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Ma vows to closely follow Diaoyutai issues after he steps down

ROC Central News Agency

2016/04/09 19:17:56

Taipei, April 9 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) said Saturday that even after he steps down in May, he will maintain a keen interest in matters related to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

During his second visit as president to Pengjia Islet near the uninhabited Diaoyutai Island chain, Ma unveiled a monument to his East China Sea Peace Initiative and stressed the importance of addressing territorial disputes through peaceful means.

Such an approach will deliver win-win results, while conflict will only lead to loss for all parties concerned, he told reporters.

Pengjia Islet, located just over 30 nautical miles north of the northern Taiwan city of Keelung and 76 nautical miles west of the Diaoyutais, falls under the administrative jurisdiction of Keelung City.

In September 2012, Ma visited Pengjia for the first time as president and laid out the details of his East China Sea Peace Initiative amid escalating spats among several countries in the region over the Diaoyutais, known as the Senkakus in Japan.

While reaffirming Taiwan's claim to the Diaoyutais, the proposal calls for all claimants to shelve their differences, pursue peace and reciprocity and jointly explore the resources in the area.

In response to a reporter's question Saturday on the possibility for him to visit the Diaoyutais, Ma said it would be premature to think about such a visit.

He said however, that he will continue to closely follow all relevant issues in the disputed East China Sea area after he steps down.

On the question of whether his visit to Pengjia Islet was aimed at leaving a historical legacy following his recent trip to Taiping Island in the contested South China Sea, Ma said it was meant to coincide with the April 10 anniversary of a historic 2013 agreement between Taiwan and Japan to address fishing disputes in waters near the Diaoyutais.

Due to weather conditions, however, the Pengjia trip was moved up one day, the president said, adding that his Taiping visit in January was made on 70th anniversary of the Republic of China's recovery of the island from Japan.

With more than one month left before he steps down, Ma said he will do as much as he can.

Asked if he would serve as a peace ambassador for Taiwan after he leaves office, Ma said he would be willing to share his experience of promoting peace in the Taiwan Strait and in the East China and South China seas.

The Diaoyutais, some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, have been under Japan's administrative control since 1972 but are also claimed by Taiwan and China, which calls them the Diaoyu Islands.

(By Hsieh Chia-chen and Elaine Hou)

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