March 23, 2016 / 12:13 PM / in 2 years

Taiwan president invites Philippines, tribunal officials to disputed isle

TAIPEI (Reuters) - Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday invited Philippine government representatives and members of an international arbitration tribunal to a disputed South China Sea island for a visit.

Taiwan president Ma Ying-jeou answers a question during a news conference after his trip to the disputed Itu Aba or Taiping island in the South China Sea, in Taipei, Taiwan, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Pichi Chuang

“I, as Republic of China president, formally invites the Philippines government to send a representative or lawyer to visit Taiping Island,” Ma said, referring to Taiwan by its official name and to the island that Taiwan controls by its Taiwanese name.

The Philippines has challenged the legality of claims by China, that mirror those of Taiwan, to most of the South China Sea, presenting its case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in November.

Ma was speaking at a press briefing after international journalists were allowed to visit the island, also known as Itu Aba, for the first time on Wednesday.

Reporting by J.R. Wu; Editing by Robert Birsel

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