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Thursday, January 28, 2016, 21:28

Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou visits Taiping Island

By Xinhua
Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou visits Taiping Island

Taiwan leader Ma Ing-jeou (center) holds up a papaya during his visit to Taiping island in the South China Sea. (AFP PHOTO / Chen Chien Hsing)

TAIPEI - Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on Thursday visited Taiping Island, the largest of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, to meet personnel and deliver a speech ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Ma said that Taiwan will work to end disputes, pursue peace

Islands in the South China Sea were first discovered, named and used by the Chinese in the Western Han Dynasty. Ma said that they were incorporated into the maritime defense system no later than 1721, in the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty, with patrols and other management measures.

According to Ma the government published maps of the South China Sea islands in 1935 and 1947 after the Republic of China was founded in 1912, reaffirming its sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters.

He added that Taiping Island will be transformed into an island for peace and rescue operations, as well as an ecologically friendly and low-carbon island.

"China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands,"  the spokesperson for the mainland-based Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, Ma Xiaoguang, said Wednesday when commenting on Ma Ying-jeou's visit.

Ma Xiaoguang said both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to China, and that people on both sides have the common obligation to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity and safeguard the Chinese nation's overall and fundamental interests.

Chinese people from the mainland and Taiwan have a shared responsibility to protect the Nansha Islands, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said on Thursday following Taiwanese leader Ma Ying-jeou's trip to the Taiping Island.

"Nansha Islands have been China's territory since ancient times," Hua said, adding China has been working to make South China Sea a place of peace, friendship and cooperation.

"China will continue efforts to protect navigation freedom, peace and stability, prosperity and development in the South China Sea," Hua added.

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