Military conflict in East, South China seas unlikely: Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense

Taipei, March 9 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense said Saturday that military conflict over territorial disputes in the East and South China seas was unlikely at present but suggested that accidental clashes were possible.

The ministry said in a report that regional stability has been challenged by North Korea's threat to cancel its 1953 cease-fire agreement with South Korea, its nuclear test last month and a rocket launch in December.

The possibility of a military conflict at the present stage was low, the report said, but the military would not rule out the risk of accidental clashes.

Defense Minister Kao Hua-chu is scheduled to present the report to legislators Monday.

Sovereignty disputes continue to simmer in the East and South China seas, but the countries involved in the disputes, while fully committed to stances backing their claims, have also voiced their wish to resolve the issues through diplomatic means, the report said.

Taiwan, Japan and China all claim sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands, which lie about 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan in the East China Sea.

In the South China Sea, Taiwan claims sovereignty over the Spratly Islands, the Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank and the Pratas Islands.

Taiwan, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei all claim large parts of the South China Sea, which is believed to sit atop vast deposits of natural gas and oil.

(By Wen Kuei-hsiang and Ann Chen)

Focus Taiwan

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