ROC HAS NEVER WAVERED ON TIAOYUTAI SOVEREIGNTY CLAIM: PRESIDENT
Central News Agency
Taipei, June 22 (CNA) President Chen Shui-bian said Wednesday the government has never wavered on its sovereignty claim over the Tiaoyutai Islands, a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea some 120 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan proper. "Our stance that the Tiaoyutais belong to the Republic of China has never changed," Chen was quoted as having said during an informal meeting with mayors and magistrates of the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP).
The Tiaoyutais , which have been held by Japan since 1971, are also claimed by China and Japan. As the 200-mile exclusive economic zones of Taiwan and Japan overlap in waters close to the Tiaoyutais, and bilateral fishing disputes have occurred in the region from time to time.
Chen said the recent dispute with Japan is about fishing rights rather than sovereignty. He further said the Taiwan-Japan dispute over their overlapping economic waters should be resolved through negotiations.
As the top national leader, Chen said he is obligated to defend national dignity, sovereignty, security as well as fishermen's rights and interests.
Noting that a new round of fishery talks between Taiwan and Japan will be held late next month in Tokyo, Chen said all relevant government agencies should make preparations well in advance.
Speaking on the same occasion, National Security Council Secretary-General Chiou Yi-jen said the administrative branch should strengthen communications with legislators and fishermen over the fishing problems in the disputed waters. "Some local fishermen feel that the government has not done enough to protect their rights to operate in waters close to the Tiaoyutais which they regard as their traditional fishing grounds. Until 1945, Taiwan was under Japanese colonial rule. Therefore, fishermen could freely operate in waters surrounding the Tiaoyutais. Nowadays, the situation has changed. We must help fishermen adjust their notions. The government will definitely do its utmost to negotiate with Japan. Hopefully, fishermen from both sides should be allowed to operate in the overlapping economic waters," Chiou said.
(By Sofia Wu)
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