TAIWAN INSIDER Vol. 3 No. 6
Regional tensions increase following the purported deployment by China of surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea; Taiwan will not accept a Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling on the South China Sea dispute; President-elect Tsai says Taiwan has sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, but former president Lee thinks otherwise; the DPP says Tsai will not follow President Ma’s line on China; the KMT objects to a DPP proposal to prioritize a transition-of-power bill. Welcome to this week’s edition of the Insider.
► SOUTH CHINA SEA DISPUTE
CHINESE MISSILE DEPLOYMENT: China has deployed HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island (Yongxing Island, 永興島) in the Paracel chain in the disputed South China Sea, which is also claimed by Taiwan and Vietnam. The move coincided with the U.S.-ASEAN summit held in California on Monday and Tuesday to discuss China’s recent activity in the region. China had vowed “consequences” when a U.S. Navy destroyer sailed close to another contested island in the Paracels a few weeks ago, U.S. broadcaster Fox News reported on Tuesday. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense said it had gathered information about the deployment and was closely monitoring the developments, urging all parties concerned to work together for peace and stability and to prevent anyunilateral action that could escalate tensions. President-elect Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) also called for restraint on Wednesday.
TAIWAN WON’T ACCEPT HAGUE RULING: The Republic of China (ROC) will not accept an imminent ruling on the sovereignty disputes in the South China Sea by The Hague-based Permanent Court of Arbitration, on the grounds that Taiwan was not invited to take part in the arbitration process, nor did the court solicit its opinion during the hearings, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Wednesday. The ministry was responding to a call by U.S. President Barack Obama a day earlier that claimants to the disputed islands should seek solutions through legal means and respect for international law.
► EAST CHINA SEA DISPUTE
DIAOYUTAIS CLAIM: Former president Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) says in his latest book that the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), known as the Senkakus in Japan, do not belong to Taiwan, prompting a strongly worded rebuttal by the Presidential Office labeling Lee’s remarks as “humiliating the nation and forfeiting its sovereignty” on Tuesday. President-elect Tsai weighed in and reiterated the Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) position that the islands are under Taiwan’s sovereignty.
FISHERMEN’S RIGHTS: Amid reports that Japanese fishermen have asked their government to unilaterally exclude a designated area near the Diaoyutais from the fishing areas covered by the Taiwan-Japan Fishery Agreement in an attempt to restrict access for Taiwanese fishing vessels to the region, Premier Simon Chang (張善政) reaffirmed on Thursday that the islands are an inherent part of the ROC territory and promised to protect the right of Taiwanese fishermen to operate in the area. The Council of Agriculture was instructed to engage in further communication with Japanese authorities based on the principle of putting aside differences and promoting the joint development of resources, Cabinet spokesman Sun Lih-chyun (孫立群) said.
TSAI WILL NOT ECHO MA’S LINE: President-elect Tsai will follow the public’s will, abide by democratic principles, and insist on safeguarding options for the Taiwanese to ensure consistent, predictable, and sustainable cross-strait ties, the DPP said on Monday. The remarks were in response to a suggestion by an academic in an article in the Chinese-language China Times that Tsai should follow President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) line on China.