China Survives A Big Year

China survives a big year
by Noah Feldman 04:45 AM Dec 28, 2012
The year 2012 will go into the history books as one of contrasting transitions. China's five-year cycle for Communist Party congresses and leadership turnover overlapped with the United States' four-year electoral calendar.
And if that once-in-20-years coincidence was not enough, Egypt's rocky shift from dictatorship to democracy continues to remind us of what transition looks like in the absence of a predictable institutional framework.
The confluence of Chinese and American transitions marks an extraordinary historic development. The last time this happened, we might not have been able to predict the impeachment of Mr Bill Clinton or the Supreme Court deciding the 2000 presidential election in George W Bush versus Al Gore.
But any reasonable observer would have expected that presidential elections would continue in their ordinary course, and that the crises associated with impeachment and an uncertain electoral outcome would be resolved in a regular fashion, not by palace coups or purges.
By contrast, in 1992 it would have been essentially impossible to predict that China would soon embark on a regularised process for replacing the leadership of the Communist Party based on generational turnover.
Five-year plans were nothing new - the Chinese had inherited them from the Soviets - but top leadership change did not follow that regular clock.
Neither the oscillations of power that accompanied the Cultural Revolution nor the Tiananmen upheavals (both before and after the events of June 4, 1989) followed a predictable calendar.
Although the generation of Deng Xiaoping officially "retired" in 1992, no one thought this meant its members would actually relinquish political authority.
In short, China was still ruled as a quasi-dictatorship. As a result, it was plagued by dictatorship-style uncertainty about who would come to power next, when, and how.
Over the past two decades, the situation has changed fundamentally. Gradually, after Deng's death, it has become normal for China's leaders to stand aside when their decade in office is done.
As a result, observers in China and outside can now speculate with some confidence about who will come to power and when. Everyone knew that Mr Xi Jinping and Mr Li Keqiang would form the centre of the new administration more than two years before they assumed office.
At the same time, the selection of officials throughout the Communist Party apparatus increasingly takes account of performance, not only loyalty to party discipline.
Although recent studies suggest -unsurprisingly - that the meritocracy is far from perfect, it is broadly understood that the party members who specialise in the selection process try to advance cadres' careers based on a mix of their talents, accomplishments, networks and commitment to the party.
Indeed, it is reasonable to infer that China's most senior leadership engaged in a remarkable experiment. Through the system of internal selection and generational turnover, the party is trying to solve the problem of transitions without relying either on democratic elections or pure hereditary power.
There are many sons and daughters of senior party members whose family connections have aided their rise, but to be a princeling is not enough: You also have to be good.
The upshot of these changes is that while China is still authoritarian, it is no longer a dictatorship.
Dictators do not cede power voluntarily, as the Arab Spring reminds us. And if a new dictator does not emerge, the system can be thrown into near- chaos - a process still playing out in Egypt.
Some observers this year thought that the Communist Party apparatus was so focused on the transition - on figuring out who was in and who was out - that its leaders neglected pressing economic concerns.
That might be true. Yet it is not so different from the situation in the US, where the direction of the economy and the precarious fiscal situation took a back seat for most of the long presidential campaign. Stable transitions tend to be elaborate, and elaborate transitions take time, effort and money.
At least the Chinese did not waste upward of US$2 billion (S$2.4 billion) on campaign advertising.
The new reality of transitional stability in China tells us something crucial about how the new leadership will govern. Hard-won stability is an asset that the leadership has inherited and will not want to squander.
Rapid change of any kind will, therefore, be anathema.
Conservatism, not rapid reform, will be the order of the day.
Deng's generation faced a major legitimacy challenge as the Soviet Union collapsed and traditional communist ideology was shown to be bankrupt. A serious crisis demanded bold measures, and the changes were far-reaching and rapid.
Now, the party's leaders have much more to lose - including the tremendous asset of predictable transitions.
Of course, even conservative leaders have to keep their base satisfied. Mr Xi has closer ties to the People's Liberation Army than did his predecessors, and so is likely to be more hawkish. This closeness is reflected in his immediate assumption of the reins of the military - unlike the last President, who waited two years.
Mr Xi probably would not rapidly militarise the conflict with Japan around the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands - that would be insufficiently conservative - but with the army in his camp, he is also not going to back down.
Yet here, too, China's stability coming out of transition is historically noteworthy. Mr Xi needs the military, but he does not fear it in the way that Egypt's Mohamed Morsi must fear the army that both produced and deposed his predecessor. When it comes to civilian control of the military, China is now more like the US than like a developing-world dictatorship.
China is not on the royal road to democracy or to capitalism without major state direction. But this year, it reaped the benefits of its historic move away from dictatorship - and in historical and comparative terms, that is impressive enough. BLOOMBERG
Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard University and the author of Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR's Great Supreme Court Justices, is a Bloomberg View columnist.


Is Japan Risking War To Save The U.S.-Japan Alliance?

Was Japan's so-far disastrous nationalization of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands a "miscalculation" of China's likely response, or was it a deliberate, desperate, almost kamikaze-like lunge to save the U.S.-Japan security alliance?

Windwing - Japan Risking War In Map Of The World With China-Japan-South Korea

Map of the world with China-Japan-South Korea participating in trilateral meeting are highlighted in PR China , Japan , and South Korea . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

**************Map Of TaiWan Should Also Is Red**************

I believe that it was the latter.  That Japan—and here I mean not just the Japan Democratic Party (DPJ) Noda cabinet, but also the ministry of foreign affairs (MOFA) and self-defense forces (SDF) bureaucracies, and, particularly, the factions within the main opposition Liberal Democratic Party (DPJ) and nationalists allied with former Tokyo major Ishihara Shintaro—did not expect a ferocious response from China, including shows of naval force and threats of occupation, is not credible.

On June 6, Japan's ambassador to China, Niwa Uichiro, went public in the Financial Times, warning that the nationalization would be spark an "extremely grave crisis" in relations, causing "decades of past effort to be brought to nothing."  Niwa, a former CEO and Chairman of  Itochu Corporation,  certainly had been raising the alarm in even starker terms internally to the Noda cabinet and the MOFA, as well as to Japan's politically powerful big business establishment.

And there was not the least ambiguity or diffidence in China's position, stated publicly and through diplomatic channels over the past several years, including the day before the September 12 nationalization decision when Hu Jintao and Noda stood face-to-face on the fringe of the APEC meeting in Vladivostok.

That the ensuing crisis would be particularly destabilizing and dangerously unpredictable in its ultimate costs to Japan was ensured by the contemporaneous decennial leadership change in China, extending throughout both the Communist Party and the People's Liberation Army, of which only the vaguest picture is being revealed in the 18th Party Congress which begins today, November 8, in Beijing.

