News / Asia

Taiwan Suggests Code of Conduct for East China Sea

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou cheers with the audience during National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Oct. 10, 2013.
Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou cheers with the audience during National Day celebrations in front of the Presidential Office in Taipei, Taiwan, Oct. 10, 2013.
Ralph Jennings
China and Japan have tested each other’s patience for 18 months with claims to the same patch of ocean. Now Taiwan, a third but smaller claimant to the same area, is suggesting a code of conduct to avoid missteps or accidents. Taiwan normally gets little attention for diplomacy because of opposition from China but hopes to change that with this proposal.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou has suggested that Tokyo, Beijing and his own government negotiate a code of conduct outlining measures to avoid deadly mishaps during tests of military strength over control of the East China Sea. His idea is similar to a code discussed in Southeast Asia since 2012 to smooth competing claims in the South China Sea.

Because Taiwan lacks the diplomatic clout to negotiate cross-border deals, China and Japan are not expected to react publicly. But both sides and the United States are expected to welcome the idea informally as an alternative to conflict. Alexander Huang, strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taiwan, said Taiwan wanted to prove its leadership ability despite its marginal status.

“If in the future there will be a multilateral dialogue and Taiwan’s voice should not be ignored, President Ma wanted to climb to the high ground before others,” he said.

Ma suggested the code of conduct to cover the air space and waters of the East China Sea at a Taipei conference Wednesday. He also called for establishing a way for rival governments to work out air defense identification zone disputes. China delineated an air defense zone over the disputed area in November, alarming Japan and Taiwan as it overlaps their sea claims.

For 18 months Beijing and Tokyo have tested each other’s commitment to their claims to 40,000 square kilometers of ocean with ship movements and flyovers. Both are eyeing undersea natural gas deposits in the same tract east of Shanghai. Taiwanese fishing boats trawl around eight Japanese-controlled islands in the disputed area and occasionally clash with Tokyo’s coast guard. Two years ago President Ma proposed that the three claimants share resources in the East China Sea.

Scholars from Japan and the United States have welcomed the code of conduct proposal because it would reduce the risk of conflict without compromising any side’s sovereignty claims. The U.S. government wants peace in East Asia so it can maintain economic engagement with China as well as military relations with Japan and Taiwan, a sore point in Beijing.

Alexander Huang said the United States has been waiting for someone to take the lead in defusing the regional tensions.

“Friends in Washington would welcome this kind of statement and gesture and Taiwan’s effort to raise this issue. It would be very hard to go beyond the president’s statement and say hey we’ve got better solutions or proposals,” he said.

Taiwan hopes its proposal will enhance its status with the U.S. and help win a seat for Taipei in the Trans Pacific Partnership trading bloc.

China sees self-ruled Taiwan as part of its territory and uses its economic clout to bar other governments from negotiating with Taipei, hampering trade deals and muting efforts at regional diplomacy. But China has sought to ease tension with Taiwan since 2008 and may seek private code of conduct talks with Ma’s government to cut out Beijing’s chief rival Japan.

You May Like

Syrian Rebels Poised for Anti-Russia Collaboration

Forty-one insurgent groups issue joint statement vowing retaliation for Russian air offensives More

Political Maneuver Revives Export-Import Bank's Chances

Parliamentary tactic gets bill out of committee, but it faces opposition in the Senate More

Beijing Warns US on S. China Sea Patrols

Warning follows news reports Thursday that US military is planning to sail warships close to artificial islands Beijing has been aggressively building More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 01, 2014 4:53 PM
Both China and Taiwan agreed that Diaoyu islands belong to Taiwan province and Yilan county!
Also both China and Taiwan agreed that South China Sea is Chinese!
In Response

by: Dan from: USA
March 03, 2014 2:45 PM
@Wong from USA, I wonder how many generation does that gonna take to simply eradicate your racist gene.
In Response

by: Jonathan huang from: Canada
March 01, 2014 11:06 PM
@Wong from USA, I pray one day China will be as greedy as America! I wish China can attack any country she doesn't like with a fake excuse and without UN permission.
In Response

by: Wong from: USA
March 01, 2014 9:44 PM
How many chinese generations have to pass so that there is no more greedy chinese in Canada?
Why does china have to sacrafice its people to compete with America?

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdrawsi
Jim Malone
October 09, 2015 12:32 AM
The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video House Republicans in Chaos as Speaker Favorite Withdraws

The Republican widely expected to become the next speaker of the House of Representatives shocked his colleagues Thursday by announcing he was withdrawing his candidacy. The decision by Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy means the race to succeed retiring Speaker John Boehner is now wide open. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Video German, US Officials Investigate Volkswagen

German officials have taken steps to restore some of the reputation their car industry has lost after a recent Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal. Authorities have searched Volkswagen headquarters and other locations in an effort to identify the culprits in the creation of software that helps cheat on emission tests. Meanwhile, a group of lawmakers in Washington held a hearing to get to the bottom of the cheating strategy that was first discovered in the United States. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Why Are Gun Laws So Hard for Congress to Tackle?

Since taking office, President Barack Obama has spoken out or issued statements about 15 mass shootings. The most recent shooting, in which 10 people were killed at a community college, sparked outrage over the nation's gun laws. But changing those laws isn't as easy as many think. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.

Video Hungary Criticized for Handling of Refugees

Amnesty International has accused Hungary of breaking multiple international and European human rights laws in its handling of the refugee crisis. As Henry Ridgwell reports, thousands of migrants and refugees continue to travel through the Balkans to Hungary every day.

Video Iraqi-Kurdish Teachers Vow to Continue Protest

Sixteen people were injured when police used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse teachers and other public employees who took to the streets in Iraq’s Kurdish north, demanding their salaries from the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG). VOA’s Dilshad Anwar, in Sulaimaniya, caught up with protesting teachers who say they have not been paid for three months. Parke Brewer narrates his report.

Video Syrian Village Community Faces Double Displacement in Lebanon

Driven by war from their village in southwestern Syria, a group of families found shelter in Lebanon, resettling en masse in a half-built university to form one of the biggest settlements of its kind in Lebanon. Three years later, however, they now face being kicked out and dispersed in a country where finding shelter as a refugee can be especially tough. John Owens has more for VOA from the city of Saida, also known as Sidon.

Video Bat Colony: Unusual Tourist Attraction in Texas

The action hero Batman might be everyone’s favorite but real bats hardly get that kind of adoration. Put more than a million of these creatures of the night together and it only evokes images of horror. Sarah Zaman visited the largest urban bat colony in North America to see just how well bat and human get along with each other.

Video Device Shows Promise of Stopping Motion Sickness

It’s a sickening feeling — the dizziness, nausea and vomiting that comes with motion sickness. But a device now being developed could stop motion sickness by suppressing certain signals in the brain. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.

Video Making a Mint

While apples, corn, and cranberries top the list of fall produce in the US, it’s also the time to harvest gum, candy, and toothpaste—or at least the oil that makes them minty fresh. Erika Celeste reports from South Bend, Indiana on the mint harvest.

Video Activists Decry Lagos Slum Demolition

Acting on a court order, authorities in Nigeria demolished a slum last month in the commercial capital, Lagos. But human rights activists say the order was illegal, and the community was razed to make way for a government housing project. Chris Stein has more from Lagos.

Video TPP Agreed, But Faces Stiff Opposition

President Barack Obama promoted the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Tuesday, one day after 12 Pacific Rim nations reached the free trade deal in Atlanta. The controversial pact that would involve about 40 percent of global trade still needs approval by lawmakers in respective countries. Zlatica Hoke reports Obama is facing strong opposition to the deal, including from members of his own party.

Video Ukranian Artist Portrays Putin in an Unusual Way

As Russian President Vladimir Putin was addressing the United Nations in New York last month, he was also being featured in an art exhibition in Washington. It’s not a flattering exhibit. It’s done by a Ukrainian artist in a unique medium. And its creator says it’s not only a work of art - it’s a political statement. VOA’s Tetiana Kharchenko has more.

VOA Blogs