Posts Tagged ‘mediation’

Qatar must end support for terror if it wants boycott lifted, UN council told

March 1, 2018

File Photo of Ambassador Obaid Salem Saeed Al Zaabi, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to the U.N. Geneva. (Reuters)
LONDON: The boycott on Qatar by its Middle East neighbors has been dismissed as a regional issue not worthy of debate at the UN Human Rights Council.
The UAE’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, Obaid Salim Al-Zaabi, delivered a statement to the council on Wednesday on behalf of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt. The four countries have maintained a boycott on Qatar since April last year over Doha’s alleged support for terrorism.
Earlier, Qatar’s foreign minister, Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani, urged the UN to take action to halt the blockade on the Gulf state.
Al-Zaabi told the council that the Qatari minister’s speech included a lot of “fallacies.”
“(Doha’s) efforts to promote this secondary crisis as a major international issue should not be acknowledged,” the UAE ambassador said.
“We believe this small political crisis between our countries and Qatar should be resolved within the framework of the existing Kuwaiti mediation efforts, led by Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah.”
A delegation from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights visited Qatar in November, 2017, and two months later issued a report on the impact of the boycott on human rights.
“The Qataris must choose between being a state that is good to its neighbors and seeks to engage in a positive relationship with its surroundings like the rest of the civilized world, or continue to violate international law and regional conventions involved in the fight against terrorism, its supporters and those financing it,” Al-Zaabi said.


Abbas to ask Indian PM for support in replacing US mediation

February 10, 2018

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas (L) arrives with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi prior to a meeting and signing ceremony in New Delhi on May 16, 2017. Abbas is on a four-day state visit to India until May 17. (AFP)
RAMALLAH, West Bank: A senior official says Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will ask India’s visiting prime minister to support a multi-country sponsorship that would replace the United States as the sole mediator in future Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
Narendra Modi flew by helicopter from Jordan to Ramallah on Saturday for his first-ever visit to an autonomous Palestinian enclave in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Palestinian official Nabil Shaath says Modi is to hold talks with Abbas and sign cooperation agreements worth about $50 million.
Modi’s visit comes a month after he hosted Israel’s prime minister for six days, reflecting warming ties.
Abbas has sought European and Arab support for replacing the US as the sole Mideast mediator, after President Donald Trump recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Abbas has so far failed to win such commitments.

Catalonia: People gather in Madrid, Barcelona calling for talks to defuse Spain’s worst political crisis for decades

October 7, 2017

Image may contain: one or more people, crowd, sky and outdoor

People gather in Barcelona to heal speakers address the issues in Catalonia, October 7, 2017 . (photo credit ERIC GAILLARD for Reuters)

 OCTOBER 7, 2017 15:30

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists the region must give up the independence push.

MADRID/BARCELONA – Thousands of people gathered in Madrid and Barcelona on Saturday as Catalonia prepared to declare independence, many dressed in white and calling for talks to defuse Spain’s worst political crisis for decades.

The wealthy northeastern region of Catalonia, with its own language and culture, has long claimed to be distinct from the rest of the country and on Sunday held a referendum on leaving Spain, a vote the constitutional court had banned.

The Catalan authorities say that a majority of those who voted supported a split from Spain, something Madrid says is illegal under the country’s 1978 constitution.

The political stand-off has divided the country, pushed banks and companies to move their headquarters outside Catalonia and shaken market confidence in the Spanish economy, prompting calls from the European Commission for Catalan and Spanish leaders to find a political solution.

“I’ve come because I feel very Spanish and makes me very sad what’s happened,” Rosa Borras, 47, an unemployed secretary who had joined a noisy gathering in central Madrid, said.

Borras, wearing a “Catalonia, we love you” sticker and surrounded by thousands waving Spanish flags, added: “I wanted to be here for unity, because I also feel very Catalan. My family lives in Catalonia.”

While Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has said he is open to mediation, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insists the region gives up the independence push, which grew in strength during a near-six year economic crisis, before he will sit down to talk.

Rajoy’s government mobilized thousands of national police to stop Sunday’s vote, leading to clashes with would-be voters as they tried to close polling stations in schools and remove ballot boxes.

The police violence drew widespread condemnation and forced the government to issue an apology on Friday, although tensions continued to rise after reports that plans for a unilateral declaration of independence will be handed to the Catalan parliament on Tuesday.


The crisis has also caused disquiet among Spain’s European Union partners and German Chancellor Angela Merkel has discussed it with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, an EU official told Reuters.

