News / Asia

Taiwan Seeks Peacekeeper Role in Island Dispute

Activists shout slogans during an anti-Japan protest in front of the Japan Interchange Association, the de facto Japanese embassy, in Taipei September 18, 2012.
Activists shout slogans during an anti-Japan protest in front of the Japan Interchange Association, the de facto Japanese embassy, in Taipei September 18, 2012.
Ralph Jennings
A tiny group of islands in the East China Sea has shaped up as a flashpoint between Beijing and Tokyo. But smaller and diplomatically isolated Taiwan also claims the disputed Senkaku archipelago, which it calls the Diaoyutai. In Taipei, authorities have shied away from confrontation, while seeking to play a larger role in resolving the conflict.

On Tuesday, Taiwanese officials urged Japan and China to back down from a conflict about the Senkaku islets, some 220 kilometers from Taiwan.


Taiwan wants Japan to resume talks, after 16 earlier rounds, on fishing rights in waters near the uninhabited islets. Taiwan also asked the other claimants to consider Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou’s proposal for setting aside their territorial disputes to explore jointly for resources.

Foreign Minister Timothy Yang told a news conference in Taipei that he is worried that the conflict will spiral. He says it is easy to escalate a conflict and harder to make peace. But Yang calls Taiwan a peacemaker for the international community and says that, in face of the East China Sea developments, the president has formulated a peace initiative. He adds that  Ma is urging all sides to restrain themselves, set aside disputes, solve conflicts in a peaceful way and develop East China Sea resources together.

The minister’s words reflect what analysts call the government’s underlying motives for seeking a broader role in the dispute. When President Ma took office in 2008, he said that despite diplomatic isolation Taiwan would try for more informal participation in international affairs. Taiwan is self-ruled, but China has claimed sovereignty over the island since the 1940s and uses its economic clout now to keep Taiwan out of international bodies such as the United Nations.

Ma’s foreign policy mission has produced few tangible results, adding pressure from the public to make good on his word. Taiwan’s fishermen who have traditionally trawled near the disputed islets, tend to favor Taiwan’s populist chief opposition party, adding pressure on the president to reach a deal with Japan.

At the same time, Taiwan aims to maintain friendly ties with both Japan and China. Since 2008, Ma’s government has sought to shelve the sovereignty issue to make trade and investment deals with Beijing, boosting the local economy. China’s leaders hope those non-political agreements will nudge Taiwan’s population toward eventual unification.

Taiwan’s population also is not seeking a fight with the island’s former colonizer, Japan. Japanese culture is popular in Taiwan, where many people look to the country for fashion, food and urban planning cues. Japan also remains a top tourist destination for Taiwanese.

Last week, thousands of people have participated in anti-Japan protests against Tokyo’s purchase of the islands from a private citizen.   Beijing largely stands by its angry citizens, calling their anger toward Tokyo irrepressible.

But in Taiwan, protests have been rare and involved just a handful of people.

Taiwan’s foreign minister added on Tuesday that the president’s peace initiative would only set aside the Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty disputes, not solve them.  He says Taiwan rightfully owns the islands and will not change its position.

You May Like

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Chang, Hao-yi from: Taiwan
September 19, 2012 11:18 AM
Maintaining the peaceful relationship and boosting economic clout between China and Taiwan are pivotal objective. President Ma has made the good course, which wisely sets aside the hot potato that incurred turmoil from disputed islet between Japan and China.

by: Double Standards
September 19, 2012 4:45 AM
"setting aside their territorial disputes to explore jointly for resources": It is OK for Chinese to propose this to areas under other countries's jurisdiction and control.Why didn't China propose the same to Vietnam regarding the Paracel Islands which China robbed from Vietnam in 1974?.Instead they have resorted to intimidation,ship ramming,hostage taking for ransoms,torturings to keep Vietnamese fishermen off their traditional fishing grounds.Never trust the Chinese when it comes to territorial disputes.They would resort to all kinds of dirty tricks to force their neighbours into concession

by: jonathan huang from: canada
September 18, 2012 11:24 PM
great! China and Taiwan are brothers, we need to unite and fight for our mother lands!
China and Taiwan is getting closer and closer!
we should not just cooperate on Diaoyu island we should also work together on south China sea disputes.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs