US ‘hopes’ South China Sea dispute will not escalate


WASHINGTON–The United States does not want to see the South China Sea dispute become a new problem between Taiwan and China, as links between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have been greatly improved in recent years, an American expert said Friday.

The United States hopes that the two sides will maintain good relations with each other and that such links will not be cracked because of regional territorial disputes, said Kenneth Lieberthal in a conference at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C.

Lieberthal, who works for the Brookings Institution, suggested that Taiwan follow the principles adopted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on the South China Sea issue.

Recent squabbles between China and the ASEAN member-states of the Philippines and Vietnam over territorial sovereignty in the South China Sea have sparked concern that the area is becoming a flashpoint that could have global consequences.

Taiwan also lays claim to the disputed sea area, which is rich in fishery and mineral resources, as well as having great strategic importance.

At the conference, Arthur Ding, a professor at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, said the most urgent problem facing Taiwan at present is not the South China Sea dispute but the disputed Tiaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea.

The territorial dispute over the Tiayoutais principally involves the rights of Taiwanese fishermen, who often face interference from Japanese patrol boats while working in the disputed sea area around the islands, he said.

The Tiayoutais, also called as Senkakus, are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan.