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  • Taiwan will protect fishing rights in Diaoyutai waters: Ma

    Taipei, Sept. 14 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou said Friday that Taiwan will not sit idly by if its fishermen's operations in waters surrounding the disputed Diaoyutai Islands are disrupted following Japan's controversial nationalization of the island group.

    "We'll definitely send coast guard vessels to protect our fishing operations in the region," Ma said in a meeting with Richard Bush, a former chairman of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).

    Ma told Bush, who is now director of the Brooking Institution's Center for Northeast Asian Policy Studies, that Taiwan does not recognize the Japanese government's recent nationalization of the Diaoyutais.

    The uninhabited island chain in the East China Sea has been under Japan's administrative control since 1972, but is also claimed by Taiwan and China.

    The president said Japan has given the assurance that its nationalization of the islands will not affect the rights of Taiwanese fishermen but if it does not stick to its word, its sincerity in wanting to resolve the territorial dispute will be called into question.

    Nonetheless, Ma said, he will continue his efforts to resolve the issue by peaceful means, in line with his government's policy.

    During the meeting, Ma also said cross-Taiwan Strait relations over the past few years have been in the most stable state in six decades and that Taiwan-U.S. ties have been the most amicable in 30 years.

    Turning to Taiwan's wish to join the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), of which the U.S. is one of the major advocates, Ma told Bush that Taiwan is not yet fully prepared for participation.

    But if Taiwan seals the free trade agreements it is negotiating with Singapore and New Zealand and resumes talks with the United States under the bilateral Trade and Investment Framework Agreement, it will be better positioned to gain access to the TPP, the president said.

    AIT is a quasi-official organization authorized to handle U.S.-Taiwan relations in the absence of diplomatic ties.

    (By Hsieh Chia-chen and Elizabeth Hsu)
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