Taiwan not to join with China against Japan on island dispute: Ma
ROC Central News Agency
Tokyo, Aug. 21 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou reiterated on Monday the Republic of China (Taiwan)'s sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai Islands but insisted his administration has no intention to join with China against Japan in the territorial dispute.
In an interview with NHK, Japan's national public broadcasting organization, Ma did not back off Taiwan's claims to the island chain but he also urged all claimants to exercise self-restraint and try to resolve the dispute peacefully.
Taiwan, Japan and China have issued competing claims over the Tiaoyutais for many years. They are known as the Diaoyutai Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan, which currently controls them.
The interview came amid escalating tensions in the East China Sea region because of recent symbolic moves made to assert sovereignty claims over the uninhabited island chain.
On Aug. 15, a group of activists from Hong Kong who traveled by boat to the islands were arrested by Japan's Coast Guard for having illegally entered Japanese territory.
Following their release, a group of Japanese politicians proceeded to the islands in a flotilla on Aug. 19, hoisting a Japanese flag on one of the islets, which Ma said was an action similar to that taken by the Hong Kong activists.
"We think it is most important not to ask a certain party to exercise self-restraint, but for all nations to think highly of peace and try to resolve the dispute in a peaceful way," Ma said.
Waters near the Tiaoyutais have served as a key fishing ground for Taiwanese fishermen over the past 100 years, Ma said, which is why Japan's moves to chase away Taiwanese fishing boats in the area have stirred up anger.
"If we can't even resolve problems like that, there will naturally be a lot of conflicts," Ma said, calling on Japan to resume talks with Taiwan on fishery issues as soon as possible.
The president described the relationship between Taiwan and Japan as the best it has been in 40 years, and he did not want those good ties to turn sour because of the Tiaoyutais dispute, he said.
Knowing that Taiwanese people want to see closer Taiwan-Japan relations, he hoped the two countries will forge a free trade agreement in the future, and that mutual economic cooperation and cultural exchanges will be further enhanced.
The 10-minute interview will be broadcast on Japan's BSI channel at 10 p.m. Tuesday.
(By Tsao Heng and Elizabeth Hsu)
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