By Li Hongmei, Special to Sina English
China’s Foreign Ministry said yesterday that any private deals between the United States and Japan concerning the Diaoyu Islands were invalid.
At a regular press briefing, spokesman Liu Weimin were asked to comment on a US claim that the Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islands fall within the scope of a 1960 security treaty.
"China has expressed grave concern and firmly opposes such a claim," Liu said. "The Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islands have been China's inherent territory since ancient times and China has indisputable sovereignty over them."
According to Japan's Kyodo news agency, a senior US State Department official said the islands had been under the administrative control of the government of Japan since they were returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972.
"Private deals made between the US and Japan after World War II concerning the Diaoyu Islands are illegal and invalid," Liu said.
If retracing what has come about over the Diaoyus between China and Japan, we will have to first and foremost look back at a couple of examples showing the diplomatic tug-of-war for the islands between the two sides:
In March, 2009, then Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso twice referred the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku in Japanese) as Japan's territory, saying they were protected under the Japan-U.S. security treaty. He made this statement during his trip to the United States as well as in the Parliament, the first time a Japanese prime minister had made such a remark.
In the same year, Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone said the US also recognized Japanese jurisdiction over the Diaoyu Islands, where the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States would apply. A U.S. State Department official said on the same day that the Diaoyu Islands were always under the administrative jurisdiction of Japan and the Treaty would apply to them.
In response, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman said "China has indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets which have been China's inalienable territory since ancient times. The Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the United States, as a bilateral arrangement, should not undermine the interest of any third party including China. Any attempt to cover the Diaoyu Islands under the Treaty is absolutely unacceptable to the Chinese people.
We have lodged a solemn representation to Japan once again and urged the U.S. to make clarification over the relevant reports. We hope Japan and the U.S. can realize the great sensitivity of the issue with discretion in words and deeds and refrain from doing anything that may undermine regional stability or the overall interests of China-Japan relations and China-U.S. relations,” said the Chinese spokesman.
Also in 2009, media reported that Japan's Maritime Safety Agency stationed for the first time PLH (patrol vessels large with helicopter) in the waters of Diaoyu Islands, saying that the action was aimed to defend against "invasion" from Chinese marine survey ships.
China reiterates the stand that the Diaoyu Island and its adjacent islets have been China's inalienable territory since ancient times. This is unanswerable as history can speak for itself.
Chinese historical records detailing the discovery and geographical feature of these islands can date back to the year 1403. For several centuries they have been administered as part of Taiwan and have always been used exclusively by Chinese fishermen as an operational base.
In 1874, Japan took Liu Chiu Islands from China by force. Diaoyus, however, remained under the administration of Taiwan, a part of China. Taiwan (including Diaoyu Islands) was then ceded to Japan in 1895 after the first Sino-Japanese War. Originally, during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan, the Diaoyu Islands came under the jurisdiction of Taipei Prefecture.
After the close of the Second World War, when U.S. troops were stationed on the Ryukyu and Diaoyu Islands, the KMT government which had received Taiwan did not immediately demand that the US give them sovereignty. Diaoyu Islands were returned to China at the end of World War II in 1945 based upon the 1943 agreement of the Big Three in Cairo.
In 1969, when the Okinawa Reversion Treaty was signed between the US and Japan, it included the Diaoyu Islands. Since then Japan insists repeatedly that the island group is part of Japan's territory. On April 9, 1971, the U.S. State Department issued a statement that President Nixon and Japanese Prime Minister Sato Eisaku had reached an agreement, by which the US would return Okinawa and the "South-western islands" which included the Diaoyu Islands, to Japan, in 1972.
Combing through the not so remote history, people will agree that a decent nation must never reach its hand into other’s pocket, and a wise nation should have the gut to look up to both history and reality.
Japan needs the courage to review history as it is. Otherwise, it can hardly stand on its own feet, as Japan has long been viewed as Washington’s Asian agent, acting as always an active piece on the U.S. strategic chessboard. Still, it can never become a major player in a real sense.