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Taiwan backs U.S. opposition to use of force in South China Sea

ROC Central News Agency

07/14/2020 10:33 PM

Taipei, July 14 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) on Tuesday indicated its support for a statement issued by United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo opposing attempts to use coercion or force to settle disputes in the South China Sea.

"Our country opposes attempts to resolve South China Sea disputes by means of threats, coercion and force," MOFA spokesperson Joanne Ou (歐江安) said at a regular press briefing that day.

She was responding to media questions regarding a press release titled "U.S. Position on Maritime Claims in the South China Sea," issued by Pompeo on Monday.

In the press release, Pompeo said "Beijing uses intimidation to undermine the sovereign rights of Southeast Asian coastal states in the South China Sea, bully them out of offshore resources, assert unilateral dominion."

Pompeo's statement said the U.S. seeks to preserve peace and stability and uphold freedom of the seas in a manner consistent with international law, a position also supported by MOFA.

"MOFA welcomes statements by concerned countries that South China Sea claims should conform to international laws, including the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Ou said.

Meanwhile, Pompeo slammed Beijing's claims to offshore resources across most of the South China Sea as "completely unlawful," citing a ruling by an arbitral tribunal at the Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration in July 2016.

The ruling invalidated the "nine dash-line" which Beijing uses as a basis to claim most of the South China Sea.

Beijing and Taipei have similar positions in terms of maritime claims over the South China Sea as the "nine dash-line" was inherited by Beijing from the Republic of China (ROC) government, which now resides in Taiwan after losing a civil war in 1949.

"The South China Sea Islands are part of the territory of the Republic of China," Ou said.

She reasserted that the ROC, Taiwan's formal designation, enjoys "indisputable rights" over South China Sea features and their surrounding waters under international law.

Ou went on to reiterate the "four principles" issued by President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on July 19, 2016 as Taiwan's position in resolving the South China Sea disputes.

These include the peaceful settlement of disputes in accordance with international law and the law of the sea; the inclusion of Taiwan in dispute settlement mechanisms; obligations for concerned states to uphold freedom of navigation and overflight in the region; and the promotion of joint development.

Taiwan, Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam have been locked in overlapping claims over the South China Sea for decades. The U.S., although not a claimant, has identified freedom of navigation as a core U.S. interest in the disputed waters.

(By Emerson Lim)


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