Concern is growing in EU capitals about the negative impact of the crisis on the Spanish economy, the fourth largest in the euro zone, and on possible spillovers to other economies.

European finance ministers, gathering in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday for a regular meeting, could discuss the issue, although it is not formally on the agenda, EU officials said.

The support given in public statements by EU leaders to Rajoy is combined with concern expressed in private about how the Spanish government’s use of police to prevent Catalans from voting last week in an independence referendum could backfire.

Some EU states are worried that talk of Catalan independence could fuel secessionist feelings in other parts of Europe.

Catalan independence: Spain rejects calls for mediation — Independence declaration imminent

October 5, 2017

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy asked Carles Puigdemont to abandon the independence drive as a prerequisite to talks. The Catalan parliament is expected to unilaterally declare independence from Spain next week.

Young people wearing Catalan flags sit on bikes after attending a protest (Reuters/J. Nazca)

Spain on Wednesday turned down calls by Catalan President Carles Puigdemont for mediation to find a way out of the violent political crisis sparked off by the region’s controversial referendum for independence on Sunday that ended with a rash of violence that left hundreds injured.

“If Mr. Puigdemont wants to talk or negotiate, or wants to send mediators, he knows perfectly well what he must do first: Return to the path of the law,” Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s office said in a statement.

Rajoy was responding to a call for mediation by Puigdemont made earlier during a televised address.

Image result for Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, photos

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy

“This moment calls for mediation. We have received various offers in the last hours and we will receive more,” Puigdemont said. “But we have never received a positive response from the state.”

Puigdemont criticized Spain’s King Felipe VI who on Tuesday lashed out at “irresponsible behavior” of the Catalan leaders. The Catalan leader accused the king of ignoring the Catalans by calling on them to give up their bid for independence. The king’s address did not mention those injured during the vote.

“The king has adopted the (national) government’s position and policies which have been disastrous with regard to Catalonia,” Puigdemont said. “He is deliberately ignoring millions of Catalans.”

Read moreCatalan separatist movement driven by more than just economics

 Image result for Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, photos
 President Carles Puigdemont

Independence declaration imminent

Without specifically mentioning plans for an independence declaration, Puigdemont added: “I am sure that in the next few days we will show the best of our country when the institutions of Catalonia will have to apply the results of the referendum…Today we are closer than yesterday to our historic wish.”

Catalonia is expected to declare independence as early as Monday, when a special parliamentary session has been called to evaluate the results of the October 1 vote and discuss the plan for secession.

Mireia Boya, a Catalan lawmaker from the pro-independence Popular Unity Candidacy (CUP) said it would be “a plenary to proclaim the republic” of independent Catalonia.

According to the Catalan government, 90 percent of the people voted for independence in Sunday’s referendum , which was declared illegal by Spain’s Constitutional Court and was marred by police violence. But turnout was only about 43 percent as Catalans who favor remaining part of Spain mainly boycotted the ballot.

Read moreCatalonia to South Sudan: A world of separatist movements

No takers for mediation call

European leaders have so far sided with Spain and have called on both sides to talk with each other.

European Commission Vice President Frans Timmermans, however, said on Wednesday there was a “general consensus that regional government of Catalonia has chosen to ignore the law when organizing the referendum.”

During an emergency session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday, leaders from the two biggest party groups warned Catalan leaders not to forge ahead with independence.

Germany said on Wednesday that it hoped tensions between Madrid and Catalonia would soon calm down , but emphasized the conflict was an internal Spanish matter.

Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said that Merkel wasn’t seeking to mediate the dispute between Madrid and Catalonia’s regional government in Barcelona.

“Chancellor Merkel is not pursuing a mediation mission. It is an internal matter for Spain,” he said.

ap/sms (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

Norway Labour Union Warns Of Oil Service Strike, May Hit Output

July 8, 2016


Norway Labour Union Warns Of Oil Service Strike, May Hit Output
Labour union Industri Energi says a large number of workers at Norwegian oil service firms will go on strike later this year unless a wage deal is found in upcoming mediation.


OSLO, July 7 (Reuters)-Labour union Industri Energi on Thursday said a large number of workers at Norwegian oil service firms will go on strike later this year unless a wage deal is found in upcoming mediation.

Voluntary wage talks for 6,500 union members at around 60 companies broke down on Wednesday.

“A strike may hit output,” Industri Energi union leader Leif Sande told Reuters. Still, a strike will most likely be months away.

