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Taiwan protests Vietnam law that claims South China Sea islands

ROC Central News Agency

2013/01/03 17:11:14

Taipei, Jan. 3 (CNA) Taiwan has voiced strong concern and protest over a new maritime law enacted by Vietnam that claims two disputed island chains in the South China Sea as its territories, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Steve Hsia said Thursday.

The law, which took effect Jan. 1, claims Vietnam's sovereignty and jurisdiction over the Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea.

'We have expressed concern and strong protest over the Vietnamese law,' Hsia said, referring to a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry late Wednesday.

In addition, he said, the ministry has directed Taiwan's representative office in Vietnam to convey the government's stance to Vietnamese authorities.

The Foreign Ministry said in its statement that whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank, the Pratas Islands, their surrounding waters, sea beds and subsoil, are inherent parts of the territory of the Republic of China, as Taiwan is officially known.

Rich in natural resources, the four island groups and their surrounding waters are claimed either entirely or in part by Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei.

The ministry said the ROC holds indisputable sovereignty rights over the four island chains and surrounding waters, and will not recognize any advocacy for or occupation of them by any other country for any reason.

Nevertheless, the ministry said, Taiwan is willing to work with other countries to maintain freedom of navigation and explore resources in the South China Sea, based on the basic principles of 'safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint exploration.'

It also called on the other claimants to the area to exercise self-restraint, replace confrontation with dialogue and collaborate in formulating a code of conduct for the region.

Taiwan currently controls the Pratas Islands (known locally as the Dongsha Islands) and Taiping Island -- the largest islet in the Spratlys.

(By Emmanuelle Tzeng and Sofia Wu)
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