Taiwan asserts its rights over Taiping

“Taiping is an Island; not a rock”

First of three parts

Venkat Raman – 

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou has reiterated his country’s sovereignty over the disputed Taiping Island, stating that it is an inalienable part of the Republic of China territory along with the surrounding waters and seabed.

“This is indisputable,” he said following his first ever visit on January 26, 2016 to the Island which is located about 1600 kms from South of Taiwan.

President Ma said that Taiwan has maintained a permanent presence on Taiping Island and had developed it through government projects over several decades.

“We aim to advance peace and cooperation with our partners in the region, transforming Taiping Island into an ecologically-friendly and low-carbon Island, while strengthening its capacity for peace and rescue operations,” he said, speaking at the Island during his visit and on February 3, 2016 at the Defence Ministry Headquarters in Taipei City.

New President

The tenure of Ma will end on May 20, 2016, the day on which Tsai Ing-wen of Democratic Progressive Party will be sworn in as the next President.

She secured 56.12% (6.69 million) of the votes polled at the general election held on January 16, 2016, defeating Eric Chu of the ruling Kuomintang by 3.08 million votes. James Soong, who represented the People First Party, secured only 1.58 million votes.

Tsai Ing-wen will be the first Woman-President of Taiwan and is a staunch nationalist, and advocate of a ‘Free Republic of China’ policy.

Her views on the South China Sea are likely to remain the same as that of Ma.

Taiwan’s Claims

The following is the information supplied by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of the Republic of China through its Director General of Taipei Economic & Cultural Office Auckland.

Taiping is an Island, not a rock and the ROC possesses full rights associated with an exclusive economic zone and continental shelf in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

In recent years, parties concerned have continued to be at odds over sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea.

Move by Philippines

In January 2013, the Philippines initiated arbitration against mainland China concerning the South Sea in accordance with Annex VII of the UNCLOS.

During the second hearing from November 24 to 30, 2015, the Philippines distorted the facts and misinterpreted the law to argue that Taiping Island is a rock and not an Island, and that it therefore should not have any maritime entitlements beyond 12 nautical miles.

The Executive Yuan and Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROC issued statements on numerous occasions reiterating that, whether from the perspective of history, geography, or international law, Taiping Island, with an area of 0.51 square km, is the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, can sustain human habitation and economic life of its own, and meets the criteria of an island as defined in Article 121 of UNCLOS.

Therefore, with regard to Taiping Island, the ROC enjoys full rights associated with territorial waters, a contiguous zone, an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), and a continental shelf in accordance with UNCLOS.

Healthy food and water

On December 12, 2015, ROC Interior Minister Chen Wei-zen led a group of related government officials on a trip to Taiping Island to preside over a ceremony marking the opening of a wharf and lighthouse.

During this visit, the Minister and other members of the group drank water taken from a well on the island, proving that high quality of water. Moreover, the lunch they had that day consisted of local natural ingredients, products from livestock raised on the Island, as well as vegetables and fruits grown by personnel stationed there.

This clearly showed that the conditions on Taiping Island are such that it can sustain human habitation and economic life of its own.

ROC and foreign experts visit Taiping Island to conduct surveys, the results of which underline the fact it is an island.

(To be continued)

Editor’s Note: The above article is based on official communication received from the government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) and therefore represents that country’s point of view. The above is first in a series of three parts.

Photo :

President Ma Ying-jeou speaking in Taiping Island during his first visit on January 28, 2016.

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