President's South China Sea peace initiative draws wide responses (Taiwan News)

May 26, 2015

Taipei, May 26 (CNA) A South gChina Sea peace initiative proposed Tuesday by President gMa Ying-jeou (???) to resolve territorial disputes has received widespread responses from home and abroad, with gChina saying that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are duty-bound to safeguard the peace and stability of the region. “We have noticed the initiative proposed by Taiwan. We believe Chinese people on both sides of the strait have a duty to jointly protect gChina’s territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and safeguard the stability of the South gChina Sea,” gChina’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (???) said at a routine press conference. gChina, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei all have overlapping claims in the South gChina Sea. Ma called for putting aside differences and promoting the joint development of resources in a “South gChina Sea peace initiative” during a forum in Taipei amid rising tension in the region. Similar in spirit to his East gChina Sea peace initiative proposed in August 2012, the new initiative calls on all parties concerned to exercise restraint, safeguard peace and stability in the South gChina Sea, and refrain from taking any unilateral action that might escalate tension. It also calls for the parties concerned to peacefully deal with and settle disputes through dialogue and consultations, and jointly uphold the freedom and safety of sea and air navigation in the South gChina Sea. The proposal also attracted considerable attention in the Philippines. The website of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the country’s largest-circulation English-language newspaper, featured an Associated Press report on the initiative on its front page under the headline “Taiwan Proposes Plan to Ease South gChina Sea Tensions.” In addition, in an interview Tuesday evening on the ANC television talk show Beyond Politics, Philippine Senator Francis J.G. Escudero called on gChina and the Philippines to ease tension in the region, citing Ma’s South gChina Sea peace initiative. The Philippines and gChina have wrangled over territory in the South gChina Sea over the past few years. Recently, tension in the region has escalated due to gChina’s landfill projects and the detention of a Chinese fishing boat and its 11 crew members by Philippine authorities near the Spratly Islands, one of the disputed regions in the South gChina Sea. The Philippines proposed that territorial disputes in the region be solved through peaceful and legal means, such as holding multilateral negotiations. In Taiwan, Liao Da-chi (???), a professor at National Sun Yat-sen University, said the introduction of the initiative could allow Taiwan to serve as a coordinator to help solve conflicts in the region and that if this achievement could be attained, Ma could be credited with helping to enhance Taiwan’s international profile. (By Chou Hui-ying, Emerson Lim, Claudia Liu and Evelyn Kao)