The question of sovereignty over Diaoyu Island


27-September-2012

It is an objective fact that there exist sovereign disputes between China and Japan over the Diaoyu Island, and China has always maintained that a solution should be sought to the dispute through diplomatic negotiations on the basis of respecting facts.

Historical evidence and legal basis for China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets.
 
There is ample historical evidence to show that the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets were first discovered, named, exploited and developed by the Chinese people and that Chinese fishermen had long engaged in fishing and other production activities for generations in these islands and their adjacent waters. Chinese merchants and fishermen from the coastal regions in Southeast China had been using the Diaoyu Islands as navigation markers even before the 15th century.

The Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets were under the sovereignty of China during the Ming (1368-1644 AD) and Qing (1644-1911 AD) dynasties and were already incorporated into the Chinese territory in the early Ming Dynasty.

Chinese envoys to the Ryukyu Kingdom during the Ming and Qing dynasties clearly recorded in their diaries that the Diaoyu Islands were  part of the Chinese territory and that only areas beyond these islands fell into the territory of Ryukyu.

From a geographical perspective, the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets are separated by the Okinawa Trough, which is as deep as over 2000 meters, from the Ryukyu Islands to the east.

Japan and the international community had recognised the Diaoyu Island as part of China in explicit terms.
 
Until modern times, none of Japan's official historical accounts, national records or academic papers had ever challenged China's territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island, and the Chinese name for the island had been used in all these documents. The Japanese maps
published prior to the mid-19th century had marked the Diaoyu Island and China's mainland with the same color, and even the maps and names of provinces and cities in Japan published in 1892 did not include the Diaoyu Island in the Japanese territory.

The relevant 19th century documents and maps from Western powers such as Britain, France, the United States and Spain also acknowledged that the Diaoyu Islands belonged to China.
In December 1943, the heads of China, the US and the UK issued the Cairo Declaration in which it was stated that all the territories Japan had taken from the Chinese should be restored to China. In 1945, it was reiterated in the Potsdam Proclamation that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine". In August that year, Japan accepted the Potsdam Proclamation and surrendered unconditionally. In accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation, China recovered the territories taken by Japan such as Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. According to international law, the Diaoyu Islands, which are Taiwan's affiliated islands, have been simultaneously returned to China.

Japan's illegal occupation of the Diaoyu Islands
Tatsushiro Koga, a Japanese national, explored the Diaoyu Islands in 1884 and claimed that he found the islands to be terra nullius. From 1885 to 1893, the Okinawa Prefecture requested permission thrice from the Japanese government to place the Diaoyu Islands under its jurisdiction and put up boundary markers. The Japanese government rejected the requests fearing reprisals from the Qing government. In January 1895, as the Qing Dynasty's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War was all but certain, the Japanese government illegally occupied the Diaoyu Islands and "incorporated" them into Okinawa Prefecture. In April the same year, by signing the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan forced the Qing Dynasty to cede “the island of Formosa (Taiwan), together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa" to Japan. In 1900, the Japanese government renamed the Diaoyu Islands the "Senkaku Islands".

Backroom deals and protest statements by China
The Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco) was signed by Japan, the United States and other countries on September 8, 1951, agreeing to place the southwestern islands south of the 29th parallel of north latitude under its trusteeship system, with the United States as the sole administering authority. In December 1953, the Ryukyu government under the United States trusteeship issued a proclamation defining its geographical boundary lines, with the Diaoyu Islands being clearly included.

On September 18, 1951, Zhou Enlai, then Chinese Premier and Foreign Minister, made a solemn statement on behalf of the Chinese government that the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed in San Francisco was illegal and invalid and could under no circumstances be recognised by the central government of China as China was excluded from its preparation, formulation and signing.

On June 17, 1971, Japan and the United States signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which provided that all and any powers of administration over the Ryukyu Islands would be returned to Japan on May 15, 1972. The agreement included the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets in the territories and territorial waters to be reversed to Japan. On the same day the agreement was signed, the spokesman of the U.S. State Department stated that the reversion of Okinawa would not have any implication for the sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands.

On December 30, 1971, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China issued a statement, saying that the agreement was a blatant violation of Chinese territorial sovereignty and would not be tolerated by the Chinese people. It is entirely illegal for the Unites States and Japan to include the Diaoyu Islands in the territories and territorial waters to be reversed to Japan in the Okinawa Reversion Agreement they signed. And this would in no way change the territorial sovereignty of the People's Republic of China over the Diaoyu Islands.

The "islands purchase" issue created by Japan
In April 2012, Shintaro Ishihara, a far right-wing Japanese politician and governor of Tokyo, initiated a scheme for the Tokyo Metropolitan government to "purchase" the Diaoyu Islands and launched a high-profile fund-raising campaign for collecting public donations for that purpose.

In July, the Japanese government announced its plan to "nationalise" the islands. China has repeatedly lodged stern representations with Japan and reiterated that the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have always been China's inherent territory since ancient times. China has indisputable sovereignty over these islands. China strongly opposes the Japanese purchase of China's sacred territory. Any unilateral move made by Japan with regard to the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets is illegal and invalid and cannot change the fact that these islands belong to China.

Contributed by the Chinese Embassy in Seychelles

Editor’s note: The views and claims expressed in this article are solely those of the contributor

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