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Taiwan president calls on China not to declare South China Sea ADIZ
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-12-06 03:13 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – President Ma Ying-jeou said he would tell China not to set up an Air Defense Identification Zone in the South China Sea because the one in the East China Sea had not been helpful to the development of cross-straits relations, the Presidential Office announced Friday.

Ma made the remarks in an interview with Japan’s Mainichi Shimbun on Thursday, but the contents were published by the Presidential Office on Friday.

China announced the formation of an ADIZ over a stretch of the East China Sea including the disputed Diaoyutai Islands just north of Taiwan on November 23, causing consternation in the United States, Japan and South Korea, but meeting with an initial soft reaction from Taipei, critics said. Aircraft which did not abide by the rules and did not identify themselves while flying through the zone would be subject to a defensive emergency response, China said.

Civilian airlines from other nations said they would adhere to the new rules, but the US and Japan said their military flights would not do so. The US Air Force sent an unarmed B-52 bomber from Guam flying in the area for one hour without notifying China in advance, though Beijing later said it had been monitoring the aircraft.

Several nations had shown significant concern about the matter, including Taiwan, because the ADIZ included some of its territory, namely the Diaoyutai Islands, Ma told the Japanese journalists.

The islands are uninhabited rocks under Japanese control, though Taiwan and China both say they have sovereignty over the area. They sit among rich fishing grounds, while oil and gas reserves might also be found in the area. Taiwan officially considers the Diaoyutai part of Toucheng in Yilan County. In Japan, the islands are known as Senkaku.

After China’s November 23 announcement, the government reiterated its claims of sovereignty and the right of Taiwanese fishermen to operate in the area, Ma said. He insisted that future drills by Taiwanese Air Force planes in the island’s own ADIZ, which overlapped with 23,000 square kilometers of China’s zone, would not be affected. The government had told Beijing of its grave concern, he said.

The problem could be solved through bilateral negotiations, and in the future Taiwan would tell China not to set up a similar ADIZ in the South China Sea, Ma told the Mainichi Shimbun. The sea includes numerous reefs and islands disputed between Taiwan, China, Vietnam, Malaysia and the Philippines.

The president said that civilian airlines would provide China and other countries with their routes as required. He cited the examples of flights between Taiwan and the Chinese city of Qingdao in Shandong Province which filed their routes with Japan because they flew through a Japanese ADIZ.

Flights by civilian carriers needed to consider safety first, and therefore it was normal and acceptable for them to file the reports to other countries like China, Ma said.

Responding to questions about talks with China, Ma said his government had never purposely avoided political issues. While Taiwan preferred to solve economic and easy differences first, a 2009 agreement about the joint fight against crime touched on legal jurisdiction, proving that the government did not hide from sensitive political issues, he said. Current talks about the opening of representative offices in each other’s cities were yet another example of Taiwan’s determination not to avoid political topics, according to Ma’s interview.

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