DPP statement regarding the South China Sea

In light of the recent disputes in the South China Sea and the draft agreement on the guidelines for the implementation of the Declaration of Conduct between China and ASEAN, the DPP issued a statement reiterating its position: issues related to the South China Sea must be dealt with in a multilateral framework. Additionally the important principles with regard to environmental protection, sustainable development and peaceful resolution must be in line with: the 2008 Spratly Initiative (proposed by the former DPP administration), the United Nations Charter, the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, and the 2002 Declaration of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

Furthermore, despite several calls from China for “cooperation between the two sides of the strait” on the South China Sea issue, the DPP urges President Ma Ying-jeou’s Administration to take part in multilateral talks with all parties involved in order to serve Taiwan’s best interest and to preserve regional stability. When he served as Deputy Chair of the Mainland Affairs Council in the 1990‘s, President Ma stated that the two sides of the strait must set aside sovereignty differences and work together on the South China Sea issue, dealing with outside parties in a unified way. The DPP strongly opposes this proposal as we believe that bilateral talks alone will not help in resolving disputes in the region, and will send the wrong message to the international community.

The DPP believes that disputes in the South China Sea will not be effectively resolved solely through bilateral negotiations as we have already seen the escalation of tensions in the region due to military exercises conducted by China, Vietnam, the Philippines and the United States. The DPP believes that only open communication channels, through a multilateral cooperation framework, are the best solution to insure the common interests of all relevant parties and to maintain peace and stability in the region.

DPP Chair Tsai Ing-wen has already indicated that Taiwan has its own viewpoint regarding the Spratly Islands – one that is different from China’s claims over the territory. Taiwan should not be restricted to a cross-strait bilateral framework. Only an open multilateral framework will prevent unnecessary tension or potential conflicts in the region.

The DPP reiterates its four core standpoints regarding the South China Sea, which are: to ensure sovereignty; to ensure peace and stability in the region; to enhance multilateral cooperation; and to promote sustainable development. These points are in accordance with the Spratly Initiative proposed by the DPP government in February 2008. The initiative proposed by the DPP advocates for environmental protection, setting aside sovereignty disputes, promotion of sustainable development versus exploiting natural resources, and resolving differences through peaceful means.