- - Sunday, June 7, 2015

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Contrary to your recent editorial, Republic of China (Taiwan) President Ma Ying-jeou’s South China Sea Peace Initiative (SCSPI), which calls on parties concerned to shelve territorial disputes in favor of the joint exploitation of natural resources in the South China Sea, did not walk Taiwan “into a trap” that “fits into Beijing’s strategy” (“Face-off in Singapore,” May 29). Quite to the contrary, Mr. Ma’s peace initiative will provide the necessary framework to avoid any real trap, namely the trap of ever-increasing tensions among South China Sea claimants and the associated risks such tensions entail.

The initiative was based on the widely recognized peacemaking experiences of the East China Sea Peace Initiative (ECSPI) that Mr. Ma enunciated in August 2012 amid disputes over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea. The ECSPI helped facilitate a fisheries agreement signed by Taiwan and Japan in April 2013, which ended a four-decade-long fisheries dispute. The agreement is the embodiment of the ECSPI’s concept that “although sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared.” As a result, Taiwan’s firm claim over the Diaoyutai Islands remained unshakable, but the waters where Taiwanese fishing boats could freely operate was expanded by 4,530 square kilometers.

To align with the successful experience resulting from the ECSPI, Mr. Ma proposed the SCSPI on May 26 to urge all relevant claimants to exercise restraint and refrain from taking any unilateral action that might escalate tensions. The measure also emphasizes the importance of respecting the principles and spirit of relevant international law, including the Charter of the United Nations and the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, in dealing with relevant disputes.

The initiative, immediately echoed and appreciated by the U.S. State Department through its spokesman, will hopefully provide another viable and constructive mechanism for mitigating tensions and fostering regional peace and stability. It is our sincere hope that all parties adhere to such pragmatic approach to jointly make the South China Sea a sea of peace and cooperation.

FRANG YEE WANG

Director, Press Division

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office

Washington

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