Taiwan gov’t says PH rejected invitation to Taiping
TAIPEI, Taiwan — The Philippine government has officially rejected President Ma Ying-jeou’s invitation to send representatives to a Taiwan-controlled island in the South China Sea, the Taiwan government announced on Friday.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said the Taiwan government has extended an invitation to the Philippine side several times, asking the Philippines to send representatives or lawyers to visit Taiping Island in the disputed South China Sea to obtain accurate information about the island.
The invitation was sent in the hope that representatives from the Philippines could personally visit the island amid Manila’s false claim that Taiping is a “rock,” not an “island,” MOFA said.
However, MOFA said the Philippine side has recently extended an official reply to the R.O.C. to decline the invitation to Taiping.
Meanwhile, MOFA said it has extended an invitation to five arbitrators from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague to visit Taiping.
But so far, the court of arbitration has not yet responded to the invitation, MOFA added.
Stressing that “seeing is believing,” MOFA again called on the court and the Philippines to visit Taiping to see for themselves that it is a bona fide island with fresh water that can grow crops, raise livestock and support human habitation before the court releases the ruling.
Facing China’s claim in the South China Sea, the Philippines submitted a case to the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague last year arguing that Taiping is a rock and not an island, and that it therefore should not have any maritime entitlements beyond 12 nautical miles.
Because of Manila’s move, the Taiwan government has launched a series of responsive measures over the past few months to assert the R.O.C.’s claim that Taiping is an island.
Ma also personally visited the island in January, a trip that U.S. representatives criticized at the time as being “unhelpful” in resolving disputes in the region.
Won’t accept ruling–Taiwan
According to MOFA’s Friday statement, amid Taiwan’s ongoing move to assert Taiping Island’s legal status as an island, the Philippine side recently asked the Permanent Court of Arbitration to “disregard” the evidence presented by the R.O.C. that proves Taiping is an island, arguing that Taiwan is not a party involved in the arbitration case.
MOFA reiterates that Taiping Island can sustain human habitation and economic life of its own, and meets the criteria for an island as defined in Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea.
If the court decides not to send arbitrators to Taiping and ultimately hands down a ruling that jeopardizes the R.O.C.’s claims to the island, Taiwan will not recognize or accept the ruling, MOFA added.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.