Ma proposed that the ROC, mainland China, and Japan begin with bilateral dialogue on three parallel tracks that eventually converge into trilateral negotiations.

"I would like here to reiterate that, while national sovereignty cannot be divided, natural resources can, however, be shared," the president said.

Ma cited as an example the resolution of sovereignty disputes in the North Sea, which has enabled involved countries to share resources by developing oil fields and creating the Brent Crude oil marker, stimulating economic growth in those countries.

The Tiaoyutais are currently controlled by Japan, which calls them the Senkaku Islands, and also claimed by China.

Though Ma charted a path toward a peaceful resolution of the dispute over the islands, he argued at length that the chain of small islets were indisputably ROC territory, whether from the perspective of geography, history, or international law.

Geographically, Pengjia Islet and the Tiaoyutais are young, cone-shaped volcanic islands located at the edge of a continental shelf are extensions of the Guanyin and Datun mountain ranges in northern Taiwan.

They are also separated from the Ryukyu Islands by the 2,717-meter deep Okinawa Trough, indicating that they belong to different geological areas, the president said.

Historically, Ma said, the Japanese government secretly invaded and occupied the Tiaoyutai Islands in 1895 during he First Sino-Japanese War.

"This act of aggression violated international law, since the islands were, at the time, the territory of the Qing Dynasty under the jurisdiction of Kavalan Subprefecture (today known as Yilan), Taiwan Province."

During Japanese colonial rule, Ma said, the Taiwan Governor-General Office in 1920 officially designated the Tiaoyutai Islands and their surrounding waters as skipjack tuna fishing grounds for Taiwan's fishermen.

Five years later, in 1925, the Office reiterated its "Overview of Taiwan's Aquaculture" that the Tiaoyutai Islands and their surrounding waters were "important fishing grounds" for Taiwan.

The president said that Japan's occupation of the islands was never promulgated by Japanese Imperial Decree, meaning that the outside world was not informed of this decision.

"The occupation was therefore, according to international law, null and void from the beginning," and as a result, "it had no binding effect on the Qing Dynasty at that time, which is still the case today with the Republic of China."

In his remarks Friday, the president also extended his appreciation to those running the meteorological equipment and beacons on Pengjia Islet for their hard work and Coast Guard and Navy personnel for protecting the country's territorial waters and fishermen.

He pledged to strengthen the Coast Guard's deployment in nearby waters.

(By Kelven Huang and Bear Lee)

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