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Symposium on Diaoyutai Islands opens in Taichung

ROC Central News Agency

2012/10/19 19:42:46

Taipei, Oct. 19 (CNA) A symposium on the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea was held Friday in Taichung, central Taiwan.

The symposium was co-sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Chung Hsing University, and brought together officials and scholars from Taiwan, China, Japan and the United States.

Philip Yang, deputy secretary-general of the National Security Council, who hosted the first meeting of the symposium, said sovereignty claims over the uninhabited island group can be explored through dialogue and law.

"We hope to solicit the views of foreign scholars on the settlement of sovereignty disputes," Yang said.

The symposium focused on the current controversy surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands, future developments and the impact on regional order, as well as Taiwan's strategy concerning the dispute.

Liu Jiangyong, a professor from China's Tsinghua University, noted that China calls the archipelago the Diaoyu Islands and said that while the Republic of China calls it the Diaoyutai Islands, the ROC is "not a country."

Liu said the islands should be referred to as "China's Diaoyu Islands," or "Diaoyu Islands, Yilan County, Taiwan Province, China." According to Liu, this would "avoid confusion."

Yang, however, responded firmly that the "Diaoyutai Islands are inherent ROC territory."

Vice Foreign Minister Tung Kuoyu stated the government's stance that whether in terms of geology or historical record, the Diaoyutai Islands are affiliated with Taiwan and have nothing to do with Japan's Okinawa Prefecture, under which the islands are administered.

Tung also said that President Ma Ying-jeou's East China Sea Peace Initiative proposal, which advocates that the parties involved should put aside their differences and jointly develop resources in the area, will help stabilize the East China Sea situation.

A Japanese scholar expressed a positive view of Ma's initiative.

Yoshikazu Kato, a research fellow from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, said the spirit of the initiative is good, but the most important thing is that related parties should share their ideas.

Kato said that the controversy surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands, called the Senkaku Islands in Japan, does in fact exist, contradicting the Japanese government's stance that there is no controversy as the islands belong to Japan.

But he said the Japanese government used a poor description when it said it "nationalized" the island group when it purchased three of the islets from their private owner Sept. 11.

He also said that some scholars think the United States should be a mediator and play a constructive role in the dispute, and that a three-way dialogue among the United States, China and Japan would be conducive to settling the dispute.

The ministry has co-hosted the symposium along with universities since 2009.

(By Chen Ching-ping and Lilian Wu)

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