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Taiwan president seeks trilateral Tiaoyutais dialogue
Publication Date : 08-09-2012
Ma Ying-jeou visits a Taiwan-controlled islet near the disputed island chain
Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou called for the establishment of a three-way dialogue mechanism between Taiwan, mainland China and Japan in order to peacefully resolve the long-simmering sovereignty row over the Tiaoyutai Islands yesterday during his visit to a Taiwan-controlled islet near the disputed island chain.
Making an address as he visited Pengjia Islet, which is one of the northernmost Taiwan-controlled islets, Ma said the trilateral dialogue mechanism could ultimately be realized by making use of the existing two-way communication platforms between each of the three parties involved.
After a consensus is reached with the currently operational mutual dialogue platforms between Taiwan-China, Taiwan-Japan, and China-Japan, the three sides could gradually move forward to a single meeting with all parties present, Ma added.
The president made the proposal yesterday as part of an action plan and follow-up in relation to his East China Sea Peace Initiative which was put forward last month to resolve the sovereignty dispute over the Tiaoyutais.
No plan to visit Tiaoyutais: Ma
Ma's visit to Pengjia yesterday, which is located 33 nautical miles off Taiwan's northernmost tip and 76 nautical miles west of the Tiaoyutais, comes amid media reports that the Japanese government has decided to buy three islets in the island group from their private owner to underscore its claim.
The visit, Ma's first-ever tour to Pengjia in his capacity as president, was seen as a concrete move by the government to reaffirm the country's sovereignty over the disputed island chain.
Asked to comment on Tokyo's move to purchase the island chain, Ma said yesterday that Taiwan does not recognize any move by the Japanese government to nationalize the islands.
The president stressed that Taiwan deeply cherishes its friendship with Japan and does not wish the incident to affect bilateral ties.
Ma, responding to questions from the media, said he has no immediate plan to visit the Tiaoyutais to assert the nation's sovereignty claim. He emphasized his hopes that the escalating conflicts can be solved through peaceful means.
While making his remarks on the small islet, Ma reaffirmed Taiwan's claim to the Tiaoyutais in his five-point initiative, and again called for all claimants to shelve their differences, pursue peace and reciprocity and jointly explore resources in the area.
The president said geologically, the Tiaoyutais, situated on the continental shelf in the East China Sea, are a part of the same island chain as Pengjia Islet.
Historically, Taiwanese fishermen have been operating in the waters near the Tiaoyutais and Pengjia for more than 100 years.
Ma said the Tiaoyutais are an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China, and the government will not back down on its sovereignty claims, pledging that Taiwanese Coast Guardsmen will protect the rights of local fishermen operating in the disputed area.
Videoconference with Dongsha, Taiping
Ma arrived on the outlying islet on an S-70C helicopter along with several senior government officials around 1:30 p.m. yesterday afternoon under the escort of two Mirage-2000 fighters.
Three Navy frigates were also dispatched to ensure the president's safety during his visit to the Taiwan-controlled islet.
In addition to his remarks during the visit, Ma also held videoconferences with the Coast Guard Administration (CGA) command center and its outposts on the Dongsha Islands — the largest island chain in the South China Sea — and with Coast Guard officers on Taiping, the largest islet in the Spratly Island chain.
On his tour of the islet, the president also inspected a weather observation station, a CGA outpost and a century-old lighthouse.
A group of lawmakers from the ruling Kuomintang and journalists also took part in the tour.