Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou laid out a plan Tuesday to ease tensions in a vast, resource-rich Asian ocean where China has chafed against its neighbors by expanding islets with landfill to solidify its claims in the region.
Ma’s plan calls for setting aside sovereignty disputes over the South China Sea and jointly exploring for resources.
Taiwan has not been a high-profile player in the disputes in the South China Sea, although it uses roughly the same historical basis for its claim as China, and Ma’s initiative appeared aimed at shoring up foreign policy credentials at home.
“We emphasize that whereas sovereignty can’t be divided, resources can be shared,” Ma said in his speech Tuesday at an Asia-Pacific research forum in Taipei.
Taiwan, China, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and the Philippines claim all or parts of the 3.5 million-square-kilometer (1.4 million square-mile) South China Sea. The ocean ranges from Taiwan’s southern tip southwest to Singapore.