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2016年2月 2日 (火)

台湾と南シナ海 安定に寄与しない馬氏の訪問

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ma’s visit to disputed S. China Sea island won’t contribute to stability
台湾と南シナ海 安定に寄与しない馬氏の訪問

The latest visit to a disputed island in the South China Sea was an action that raises concerns among neighboring countries and does not contribute to regional stability.

Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou visited Taiping Island, the largest islet in the Spratlys. He made the day trip to the island aboard a Taiwan Air Force plane and reportedly encouraged officials and other personnel stationed on the island.

Taiwan effectively controls Taiping Island, located about 1,600 kilometers from the southern tip of Taiwan. It has built a port for large vessels and a lighthouse.

The likely aim of Ma’s visit was to demonstrate Taiwan’s sovereignty over the island and to show its presence. Vietnam and the Philippines, which both claim sovereignty over the island, objected to the visit, saying it had seriously violated their respective sovereignty over the island. Concerned parties should refrain from taking precipitous action in disputed waters.

The situation is getting tense in the South China Sea, as China is proceeding with its efforts to unilaterally change the status quo. It is understandable that the United States has criticized Ma’s visit to the island, saying “it would raise tensions.”

Ma has reiterated his call on all countries concerned to accept his South China Sea Peace Initiative, a proposal urging claimants to temporarily shelve their differences over territorial issues and jointly share the resources in the area. But his latest action makes the situation more complex, instead of bringing about regional “peace.”

Ma, who had planned to visit the island in December, refrained from doing so after Washington expressed opposition. Instead, he sent senior administration officials to the island.

He went ahead with the visit this time, probably because he wanted it to be considered a political “achievement” as his term of office ends in May.

China main beneficiary

As his ruling Nationalist Party suffered a major defeat in the presidential and legislative elections last month, Ma may also be aiming to have his administration gain centripetal force in the country.

What is problematic is that Ma’s visit benefits China’s efforts to enclose the South China Sea as if it was its own “lake.”

China claims sovereignty over an almost equal area of waters as Taiwan does in the South China Sea. As Beijing regards Taiwan as “part of China,” Taiwan’s sovereignty claim will sooner or later be linked to China’s interests.

It is for this reason that China has taken a detached stance this time, saying, “Safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as safeguarding the overall interests of the Chinese nation are the common responsibility and obligation of compatriots across the strait.”

China apparently intends to step up pressure on neighboring countries by forming a “united front” with Taiwan, under the name of the Chinese nation.

China’s attempt to turn its artificial islands in the South China Sea into military strongholds continues nonstop. At a press conference held following his talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi stubbornly maintained that China was building “defense facilities” on artificial islands that had nothing to do with militarizing the area.

While shaking “freedom of navigation” on the basis of international law, China attempts to expand its own national interests further. To stem such self-righteous moves on the part of China, it is essential for the international community to cooperate closely, in addition to the continued navigation of U.S. warships near the artificial islands.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Feb. 1, 2016)


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