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Taiwan seeks inclusion in South China Sea talks

TAIPEI—Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday said Taiwan’s relationship with the Philippines has been warming up over the past year with the successful resolution of the border patrol issue between the two countries.

However, Tsai expressed disappointment that Taiwan had been excluded in the discussions on the South China Sea row.

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She reiterated her position that Taiwan had to take part in all discussions on the South China Sea because it claimed one of the largest islands in the contested territory.

According to Tsai, Taiwan was generally happy over the two countries’ resolution of the issue involving Taiwanese fishermen but said they could better work out a common position on the South China Sea issue.

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“Despite the fact that the quality of communications between Taiwan and the Philippines has improved over the past year, we would need to continue to strengthen the quality of that communication on the South China Sea issue,” Tsai told journalists from Southeast Asia and India.

“The South China Sea issue, the fishery, we can better manage the situation jointly,” she said.

Tsai said Taiwan has been pushing for a peaceful resolution of the the South China Sea dispute but rejected the arbitral ruling issued by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which favored the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claim of the Philippines, saying the international body had left Taiwan out of the discussion.

“We are not in the position to accept the judgment, when we are not part of proceedings and secondly, they don’t respect our existence as a country,” Tsai said.

Taiwan Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Leo Chen-jan Lee said Taiwan and the Philippines successfully reached an agreement last year that “under no circumstances can force be used in dealing with Taiwanese fishermen.”

He also said Taiwan was optimistic that an agreement can be reached on the overlapping EEZ claim of the two countries.

“We are working out an agreement over our overlapping EEZ,” he said. “With the administration of the new Philippine President Duterte, we hope that agreement can be reached.”

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TAGS: Global Nation, Philippine news updates, South China Sea disputes, Taiwan, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen
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