The online news portal of TV5
MANILA, Philippines - Taiwan expressed its intent to join a discussion of member nations of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on its bid to draft the code of conduct in the West Philippine Sea (South China Sea) which aims to resolve territorial disputes in the region.
“If Taiwan is not able to take part in the discussions, any results achieved will be incomplete and regrettable,” Deputy Director-General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs James Chou said in a report published in Focus Taiwan News Channel.
Taipei is also a claimant but cannot join multilateral talks because of the One China Policy. Its neighbors only recognize Beijing in diplomatic circles.
Unlike China, Taiwan favors taking up the disputes under a multilateral framework.
The Philippines has been pushing a multilateral approach in resolving the decades-old territorial disputes, but China maintained its stand that it will only talk with claimant-nations on a bilateral basis.
Chou said that even though Taiwan is not recognized by diplomatic circles, it will make sure that its “voice is heard by the international community through different channels”.
He added: “Taiwan stands firm on its sovereignty on the islands in the region and adheres to the principles of safeguarding its sovereignty, shelving disputes, rationality and peace, and joint exploration.”
Chou added that the ministry has “closely monitored” the details of the high-level regional forum organized by Asean in Phnom Penh in the first week of July.
On July 25, Taiwan’s military announced its plan to deploy mortars and anti-aircraft on Taiping Island in the South China Sea due to the increasing movements by nations in the region, as it bids to assert its sovereignty over the disputed waters.
Taiwan and China, which formed its military garrison in the newly established Sansha City, has been claiming the largest island in the Spratly island group in the South China Sea and virtually almost all of the waters that are claimed by the Philippines, Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei.
Asean countries earlier signed a six-principle statement on resolving the territorial disputes, including the drafting of a more binding code based on the provisions of the 2002 Declaration on the Code of Conduct this August.
The Declaration on the Code of Conduct is a non-binding agreement that aims to reduce political tensions in the region.
The Asean bloc said the disputes must go through international arbitration and multilateral dispute settlement mechanisms, including those provided by the organization and the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).
China recently said it does not recognize the Unclos despite its assurance that it will cooperate with the Asean countries and firmly assert its full sovereignty over the Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal.
The six-principle statement was made after the regional bloc failed to issue its customary joint communiqué—the first time in 45 years--- owing to ongoing disputes between the Philippines and China and the failure of Cambodia to forge a consensus.
Both Manila and Hanoi had been pushing the mention of the issue in the communique, specifically the Scarborough Shoal, but Cambodian rejected any proposed text that mentions Scarborough Shoal.
Cambodia is the current ASEAN chairman, a known ally of China and a recipient of huge aid from Beijing.
The Philippines and Cambodia have an ongoing “word war. “ Manila criticized Phnom Penh for protecting the interests of China, a non-Asean claimant in the region.
Manila recently summoned Phnom Penh’s ambassador to explain what he meant when he said that the “inflexible and non-negotiable position of two countries of ASEAN is dirty politics”.
The Department of Foreign Affairs made it clear that Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio is just stating the facts, given that she was present in all meetings in Phnom Penh.