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

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor 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.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More