The nationalization decision has so far fueled an explosion of anti-Japan sentiment, demonstrations like the one I witnessed in Shanghai, wide-spread vandalism against Japanese businesses, and popular boycott of purchases of Japanese products, particularly automobiles.   Officially directed anti-Japanese actions have included stalled customs clearances, cancelled or deferred commercial contract negotiations, cancelled exhibitions and delegation exchanges.

Japan's auto industry has been the most damaged, particularly Nissan for which the China market accounted for 26% of total global vehicle unit sales in FY 2011, and Honda which sold 20% of its cars in China (the figure for Toyota is 12%).  Nissan's Chief Operating Officer on November 6 that this fiscal years' operating profit forecast was being cut by JPY 60 billion (USD 750 million) because of a drop in China sales.  It could get worse.

But what is more worrisome that the impact on any specific industries, is the inherent intractability of a territorial issue like Senkaku/Diaoyu between two countries once the issue is inflamed, and the longer term obstacles this creates for continued integration of Japan's economy with that of Asia's other major power, China, an imperative for Japan's future growth and prosperity.  As tensions and the frequency of dueling Coast Guard patrols in the Senkaku/Diaoyu area have increased, so have combative diplomatic exchanges, slights and insults, and—on both sides—a torrent of books and articles whose themes recall the nightmarish era of Japan-China war.

What could, from Japan's perspective, possibly have justified and motivated such a hugely costly and dangerous course?

The answer I think is fairly clear:  it was the course most likely to block and forestall what the prevailing conservative establishment sees as a greater threat:  That the U.S. and China have been moving toward a new, shared East Asian power paradigm in which the U.S.-Japan defense alliance is abandoned and Japan is forced to defend itself alone or to abandon defense and rely on "soft power" to defend its interests.

As I have presented in this blog before, reviewing recent books by Australian strategist Hugh White (see my post) and Professor Yabuki Susumu (here), the interests of both China and, particularly, the U.S. are now clearly to forge such a "new strategic architecture" in Asia.  What Professor White points out in The China Choice:  Why America Should Share Power is an agreement between the U.S. and China to share power would require that the U.S. decouple its military resources from Japan's, ending the alliance. He correctly states that Japan, of all the affected countries, will find the new order the most unwelcome and difficult to accommodate.

Japan's Senkaku/Diaoyu island nationalization gambit eloquently speaks to this difficulty, and the lengths to which Japan may think it must go to keep the U.S. engaged in supporting the alliance against a "China threat."  Of course, there is a huge vested interest in the U.S. Department of Defense in maintaining the status quo, expressed inter alia through studies like the CSIS Armitage-Nye report.

This week the SDF and U.S. Navy and Air Force launched a massive 16-day joint exercise off the southern islands of Kyushu and Okinawa involving 47,000 men (10,000 Americans), 30 ships, a U.S. carrier, and 240 aircraft.  The exercise is simulating an attack on Japan's islands from an "unknown power," but the unspoken target is clear.

The problem with this, as Professor Yabuki has written, is that the U.S.-Japan "alliance" has lost any positive relevance for Japan's security, and in fact is inimical to Japan's interests.  Could there be any more eloquent testimony to this reality than consequences of the Senkaku/Diaoyu crisis?  Nor, for reasons presented clearly by Professor White, is the alliance in the U.S.'s long term interest.

What we have witnessed in this dispute is a historical mistake and tragedy.  But history is moving on, and is likely to accelerate following Obama's re-election and the China's 18th Party Congress.  Japan is going to have to accept that its world has changed.


US Risks Losing Neutrality Over DiaoYu

Windwing - US Risks Losing Neutrality Over DiaoYu
Illustration: Liu Rui

The US has over two centuries of experience with the East and South China seas, but the passage of time and the Cold War dimmed memories about the Diaoyu Islands. Today, Washington must adopt a strictly impartial position on the longstanding dispute between China and Japan, and should support a peaceful diplomatic process to resolve the issue over time.

Some make a false claim that the US historically considered the Diaoyu Islands part of the Ryukyu Islands, today's Okinawa Prefecture. But the record shows otherwise.

The expedition of US Commodore Matthew Perry famously opened up Japan, and that to this end the US and Japan signed the Convention of Kanagawa in 1854.

It is not remembered that Perry also negotiated a Convention in 1854 with what was then called "Lew Chew" (Liu Chiu). At the time, it was well known that the Diaoyu Islands were not part of the historic Ryukyu kingdom, composed of 36 islands.

The official results of the Perry expedition were presented to the US Congress, and to the world, through the publication of a comprehensive report in three volumes which included maps and naval charts. These maps and charts of the Ryukyu Islands did not include the Diaoyu Islands. Significantly, the convention was written in the Chinese language.

From an Asian perspective, on the one hand, the kingdom was within the traditional East Asian tribute system centered on China. On the other hand, Japanese warlords asserted influence. Perry and the US government were aware of these issues. 

Japan unilaterally changed the status of its relationship with Liu Chiu in the 1870s and then annexed it in 1879. The US Department of State raised concerns with Tokyo about the status of "Lew Chew" and US rights under the 1854 agreement with the kingdom. 

In 1879, General Ulysses S. Grant, a former president of the US, visited China and Japan on his around the world tour. Tensions between China and Japan over the Liu Chiu situation were high and some thought war was possible.

Grant, as a private citizen who was strictly impartial, encouraged both sides to solve the matter peacefully through diplomacy.

In China, General Grant had extensive discussions in a friendly atmosphere with such high officials as Prince Gong and Viceroy Li Hongzhang. The Liu Chiu issue was discussed in detail. 

General Grant's visit and the Liu Chiu crisis were extensively covered in the newspapers of the day in China and around the world.

At that time, some suggested a compromise arrangement where the central group of the Ryukyu Islands would become a neutral kingdom, the northern group would go to Japan, and the southern group would go to China.

Japanese imperialism and the first Sino-Japanese war of 1894-95 further complicated the situation. Then during World War II, the US liberated the Ryukyu Islands at a cost of 12,000 American lives.  

As the Cold War set in, the Ryukyu Islands were a key strategic consideration for the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. For reasons of national security the US chose to retain these islands, particularly Okinawa, in a strategic trusteeship. 

At this time, however, the US government appears to have become unclear about the historical situation in the area south of 29 degrees north latitude. Strong pressures to lean toward the Japanese side to induce Tokyo to join the Western side in the Cold War led to mistakes.

Suddenly, the Korean War (1950-53) sharply exacerbated Cold War tensions and heightened security considerations regarding the Ryukyu Islands and the region.

Under these circumstances, the US assigned the Diaoyu Islands to the Ryukyu Islands for administrative and security purposes, although they could have been assigned to Taiwan, with which the US was friendly. 

This administrative move involving the Diaoyu Islands, based on perceived military necessity, did not signify that the US considered the Diaoyu Islands a historical part of the Ryukyu Islands or that the US took a legal position on outstanding territorial disputes between China and Japan.

In 1971, the US Senate approved the Okinawa Reversion Treaty. The US Senate records indicate that it understood the longstanding historical and legal dispute over the Diaoyu Islands and that it did not take a side on this matter in the passing of the these islands to Japanese administration. There was opposition to reversion in the Senate and in the US. 

Today, at a time of intense controversy over the Diaoyu Islands, Washington includes the Diaoyu Islands within the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between Japan and the US. For many, such a disruptive tilt toward Tokyo signals that Washington is far from neutral in this dispute.

Washington must take a strictly impartial position so that China and Japan over time may resolve their differences according to international law and in a peaceful manner through diplomacy.

The author is an educator and former senior professional staff member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn


Menacing Things Come In Threes

October 13, 2012: Recent photos from China show three 1,500 ton coastal patrol ships ("cutters" in American parlance) being built simultaneously, next to each other. This is part of a 36 ship order, in part to help the domestic ship building industry, for the China Marine Surveillance (CMS). Seven of the new ships are the size of corvettes (1,500 tons), while the rest are smaller (15 are 1,000 ton ships and 14 are 600 tons). The global economic recession has hit shipbuilding particularly hard over the last four years and China is one of the top three shipbuilding nations in the world. For a long time coastal patrol was carried out by navy cast-offs. But in the last decade the coastal patrol force has been getting more and more new ships (as well as more retired navy small ships). Delivery of all 36 CMS ships is to be completed in the next two years.

The CMS service is one of five Chinese organizations responsible for law enforcement along the coast. The others are the Coast Guard, which is a military force that constantly patrols the coasts. The Maritime Safety Administration handles search and rescue along the coast. The Fisheries Law Enforcement Command polices fishing grounds. The Customs Service polices smuggling. China has multiple coastal patrol organizations because it is the custom in communist dictatorships to have more than one security organization doing the same task, so each outfit can keep an eye on the other.

CMS is the most recent of these agencies, having been established in 1998. It is actually the police force for the Chinese Oceanic Administration, which is responsible for surveying non-territorial waters that China has economic control over (the exclusive economic zones or EEZ) and for enforcing environmental laws in its coastal waters. The new program will expand the CMS strength from 9,000 to 10,000 personnel. CMS already has 300 boats and ten aircraft. In addition, CMS collects and coordinates data from marine surveillance activities in ten large coastal cities and 170 coastal counties. When there is an armed confrontation over contested islands in the South China Sea, it's usually CMS patrol boats that are frequently described as "Chinese warships."

Thus the current expansion is mostly about the EEZ and patrolling it more frequently and aggressively. International law (the 1994 Law of the Sea treaty) recognizes the waters 22 kilometers from land as under the jurisdiction of the nation controlling the nearest land. That means ships cannot enter these "territorial waters" without permission. However, the waters 360 kilometers from land are considered the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the nation controlling the nearest land. The EEZ owner can control who fishes there and extracts natural resources (mostly oil and gas) from the ocean floor. But the EEZ owner cannot prohibit free passage or the laying of pipelines and communications cables. China has already claimed that foreign ships have been conducting illegal espionage in their EEZ. But the 1994 treaty says nothing about such matters. China is simply doing what China has been doing for centuries, trying to impose its will on neighbors or anyone venturing into what China considers areas under its control.

For the last two centuries China has been prevented from exercising its "traditional rights" in nearby waters because of the superior power of foreign navies (first the cannon armed European sailing ships, then, in the 19th century, newly built steel warships from Japan). However, since the communists took over China 60 years ago, there have been increasingly violent attempts to reassert Chinese control over areas that have long (for centuries) been considered part of the "Middle Kingdom" (or China, as in the "center of the world").

China is particularly concerned about the nearby Spratlys, a group of some 100 islets, atolls, and reefs that total only about 5 square kilometers of land but sprawl across some 410,000 square kilometers of the South China Sea. Set amid some of the world's most productive fishing grounds, the islands are believed to have enormous underwater oil and gas reserves. Several nations have overlapping claims on the group. About 45 of the islands are currently occupied by small numbers of military personnel. China claims them all but occupies only 8, Vietnam has occupied or marked 25, the Philippines 8, Malaysia 6, and Taiwan one.

China prefers to use non-military or paramilitary ships (like those of the CMS) to harass foreign ships it wants out of the EEZ or disputed warfare. This approach is less likely to spark an armed conflict and makes it easier for the Chinese to claim they were the victims.


China Leaves 1962 Military Triumph's Shadow Behind

BEIJING: It's not denial, and it's not amnesia, but the Chinese never gloat over the country's military triumph in the 1962 war with India. No one talks about the conflict here; there's no section of a museum, no memorials in China to display a sense of national bravado, and nothing like Tokyo's Yasukuni shrine.
Windwing - China Leaves 1962 Military Triumph's Shadow Behind
A Chinese soldier shares light moment with an Indian officer at Nathu La on the India-China border. The Chinese never gloat over the country's military triumph in the 1962 war with India.
The Yasukuni shrine continues to embarrass the Chinese, who see in Japan's obsession for "war heroes" a glorification of "war criminals" involved in rape and massacre of innocent citizens after the southern city of Nanjing fell into the hands of the Japanese army in 1937. There has been no such attempt in China to embarrass India over the 1962 conflict.

"China never wanted to humiliate India. It has been wrongly understood in India," said Janaki Ballabh, who came to Beijing as a copy editor with the Foreign Languages Press in 1956. "My Chinese friends feel sad that the two countries had to go to war. The war has not changed the love and respect that ordinary Chinese have for India," Ballabh said. Government experts sound almost apologetic about the war success and tend to explain it in ways that is hardly ever discussed in India. This is evident in several articles in Chinese journals through the past decades, including a recent one in the Global Times last June.

"Then Chinese leader Mao Zedong believed the battle with India was also a political combat, and the real target was not Nehru but the US and the Soviets that had been plotting behind the scenes against China," wrote Hong Yuan, a deputy secretary-general and researcher with the Center of World Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in the Global Times.

"As to Nehru, Mao wanted to wake him up from the superpowers' influence by giving him a heavy punch, so that he would come to his senses and end the war," Hong wrote, outlining the Chinese official version of history.

Beijing prefers to blame the United States for the Dalai Lama's escape to India in 1959, and even the 1962 war with India. This was evident in a speech by Xuecheng Liu, a senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies, during a workshop on 'Revisit Sino-Indian Border Dispute' at London's Westminster University in 2010.

"The CIA-supported revolt in Tibet, India-embraced Dalai Lama, and India-hosted Tibetan Government-in-exile turned out to be one of the causes of the border war in 1962," Xuecheng said. "Then the China-India relationship dramatically moved toward hostility and confrontation from brotherhood and friendship and entered an era of cold war which lasted nearly two decades."

The situation has changed and "China and India do not pose a threat to each other and their common interests far outweigh their differences," Xuecheng said, ending his speech with: "A good China-India relationship makes both winners while a confrontational one makes both losers."

Similar refrain is heard in several speeches and articles by Chinese government officials and experts, who are trying to persuade both sides to move away from the shadow of history and take determined steps towards friendship. "The Sino-Indian border war was not only a special interaction of two ancient civilizations, but also an unfortunate tragedy between two formerly colonized and oppressed states," the Communist Party organ, People's Daily, said in an article by Li Hongmei in 2010.

"Fortunately, the sober-minded people on both sides would prefer to avoid being dragged down by the past. Instead, they have been making every effort to achieve a reasonable and just settlement of the territory in dispute and turn to a broader cooperation gearing to future," the article said.


The Inconvenient Truth Behind The DiaoYu/Senkaku Islands

The Inconvenient Truth Behind The DiaoYu/Senkaku Islands

I've had a longstanding interest in the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands, the subject of a dangerous territorial dispute  between Japan and China. The United States claims to be neutral but in effect is siding with Japan, and we could be drawn in if a war ever arose. Let me clear that I deplore the violence in the recent anti-Japan protests in China:  the violence is reprehensible and makes China look like an irrational bully. China's government should rein in this volatile nationalism rather than feed it. This is a dispute that both sides should refer to the International Court of Justice, rather than allow to boil over in the streets. That said, when I look at the underlying question of who has the best claim, I'm sympathetic to China's position. I don't think it is 100 percent clear, partly because China seemed to acquiesce to Japanese sovereignty between 1945 and 1970, but on balance I find the evidence for Chinese sovereignty quite compelling. The most interesting evidence is emerging from old Japanese government documents and suggests that Japan in effect stole the islands from China in 1895 as booty of war. This article by Han-Yi Shaw, a scholar from Taiwan, explores those documents. I invite any Japanese scholars to make the contrary legal case. – Nicholas Kristof

Japan's recent purchase of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands has predictably reignited tensions amongst China, Japan, and Taiwan. Three months ago, when Niwa Uichiro, the Japanese ambassador to China, warned that Japan's purchase of the islands could spark an "extremely grave crisis" between China and Japan, Tokyo Governor Ishihara Shintaro slammed Niwa as an unqualified ambassador , who "needs to learn more about the history of his own country".

Ambassador Niwa was forced to apologize for his remarks and was recently replaced. But what is most alarming amid these developments is that despite Japan's democratic and pluralist society, rising nationalist sentiments are sidelining moderate views and preventing rational dialogue.

The Japanese government maintains that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands are Japanese territory under international law and historical point of view and has repeatedly insisted that no dispute exists . Despite that the rest of the world sees a major dispute, the Japanese government continues to evade important historical facts behind its unlawful incorporation of the islands in 1895.

Specifically, the Japanese government asserts, "From 1885 on, our government conducted on-site surveys time and again, which confirmed that the islands were uninhabited and there were no signs of control by the Qing Empire."

My research of over 40 official Meiji period documents unearthed from the Japanese National Archives, Diplomatic Records Office, and National Institute for Defense Studies Library clearly demonstrates that the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership of the islands back in 1885.

Following the first on-site survey, in 1885, the Japanese foreign minister wrote, "Chinese newspapers have been reporting rumors of our intention of occupying islands belonging to China located next to Taiwan.… At this time, if we were to publicly place national markers, this must necessarily invite China's suspicion.…"

In November 1885, the Okinawa governor confirmed "since this matter is not unrelated to China, if problems do arise I would be in grave repentance for my responsibility".

"Surveys of the islands are incomplete" wrote the new Okinawa governor in January of 1892. He requested that a naval ship Kaimon be sent to survey the islands, but ultimately a combination of miscommunication and bad weather made it impossible for the survey to take place.

Windwing - The Inconvenient Truth Behind The DiaoYu/Senkaku Islands

Japan Diplomatic Records Office. Letter dated May 12, 1894 affirming that the Meiji government did not repeatedly investigate the disputed islands.  

"Ever since the islands were investigated by Okinawa police agencies back in 1885, there have been no subsequent field surveys conducted," the Okinawa governor wrote in 1894.

After a number of Chinese defeats in the Sino-Japanese War, a report from Japan's Home Ministry said "this matter involved negotiations with China… but the situation today is greatly different from back then." The Meiji government, following a cabinet decision in early 1895, promptly incorporated the islands.

Negotiations with China never took place and this decision was passed during the Sino-Japanese War. It was never made public.

In his biography Koga Tatsushiro, the first Japanese citizen to lease the islands from the Meiji government, attributed Japan's possession of the islands to "the gallant military victory of our Imperial forces."

Collectively, these official documents leave no doubt that the Meiji government did not base its occupation of the islands following "on-site surveys time and again," but instead annexed them as booty of war. This is the inconvenient truth that the Japanese government has conveniently evaded.

Japan asserts that neither Beijing nor Taipei objected to U.S. administration after WWII. That's true, but what Japan does not mention is that neither Beijing nor Taipei were invited as signatories of the San Francisco Peace Treaty in 1951, from which the U.S. derived administrative rights.

When Japan annexed the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands in 1895, it detached them from Taiwan and placed them under Okinawa Prefecture. Moreover, the Japanese name "Senkaku Islands" itself was first introduced in 1900 by academic Kuroiwa Hisashi and adopted by the Japanese government thereafter. Half a century later when Japan returned Taiwan to China, both sides adopted the 1945 administrative arrangement of Taiwan, with the Chinese unaware that the uninhabited "Senkaku Islands" were in fact the former Diaoyu Islands. This explains the belated protest from Taipei and Beijing over U.S. administration of the islands after the war.

Windwing - The Inconvenient Truth Behind The DiaoYu/Senkaku Islands

Report dated August 12, 1892 from navy commander affirming the islands were not fully investigated. Source:  Library of The National Institute for Defense Studies.

The Japanese government frequently cites two documents as evidence that China did not consider the islands to be Chinese. The first is an official letter from a Chinese consul in Nagasaki dated May 20, 1920 that listed the islands as Japanese territory.

Neither Beijing nor Taipei dispute that the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands — along with the entire island of Taiwan — were formally under Japanese occupation at the time. However, per post-WW II arrangements, Japan was required to surrender territories obtained from aggression and revert them to their pre-1895 legal status.

The second piece evidence is a Chinese map from 1958 that excludes the Senkaku Islands from Chinese territory. But the Japanese government's partial unveiling leaves out important information from the map's colophon: "certain national boundaries are based on maps compiled prior to the Second Sino-Japanese War(1937-1945)."

