ROC reiterates position on South China Sea arbitration between Philippines, mainland China

Press Release Ministry of Foreign Affairs Republic of China (Taiwan)

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a press release May 13 regarding the upcoming award in the South China Sea arbitration brought by the Philippines against mainland China. Noting that the Philippine legal team has reportedly urged the tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration to disregard evidence provided by the ROC as it is not a party to the arbitration, and repeated its challenge to the legal status of Taiping Island as an island under UNCLOS, MOFA declared its position as follows:

1. From the perspectives of history, geography, and international law, the Nansha (Spratly), Shisha (Paracel), Chungsha (Macclesfield Bank), and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands, and their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory and waters. The ROC indisputably enjoys all rights over them in accordance with international law.
2. As a responsible member of the international community, the ROC supports efforts to resolve disputes in the South China Sea peacefully through dialogue or legal channels on the basis of fairness, transparency, and equality. It has called on parties concerned to refrain from unilateral actions that could raise tensions and to jointly uphold the freedom of navigation and overflight.
3. During arbitration proceedings the Philippines has misrepresented the meaning of relevant ROC government documents, and has aimed to downgrade the legal status of Taiping Island from island to rock. Because the ROC was not invited to participate in the arbitration proceedings, and the arbitral tribunal has not solicited its views, the ROC government has, through statements, press releases, and visits to Taiping Island by ROC officials, domestic and international scholars, and foreign media, actively presented related evidence to the international community in response to the erroneous statements made by the Philippines. The government has also publicly invited the five arbitrators, as well as Philippine representatives, to visit Taiping Island to gain a better understanding of the facts.
4. The tribunal has not responded to the ROC government’s invitation, while the Philippines have recently delivered a letter declining.
5. Therefore, the ROC government once again invited the five arbitrators to visit Taiping Island, to ensure that the eventual award is in line with the facts and not overly reliant on the arguments of one side. If the tribunal does not accept the invitation, the award should not deal with the legal status of Taiping Island. Any aspect of the award that undermines ROC sovereignty over the South China Sea Islands and affects ROC maritime entitlements will not be binding on the ROC. The ROC government will neither acknowledge nor accept such an award.

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