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Taiwan no hindrance to navigation freedom in South China Sea: MOFA

ROC Central News Agency

2016/01/30 22:26:28

Taipei, Jan. 30 (CNA) The Republic of China (Taiwan) has held Taiping Island, the largest island in the Spratly Islands, for more than 60 years and has never had a military conflict with another country in the South China Sea, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Saturday.

Taiwan has also never obstructed the freedom of other countries to navigate in the South China Sea's waters or to fly over the area in accordance with the international law, the ministry said.

The ministry's remarks came after the USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island Saturday afternoon Taiwan time.

Triton Island is part of the Paracel Islands, an archipelago claimed by Taiwan, China and Vietnam.

The operation challenged 'excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others,' a U.S. Defense Department spokesman said, according to CNN.

It challenged policies by the claimants requiring 'prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas' that restrict navigation rights about the land features they claim, the spokesman said.

Taiwan's Foreign Ministry responded that the ROC abides by United Nations charters and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea regarding solving disputes peacefully and regulations on navigation and flight rights.

The ROC send a military vessel named 'Chungchien' (中建號) to Triton Island -- located at the southernmost end of the Paracels -- in 1946 and gave the island the ship's name, the ministry said.

The island was later controlled by Vietnam and then taken over by China in 1974 after a conflict with Vietnam.

The ministry has repeatedly asserted that from the perspectives of history, geography and international law, the Spratlys, Paracels and Pratas Islands and the Macclesfield Bank, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory.

As the ROC enjoys all rights to these island groups and their surrounding waters in accordance with international law, the ROC government does not recognize any claim to sovereignty over, or occupation of, these areas by other countries, irrespective of the reasons put forward or methods used for such claim or occupation.

(By Tai Ya-chen and Lilian Wu)
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