Taiwan not to cooperate with any party on South China Sea issue
ROC Central News Agency
Taipei, July 14 (CNA) Taiwan will not cooperate with any party with regard to the territorial issue in the South China Sea, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) said Thursday.
The MAC a day earlier ruled out the possibility of cross-strait cooperation on the South China Sea sovereignty issue after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that all "the high-tide features" in the South China Sea, including Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island, are rocks and not entitled to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
The ruling by The Hague-based tribunal has been considered unfavorable to both China and Taiwan.
China's Foreign Ministry and Taiwan Affairs Office late Tuesday both made the call for Taiwan "to join hands with China in safeguarding the sovereignty of the South China Sea islands and the rights in the surrounding waters," saying that all these "have been the traditional assets of the Chinese people."
MAC Deputy Minster Chiu Chui-cheng (邱垂正) said in a press conference, however, that the government will aggressively engage in dialogue with all parties concerned, including China, to solve the South China Sea controversies in a peaceful way.
In addition, the government has advocated that all concerned parties should shelve their differences and join hands to protect and exploit natural resources in the area as long as the sovereignty issue is not involved.
For instance, those parties could cooperate under a multilateral mechanism in such areas as maritime crime fighting, humanitarian aid, disaster prevention, environmental protection and scientific research.
Six countries -- Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei -- claim part or all of the islands in the resource-rich South China Sea and their surrounding waters.
The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to resources in the South China Sea areas falling within the "nine-dash line" and that all high-tide features in the Spratly, including Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island (also known as Itu Aba), are legally "rocks."
The Philippines brought the case against China in the Court, arguing that the land formations claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea are not islands and therefore are not entitled to 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.
While Taiwan is not party to the case, its claims in the South China Sea are similar to those of China, and Taiping Island was brought up in testimony during the court hearings. Both Taiwan and China have said the ruling is "unacceptable" to and non-binding on them.
MAC Minister Chang Hsiao-yueh said Wednesday that "there has been no dialogue or communication between Taiwan and China on the South China Sea issue after the release of the court ruling," but both sides are trying to safeguard their rights based on their own interests.
Chang's deputy, Lin Cheng-yi (林正義), also said that same day that the government "will not cooperate with China on the sovereignty issue in the South China Sea."
Cross-strait relations have been described as being in a state of "cold peace" since President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) has refused to compromise on the "1992 consensus" issue as requested by Beijing.
The consensus, which had been adopted by the government of former President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) in dealing with China, refers to a tacit understanding reached between the two sides that there is only one China with each side free to interpret what it means.
(By Chen Chin-lun and Bear Lee)
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