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Draft act defines disputed islands as Taiwan's: foreign minister

ROC Central News Agency

2013/01/07 21:51:32

Taipei, Jan. 7 (CNA) The Republic of China has clearly defined the Spratly and Paracel islands as its territory in a draft bill, Foreign Minister David Lin said at the Legislative Yuan Monday in response to criticism that the country lacked the tools to stand up for its territory.

In the draft act on coastal land, the country has clearly identified its territory, which includes Taiping Island, the largest island in the Spratly Island chain, Lin said.

The Ministry of the Interior has worked on the draft act since the 1990s and has submitted it to the Legislative Yuan for review five times -- most recently in November 2012 -- but it has yet to be voted into law.

Lin was responding to criticism from Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim, who questioned Taiwan's ability to protest Vietnam's move to declare parts of the Spratlys and Paracels as its territory.

Hsiao complained that Taiwan has yet to unveil the baselines on which its outlying territory is measured and has not published the geographic coordinates of Taiwan's islands disputed by neighboring states, making it difficult to challenge other countries' claims.

The opposition lawmaker said Taiwan faces the same problem with Japan over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

Lin said he summoned Vietnam's representative to Taiwan to protest Hanoi's territorial claims and will keep doing so in the future, adding that Hanoi made its claims without mentioning the islands' geographic coordinates.

At the urging of legislators, the minister agreed to consider holding an international press conference on Taiping Island, which is controlled by the country, to emphasize that the Spratlys are part of the Republic of China's territory.

The minister said, however, that regional peace and stability should also be considered before any decision is taken.

He also reminded legislators that Interior Minister Lee Hong-yuan and Hu Wei-jen, then-secretary-general of the National Security Council, visited Taiping Island on Aug. 31, 2012, in a high-profile show of the country's sovereignty over the Spratlys, also known as the Nansha Islands.

Later in the day, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated its opposition to Vietnam's 'Law on the Sea,' saying that the Spratly and Paracel Islands as well as the Macclesfied Bank and Pratas Islands are inherent parts of the territory of the Republic of China.

(By Emmannelle Tseng and Maubo Chang)

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