Copyright: Taiwanese Delegation in Athens, Greece.
In remarks made on the morning of August 5 at the Opening Ceremony of the Special Exhibition on the 60th Anniversary of the Coming into Force of the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan, which was co-hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Academia Historica at the Taipei Guest House, President Ma Ying-jeou expressed his concern regarding rising tensions over the Diaoyutai Islands. He proposed the East China Sea Peace Initiative aimed at easing these tensions, and called on all parties concerned to show restraint, shelve controversies and settle the dispute in a peaceful manner. It is hoped, he said, that reaching a consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea, and on establishing a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the East China Sea, would help ensure peace in this region.
The Diaoyutai Islands, an island group that is part of Taiwan, lie just 102 nautical miles from Keelung in northeast Taiwan and are within the administrative jurisdiction of Daxi Village in Toucheng Township, Yilan County, Taiwan. Whether looked at from the perspective of history, geography, geology, practical use or international law, the Diaoyutais are indisputably an inherent part of the territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan). It is therefore appropriate that the Republic of China should propose this East China Sea Peace Initiative and attempt to settle the Diaoyutai dispute.
The Republic of China is a peace-loving country, and its government has always asserted that international disputes should be settled peacefully based on the provisions of the UN Charter. With respect to the Diaoyutai issue, the government of the Republic of China has consistently affirmed its position of “safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint exploration and development.”
As an important air and sea transportation hub in the western Pacific, the East China Sea has clear significance for security and peace in the Asia-Pacific region, and in the world as a whole. In order to prevent further escalation, the dispute over the Diaoyutais must be settled peacefully through a multilateral dialogue mechanism. The government of the Republic of China, therefore, solemnly proposes an East China Sea Peace Initiative and calls on all parties concerned to:
1. Refrain from taking any antagonistic actions.
2. Shelve controversies and not abandon dialogue.
3. Observe international law and resolve disputes through peaceful means.
4. Seek consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea.
5. Establish a mechanism for cooperation on exploring and developing resources in the East China Sea.
Today marks the 60th anniversary of the coming into force of the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan. Sixty years ago today at the Taipei Guest House, the Republic of China and Japan officially brought to an end an extremely vicious war that lasted for eight years and resulted in the death or serious injury of 25 million people. Over the last sixty years, countries in Northeast Asia have enjoyed rapid economic development and become a model for other countries around the world. Alarmingly, however, the recent rise of tensions due to the Diaoyutai dispute has the potential to jeopardize peace and stability in East Asia. Yet peace and prosperity in the region have not come easily, and the Republic of China never again wants to see a catastrophe such as the Second Sino-Japanese War happen here.
By proposing the East China Sea Peace Initiative, the Republic of China hopes that all parties concerned will be compelled to carefully consider the gravity of the possible consequences of territorial disputes in Northeast Asia. It is therefore hoped that all parties concerned will commit to settling these disputes through peaceful means, so that peace in the East China Sea can be maintained.
It has been noted that, in order to avoid conflicts in the South China Sea, the parties concerned reached a consensus and signed the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea ten years ago. They also committed to resolving territorial and sovereignty disputes in a peaceful manner, without resorting to the threat or use of force. The parties have also attempted to enter into negotiations on a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea, with the aim of making this commitment legally binding.
As for the East China Sea, the government of the Republic of China hopes that the parties concerned will settle disputes through peaceful means in accordance with the United Nations Charter and Article 279 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982. The Republic of China also hopes that having all parties seek a consensus on a code of conduct in the East China Sea will provide a common frame of reference for dealing with such issues as territory, sovereignty and the use of resources.
National territorial sovereignty cannot be divided. Natural resources can, however, be shared. There have been various sovereignty disputes over maritime space and islands around the world over the years. One such example that has been turned into a success story is the North Sea in Europe, where it was agreed that the parties involved would develop oil fields. It is hoped that, through the East China Sea Peace Initiative, all parties concerned can shelve their disputes and come together to cooperate on exploring and developing resources in the East China Sea. This cooperation can also extend to a range of other areas, such as protecting the marine environment, conducting search and rescue operations, combating crime, and so forth. This initiative will hopefully give weight to the issue, so that all parties concerned can work towards making the East China Sea into a sea of “peace and cooperation.”（E）