TAIPEI, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Taiwan leader Ma Ying-jeou on Thursday visited Taiping Island, the largest of the Nansha Islands in the South China Sea, to meet personnel and deliver a speech ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year.
In the speech, Ma said that Taiwan will work to end disputes, pursue peace and reciprocity and promote joint development in the South China Sea.
Islands in the South China Sea were first discovered, named and used by the Chinese in the Western Han Dynasty. They were incorporated into the maritime defense system no later than 1721, in the Kangxi period of the Qing Dynasty, with patrols and other management measures, Ma said.
After the Republic of China was founded in 1912, the government published maps of the South China Sea islands in 1935 and 1947, reaffirming its sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters, according to Ma.
He added that Taiping Island will be transformed into an island for peace and rescue operations, as well as an ecologically friendly and low-carbon island.
"China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands," Ma Xiaoguang, spokesperson for the mainland-based Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, said Wednesday when commenting on Ma Ying-jeou's visit.
Both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China, and people on both sides have the common obligation to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity and safeguard the Chinese nation's overall and fundamental interests, Ma Xiaoguang said.