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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid