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Friday, Oct. 5, 2012

Taiwan to forge ahead with marine park near disputed isles in East China Sea


TAIPEI — Taiwan will push ahead with plans to set up a national marine park near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, according to Taipei's interior minister.

Lee Hong-yuan made the remarks during a recent parliamentary session as regional tensions over the islets, which have been claimed by Taiwan and China since the 1970s, continued to spike following Japan's nationalization of three of them last month.

Along with Chinese ships, dozens of Taiwanese vessels recently intruded in Japan's territorial waters around the Senkakus to press Taipei's territorial claim.

"The Ministry of the Interior will keep working on the establishment of the planned marine national park," Lee told lawmakers, without providing details.

The national park would cover three nearby islets controlled by Taiwan — Pengjia, Mianhua and Huaping — and their surrounding waters, which cover an area of 750 sq. km, according to authorities in Taipei. On a recent trip to Pengjia, about 140 km west of the Senkaku chain, Lee expressed his hopes that the park can be created soon.

During the parliamentary session, he reiterated Taipei's claim to the Senkakus, which in Taiwan are known as Tiaoyutai, and said the government will step up efforts to protect Taiwanese fishermen working in the disputed waters.

"We will protect the fishermen more actively to help them fight for their rights around the (Senkakus). There is no doubt that their sovereignty is ours," Lee said. "We will also seek consensus with Japan and China."

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