South China Sea Issue

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Sustainable Governance and Enduring Peace in the South China Sea

The South China Sea Islands are part of the territory of the Republic of China. That the ROC is entitled to all rights over the South China Sea Islands and their relevant waters in accordance with international law and the law of the sea is beyond dispute.

Issues in the South China Sea are highly complicated, given the overlapping claims by claimants, number of States involved, regional security and diplomatic issues, as well as the political and economic interests of the States concerned. The ROC government will continue to engage in cooperative consultations with each of the States.

The government will firmly safeguard the ROC’s territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea, as well as the rights over relevant waters it is entitled to under international law and the law of the sea. It will not renounce its sovereignty or legal rights.

Not only is Taiping Island part of ROC territory, it is also an important base from which Taiwan makes concrete contributions to regional peace and stability. On July 19, 2016, President Tsai Ing-wen put forth four principles and five actions pertaining to issues in the South China Sea.

The four principles
1. Disputes in the South China Sea should be settled peacefully in accordance with international law and the law of the sea, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS);
2. The ROC should be included in multilateral mechanisms aimed at resolving disputes;
3. States concerned have an obligation to uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight in the region; and
4. Disputes should be resolved by setting aside differences and promoting joint development. Through negotiations conducted on the basis of equality, the ROC is willing to work with other States concerned to advance peace and stability, as well as protect and develop resources, in the region.

The five actions
1. Protection of fishing rights: The ROC government shall strengthen its capabilities to ensure the safety of fishermen and fishing operations.
2. Multilateral consultations: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall enhance dialogue and communication with the States concerned, so as to reach consensus on cooperation.
3. Scientific collaboration: The Ministry of Science and Technology shall increase quotas for international experts invited by related government agencies to travel to Taiping Island to conduct scientific research on ecological, geological, seismological, meteorological, and climate change matters.
4. Humanitarian assistance and rescue: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs shall work with relevant international and nongovernmental organizations to make Taiping Island a center of humanitarian assistance and rescue operations, as well as a supply base.
5. Cultivation of experts on the law of the sea: The ROC government shall strengthen its ability to deal with issues pertaining to international law.

Taiwan will continue to uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea while based on the values of peace, humanitarianism, ecological conservation, and sustainable development. The ROC is willing, through negotiations conducted on the basis of equality, to work with all States concerned to advance peace and stability, as well as protect and develop resources, in the South China Sea.