Workers are not allowed to strike unless mediation by a state-appointed mediator has been attempted. Industri Energi did not specify how many of its members would initially go on strike, but said the numbers would be extensive.

A smaller trade union, Safe, struck a deal for its members late on Wednesday, but Industri Energi said it would demand larger wage increases than those obtained in the Safe deal.

Industri Energi also said it believed the deal signed by Safe and the Norwegian Oil and Gas Association was illegal, and added it would take the matter to Norway’s Labour Court.

Industri Energi said mediation would only take place after the legal matter has been resolved, and a potential strike could consequently be months away.

(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Terje Solsvik)

Iraq offers to mediate between Saudis and Iran

January 6, 2016


Iranian protesters hold portraits of prominent Shiite Muslim cleric Nimr al-Nimr as they confront riot police during a demonstration against his execution by Saudi authorities on Sunday, January 3, outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran, Iran. Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir told reporters that Saudi Arabia is severing ties with Iran after an attack on the embassy.

By Maher Chmaytelli

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  4. Saudi Arabia recruits Sunni allies in row with Iran Reuters
  5. Saudi Arabia cuts ties with Iran as row over cleric’s death escalates Reuters

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraq offered to mediate between Saudi Arabia and Iran to end their dispute triggered by Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’ite cleric, saying on Wednesday it could spill over into the rest of the region.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, speaking in Tehran with his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif, said the row could have “wide-ranging repercussions”.

Analysts said Baghdad was particularly worried about anything that could disrupt its campaign against Islamic State militants.

“We have solid relations with the Islamic Republic (Iran) … and also we have relations with our Arab brothers and therefore we cannot stay silent in this crisis,” Jaafari told the join press conference.

Sunni Muslim power Saudi Arabia executed Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr on Saturday, prompting protesters to raid Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Iran.

Riyadh then cut off diplomatic relations with Iran, its main regional rival and the biggest Shi’ite power – an action followed by Bahrain and Sudan while the United Arab Emirates downgraded its representation in Tehran. There was no immediate reaction from Saudi Arabia to the Iraqi mediation offer.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who leads his divided country with a Shi’ite-dominated government, has expressed “intense shock” at the execution of Nimr, condemning it as human rights violation.

But analysts say he has resisted pressure from Iranian-backed Shi’ite militias, politicians and protesters to close the newly reopened Saudi embassy in Baghdad.

The Iraqi government was trying to walk a middle line between Iran and the Arab countries in order to keep the momentum on the campaign against Islamic State, said Mona Alami, a Beirut-based analyst at the Atlantic Center think-tank.

“Abadi needs all the allies he can get,” she said by phone.

Abadi has declared 2016 the year of “final victory” against Islamic State, the ultra-hardline Sunni militant group that proclaimed a caliphate in 2014 over large sections of Sunni-populated territory in Iraq and Syria.

“Abadi is caught between two fires: the Sunni hardliners and the Shi’ite hardliners,” said Mustafa Alani, the United Arab Emirates-based director of security and defense studies at the Gulf Research Center, a Geneva-based think tank.

Iran’s foreign minister Zarif accused Saudi Arabia of rebuffing Iran’s offers to cooperate on “terrorism and extremism,” while Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused Riyadh of fuelling regional tensions.

“Saudi Arabia is trying to cover up its defeats and domestic problems by creating tension in the region,” Rouhani said in a speech broadcast on Iranian state television on Wednesday.

(Additoinal reporting by Bozorgmehr Sharafedin; Editing by Andrew Heavens)

United Nations says it is willing to mediate in the territorial row between China and Vietnam

June 11, 2014

This picture taken on May 13, 2014 from a Vietnamese coast guard ship shows a Chinese coast guard vessel sailing near the area of China's oil drilling rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea.
Both sides watch with suspicion near the Paracel Islands

Related Stories

The United Nations says it is willing to mediate in the territorial row between China and Vietnam.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric called for both sides to resolve the dispute peacefully and legally.

In the past week, Vietnam and China have both sent dossiers outlining their claims in the South China Sea to UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

The latest phase of the row focuses on China’s decision to move an oil rig into the disputed Paracel Islands.

The South China Sea is host to overlapping territorial claims by a number of countries.

Beijing claims almost the entire sea, based on a mid-20th Century map with a line apparently delineating Chinese territory, and vague historical claims going back more than 1,000 years.

Vietnam says it has controlled the Paracels for centuries.


UN ‘to mediate in China-Vietnam row’

Both sides have repeatedly accused the other of aggressive behaviour and ramming.

