Taiwan reiterates stance on South China Sea
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, Jan. 8 (CNA) The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) reiterated Friday that Taiwan has adopted an initiative to resolve the sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea peacefully while maintaining its sovereignty claim over the area.
The MOFA's comments came after a letter by U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to Republican Senator John McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, cited Taiwan as one of the countries claiming sovereignty over the disputed islands in the South China Sea.
In October, the U.S. Navy sent the USS Lassen destroyer within 12 nautical miles of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago built by China.
In the letter, Carter told McCain that the Lassen sailed past five maritime features claimed by China, Taiwan, Vietnam and the Philippines, according to a report in the U.S. Navy Institution News.
The MOFA said it was not the first time the U.S. said publicly that Taiwan is one of the countries that claims control over the disputed islands in the South China Sea, citing statements by many White House officials in various congressional hearings and press conferences.
In response to Carter's letter, the MOFA said there are is no question that the islands in the South China Sea belong to the Republic of China (Taiwan).
It reiterated that whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Pratas Islands. the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and the Spratly Islands as well as the surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory.
The ministry said Taiwan's government has explained clearly the country's sovereignty over the South China Sea islands through various channels to give the international community a better understanding of Taiwan's position.
President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) has proposed a South China Sea Peace Initiative, that reiterates Taiwan's position of shelving disputes and promoting joint resource development in the contested waters, the ministry said, explaining Taiwan's determination to resolve the existing disputes peacefully.
(By Tai Ya-chen and Frances Huang)
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