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Diaoyutai Islands: President Ma Calls For Peaceful Dialogue

President Ma Calls For Peaceful Dialogue Over Diaoyutai Islands Dispute

President Ma Ying-jeou last Friday called for peaceful dialogue and mutually beneficial negotiations over the disputed Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

"Of course there are difficulties at the moment, but we definitely need to come up with solutions to solve these problems," Ma told reporters when he made his first-ever visit on September 7 to Pengjia Islet near the Diaoyutais.

Escorted by a military detail aboard two Mirage 2000-5s, the helicopter carrying Ma landed at 1:30 p.m. on the islet, which lies 33 nautical miles off Taiwan's northernmost tip and 76 nautical miles west of the Diaoyutais.

During his visit to Pengjia, the president laid out the details of his "East China Sea Peace Initiative," which he put forward Aug. 5 amid escalating spats among neighboring countries over the uninhabited Diaoyutai island chain, which is now claimed by Taiwan, Japan and China.

Ma advocated shelving differences, pursuing peace and reciprocity and working together to explore resources in the region.

The initiative incorporates issues regarding the fishing industry, mining industry, marine science research and maritime environmental protection, maritime security and unconventional security as well as the East China Sea Code of Conduct.

In order to resolve the East China Sea dispute through peaceful means, Ma encouraged the involved parties, including China, Japan and Taiwan, to first conduct three parallel tracks of bilateral dialogue and then move to a single track of trilateral negotiations.

Only when the three parallel talks are making progress can the trilateral negotiations move on, he said.

Each of the three parties currently has some cooperative mechanisms with one another, Ma said. Although some may have been stalled or shelved, they can still serve as the foundation for future expanded cooperation, he said.

Having used violence to resolve disputes for centuries, people now have come up with other channels to solve problems, Ma said, adding that civilized countries solve disputes using the process of negotiation, reconciliation, arbitration and litigation.

There are many sovereignty disputes around the world, and if every tension were to rise, there might be a severe conflict or even a war, the president said.

Ma, 62, said the reason why he laid out his peace initiative when visiting Pengjia Islet is to express the sincere hope that disputes can be solved in a nonaggressive way.

"If Europe can solve the North Sea dispute peacefully, why can Asia not solve the disputes in the East China Sea?" he asked.

It is indisputable and there are no concessions on the fact that the Republic of China holds sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, Ma reasserted.

The president added that the involved parties should "put sovereignty aside, put disputes aside and focus on how to work together to explore resources in the region."

These dialogues and negotiations do not affect each party's stance, but each must at least recognize the fact that there is a dispute so as to tackle it peacefully, he said.

Given the fact that forty years have passed and the same dispute remains, "everyone should face these issues more sincerely, creatively and wisely," Ma urged.


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