Qing period (1644-1911) records substantiate Chinese ownership of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands prior to 1895. Envoy documents indicate that the islands reside inside the "border that separates Chinese and foreign lands." And according to Taiwan gazetteers, "Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships" under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.

The right to know is the bedrock of every democracy. The Japanese public deserves to know the other side of the story. It is the politicians who flame public sentiments under the name of national interests who pose the greatest risk, not the islands themselves.

Update: The author would like to include an updated image of the Qing era documents that recorded, "Diaoyutai Island accommodates ten or more large ships", as mentioned in his blog post.

Windwing - The Inconvenient Truth Behind The DiaoYu/Senkaku Islands
National Palace Museum, Taipei, Taiwan. Record of Missions to Taiwan Waters (1722), Gazetteer of Kavalan County (1852), and Pictorial Treatise of Taiwan Proper (1872).

Han-Yi Shaw is a Research Fellow at the Research Center for International Legal Studies, National Chengchi University, in Taipei, Taiwan.


DiaoYuDao , An Inherent Territory Of China

DiaoYu Dao, An Inherent Territory Of China

(September 2012)

State Council Information Office
The People's Republic Of China




I. DiaoYu Dao Is China's Inherent Territory

II. Japan Grabbed DiaoYu Dao From China

III. Backroom Deals Between The United States And Japan Concerning DiaoYu Dao Are Illegal And Invalid

IV. Japan's Claim Of Sovereignty Over DiaoYu Dao Is Totally Unfounded

V. China Has Taken Resolute Measures To Safeguard Its Sovereignty Over DiaoYu Dao



Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands are an inseparable part of the Chinese territory. Diaoyu Dao is China's inherent territory in all historical, geographical and legal terms, and China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao.

Japan's occupation of Diaoyu Dao during the Sino-Japanese War in 1895 is illegal and invalid. After World War II, Diaoyu Dao was returned to China in accordance with such international legal documents as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. No matter what unilateral step Japan takes over Diaoyu Dao, it will not change the fact that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China. For quite some time, Japan has repeatedly stirred up troubles on the issue of Diaoyu Dao. On September 10, 2012, the Japanese government announced the "purchase" of Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated Nanxiao Dao and Beixiao Dao and the implementation of the so-called "nationalization". This is a move that grossly violates China's territorial sovereignty and seriously tramples on historical facts and international jurisprudence.

China is firmly opposed to Japan's violation of China's sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao in whatever form and has taken resolute measures to curb any such act. China's position on the issue of Diaoyu Dao is clear-cut and consistent. China's will to defend national sovereignty and territorial integrity is firm and its resolve to uphold the outcomes of the World Anti-Fascist War will not be shaken by any force.

I. DiaoYu Dao Is China's Inherent Territory

Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands, which consist of Diaoyu Dao, Huangwei Yu, Chiwei Yu, Nanxiao Dao, Beixiao Dao, Nan Yu, Bei Yu, Fei Yu and other islands and reefs, are located to the northeast of China's Taiwan Island, in the waters between 123o20'-124o40'E (East Longitude) and 25o40'-26o00'N (North Latitude), and are affiliated to the Taiwan Island. The total landmass of these islands is approximately 5.69 square kilometers. Diaoyu Dao, situated in the western tip of the area, covers a landmass of about 3.91 square kilometers and is the largest island in the area. The highest peak on the island stands 362 meters above the sea level. Huangwei Yu, which is located about 27 kilometers to the northeast of Diaoyu Dao, is the second largest island in the area, with a total landmass of about 0.91 square kilometers and a highest elevation of 117 meters. Chiwei Yu, situated about 110 kilometers to the northeast of Diaoyu Dao, is the easternmost island in the area. It covers a landmass of approximately 0.065 square kilometers and stands 75 meters above the sea level at its peak.

1. Diaoyu Dao was first discovered, named and exploited by China

Ancient ancestors in China first discovered and named Diaoyu Dao through their production and fishery activities on the sea. In China's historical literatures, Diaoyu Dao is also called Diaoyu Yu or Diaoyu Tai. The earliest historical record of the names of Diaoyu Dao, Chiwei Yu and other places can be found in the book Voyage with a Tail Wind (Shun Feng Xiang Song) published in 1403 (the first year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty). It shows that China had already discovered and named Diaoyu Dao by the 14th and 15th centuries.P In 1372 (the fifth year of the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty), the King of Ryukyu started paying tribute to the imperial court of the Ming Dynasty. In return, Emperor Hongwu (the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty) sent imperial envoys to Ryukyu. In the following five centuries until 1866 (the fifth year of the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty), the imperial courts of the Ming and Qing Dynasties sent imperial envoys to Ryukyu 24 times to confer titles on the Ryukyu King, and Diaoyu Dao was exactly located on their route to Ryukyu. Ample volume of records about Diaoyu Dao could be found in the reports written by Chinese imperial envoys at the time. For example, the Records of the Imperial Title-conferring Envoys to Ryukyu (Shi Liu Qiu Lu) written in 1534 by Chen Kan, an imperial title-conferring envoy from the Ming court, clearly stated that "the ship has passed Diaoyu Dao, Huangmao Yu, Chi Yu... Then Gumi Mountain comes into sight, that is where the land of Ryukyu begins." The Shi Liu Qiu Lu of another imperial envoy of the Ming Dynasty, Guo Rulin, in 1562 also stated that "Chi Yu is the mountain that marks the boundary of Ryukyu". In 1719, Xu Baoguang, a deputy title-conferring envoy to Ryukyu in the Qing Dynasty, clearly recorded in his book Records of Messages from Chong-shan (Zhong Shan Chuan Xin Lu) that the voyage from Fujian to Ryukyu passed Huaping Yu, Pengjia Yu, Diaoyu Dao, Huangwei Yu, Chiwei Yu and reached Naba (Naha) port of Ryukyu via Gumi Mountain (the mountain guarding the southwest border of Ryukyu) and Machi Island.

In 1650, the Annals of Chong-shan (Zhong Shan Shi Jian), the first official historical record of the Ryukyu Kingdom drafted under the supervision of Ryukyu's prime minister Xiang Xiangxian (Kozoken), confirmed that Gumi Mountain (also called Gumi Mountain, known as Kume Island today) is part of Ryukyu's territory, while Chi Yu (known as Chiwei Yu today) and the areas to its west are not Ryukyu's territory. In 1708, Cheng Shunze (Tei Junsoku), a noted scholar and the Grand Master with the Purple-Golden Ribbon (Zi Jin Da Fu) of Ryukyu, recorded in his book A General Guide (Zhi Nan Guang Yi) that "Gumi Mountain is the mountain guarding the southwest border of Ryukyu".

