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June 28, 2017

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Government won't cooperate with any party on South China Sea issue: mainland council

TAIPEI--Taiwan will not cooperate with any party in regard to the territorial issue in the South China Sea, the Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) said.

The MAC a day earlier ruled out the possibility of cross-strait cooperation on the South China Sea sovereignty issue after the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague ruled on Tuesday that all "the high-tide features" in the South China Sea, including Taiwan-controlled Taiping Island, are rocks and not entitled to a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

The ruling by The Hague-based tribunal has been considered unfavorable to both China and Taiwan.

Mainland China's external affairs agency and Taiwan Affairs Office late Tuesday both made the call for Taiwan "to join hands with China in safeguarding the sovereignty of the South China Sea islands and the rights in the surrounding waters," saying that all these "have been the traditional assets of the Chinese people."

MAC Deputy Minster Chiu Chui-cheng said in a press conference, however, that the government will aggressively engage in dialogue with all parties concerned, including China, to solve the South China Sea controversies in a peaceful way.

In addition, the government has advocated that all concerned parties should shelve their differences and join hands to protect and exploit natural resources in the area as long as the sovereignty issue is not involved.

For instance, those parties could cooperate under a multilateral mechanism in such areas as maritime crime fighting, humanitarian aid, disaster prevention, environmental protection and scientific research.

Six Countries Involved

Six countries — Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei — claim part or all of the islands in the resource-rich South China Sea and their surrounding waters.

The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled that China has no legal basis to claim historic rights to resources in the South China Sea areas falling within the "nine-dash line" and that all high-tide features in the Spratly, including Taiwan-acontrolled Taiping Island (also known as Itu Aba), are legally "rocks."

The Philippines brought the case against China in the Court, arguing that the land formations claimed by Beijing in the South China Sea are not islands and therefore are not entitled to 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone.

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