Because Chinese coast guard ships were recently sighted around the uninhabited East China Sea islands, called the Diaoyutai (or Senkaku, as they are known in Japan) and Mischief Reef off the western Philippine coast, it is important to remember cooler heads must prevail in the face of provocation. Peace and stability can only be preserved through cooperative action and open communication.
Taiwan and Japan took this to heart in April when the two parties signed a fishery agreement giving Taiwanese fishermen access to an additional 1,400 square nautical miles of fishing territory. This agreement is a direct and positive result of Taiwan's commitment to diplomacy via President Ma Ying-jeou's East China Sea Peace Initiative, which calls on all parties to shelve territorial disputes through meaningful dialogue and share resources through joint exploration. It also serves as a great example of how a diplomatic approach can yield the best possible solution to disputes and decrease the likelihood of conflict.
Despite Taiwan's legitimate claims of sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands and Taiping Island in the South China Sea, Taiwan is committed to peaceful resolutions, and it continuously urges all parties to develop a code of conduct and a crisis-mitigation mechanism. It is imperative that each party embraces its role as a responsible stakeholder and that each party places diplomacy before hostility in matters of mutual interest. Nationalism and militarism must never be the answer.
TA-TUNG JACOB CHANG
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States
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