Taiwan rejected China’s new fishing regulations on the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea), reasserting the right of its vessels to pass through the waters without disruption.
In a statement sent by the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) in Manila, Taiwan said the islands and waters in the disputed region are part of the “inherent territory” of Taiwan.
The islands are Nansha Islands (Spratly Islands), Shisha Islands (Paracel Islands), Chungsha Islands (Macclesfield Islands) and Tungsha Islands (Pratas Islands).
Taiwan, one of the claimants along with China, the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and Brunei Darussalam, is a renegade island of the People’s Republic of China (PRC or mainland China).
“These archipelagoes, without a doubt, fall under the sovereignty of the ROC government. Therefore, the ROC government reasserts that it enjoys all rights over the islands and their surrounding waters, and thus its official and private vessels should also enjoy freedom of navigation and operation in the said waters,” the statement added.
Taiwan and China have had a stormy relationship in the past, but have lately started having a more stable cross-straits relations.
The Philippines follows a One China Policy, under which it cannot recognize Taiwan as a country. It also cannot form diplomatic relations with Taipei.
Manila has cultural and economic links with the island. Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations.
However, it calls on Beijing to “respect the principles and spirit” of the Charter of the United Nations and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
It also asks China “to refrain from adopting unilateral measures that might upset the peace and stability of the region and the South China Sea.”
The disputes in the region is considered as a potential military flashpoint.
Taipei reiterates that it upholds the basic principles of “safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, peace and reciprocity, and joint exploration” and remains willing to work with other countries in exploring the resources of the South China Sea.
China enforced starting January 1 a new fisheries rule that requires foreign vessels to seek the permission of the Hainan Provincial Congress in Sansha City.
BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON