South China Sea exhibition opens in Taipei

12-Dec-2016 Intellasia | Taiwantoday | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A special exhibition marking the 70th anniversary of the recovery of the South China Sea islands by the Republic of China (Taiwan) kicked off December 9 at Academia Historica in Taipei City.

Titled Sustainable Governance and Enduring Peace, the event showcases a variety of artifacts, photos and video clips, with a focus on portraying the daily lives of people stationed on Taiping Island, the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands. It also highlights the cultural features and rich natural resources of Taiping Island.

President Tsai Ing-wen said in her opening address that the exhibition commemorates an important occasion in ROC history while underscoring the country’s efforts to safeguard its territory and contribute to regional peace.

“The government remains steadfast on its sovereignty over the South China Sea islands, and asserts its maritime rights in accordance with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea,” Tsai said.

“We will continue to safeguard freedom of navigation in the South China Sea based on such values as peace, humanity and ecological sustainability,” she added. “The government is willing to consult with all interested parties on an equal footing to ensure peace and stability as well as to jointly protect and explore resources in the area.”

According to the president, the four principles and five actions that she proposed July 19 for addressing overlapping claims in the South China Sea have already achieved significant results. The four principles comprise peacefully resolving disputes in accordance with international law and UNCLOS; including Taiwan in any multilateral dispute settlement mechanism; ensuring freedom of aviation and navigation in the region; and setting aside differences and resolving disputes through joint development.

Tsai said the five actions have thus far led to enhanced patrols by Coast Guard Administration vessels in the waters surrounding the Dongsha and Nansha islands to protect the rights of Taiwan fishermen, the reiteration of relevant government policies to interested parties through multilateral negotiations, and collaboration in scientific research with neighbouring countries to promote sustainability.

The CGA also staged an interagency disaster response exercise in November to showcase Taiping Island’s capability to serve as a base for humanitarian aid and supplies. And the government is encouraging more local talents to study maritime law so as to strengthen the nation’s preparedness in response to international legal issues.

Running through December 19, the exhibition is jointly organised by Academia Historica, Taiwan’s foremost historical research institution, and the Ministry of the Interior. Besides reacquainting the public with the islands and their development, the show aims to bolster understanding of government efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region, as well as the great importance the country attaches to South China Sea issues.

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