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Taiwan Proposes Talks on South China Sea

South China Sea Territorial Claims

South China Sea Territorial Claims

The leading candidate in Taiwan's presidential election says she will arrange talks with the countries disputing South China Sea issues.

Recently, Taiwan presidential candidate Tsai Ing-wen spoke with a group of foreign diplomats. She said that if she is elected, she will pursue dialogue with Brunei, China, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Each of the countries claims all or parts of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer South China Sea.

The area is rich in fisheries, shipping lanes and possible fossil fuel reserves. Taiwan controls two of the smaller Spratly islands. China, Malaysia and Vietnam control larger islands that surround them.

China has raised regional tensions by occupying and building on once uninhabitable islands. They have built offshore oil rigs, as well. Tsai Ing-wen says diplomacy is the key to resolving the dispute.

"We will actively work to reduce tensions in regional flash points, such as the South China Sea, where confrontation is threatening to roll-back decades of peaceful relations in the region,” she said. “We are ready to engage in dialogue with different parties with the purpose of finding a diplomatic solution."

China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, meaning it sees itself as Taiwan’s ruler. Taiwan disagrees. China demands that the other countries in the South China Sea area not speak with Taiwan. If the other countries agreed to talks with Taiwan, the talks could test trade and investment relations with China.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

VOA’s Ralph Jennings reported this story from Taipei. Jonathan Evans adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in this Story

flash point – n. a point, place, or situation in which sudden anger or violence could happen

oil rig- n. a structure above an oil well on land or in the sea that has special equipment attached to it for drilling and removing oil from the ground

uninhabitable adj. not safe or suitable to be lived in