Taiwan leader visits island, seeks peace in contested waters

(From AP)

Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou called for peace in Asia’s contested waters on Saturday as he visited a small island in the East China Sea, one of his last symbolic foreign policy moves before leaving office next month.

Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou, center, leaves a lighthouse during his visit to Pengjia Islet in the East China Sea Saturday

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou, center, leaves a lighthouse during his visit to Pengjia Islet in the East China Sea Saturday

Ma’s visit to Pengjia, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) north of Taiwan proper, was his administration’s second propaganda trip to an island in three weeks.

It came four years after Ma last visited Pengjia to propose a plan to address territorial disputes among China, Taiwan and Japan over the nearby chain known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyutai in Chinese.

Pengjia, considered the northernmost part of Taiwan’s territory, is not contested and is home to about 40 residents, a weather station and coast guard facilities.

It lies some 75 miles (120 kilometers) west of the Japanese-controlled Senkakus, which are hotly disputed by China, in particular.

Taiwan also claims the islands, although its conflict with Japan has been considerably less heated, with the two sides reaching fishing agreements in 2013.

After arriving by helicopter Saturday, Ma unveiled a monument to maritime peace at a ceremony and commemorated the fishing deal he had signed with Japan.

Political observers in Taiwan said the island visit represents a symbolic stroke before Ma steps down from the presidency on May 20, when Tsai Ing-wen will be sworn in as Taiwan’s new leader. Read More



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