Tue, September 21, 2010
China > China & World > China-Japan ship collision row

Japan's actions over Diaoyu Islands defy facts, draw protests

2010-09-21 10:29:13 GMT2010-09-21 18:29:13 (Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Japan's latest decision to prolong the illegal detention of a Chinese trawler captain has kept the dispute over Diaoyu Islands under spotlight, as such defiance against facts and international norms continued to draw strong protests from the Chinese government and people.

The Diaoyu Islands, 120 nautical miles northeast of China's Taiwan Province, have been China's territory ever since ancient times.

All records, whether in historical books, academic research or on old maps, have well proved China's undeniable sovereignty over these islands.

The name Diaoyutai Island appeared in 1403 in a Chinese book "Voyage with the Tail Wind." By 1534, all the major islets had been identified and named in the book "Record of the Imperial Envoy to Ryukyu."

"'Record of the Imperial Envoy to Ryukyu' clarified the boundaries between China and Ryukyu and attested to the fact that the Diaoyu Islands are part of China's territory, which was acknowledged by scholars in China, Japan and Ryukyu as well as the governments of China and Ryukyu in later centuries, " Mi Qingyu, a professor at China's Nankai University wrote in a history book about the Diaoyu Islands.

On a map published by Japan between 1783 and 1785, the Diaoyu Islands were marked as within China's borderlines.

A recently discovered book written during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912)called "Record of Ocean Nation" has again proved the islands have always been part of China.

Kiyoshi Inoue, a renowned Japanese historian, confirmed in his book titled "The Diaoyu Islands and Its Adjacent Islands" that historical facts as early as the 16th century attest, the Diaoyu, in the East China Sea between China and Japan, have been an intrinsic part of China's territory.

"It is a well-known fact that the Diaoyu Islands have been part of China's territory since the Ming Dynasty," he wrote in Chapter Three of the book.

His viewpoint was based on documents such as sea charts, logbooks and exploration records about South China, Taiwan region and the Ryukyu Islands found in the library of British Admiralty Board, as well as many Japanese historical records.

Though the Diaoyu Islands were ceded to Japan after China lost the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895 and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Cairo Declaration in 1943 stipulated that Japan should return all China's territories it occupied including these islands.

These provisions were later reinforced in the Potsdam Proclamation in 1945. In the same year, Japan announced its unconditional surrender while accepting the proclamation in its entirety.

With all these powerful evidence, China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands is undisputed.


Japan's claim to the Diaoyu Islands contradicts international norms.

One of Tokyo's arguments is that the islets were "terra nullius," (land belonging to no one) which "had been uninhabited and showed no trace of having been under the control of China."

In fact, the Diaoyu Islands had no longer been terra nullius at least since China's Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), which established a maritime defense zone that included the islets.

By that time the Diaoyu Islands had already been discovered, named, documented and defended by China. Obviously, the islets have long been incorporated into the Chinese territory and under Chinese jurisdiction since ancient times.

Another argument for Japan's claim to the Diaoyu Islands is that the islets are not included in the territory which Japan renounced under the San Francisco Treaty signed with the United States in 1951 and at the time they had been placed under the administration of the United States. Japan also cited a bilateral agreement signed with the United States in 1971, claiming the United States "reverted" administrative rights of the Diaoyu Islands to it under that document.

However, these claims are inconsistent with historical facts. The Cairo Declaration issued by China, the United States and the United Kingdom in December 1943 clearly stated that Japan must return all the territories it seized from China.

Moreover, in urging Japan to surrender, the three countries issued the Potsdam Proclamation on July 26, 1945, which reiterated that conditions set by the Cairo Declaration must be met. In accepting the proclamation, Japan obviously has agreed to give up all the territories it took from China, including the Diaoyu Islands.

Meanwhile, the government of the People's Republic of China has long maintained that it is illegal for the United Stats to have unilaterally exercised so-called "administrative rights" over the Diaoyu Islands and other islands after World War II. And China never accepted the San Francisco Treaty of 1951, which was signed with the exclusion of the government of the People's Republic of China.

Japan's attempt to use the 1971 U.S.-Japan agreement as a legal basis for its claim to the Diaoyu Islands is also absurd because there is no way that an issue on China's territory can be solved by any agreements between two foreign countries.

On post-WWII territory issues and disputes, it is obvious that there are no international norms other than the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation for Japan to follow.

Japan's recent action of illegally detaining the Chinese trawler and its crew and the latest decision to prolong its illegal detention of the ship's captain also violated international law, said Zhu Wenqi, a law professor at China's Renmin University.

The incident derived from an international dispute, but Japan's decision to resort to its domestic law ran counter to international norms and was unhelpful to solve the issue, he wrote in Monday's Fazhi Daily.


The public in China has been angered by Japan's illegal detention of the Chinese captain, staging protests both in major Chinese cities and on the Internet.

Demonstrators gathered outside Japanese diplomatic residences across China on Saturday, which also marked the 79th anniversary of Japan's invasion into China.

In Beijing, dozens of protestors gathered outside the Japanese embassy, unfurling banners and shouting "Japan, get out of the Diaoyu Islands," "Boycott Japanese goods," "Don't forget national humiliation, don't forget Sept. 18."

"I think every Chinese in every trade and profession should take action," said a protester who only gave his surname as Wu.

The Chinese trawler captain was illegally detained by a Japanese court earlier this month after a fishing boat under his command was illegally seized by the Japanese Coast Guard in waters off the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

The incident has since triggered widespread indignation and protests in China. Though Japan has released the boat and other crew members under mounting pressure from China, the captain is still being held.

The Japanese authorities on Sunday afternoon extended the illegal detention of the captain to Sept. 29.

In front of the Japanese Consulate General in Shanghai, protesters displayed a banner reading "THE DIAOYU ISLANDS IS CHINA'S. THE DETENTION OF THE BOAT IS ILLEGAL. GIVE THE CAPTAIN BACK TO US."

They also shouted slogans such as "Give the Diaoyu Islands back to us."

Similar protests were also staged outside the Japanese Consulate General in Shenyang.

Also on Saturday, almost 100 people marched through downtown Shenzhen, protesting Japan's detention of the Chinese boat captain.

Hundreds of Hong Kong people marched to the Japanese consulate on Saturday to protest over the continued detention of the fishing boat captain.

The protesters started the demonstration Saturday afternoon from Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and ended up gathering outside the Japanese consulate, unfurling banners "DON'T FORGET SEPT. 18, GIVE THE DIAOYU ISLANDS BACK TO US."

Protests have also been staged recently in China's Taiwan.

According to media reports, a fishing boat from Taiwan dispatched by a civilian organization safeguarding Diaoyu Islands reached the waters of the islands on Sept. 14 to protest the Japanese move.

On the same day, some 100 representatives of Taiwan fishermen and civilian organizations launched protests in Taibei, calling on Chinese across the world to safeguard territory.

The outraged Chinese public has also been flooding the Internet with strong protests over Japan's move, calling on Japan to immediately and unconditionally release Zhan Qixiong, the Chinese captain.

Since the incident, "Diaoyu Islands" and "Zhan Qixiong" have become the most searched terms in China's Internet community, the world's largest online community with more than 400 million Internet users.

Meanwhile, Internet bulletin boards on several major Chinese news portals have been overwhelmed with messages saying that the Diaoyu Islands have always been an integral part of China and it's within the rights of Chinese fishermen to fish in the waters around the islands.

"The seizure of our trawler and captain has done great harm to the Chinese people. I strongly demand that Japan return the seized trawler and apologize," said a netizen on Sohu.com, who goes by the name of "1996."


On Sunday, China's Foreign Ministry said that China's relations with Japan were being severely damaged by Japan's decision to prolong Zhan's detention, warning that China would take "strong countermeasures" if Japan did not release him.

"China will take strong countermeasures if the Japanese side clings obstinately to its own course and double its mistakes, and Japan shall bear all the consequences," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a press statement.

China has already suspended bilateral exchanges at and above the ministerial levels, and halted contact with Japan on the issues of increasing civil flights and expanding aviation rights between the two countries, according to the ministry. The number of Chinese tourists to Japan has already plunged.

Wang Hanling, a maritime law expert with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Xinhua: "That Japan conducted its so-called law enforcement by force in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands was in defiance of the principles of international law as well as Chinese law. This shows that Japan is anxious to assert its so-called 'sovereignty' in the area."

"It also showed that Japanese politicians were short-sighted in considering Sino-Japanese relations," Wang added.

An article published online recently by The Wall Street Journal said it "would be dangerous" for Japan to do that.

"While Japan needs to show that it won't be intimidated," using Diaoyu Islands to do so would be dangerous, it said.

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