On Tuesday, China distributed in the UN a document outlining its historical claims in the region and accusing Vietnam of illegally disrupting its exploration in the area.

Vietnam hit back with its own dossier and called for Beijing to halt drilling off the Paracels and negotiate over the territory.

Vietnam-China tensions

File image of Vietnamese navy sailor
  • China backs North Vietnam during the Vietnam war
  • 1974: China and South Vietnam fight a war over the Paracel Islands; China seizes Vietnam-controlled islands.
  • After war, Hanoi moves closer to Russia, angered by Beijing’s support for Khmer Rouge
  • 1979: China and Vietnam fight a border war; thousands of troops die
  • 1988: Two sides fight over the Spratly Islands; about 60 Vietnamese sailors killed

China’s decision to move the rig sparked anti-Chinese protests in Vietnam, with mobs attacking factories and businesses.

Four people were killed in the violence, most of which appears to have mistakenly targeted Taiwanese firms.

Vietnam’s UN envoy Le Hoai Trung told the Associated Press “some extreme elements” undertook actions that the government “very much regrets”.

He said many suspects have been arrested and prosecuted, and the government has taken measures to prevent a repetition of the violence.

Philippines Is Not Alone In Its Execution of a Smart Strategy Againt China in the South China Sea

May 27, 2014


This photo show the “David vs Goliath” nature of the Philippines’ challenge in taking on China. A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jay Directo )

By Jules Maaten

As tensions mount between Vietnam and China on Chinese claims in the South China Sea, and ASEAN issued half-hearted support to its member states that were affected by the Chinese claims, China has also upped the ante in its dispute with the Philippines. In March, the Philippines filed a formal plea to the United Nations International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea in Hamburg, in which Manila asked to nullify China’s claims to territories in the West Philippine, challenging Beijing’s alleged territorial claims to about 70 percent of that Sea.

This was in defiance of Chinese warnings that it would seriously damage the already frayed relations. China prefers to deal with the Spratly claims on a bilateral basis, meanwhile successfully playing out one ASEAN member country against another.

On 6 May 2014, Philippine police arrested 11 Chinese turtle poachers onboard the Qiongqionghai near Half Moon Shoal. The Chinese fishing boat carried 500 turtles and a local vessel 40 turtles. The Chinese and Filipino fishermen face charges of violating Philippine laws prohibiting catches of endangered sea turtles. China demanded the immediate release of the Chinese boat and its crew and, rather incredibly, for the Philippines “…to stop their provocations.”

More seriously, on May 16, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs issued pictures of China’s reclamation of land on Mabini Reef (Johnson South Reef) in the West Philippine Sea, with an airstrip “likely for military use.” Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario filed a diplomatic protest against China’s reclamation works on the reef last month, but Beijing typically rejected it on grounds the reef is part of Chinese territory.

For China, their claim has led to unwanted results, in particular the rapprochement between the Philippines and the USA. President Obama’s visit to Manila in April led to an “ironclad assurance” that the USA would support the Philippines if attacked, and to an agreement that drastically increases military cooperation between the Philippines and the USA and that includes a greater presence of American military in the country.

Irony for Liberal Party

It’s an ironic development under a liberal President, since it was the Liberal party leader Jovito Salonga who masterminded closing the American military bases Clark and Subic Bay in 1992.

However, in view of its military weakness, which reflects a lack of military investments (and misappropriation of funds) over decades, the Aquino administration frankly had no other option, and chose the wisest course of action. To top it off more than 5,000 US and Filipino Marines launched mock assaults on a West Philippine Sea beach as part of joint annual military exercises Balikatan (shoulder-to-shoulder).

Similarly, military relations between the US and Japan intensified, following the Chinese-Japanese quarrel over islands in the East China Sea. Meanwhile in Vietnam the public outcry over Chinese claims on the same sea and even the building of an oil rig, have led to violent clashes and the death of Chinese nationals. This can hardly be what the Chinese government dreamt of accomplishing.

The Philippine-Indonesian deal over sea demarcations, signed this week, is a good example of a civilized way to settle such issues. Seeking international arbitration – as the Philippines have done over its conflict with China – is even braver, because the outcome of such arbitration is never entirely certain.

What may yet come back to haunt the Aquino administration is the lack of a thought-through China strategy. Its policy towards China appears to be haphazard, as it veered from subservient, such as when the Philippines was prominent in its absence from the Nobel Peace Prize awarding to Liu Xiaobo in 2010, to self-confident, when it took the Spratly-case to a United Nations tribunal.

