South China Sea islands part of Taiwan's territory

The statement that the occupation of Itu Aba Island (Taiping Island) by Taiwan in 1956 violates Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter and, therefore, does not confer lawful title, is not based on facts or history ("Will China decide to reduce tension in the South China Sea?"; May 31).

Whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, Shisha (Paracel) Islands, Chungsha Islands (Macclesfield Bank) and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of Taiwan's territory and waters.

When France attempted to occupy nine of the Shisha and Nansha islands in 1931 and 1933 during its colonisation of Annam (known today as Vietnam), Taiwan responded to this challenge by ordering its embassy in France to issue statements of sovereignty.

On April 29, 1930, at the Far Eastern Meteorological Conference in Hong Kong, the Taiwan-operated observatory in Tungsha Islands was acknowledged as the most important in the South China Sea. The Philippine representative for the Manila Observatory's suggestion that Taiwan set up meteorological observatories on the Shisha and Chungsha islands to enhance navigation safety was also passed unanimously.

Likewise, at the International Civil Aviation Organisation's conference in Manila on Oct 27, 1955, a resolution was passed for Taiwan to provide weather reports on the Tungsha, Shisha and Nansha islands.

Clearly, the fact that Taiwan owns and exercises effective control over these islands has been recognised by foreign governments and international organisations.

After World War II, with assistance from the Allies, Taiwan took formal possession in 1946 of South China Sea islands formerly seized by Japan.

The San Francisco Peace Treaty, which entered into force on April 28, 1952, and the Treaty of Peace between Taiwan and Japan signed on the same day, reaffirmed that the South China Sea territories occupied by Japan should be returned to Taiwan.

Particularly, the first point on this Taiwan-Japan Treaty of Peace stipulates that the terms of the treaty shall, in respect of Taiwan, be applicable to all the territories which are now, or which may hereafter be, under the control of the Taiwanese government.

Taiwan's sovereignty over South China Sea islands is, therefore, in accordance with international law.

Taiwan, in accordance with its Constitution, is obligated to safeguard its sovereignty and territories.

Taiwan proposes to shelve disputes, pursue peace and promote joint development, thus making the South China Sea a sea of peace and cooperation.

Tsai Chi-yuan (Ms)

Senior Assistant Director

Taipei Representative Office in Singapore

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 08, 2016, with the headline 'South China Sea islands part of Taiwan's territory'. Print Edition | Subscribe