Taiwan stood its ground over claims on disputed islands in an attempt to boost itself as a contender in the territorial tug-of-war between Asia’s two largest economies.

President Ma Ying-jeou is expected to reiterate claims over the Senkaku Islands, or Diaoyutai, in negotiations with Japan over a stalled fishing agreement. According to ministers, Taiwan would insist on including wording that a territorial dispute exists over the islands in the East China Sea in any document related to the fisheries agreement, something Japan disputes.

Taiwanese officials have raised concerns that if a fisheries agreement were reached, it would lose the opportunity to press for its claims and would be sidelined in the dispute.

“Discussion arose within the government over whether fishing rights should be obtained while sacrificing the territorial claims on the islands,” a Taiwanese government source told Asahi Shimbun.

President Ma claimed, “There will be no fishing rights without sovereignty over the islands”.

Japan’s stance remains that the islands have long been part of its territory and contests China’s claims, sparking a diplomatic row between the two which has intensified following Tokyo’s announcement that it had nationalized some of the islets.

China had urged Taiwan on an alliance against Japan on the territorial dispute – a move that Taiwan will unlikely concede to.