This makes it harder for the Philippines to lecture other governments on taking a strong stance vis-à-vis China. Nonetheless, despite the Chinese protestations, the Philippines strategy to seek international mediation based on international law, deserves full support. –

Jules Maaten is the Philippines country director of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom.


U.S. President Barack Obama talks during a joint news conference with President Benigno Aquino of the Philippines at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on April 28, 2014. The two leaders hailed the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement between the U.S. and the Philippines. On May 1, 2014, China planted its biggest and most  complex oil rig near Vietnam in the South China Sea. Photo by Reuters

Ayungin Shoal, also called Second Thomas Shoal, in the South China Sea (Photo by Xinhua)

Will China’s actions in the South China Sea unite the smaller countries? Philippine President Aquino (R) shakes hands with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung before their joint press conference at Malacañang Palace in Manila on May 21, 2014

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe (L) shakes hands with Philippine President Benigno Aquino after reading their joint statements at the Malacanang Palace in Manila on July 27, 2103. Abe pledged increased maritime cooperation with the Philippines. (AFP/Ted Aljibe)


In this photo taken March 29, 2014, an aerial view shows a Philippines Navy vessel that has been grounded since 1999 to assert the nations sovereignty over the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea reef also claimed by China//AFP

In this photo taken March 29, 2014, an aerial view shows a Philippines Navy vessel BRP Sierra Madre that has been grounded since 1999 to assert the nations sovereignty over the Ayungin Shoal or Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea reef also claimed by China.  AFP



China has claimed most of the South China Sea


On May 1, 2014, China moved its biggest China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) oil rig HD-981 into position in what Vietnam claims as its exclusive economic zone off the Hoang Sa (Paracel) Islands. China deployed some 80 ships to guard the rig, leading to several tense encounters between Chinese and Vietnamese ships.  Several Vietnamese maritime law enforcement officers were injured when China used water cannons on the smaller Vietnamese ships to chase them away.


A Chinese ship is seen ramming a Vietnamese ship in the South China Sea earlier this month. Photos release from Vietnamese sources.

China Refuses To Consider South China Sea Talks, Mediation, International Law

October 29, 2012

PATTAYA, Thailand (Reuters) – China is stonewalling attempts to start talks on a multilateral “code of conduct” governing the strategically located South China Sea and an agreement could still be years away, Southeast Asian officials said on Monday.

Beijing’s assertion of sovereignty over the vast stretch of the water has set it directly against Vietnam and the Philippines, while Brunei, Taiwan and Malaysia also lay claim to other parts of the region, making it Asia’s biggest potential military troublespot.

By Paul Carsten | Reuters

Speaking on the sidelines of a regional meeting in the Thai resort of Pattaya, Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh said there was no end in sight to the maritime dispute involving one of the world’s main shipping routes and an area potentially rich in oil and gas.

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh

Vietnamese Deputy Foreign Minister Pham Quang Vinh

“ASEAN thinks it is time to start talks to achieve a code of conduct as soon possible,” said Pham, referring to the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations bloc, but added the grouping is meeting stoic resistance from China.

China has resisted proposals for a multilateral code of conduct for the South China Sea, preferring to try to negotiate disputes with each of the far less powerful individual claimants.

Sihasak Phuangketkeow, a Thai foreign ministry official, told reporters at the ASEAN-China meeting in Pattaya it might take another two years to agree a formal code of conduct.

Carl Thayer of Australia’s University of New South Wales said China was unlikely to make any decision on the code of conduct until its once-a-decade leadership change is fully complete next year.

“I suspect because of changes in personnel likely to occur nobody in China is willing to commit themselves to something of this magnitude. There can be no compromise at the moment, coming from China. Leaders would be seen to be weak,” said Thayer.

China has stepped up activity in the region, including establishing a military garrison on one of the disputed islands, and accused Washington of seeking to stir up trouble far from home.

The stakes have risen in the area as the U.S. military shifts its attention and resources back to Asia, emboldening its long-time ally the Philippines and former foe Vietnam to take a tougher stance against Beijing.

Unprecedented arguments over the sea prevented an ASEAN summit in July from issuing a joint communiqué, the first time this had happened in the bloc’s 45-year history.

