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The Chair of Taiwan Studies “The Five Major Roles of Taiwan in the International Community” Held in McGill University

The foundation for Faculty Excellence in Taiwan Studies was set up by McGill University in collaboration with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Canada (TECO) in 2012. It promotes excellence in teaching and research by post-doctoral scholars in the Taiwan Studies field in the Department of East Asian Studies.

This year’s annual Distinguished Lecture in Taiwan Studies was presented by Wu Rong-chuan, the Representative at TECO, at the Faculty Club Conference Centre at McGill University on April 7, 2016. His topic was “The Five Major Roles of Taiwan in the International Community”. Professor Philip Buckley, Chair of the Department of East Asian Studies at McGill University, other university staff and students, and members of the overseas Chinese community attended the lecture.

“The Republic of China (Taiwan) has played the roles of peacemaker, provider of humanitarian aid, promoter of cultural exchange, creator of new technologies and business opportunities, and a standard-bearer of Chinese culture in the international arena,” Wu said. He also elaborated on the contributions to the international community of Taiwan’s active non-government organizations.

Wu also spoke about the South China Sea issue. He rebutted the argument made by the Philippines' in an international arbitration tribunal and reiterated that Taiping Island (also known as Itu Aba) is an island, not a rock. He stressed that the ROC recovered Taiping Island in 1946 and has dispatched personnel to the island since 1956, saying “The island has always been under the jurisdiction of the ROC. Taiping is the largest naturally formed island in the Nansha (Spratly) Islands. It fully meets the definition of an island, as laid out in Article 121 of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. The ROC is entitled to claim a 200-nautical mile exclusive economic zone as well as a continental shelf.”

Wu commented that the construction of a lighthouse and the maintenance of a wharf on Taiping Island are for peaceful purposes. “We hope to transform Taiping into a peaceful, eco-friendly and low-carbon island,” he said.

Wu stressed that the spirit of the South China Sea Peace Initiative is to shelve sovereignty disputes; and if disputes remain, to pursue peaceful means to resolve them, and to promote joint development. “Although Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations or a party of the South China Sea arbitration case, we adhere to inter-national law and assert freedom of navigation and aviation in the area,” Wu said. “We urge all parties to maintain the status quo, establish a negotiation mechanism, and refrain from taking unilateral actions, in order to ensure peace and stability in the region.”