The government of the Republic of China (Taiwan) takes note of the awards pertaining to jurisdiction in the Philippines-mainland China arbitration issued by the arbitral tribunal on October 29, 2015, and solemnly reiterates its position on the South China Sea as follows:
- Whether from the perspective of history, geography, or international law, the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, Shisha (Paracel) Islands, Chungsha Islands (Macclesfield Bank), and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands (together known as the South China Sea Islands), as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory and waters. As the ROC enjoys all rights to these islands and their surrounding waters in accordance with international law, the ROC government does not recognize any claim to sovereignty over, or occupation of, these areas by other countries, irrespective of the reasons put forward or methods used for such claim or occupation.
- The South China Sea islands were first discovered, named, and used, as well as incorporated into national territory, by the Chinese. Furthermore, the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which entered into effect on April 28, 1952, as well as the Treaty of Peace between the ROC and Japan, which was signed that same day, together with other international legal instruments, reconfirmed that the islands and reefs in the South China Sea occupied by Japan should be returned to the ROC.
- Taiping Island (Itu Aba), the largest (0.5 square km) of the naturally formed Nansha (Spratly) Islands, has been garrisoned by ROC troops since 1956. From legal, economic, and geographic perspectives, Taiping Island (Itu Aba) indisputably qualifies as an “island” according to the specifications of Article 121 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), and can sustain human habitation and economic life of its own; it is thus categorically not a “rock” under the same article. Any claims by other countries which aim to deny this fact will not impair the legal status of Taiping Island (Itu Aba) and its maritime rights based on UNCLOS.
- The ROC has consistently adhered to the principles of peaceful settlement of international disputes and freedom of navigation and overflight as stipulated in the UN Charter and other relevant international law and regulations. In fact, the ROC has defended Taiping Island (Itu Aba) and other islands without ever getting into military conflict with other nations. Nor has the ROC interfered with other nations’ freedom of navigation or overflight in the South China Sea.
- The ROC government calls on the coastal states of the South China Sea to respect the provisions and spirit of the UN Charter and UNCLOS, and to exercise restraint, safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea, uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight through the South China Sea, refrain from taking any action that might escalate tensions, and resolve disputes peacefully.
- On May 26, 2015, the ROC government proposed the South China Sea Peace Initiative, which is based on the principles of safeguarding sovereignty, shelving disputes, pursuing peace and reciprocity, and promoting joint development. Based on consultations conducted on a basis of equality and reciprocity, the ROC is willing to work with other parties concerned to jointly ensure peace and stability in the South China Sea, as well as conserve and develop resources in the region.
- The Philippines has not invited the ROC to participate in its arbitration with mainland China, and the arbitral tribunal has not solicited the ROC’s views. Therefore, the arbitration does not affect the ROC in any way, and the ROC neither recognizes nor accepts related awards. (E)