These historical accounts clearly demonstrate that Diaoyu Dao and Chiwei Yu belong to China and Kume Island belongs to Ryukyu, and that the separating line lies in Hei Shui Gou (today's Okinawa Trough) between Chiwei Yu and Kume Island. In 1579, Xie Jie, a deputy imperial title-conferring envoy of the Ming Dynasty, recorded in his book, Addendum to Summarized Record of Ryukyu (Liu Qiu Lu Cuo Yao Bu Yi) that he entered Ryukyu from Cang Shui to Hei Shui, and returned to China from Hei Shui to Cang Shui. Xia Ziyang, another imperial envoy of the Ming court, wrote in 1606 that "when the water flows from Hei Shui back to Cang Shui, it enters the Chinese territory." Miscellaneous Records of a Mission to Ryukyu (Shi Liu Qiu Za Lu), a book written in 1683 by Wang Ji, an imperial envoy of the Qing Dynasty, stated that "Hei Shui Gou", situated outside Chi Yu, is the "boundary between China and foreign land". In 1756, Zhou Huang, a deputy imperial envoy of the Qing Dynasty, recorded in his book, the Annals of Ryukyu (Liu Qiu Guo Zhi Lue), that Ryukyu "is separated from the waters of Fujian by Hei Shui Gou to the west".

The waters surrounding Diaoyu Dao are traditionally Chinese fishing ground. Chinese fishermen have, for generations, engaged in fishery activities in these waters. In the past, Diaoyu Dao was used as a navigation marker by the Chinese people living on the southeast coast.

2. Diaoyu Dao had long been under China's jurisdiction

In the early years of the Ming Dynasty, China placed Diaoyu Dao under its coastal defense to guard against the invasion of Japanese pirates along its southeast coast. In 1561 (the 40th year of the reign of Emperor Jiajing of the Ming Dynasty), An Illustrated Compendium on Maritime Security (Chou Hai Tu Bian) compiled by Zheng Ruozeng under the auspices of Hu Zongxian, the supreme commander of the southeast coastal defense of the Ming court, included the Diaoyu Dao Islands on the "Map of Coastal Mountains and Sands" (Yan Hai Shan Sha Tu) and incorporated them into the jurisdiction of the coastal defense of the Ming court. The Complete Map of Unified Maritime Territory for Coastal Defense (Qian Kun Yi Tong Hai Fang Quan Tu), drawn up by Xu Bida and others in 1605 (the 33rd year of the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty) and the Treatise on Military Preparations.Coastal Defense II.Map of Fujian's Coastal Mountains and Sands (Wu Bei Zhi.Hai Fang Er.Fu Jian Yan Hai Shan Sha Tu), drawn up by Mao Yuanyi in 1621 (the first year of the reign of Emperor Tianqi of the Ming Dynasty), also included the Diaoyu Dao Islands as part of China's maritime territory.

The Qing court not only incorporated the Diaoyu Dao Islands into the scope of China's coastal defense as the Ming court did, but also clearly placed the islands under the jurisdiction of the local government of Taiwan. Official documents of the Qing court, such as A Tour of Duty in the Taiwan Strait (Tai Hai Shi Cha Lu) and Annals of Taiwan Prefecture (Tai Wan Fu Zhi) all gave detailed accounts concerning China's administration over Diaoyu Dao. Volume 86 of Recompiled General Annals of Fujian (Chong Zuan Fu Jian Tong Zhi), a book compiled by Chen Shouqi and others in 1871 (the tenth year of the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty), included Diaoyu Dao as a strategic location for coastal defense and placed the islands under the jurisdiction of Gamalan, Taiwan (known as Yilan County today).

3. Chinese and foreign maps show that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China

The Roadmap to Ryukyu (Liu Qiu Guo Hai Tu) in the Shi Liu Qiu Lu written by imperial title-conferring envoy Xiao Chongye in 1579 (the seventh year of the reign of Emperor Wanli of the Ming Dynasty), the Record of the Interpreters of August Ming (Huang Ming Xiang Xu Lu) written by Mao Ruizheng in 1629 (the second year of the reign of Emperor Chongzhen of the Ming Dynasty), the Great Universal Geographic Map (Kun Yu Quan Tu) created in 1767 (the 32nd year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty), and the Atlas of the Great Qing Dynasty (Huang Chao Zhong Wai Yi Tong Yu Tu) published in 1863 (the second year of the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty) all marked Diaoyu Dao as China's territory.

The book Illustrated Outline of the Three Countries written by Hayashi Shihei in 1785 was the earliest Japanese literature to mention Diaoyu Dao. The Map of the Three Provinces and 36 Islands of Ryukyu in the book put Diaoyu Dao as being apart from the 36 islands of Ryukyu and colored it the same as the mainland of China, indicating that Diaoyu Dao was part of China's territory.

The Map of East China Sea Littoral States created by the French cartographer Pierre Lapie and others in 1809 colored Diaoyu Dao, Huangwei Yu, Chiwei Yu and the Taiwan Island as the same. Maps such as A New Map of China from the Latest Authorities published in Britain in 1811, Colton's China published in the United States in 1859, and A Map of China's East Coast: Hongkong to Gulf of Liao-Tung compiled by the British Navy in 1877 all marked Diaoyu Dao as part of China's territory.

II. Japan Grabbed DiaoYu Dao From China

Japan accelerated its invasion and external expansion after the Meiji Restoration. Japan seized Ryukyu in 1879 and changed its name to Okinawa Prefecture. Soon after that, Japan began to act covertly to invade and occupy Diaoyu Dao and secretly "included" Diaoyu Dao in its territory at the end of the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-1895. Japan then forced China to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and cede to Japan the island of Formosa (Taiwan), together with Diaoyu Dao and all other islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa.

1. Japan's covert moves to seize Diaoyu Dao

In 1884, a Japanese man claimed that he first landed on Diaoyu Dao and found the island to be uninhabited. The Japanese government then dispatched secret facts-finding missions to Diaoyu Dao and attempted to invade and occupy the island. The above-mentioned plots by Japan triggered China's alert. On September 6, 1885 (the 28th day of the 7th month in the 11th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu of the Qing Dynasty), the Chinese newspaper Shen-pao (Shanghai News) reported: "Recently, Japanese flags have been seen on the islands northeast to Taiwan, revealing Japan's intention to occupy these islands." But the Japanese government did not dare to take any further action for fear of reaction from China.

