Ma reaffirms Taiwan's Spratly Island claims

3:29:00 PM
TAIPEI, -- Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou on 7 July reasserted the Republic of China's (RoC) territorial claim to Taiping Island (Itu Aba) and other islands in the South China Sea.

Speaking in Taipei, Ma said the RoC government would "staunchly defend its sovereignty over Taiping Island and every right held by the country under international law".

Ma cited the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender as supporting claims of RoC sovereignty over the Spratly islands archipelago, saying "the RoC regained sovereignty over islands in the South China Sea in at the end of the Second World War in 1945".

According to Ma, the RoC government has "built infrastructure on islands in the region" and "after decades of development, [Taiping Island] has an airstrip, a hospital, and communications and solar energy systems."

Ma went on to say "the future development" of Taiping Island will be carried out "with the aim of peace, to make it a hub for humanitarian assistance, environmental protection, and scientific research in the Spratly Islands".

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) is currently building a USD108 million wharf on the island that is due to be completed by the end of 2015 and will be able to accommodate 3,000-tonne naval frigates and coastguard cutters.

Ma has hinted at a possible visit to Taiping Island but said on 24 June he had no immediate plans to travel to the South China Sea.

Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also released a statement on 7 July in support of Ma's comments, in which it said "whether from the perspectives of history, geography, or international law, the Spratly Islands, Paracel Islands, Macclesfield Bank, and Pratas Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of RoC territory and waters".

The statement also called on countries bordering the South China Sea to "respect the spirit and principles of the United Nations Charter and to exercise restraint, safeguard peace and stability, and refrain from taking any unilateral action that might escalate tensions".

The statements came three days after the Ma administration held one of Taiwan's largest public military displays in decades to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Nationalist KMT forces' victory over Japan in 1945.

The military tattoo was held at Hukou Army Base in Hsinchu County, northern Taiwan, and saw the participation of a total of 3,858 military personnel.

The MND also used the event to showcase newly delivered hardware from the United States. This included AH-64E Apache attack helicopters, UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, and P-3C submarine-hunting aircraft.

However, the MND was embarrassed a week before the 4 July public display after photographs surfaced of an RoC Air Force F-16 and an F-CK-1 Ching-Kuo Indigenous Defence Fighter displaying Japanese kill flag decals under the cockpit canopy.

The air force removed the decals before the event.

The defence ministry denied pressure from Tokyo led to the removal of the kill flags, and instead said they were removed to avoid any "misunderstanding" and "unnecessary speculation".


A Republic of China Navy La Fayette-class light multi-mission frigate off Taiping island.


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