With regard to President Ma Ying-jeou’s trip to Taiping Island Jan. 28 to inspect the island and celebrate the Lunar New Year with personnel stationed there, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states the following:
(1) Whether from the perspective of history, geography, or international law, the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, Shisha (Paracel) Islands, Chungsha (Macclesfield Bank) Islands, and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory and waters, and the ROC enjoys all rights over these islands and their surrounding waters in accordance with international law. This is indisputable.
(2) Taiping Island (Itu Aba) is the largest naturally formed island in the Nanshas and an inherent part of ROC territory under the administrative jurisdiction of Qijin District, Kaohsiung City. President Ma’s visit to inspect the results of ROC management and express his appreciation to island personnel before the Lunar New Year is a necessary and reasonable part of standard procedures in the exercise of sovereignty.
(3) The ROC has consistently adhered to the principles of peaceful settlement of international disputes and freedom of navigation and overflight as stipulated in the UN Charter and other relevant international law. The ROC has defended Taiping Island and other islands for over 60 years without ever getting into military conflict with other nations. Nor has the ROC interfered with other nations’ freedom of navigation or overflight in the South China Sea. Moreover, infrastructure projects carried out on Taiping Island in recent years, including renovation of the wharf and construction of a lighthouse, enable the ROC to promote peaceful uses of the island ranging from humanitarian rescue operations and scientific research to reduction of carbon emissions and environmental protection. This is in the interests of all parties concerned and contributes to regional peace and stability.
(4) The ROC government, in accordance with the South China Sea Peace Initiative and the principles of safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint development, is willing to work with other parties concerned, through consultations conducted on an equal footing, to jointly ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea, as well as conserve and develop resources in the region, so as to truly transform it into a sea of peace and cooperation.