Party Politics Taking the South China Sea Policies as Subtle Recalibration

Domestic party politics and cross-strait relations are key factors in analysing Taiwan's policy on the South China Sea issues. In other words, the two biggest parties (the KMT and the DPP) on the island hold conflicting views over the issue. This, via rotation of power, projects with inconsistent policy standings persist across different time periods. Another factor with crucial influence is cross-strait relations, which also contributed to the recent recalibration by the Ma administration in responding to new rounds of territorial friction in the East and South China Sea.

The KMT and DPP hold similar views, in issues like joint development and peaceful settlement of the dispute. They both advocate strengthening Taiwan's territorial claims (Chen, 2003) to promote marine resource reservation and environmental protection. They aim to establish a joint development mechanism incorporating claimants and stakeholders. They both encourage peaceful settlement of the disputes, and promote inter-state cooperation to jointly maintain regional peace and security. Yet, they diverge in two main areas. Procedurally, they disagree in the design, the authority, and the operation model of the decision-making mechanism. The Inter-Ministerial Task Force established in 1992, and its operation model. This Force, ideally, was thought to inaugurate a new era for the KMT government in tackling the South China Sea issues. Yet, its performance and achievements were far from satisfactory. Second, they vary in terms of the historical rights claim, which had long constituted a core element of Taiwan's claim.

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