The Government Must Defend the U-Shaped Line to Ensure Cross-Strait Trust
China Times Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
July 12, 2016
Executive Summary: Does the DPP have the courage to take a stand on the U-shaped line? If it does, it can ensure cross-Strait trust. Does the DPP government have the wisdom to recognize the nature of the South China Sea conflict? If it does, it must adopt a "shared sovereignty, divided jurisdictions' stance vis a vis the South China Sea. It must work with the Mainland to create prosperity. If Tsai Ing-wen has the courage and wisdom to do all of the above, she can break the cross-Strait deadlock and rebuild cross-Strait trust. That would be a blessing for people on both sides of the Strait.
Full Text Below:
In 2013, the government of the Philippines appealed to the so-called “Permanent Court of Arbitration”, over the matter of South China Sea sovereignty. The “verdict” of this body will be announced today. We call on the Tsai government to uphold the Republic of China's long held position. Taipei must not allow itself to be dragged into a rights dispute among major powers.
The Philippines appeal raised 15 issues, two of which directly impact the Republic of China government on Taiwan. The first issue is whether Taiping Island should be classified as an island or a reef. Or, does the Hague think Taiping Island has a 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone along its perimeter?
The other issue concerns the legal status of the U-shaped line. Does the Hague think the U-shaped line conforms to the "United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea", aka UNCLOS. If it does not, that constitute a major setback for the two sides in the South China Sea, and will make huge waves in the South China Sea.
Facts speak louder than words. Before leaving office, President Ma Ying-jeou personally set foot on Taiping Island. He invited reporters around the world to visit the island and familiarize themselves with its economic and living conditions. He proved that Taiping Island is not a reef. The United States has never classified Taiping Island as a reef. Therefore, unless the tribunal totally ignores the facts in order to deliver a malicious verdict, one can safely predict that the Philippines claims will not stand. It now appears the key issue will be the U-shaped line.
The Tsai Ing-wen government's position on the South China Sea issue is as follows. One. It abides by the relevant provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, or UNCLOS. Two. It upholds freedom of navigation and flight through the South China Sea. Three. It advocates the peaceful settlement of South China Sea disputes. Four. It will defend its sovereignty over South China Sea islands, including Taiping Island. The first three are consistent with US positions. The fourth continues the Ma government's position on sovereignty. So far, Tsai Ing-wen has avoided all mention of the legal status of the U-shaped line.
Will the Hague claim that that the U-shaped line is “illegal”? Will it claim that the Ma and Beijing governments' "traditional U-shaped line", "line of historic waters", "line of historic rights", "national borders", and "island lines", are meaningless? Will the Hague decide that the only issue remaining is who owns which islands and reefs in the South China Sea? Such a Hague “ruling” would mean victory for the US, and a setback for Mainland China and Taiwan.
Legally speaking, arbitration requires participation by by all of the parties named. Arbitration may not be applied to matters of territorial sovereignty. Beijing has therefore sternly rejected any arbitration “rulings”. Politically speaking, Beijing long ago concluded that so-called “arbitration” is merely the US fanning the flames of conflict. It is part of Washington's Asian-Pacific rebalancing strategy. It is an attempt to prevent Mainland China's peaceful rise. In particular, US deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) missile system in South Korea has caused extreme anxiety in Beijing.
Concern for domestic tranquility may make Beijing even less likely to cave in on South China Sea “arbitration”. Otherwise even the legitimacy of the CCP could be called into question. The Mainland conducted military exercises in the South China Sea between the 5th and 11th of this month. Its determination to defend China's sovereignty in the South China Sea is crystal clear.
South China Sea “arbitration” is a textbook case of “making trouble where none existed”. The Philippines initiated the case. Newly-elected Philippines President Duterte has changed former President Aquino's reckless pro-US policy. He seeks to improve relations with Beijing. But he cannot afford to publicly withdraw the appeal already submitted. Duterte's position is quite clear. Whatever the outcome of “arbitration”, he will engage in bilateral consultations with Beijing. His desire to maintain a low profile is abundantly clear.
The Tsai government must have wisdom. It must understand the situation in the South China Sea. If the Hague denies the legality of the U-shaped line, and the Tsai government meekly complies, it will invalidate its position and forfeit its sovereignty. The people will not stand for this. Cross-Strait tensions will skyrocket. Already chilly cross-Strait relations will reach the freezing point. This would undoubtedly be Tsai Ing-wen government's worst and most irresponsible policy decision ever.
US and Japanese incitement of South China Sea disputes mean no peace for some time to come. The Tsai Ing-wen government must not surrender sovereignty over Taiping Island. The Tsai Ing-wen government must not surrender sovereignty over Taiping Island in exchange for membership in the “US-Japan alliance of values". It must not permit US and Japanese fleets to approach Taiping Island. It must not provide them them with any assistance. If it does, it will be making a grave mistake.
The Cerulean blue South China Sea is in fact a window for cross-Strait peace, trust, and cooperation. If the DPP government chooses to follow the US and Japan in the South China Sea, it will destroy any remaining vestige of trust between the two sides and make peace impossible.
Does the DPP have the courage to take a stand on the U-shaped line? If it does, it can ensure cross-Strait trust. Does the DPP government have the wisdom to recognize the nature of the South China Sea conflict? If it does, it must adopt a "shared sovereignty, divided jurisdictions' stance vis a vis the South China Sea. It must work with the Mainland to create prosperity. If Tsai Ing-wen has the courage and wisdom to do all of the above, she can break the cross-Strait deadlock and rebuild cross-Strait trust. That would be a blessing for people on both sides of the Strait.
2016年07月12日 04:10 主筆室