(Editing by Jeremy Laurence)

Map showing the disputed Paracel and Spratly islands in the South China Sea


China Daily

Above: Yongxin Island

Woody Island, also known as Yongxing Island (simplified Chinese: 永兴岛; traditional Chinese: 永興島; pinyinYǒngxīng Dǎo; literally “Eternal Prosperity Island”) or Phu Lam Island (VietnameseĐảo Phú Lâm), is the largest of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.[1] It is administered by the People’s Republic of China under the Yongxingdao Neighborhood Committee as part of Sansha City of Hainan Province, and serves as the seat of the prefecture-level city of Sansha. It has no indigenous inhabitants, although there are People’s Liberation Army soldiers stationed on the island. The island is also claimed by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and Vietnam.

Above: Chinese fishermen are all over the East China Sea and South China Sea and have been frequently accused of violating the territorial waters of other nations….

Above: In the South China Sea China has built upon many shallow reefs and claimed they are now “occupied” and therefore “owned” by China. They have also put a military garrison on at least one island which has disputed ownership.

Above: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese Foreign Minister exchange views on the South China Sea at a news conference in Beijing Sept. 5. Photo: AP/Feng Li, Pool

Above: China National Offshore Oil Corporation’s (CNOOC) first deep-water oil drilling rig. (Getty Images)

Above: Chinese Soldiers raise the national flag during the Sansha city establishment ceremony in front of the city government’s main building on July 24, 2012 in Sansha, China.

Taiwan Says it Can Mediate Between China, Others In South China Sea Disputes

September 1, 2012

TAIPEI–Taiwan is determined to become a peacemaker in the South China Sea, President Ma Ying-jeou’s top national security adviser said Friday during a visit to Taiping Island in the region.

“With our 60 years of experience in administering Taiping Island, we can serve as a humanitarian aid provider, anti-global warming practitioner and peacemaker in the region,” declared National Security Council (NSC) Secretary-General Hu Wei-chen.

The China Post
Updated Sunday, September 2, 2012 0:05 am TWN, CNA

Hu and several other senior officials visited Taiping Island — the largest isle of the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea — Friday to reinforce the country’s claim to the vast ocean area and the island chains there amid escalating territorial disputes among neighboring countries.

In addition to extending President Ma’s concern for Coast Guard, Navy and Air Force officers stationed on Taiping Island, the group of officials also landed on the Chungchou Reef located 3.1 nautical miles east of Taiping Island to hoist a Republic of China national flag, the NSC said in a press statement.

The flag-raising ceremony signified the government’s determination to defend its sovereignty over the region, the statement said.

Hu was quoted as having reaffirmed at the occasion that Taiwan’s sovereignty is undisputable but that relevant rows can be shelved as long as all claimants work together peacefully to explore resources for mutual benefits.

He also urged all neighboring countries to respond to Ma’s East China Sea Peace Initiative by putting aside territorial disputes, replacing confrontation with dialogue, settling spats through communications and jointly prospecting for South China Sea resources to make the ocean a peaceful and prosperous maritime paradise.

As Taiwan has set up a hospital on Taiping Island, it can provide emergency medical treatment to those in need of such service, Hu said, adding that Taiwan can serve as the region’s “humanitarian aid provider.”

Moreover, he said, Taiwan has opened a solar power facility on Taiping Island to help cut carbon emissions and fulfill its international duty of working against global warming.

Most important, Hu added, Taiwan is more than willing to share its decades-long experience in managing the Spratlys’ largest islet and partner with neighboring countries to protect freedom of navigation and promote maritime ecological conservation in the area.

Other officials who accompanied Hu on the tour of Taiping Island included Interior Minister Lee Hung-yuan, Coast Guard Administration chief Wang Chin-wang and Deputy Presidential Office Secretary-General Hsiung Kuang-hua.

The South China Sea and its archipelagos, thought to be rich in oil deposits and marine biodiversity, are claimed either entirely or in part by Taiwan, China, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei.

Covering an area of 0.49 square kilometers, Taiping Island lies about 1,600 km southwest of Kaohsiung in southern Taiwan.

On Aug. 20, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Taiwan has informed its neighboring countries that it plans to conduct a live-fire training exercise on Taiping Island Sept. 1-5.

“It means those countries will be able to warn their ships to avoid the waters near Taiping Island during the routine exercise,” MOFA spokesman Steve Hsia said.

In an effort to beef up defenses in the region, the Ministry of National Defense delivered a shipment of 40-mm anti-aircraft guns and 120-mm mortars to Taiping Island in early August.

Besides Taiping Island, Taiwan also controls the Pratas, better known as Dongsha in Mandarin Chinese, which is the largest island cluster in the South China Sea.