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China needs to exercise self-restraint: minister

ROC Central News Agency

2012/11/30 23:26:18

Taipei, Nov. 30 (CNA) The South China Sea is the Republic of China's inherent territorial waters and the country's ships and fishermen will continue to navigate and operate in the region, Minister of Foreign Affairs David Lin said Friday.

"We hope the Chinese mainland will exercise self-restraint in dealing with related affairs," Lin said.

His call came after China's official Xinhua news agency and English-language China Daily reported Thursday that under a newly passed law, border patrol police in Hainan Province will be authorized to board and search foreign ships "illegally" entering what China considers its territorial waters in the disputed South China Sea.

The new Chinese law will take effect Jan. 1, 2013, according to the reports.

Lin said free and safe passage through the South China Sea is a commonly accepted principle in the international community.

Stressing that the area is the ROC's territorial waters, Lin said he hopes China practices self-restraint and respects Taiwan's freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Six countries -- Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei -- claim parts or all of the South China Sea and its islands.

Taiwan controls the Pratas Islands (known locally as Dongsha Islands) -- which include the largest island in the South China Sea -- and Taiping Island -- the largest islet in the Spratlys.

The Philippines has also voiced concern about China's new law, saying the plan has gone overboard.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Sofia Wu)

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