An international tribunal’s recent ruling on the South China Sea leaves Taiwan in a sensitive position.
The News Lens
By: Jane Rickards
In September last year, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), then the ruling Democratic Progressive Party
(DPP) presidential candidate, told a diplomatic reception: “A future DPP administration will be committed to following…the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and respecting freedom of navigation. We are ready to engage in dialogue with different parties with the purpose of finding a diplomatic solution.”
But when an UNCLOS tribunal constituted to resolve differences between China and the Philippines under the Law of the Sea this July unanimously delivered a landmark ruling declaring China’s vast and ambiguous “historic claims” to most of the South China Sea invalid, Tsai surprised many by rejecting the verdict entirely. Although her independence-minded administration had been expected to lean subtly closer to the United States on South China Sea issues, her reaction placed her closer to the position of Beijing and the outgoing Kuomintang (KMT) administration.
While not a direct party to the arbitration proceedings, Taiwan is affected in that it is one of the countries – along with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and China – asserting sovereignty over all or part of the Spratly Islands group in the South China Sea. [FULL STORY]