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Taiwan reiterates its sovereignty over islands after US statement favors Japan

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Foreign Minister David Lin (林永樂) yesterday reiterated the R.O.C's sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

“The R.O.C. Government stands firm that the Diaoyutais belong to (Taiwan) and we will not change our stance,” Lin told local media on the sideline of a committee meeting at the Legislature, yesterday.

Lin made the remarks when asked to comment on a Japanese media report in which U.S. President Barack Obama was quoted as assuring Japan that the disputed island chain in the East China Sea is under Japan's administration.

In an interview with Japan's Yomiuri newspaper published Wednesday, hours before he was due to arrive in Tokyo for a state visit, Obama gave assurance to Japan that the island chain, known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan, are covered by a bilateral security treaty that obligates America to come to Japan's defense.

“The policy of the United States is clear — the Senkaku islands are administered by Japan and therefore fall within the scope of ... the U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security,” Obama was quoted as saying in the newspaper.

“And we oppose any unilateral attempts to undermine Japan's administration of these islands,” he said.

When asked to comment, Lin replied that he has not read the above-mentioned report.

The minister stressed that the islands are under Taiwan's jurisdiction and that the R.O.C. will not accept others referring to the islands as the “Senkakus” as opposed to the “Diaoyutais.”

Lin later added, however, that it is true the islands are currently under the Japanese government's control.

However, the minister also stressed that the U.S. is not in a position to question the ultimate sovereignty of the islands despite the U.S.-Japan treaty.

Taiwan will talk with U.S. officials in order to learn more about the U.S. president's tour, he added.

The Diaoyutai Islands are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and the Senkaku Islands in Japan. Taiwan, Japan and China all claim sovereignty over the island chain.

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