The Ministry of Foreign Affairs reaffirmed Aug. 7 the sovereignty of the Republic of China (Taiwan) over the South China Sea islands and said the country must be included in any talks on a dispute resolution mechanism.
The island groups and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea are an inherent part of ROC territory and the nation’s rights are unquestionable under international law and the law of the sea, the MOFA said. As a member of the international community, the ROC is willing through equitable negotiations to work with all relevant parties in promoting peace and stability in the South China Sea and to jointly conserve and develop resources in the region, it added.
The ministry’s remarks follow the adoption the day before in Manila of a framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea by foreign ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations and mainland China.
According to the MOFA, the government’s stance is based on four principles and five actions relating to the South China Sea islands unveiled July 19, 2016, by President Tsai Ing-wen.
The four principles comprise resolving disputes peacefully in accordance with international law and the law of the sea; including Taiwan in any multilateral dispute settlement mechanism; ensuring freedom of aviation and navigation in the region; and setting aside differences and resolving disputes through joint development.
The five actions are developing Taiping Island—the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands—into a base for providing humanitarian assistance and supplies; safeguarding the rights and safety of Taiwan fishermen operating in the South China Sea; enhancing multilateral dialogue with other relevant parties on collaboration and consensus; conducting scientific research on climate change, earthquakes, geology and meteorology; and encouraging local talents to study the law of the sea so as to strengthen the nation’s ability to deal with issues pertaining to international law.