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Taiwan calls for restraint in South China Sea

ROC Central News Agency

04/25/2020 01:30 PM

Taipei, April 25 (CNA) Taiwan's government has reasserted its sovereignty over the South China Sea and called on all claimants of the disputed waters to exercise restraint amid rising tensions.

In a statement released late Friday, Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) expressed "stern protest and concerns" on the actions and statements of some countries in the region pertaining to the South China Sea.

The MOFA reiterated that the Republic of China (ROC), the formal name of Taiwan, has "indisputable rights" over South China Sea features and their surrounding waters under international law.

The statement did not mention any specific countries or incidents. It was issued after a series of recent incidents that has caused tensions to rise in the region.

Around mid-April, a Chinese government survey ship and an exploration vessel operated by Malaysia's state oil company Petronas engaged in a standoff in waters near Malaysia, prompting two American military ships to sail near the area.

On April 18, China announced the establishment of two administrative units on islands in the South China Sea, involving the Paracel islands and the Spratly islands, which drew protests from Hanoi, which said Beijing's move violated Vietnam's sovereignty.

Four days later, the Philippine government lodged two protests against China, one for the pointing of a Gun Control Director (GCD) by a Chinese military ship at a Philippine navy vessel in "Philippine waters" in February and another for Beijing declaring an area Manila sees as "Philippine territory" as part of China's Hainan Province on April 18.

"The ROC government urges all parties concerned to exercise restraint and refrain from taking unilateral actions that could elevate tensions in the region," the MOFA statement said.

"It also solemnly protests and calls for an immediate stop to any actions that infringe upon ROC sovereignty over the South China Sea."

The Taiwan government maintained that disputes in the South China Sea should be resolved by setting aside differences and promoting joint development, adding that it is willing to participate in regional consultation mechanisms regarding the disputes.

Taiwan, Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have been locked in overlapping claims over the South China Sea for decades.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations, to which Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam are members, are currently negotiating with China for a Code of Conduct to regulate actions in the South China Sea.

Taiwan was not invited to be part of the negotiations due to the so called "One-China Policy" being observed by the other claimants and most governments worldwide.

(By Emerson Lim)

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