TAIPEI, Taiwan, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- China and Taiwan each have made strong sovereignty claims over the Spratly Islands ahead of Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian's planned visit to the islands.
"Whether based on history, geography, international law or fact, the Republic of China (Taiwan) has sovereignty over the islands," Taiwan Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Phoebe Yeh said, the Taipei Times reported Friday.
Responding to the Taiwanese leader's planned visit Saturday to Taping, the biggest atoll of the islands, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said Taiwan, the islands as well the adjacent waters are all inseparable parts of China, Xinhua reported.
Taiwan's Yeh said her country should not be excluded from any talks to resolve the dispute over ownership as Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei also have sovereignty claims, the Taipei Times reported.
The Times report said the dispute over ownership has also been fueled by the completion of Taiwan's airstrip on Taiping Island.
"Taiwan expects to resolve the dispute through negotiations and dialogue and is opposed to any form of provocation," Yeh was quoted as saying. "We regret that Taiwan has consistently been excluded from any dialogue."