After the secret facts-finding missions to Diaoyu Dao, the governor of Okinawa Prefecture sent a report in secrecy to the Minister of Internal Affairs Yamagata Aritomo on September 22, 1885, saying that these uninhabited islands were, in fact, the same Diaoyu Tai, Huangwei Yu and Chiwe Yu that were recorded in the Records of Messages from Chong-shan (Zhong Shan Chuan Xin Lu) and known well to imperial title-conferring envoys of the Qing court on their voyages to Ryukyu, and that he had doubts as to whether or not sovereignty markers should be set up and therefore asked for instruction. The Minister of Internal Affairs Yamagata Aritomo solicited opinion from the Foreign Minister Inoue Kaoru on October 9. Inoue Kaoru replied in a letter to Yamagata Aritomo on October 21, "At present, any open moves such as placing sovereignty markers are bound to alert the Qing imperial court. Therefore, it is advisable not to go beyond field surveys and detailed reports on the shapes of the bays, land and other resources for future development. In the meantime, we will wait for a better time to engage in such activities as putting up sovereignty markers and embarking on development on the islands." Inoue Kaoru also made a special emphasis that "it is inappropriate to publicize the missions on official gazette or newspapers." As a result, the Japanese government did not approve of the request of Okinawa Prefecture to set up sovereignty markers.

The governor of Okinawa Prefecture submitted the matter for approval to the Minister of Internal Affairs once again on January 13, 1890, saying that Diaoyu Dao and other "above-mentioned uninhabited islands have remained under no specific jurisdiction", and that he "intends to place them under the jurisdiction of the Office of Yaeyama Islands." On November 2, 1893, the governor of Okinawa Prefecture applied once again for setting up sovereignty markers to incorporate the islands into Japan's territory. The Japanese government did not respond. On May 12, 1894, two months before the Sino-Japanese War, the secret facts-finding missions to Diaoyu Dao by Okinawa Prefecture came to a final conclusion, "Ever since the prefecture police surveyed the island in 1885 (the 18th year of the Meiji period), there have been no subsequent investigations. As a result, it is difficult to provide any specific reports on it... In addition, there exist no old records related to the said island or folklore and legends demonstrating that the island belongs to our country."

Japan's attempts to occupy Diaoyu Dao were clearly recorded in Japan Diplomatic Documents compiled by the Japanese Foreign Ministry. Relevant documents evidently show that the Japanese government intended to occupy Diaoyu Dao, but refrained from acting impetuously as it was fully aware of China's sovereignty over these islands.

Japan waged the Sino-Japanese War in July 1894. Towards the end of November 1894, Japanese forces seized the Chinese port of Lushun (then known as Port Arthur), virtually securing defeat of the Qing court. Against such backdrop, the Japanese Minister of Internal Affairs Yasushi Nomura wrote to Foreign Minister Mutsu Munemitsu on December 27 that the "circumstances have now changed", and called for a decision by the cabinet on the issue of setting up sovereignty markers in Diaoyu Dao and incorporating the island into Japan's territory. Mutsu Munemitsu expressed his support for the proposal in his reply to Yasushi Nomura on January 11, 1895. The Japanese cabinet secretly passed a resolution on January 14 to "place" Diaoyu Dao under the jurisdiction of Okinawa Prefecture.

Japan's official documents show that from the time of the facts-finding missions to Diaoyu Dao in 1885 to the occupation of the islands in 1895, Japan had consistently acted in secrecy without making its moves public. This further proves that Japan's claim of sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao does not have legal effect under international law.

2. Diaoyu Dao was ceded to Japan together with the Taiwan Island

On April 17, 1895, the Qing court was defeated in the Sino-Japanese War and forced to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and cede to Japan "the island of Formosa (Taiwan), together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa". The Diaoyu Dao Islands were ceded to Japan as "islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa". In 1900, Japan changed the name of Diaoyu Dao to "Senkaku Islands".

III. Backroom Deals Between The United States And Japan Concerning DiaoYu Dao Are Illegal And Invalid

Diaoyu Dao was returned to China after the Second World War. However, the United States arbitrarily included Diaoyu Dao under its trusteeship in the 1950s and "returned" the "power of administration" over Diaoyu Dao to Japan in the 1970s. The backroom deals between the United States and Japan concerning Diaoyu Dao are acts of grave violation of China's territorial sovereignty. They are illegal and invalid. They have not and cannot change the fact that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China.

1. Diaoyu Dao was returned to China after the Second World War

In December 1941, the Chinese government officially declared war against Japan together with the abrogation of all treaties between China and Japan. In December 1943, the Cairo Declaration stated in explicit terms that "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa [Taiwan] and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed." In July 1945, the Potsdam Proclamation stated in Article 8: "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." On September 2, 1945, the Japanese government accepted the Potsdam Proclamation in explicit terms with the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and pledged to faithfully fulfill the obligations enshrined in the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation. On January 29, 1946, the Supreme Commander for the
Allied Powers Instruction (SCAPIN) No.677 clearly defined Japan's power of administration to "include the four main islands of Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku) and the approximately 1,000 smaller adjacent islands, including the Tsushima Islands and the Ryukyu Islands north of the 30th parallel of North Latitude". On October 25, 1945, the ceremony for accepting Japan's surrender in Taiwan Province of the China War Theater was held in Taipei, and the Chinese government officially recovered Taiwan. On September 29, 1972, the Japanese government committed with all seriousness in the China-Japan Joint Statement that "the Government of Japan fully understands and respects this stand of the Government of the People's Republic of China [Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People's Republic of China], and it firmly maintains its stand under Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation."

These facts show that in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, Diaoyu Dao, as affiliated islands of Taiwan, should be returned, together with Taiwan, to China.

2. The United States illegally included Diaoyu Dao under its trusteeship

On September 8, 1951, Japan, the United States and a number of other countries signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco) with China being excluded from it. The treaty placed the Nansei Islands south of the 29th parallel of North Latitude under United Nations' trusteeship, with the United States as the sole administering authority. It should be pointed out that the Nansei Islands placed under the administration of the United States in the Treaty of Peace with Japan did not include Diaoyu Dao.

The United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands (USCAR) issued Civil Administration Ordinance No. 68 (Provisions of the Government of the Ryukyu Islands) on February 29, 1952 and Civil Administration Proclamation No. 27 (defining the "geographical boundary lines of the Ryukyu Islands") on December 25, 1953, arbitrarily expanding its jurisdiction to include China's Diaoyu Dao. However, there were no legal grounds whatsoever for the US act, to which China has firmly opposed.

3. The United States and Japan conducted backroom deals concerning the "power of administration" over Diaoyu Dao

On June 17, 1971, Japan and the United States signed the Agreement Concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands (Okinawa Reversion Agreement), which provided that any and all powers of administration over the Ryukyu Islands and Diaoyu Dao would be "returned" to Japan. The Chinese people, including overseas Chinese, all condemned such a backroom deal. On December 30, 1971, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a solemn statement, pointing out that "it is completely illegal for the government of the United States and Japan to include China's Diaoyu Dao Islands into the territories to be returned to Japan in the Okinawa Reversion Agreement and that it can by no means change the People's Republic of China's territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Dao Islands". The Taiwan authorities also expressed firm opposition to the backroom deal between the United States and Japan.

