President Ma Ying-jeou hopes to resolve tensions peacefully with the East China Sea Peace Initiative.
Image: presidential office / Flickr

Taiwan, which has long struggled gain diplomatic cloud because of opposition from China, is looking to assert itself with a new peace initiative. The East China Sea Peach Initiative was asserted by Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou late last month and hopes to resolve the dispute between China and Japan, which have both laid claim to the same patch of ocean.

Taiwan is claimed by Mainland China as a territory, though Taiwan self-rules with a separate government. The small island hasn’t had a seat at the U.N since 1971, but for years has worked to define itself separately from the mainland.

“Taiwan, by its nature, is in a unique international position and it has to stand up for itself where and when it can,” says political strategist Sean King, Park Strategies’ senior vice president.

Though it’s unlikely that Taiwan will get a public response from Tokyo and Beijing on the proposal for peace, it is expected to be a welcome idea for both countries, as well as the U.S. If successful, the initiative could go a long way in proving Taiwan’s leadership ability and improving its diplomatic clout.

“Given its pivotal location in East Asia, Taiwan is inevitable affected by developments in the region,” said President Ma Ying-jeou. “It is the country’s unavoidable responsibility to urge all parties involved to address the risk of escalating confrontations in the area, abandon the Cold War approach of solving disputes through an arms race, and seek resolution in a new and rational manner.”

The East China Sea Peace Initiative would establish a Code of Conduct for China, Japan, and Taiwan (which also has a claim to the area) that would cover both air and sea operations. Ma’s primary objective seemed to be avoiding further tension and conflict that could result in an unnecessary arms race.