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President Ma attends academic conference on contemporary international and transnational law

On the morning of December 14, President Ma Ying-jeou attended an academic conference on contemporary international law and transnational law, as well as the 2013 annual assembly of the Chinese (Taiwan) Society of International Law (CSIL). The president praised the society for its many years of work to enhance the teaching of law in Taiwan, and for the academic research it has carried out. He also briefed his audience on the government's measures to put international law into practice.

In remarks, the president noted that the CSIL was established in 1958, and is the oldest academic association focusing on international law in Taiwan. In 1961, the organization became a chapter of the London-based International Law Association (ILA), he said. President Ma mentioned that he joined the organization over 30 years ago and served as its president from 2000 to 2003.

The president stated that the CSIL has distinguished itself through its publications, academic research, extension programs, and international law moot court competitions. The organization has also been an active participant in the work of the ILA, he said, pointing out that it hosted the ILA Asia-Pacific Regional Conference in 1995 and the 68th Conference of the ILA in 1998, thus making significant contributions to exchanges and interaction in the field of international law. In addition, the CSIL won high praise in 2004 for its Chinese (Taiwan) Yearbook of International Law and Affairs, which the Executive Yuan's National Science Council ranked second in a list of the best specialized publications in Taiwan. Furthermore, the quality of the English version of this publication has been recognized by the renowned British publisher Cameron May, which together with the CSIL now acts as joint publisher of the yearbook.

In discussing concrete steps the ROC has taken to put international law (including the law of the sea and aviation law) into practice, President Ma mentioned as examples the signing by Taiwan and Japan in April of this year of a fisheries agreement, the ROC's handling of the Guang Da Xing No. 28 fishing boat incident that took place in May, and its handling of mainland China's November announcement of an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea.

The president said the ROC has consistently maintained the position that the Diaoyutai Islets are inherent territory of the ROC and are appurtenant to Taiwan. With respect to the sovereignty dispute over these islands, he pointed out, on August 5 of last year he unveiled the East China Sea Peace Initiative, which stresses that "although sovereignty over national territory cannot be compromised, natural resources can be shared." He said he put forward the peace initiative in hopes that all parties would adopt peaceful measures to resolve the dispute, thereby reducing tensions in the region. Subsequently, Taiwan and Japan on April 10 of this year signed a fisheries agreement, which designates an area of over 74,000 square kilometers, south of 27 degrees latitude and north of the Yaeyama Islands and Miyako Islands, as a legal fishing zone for fishermen from both nations, said the president. He added that this agreement is not affected by the laws of either nation and that the Diaoyutais and the seas in the neighboring 12 nautical miles are not included.

As for the Guang Da Xing No. 28 shooting incident of this past May, in which a Philippine government vessel fired upon a Taiwanese fishing boat, damaging the boat and killing a Taiwanese fisherman, the government issued a four-point statement following the incident and then adopted economic sanctions. Ultimately, the Philippines made a formal apology for the incident and agreed to provide compensation, he said. The president stated that while Taiwan and the Philippines have yet to sign a fisheries agreement, the two have held two rounds of negotiations and have reached a consensus on "refraining from the use of force or violence in law enforcement actions," "sharing their basic maritime law enforcement procedures," "establishing a mechanism for one side notifying the other side," and "setting up a mechanism for the prompt release of detained fishing vessels and their crews following arrests."

President Ma stressed that the ROC is a reasonable nation with a "humanitarian spirit." Despite the fishing boat incident, Taiwan still transported material donations to aid in the rescue and relief effort after parts of the Philippines suffered devastation from Typhoon Haiyan. To date, he said, Taiwan's monetary donations and disaster relief goods have come to over US$10 million.

Regarding the East China Sea ADIZ recently announced by mainland China, the president pointed out, ADIZs are established to provide early warning and identification. But this concept is not expressly addressed in international law and differs from the concepts of territorial airspace, territorial waters, and territory. He added that the ROC government immediately issued a four-point statement, as follows: 1) the ROC reiterates its sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islets; 2) the ROC urges other nations to refer to its East China Sea Peace Initiative that was unveiled last year, and to use peaceful means to resolve disputes; and calls upon all parties involved to carry out bilateral dialogues on overlapping areas in the ADIZ so as to prevent accidents; 3) the ROC's Air Force will continue to carry out exercises and training activities as normal in the ROC's ADIZ, but because mainland China did not consult Taiwan before announcing its ADIZ in the East China Sea, the ROC will continue to express its serious concern; in particular, mainland China's behavior is not conducive to positive cross-strait relations; 4) for many years now, when an aircraft from Taiwan had intended to pass through another country's ADIZ, Taiwan has provided flight plans to that nation's civil aviation authorities. Therefore, when an aircraft from another country intends to fly through the area where the ADIZs of Taiwan and mainland China overlap, Taiwan is willing to receive the flight plans from the airlines and forward them to the mainland authorities.

Lastly, the president stressed that the ROC will continue to act as a peacemaker in the international community and use peaceful means to resolve disputes. It will also turn to bilateral dialogue and international law to resolve issues. President Ma said that this is not just an outmoded way of thinking, but rather the correct attitude in handling international affairs.

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