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Taiwanese President Ma Issues Peace Plan for South China Sea

Taiwanese President Ma Issues Peace Plan for South China Sea

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June 12, 2015 (EIRNS)–Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou has issued a plan for peace in the South China Sea, based on joint development of resources among the claimants, as China has long proposed. Ironically, his proposal is published as an op-ed in the rabid anti-China and war-0mongering Wall Street Journal (perhaps they were ambushed, since they claim to defend Taiwan against “threats” from the Mainland).

President Ma describes his role in calming down the Taiwan Strait and the East China Sea by similar proposals for joint development. As he says: “Although sovereignty cannot be divided, resources can still be shared.”

He writes: “One of the objectives set by President Barack Obama in his proposed pivot to Asia was improved integration of the Asia-Pacific Region. As tensions continue to mount in the South China Sea, however, that goal is becoming increasingly unlikely….

“The thrust of my proposal is to shift the focus from settling territorial disputes to jointly developing resources. This approach has served Taiwan well before. Over the past seven years, my government has handled its relations with mainland China according to a stable and pragmatic policy aimed at maintaining the status quo. This means no unification, no independence and no use of force.

“This has allowed the mainland and Taiwan to conclude 21 agreements, covering a wide range of topics from direct flights and economic cooperation to mutual judicial assistance. It has also resulted in a level of peace and prosperity that hasn’t been seen in the Taiwan Strait in 66 years.

“A similar proposal was also constructive in the East China Sea, where territorial disputes regarding the Diaoyutai Islands (which the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands) have lasted for more than four decades. In September 2012, Japan decided to nationalize the islands, prompting large anti-Japanese demonstrations in more than 20 cities in mainland China. Anticipating a potential confrontation, in August 2012 I proposed the East China Sea Peace Initiative, calling upon Japan to join in shelving our disputes, respect international law and negotiate the sharing of resources and their joint development.

“Faced with rapidly escalating tensions, Japan responded positively to the proposed peace initiative and quickly signed a fisheries agreement with Taiwan in April 2013. This occurred after 16 rounds of talks over the previous 17 years had produced nothing.

“The 2013 agreement… leaves the sovereignty claims of both sides intact, creating a win-win situation. The East China Sea Peace Initiative was praised by the U.S., the European Union and Australia as an effective way to promote regional peace.

“Now with the South China Sea Peace Initiative, I am again calling upon all parties to embrace the spirit of reconciliation and cooperation and turn what seems like a mission impossible into the eminently possible.”

Ma’s proposals include the phrase: “refrain from taking any unilateral action that might escalate tension.” Although this is the same line used by Obama, meaning China must stop building up islands under its control, the difference is the call for cooperation and joint development — exactly as Chinese have proposed, including offering last week to share their newly constructed facilities with the Philippines.

Ma’s key proposal is: “Shelve sovereignty disputes and establish a regional cooperation mechanism for the development of resources under integrated planning.”

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