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Ma promotes Peace Initiative at Taipei forum

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- President Ma Ying-jeou yesterday promoted the East China Sea Peace Initiative he proposed two years ago, saying that the proposal has successfully cooled down tensions in the region and helped Taiwan to solve fishery disputes with neighboring countries.

Speaking during an opening ceremony of the East China Sea Peace Forum in Taipei yesterday, Ma said he proposed on Aug. 5, 2012 the five-point-initiative, which calls on all parties involved to refrain from hostile actions, put aside their differences, engage in dialogue, observe international law and resolve the disputes through peaceful means, amid escalating sovereignty tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.

The proposal has received warm responses from nations around the world, including the United States, Ma said.

The initiative was praised by U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel during his testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific on Feb. 5 in Washington, the president said.

Russel said the initiative contains many important elements, the principles of which “are at the heart of the U.S. strategy and the U.S. effort, namely respect for international law and peaceful resolution of disputes,” Ma said.

Under the peaceful nature of the initiative, the R.O.C. government has successfully resolved fishery disputes with two neighboring countries, namely Japan and the Philippines, he added.

Ma said the Taiwan-Japan fisheries agreement, which was signed in April 2013, serves as a good example of the spirit of the East China Sea Peace Initiative.

Taiwan and the Philippines are also in talks to sign an agreement on marine patrol cooperation in the event of future fishing incidents in overlapping exclusive economic zones (EEZs).

The president continued to propose three guidelines under the initiative to cope with the escalating regional conflicts.

Taiwan will work with all concerned parties involved in line with the principles of the East China Sea Peace Initiative by “establishing mechanisms for cooperation on non-traditional security issues, on preventing regional conflicts and for promoting regional economic integration,” the president added.

East, South China Seas as Seas of Peace and Cooperation

”We hope the East China Sea and the South China Sea will become seas of peace and cooperation,” he noted.

Yesterday's forum was joined by nearly two-dozen local and foreign scholars to discuss cooperation, regional conflict prevention, economic integration and the future prospects of the East China Sea Peace Initiative.

Among the participating scholars were Douglas Paal, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington as well former director of the Taipei Office of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) from 2002-2006.

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