In response to the strong opposition of the Chinese government and people, the United States had to publicly clarify its position on the sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao. In October 1971, the US administration stated that "the United States believes that a return of administrative rights over those islands to Japan, from which the rights were received, can in no way prejudice any underlying claims. The United States cannot add to the legal rights Japan possessed before it transferred administration of the islands to us, nor can the United States, by giving back what it received, diminish the rights of other claimants... The United States has made no claim to Diaoyu Dao and considers that any conflicting claims to the islands are a matter for resolution by the parties concerned." In November 1971, when presenting the Okinawa Reversion Agreement to the US Senate for ratification, the US Department of State stressed that the United States took a neutral position with regard to the competing Japanese and Chinese claims to the islands, despite the return of administrative rights over the islands to Japan.

IV. Japan's Claim Of Sovereignty Over DiaoYu Dao Is Totally Unfounded

On March 8, 1972, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued the Basic View on the Sovereignty over the Senkaku Islands in an attempt to explain the Japanese government's claims of sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao. First, Japan claims that Diaoyu Dao was "terra nullius" and not part of Pescadores, Formosa [Taiwan] or their affiliated islands which were ceded to Japan by the Qing government in accordance with the Treaty of Shimonoseki. Second, Japan claims that Diaoyu Dao was not included in the territory which Japan renounced under Article 2 of the Treaty of San Francisco, but was placed under the administration of the United States as part of the Nansei Islands in accordance with Article 3 of the said treaty, and was included in the area for which the administrative rights were reverted to Japan in accordance with the Okinawa Reversion Agreement. Third, Japan claims that China didn't regard Diaoyu Dao as part of Taiwan and had never challenged the inclusion of the islands in the area over which the United States exercised administrative rights in accordance with Article 3 of the Treaty of San Francisco.

Such claims by Japan fly in the face of facts and are totally unfounded.

Diaoyu Dao belongs to China. It is by no means "terra nullius". China is the indisputable owner of Diaoyu Dao as it had exercised valid jurisdiction over the island for several hundred years long before the Japanese people "discovered" it. As stated above, voluminous Japanese official documents prove that Japan was fully aware that according to international law, Diaoyu Dao has long been part of China and was not "terra nullius". Japan's act to include Diaoyu Dao as "terra nullius" into its territory based on the "occupation" principle is in fact an illegal act of occupying Chinese territory and has no legal effect according to international law.

Diaoyu Dao has always been affiliated to China's Taiwan Island both in geographical terms and in accordance with China's historical jurisdiction practice. Through the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan forced the Qing court to cede to it "the island of Taiwan, together with all islands appertaining or belonging to it", including Diaoyu Dao. International legal documents such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation provide that Japan must unconditionally return the territories it has stolen from China. These documents also clearly define Japan's territory, which by no means includes Diaoyu Dao. Japan's attempted occupation of Diaoyu Dao, in essence, constitutes a challenge to the post-war international order established by such legal documents as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation and seriously violates the obligations Japan should undertake according to international law.

Diaoyu Dao was not placed under the trusteeship established by the Treaty of San Francisco, which was signed between the United States and other countries with Japan and is partial in nature. The United States arbitrarily expanded the scope of trusteeship to include Diaoyu Dao, which is China's territory, and later "returned" the "power of administration" over Diaoyu Dao to Japan. This has no legal basis and is totally invalid according to international law. The government and people of China have always explicitly opposed such illegal acts of the United States and Japan.

V. China Has Taken Resolute Measures To Safeguard Its Sovereignty Over DiaoYu Dao

China has, over the past years, taken resolute measures to safeguard its sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao.

China has, through the diplomatic channel, strongly protested against and condemned the backroom deals between the United States and Japan over Diaoyu Dao. On August 15, 1951, before the San Francisco Conference, the Chinese government made a statement: "If the People's Republic of China is excluded from the preparation, formulation and signing of the peace treaty with Japan, it will, no matter what its content and outcome are, be regarded as illegal and therefore invalid by the central people's government." On September 18, 1951, the Chinese government issued another statement stressing that the Treaty of San Francisco is illegal and invalid and can under no circumstances be recognized. In 1971, responding to the ratifications of the Okinawa Reversion Agreement by the US Congress and Japanese Diet, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a stern statement which pointed out that the Diaoyu Dao Islands have been an indivisible part of the Chinese territory since ancient times.

In response to Japan's illegal violation of China's sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao, the Chinese government has taken active and forceful measures such as issuing diplomatic statements, making serious representations with Japan and submitting notes of protest to the United Nations, solemnly stating China's consistent proposition, principle and position, firmly upholding China's territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests, and earnestly protecting the safety of life and property of Chinese citizens.

China has enacted domestic laws, which clearly provide that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China. In 1958, the Chinese government released a statement on the territorial sea, announcing that Taiwan and its adjacent islands belong to China. In light of Japan's repeated violations of China's sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao since the 1970s, China adopted the Law of the People's Republic of China on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone in 1992, which unequivocally prescribes that "Taiwan and the various affiliated islands including Diaoyu Dao" belong to China. The 2009 Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Offshore Islands establishes the protection, development and management system of offshore islands and prescribes the determination and announcement of the names of offshore islands, on the basis of which China announced the standard names of Diaoyu Dao and some of its affiliated islands in March 2012. On September 10, 2012, the Chinese government issued a statement announcing the baselines of the territorial sea of Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. On September 13, the Chinese government deposited the coordinates table and chart of the base points and baselines of the territorial sea of Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands with the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

China has maintained routine presence and exercised jurisdiction in the waters of Diaoyu Dao. China's marine surveillance vessels have been carrying out law enforcement patrol missions in the waters of Diaoyu Dao, and fishery administration law enforcement vessels have been conducting regular law enforcement patrols and fishery protection missions to uphold normal fishing order in the waters of Diaoyu Dao. China has also exercised administration over Diaoyu Dao and the adjacent waters by releasing weather forecasts and through oceanographic monitoring and forecasting.

Over the years, the issue of Diaoyu Dao has attracted attention from Hong Kong and Macao compatriots, Taiwan compatriots and overseas Chinese. Diaoyu Dao has been an inherent territory of China since ancient times. This is the common position of the entire Chinese nation. The Chinese nation has the strong resolve to uphold state sovereignty and territorial integrity. The compatriots across the Taiwan Straits stand firmly together on matters of principle to the nation and in the efforts to uphold national interests and dignity. The compatriots from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and the overseas Chinese have all carried out various forms of activities to safeguard China's territorial sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao, strongly expressing the just position of the Chinese nation, and displaying to the rest of the world that the peace-loving Chinese nation has the determination and the will to uphold China's state sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Diaoyu Dao has been an inherent territory of China since ancient times, and China has indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao. As China and Japan were normalizing relations and concluding the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship in the 1970s, the then leaders of the two countries, acting in the larger interest of China-Japan relations, reached important understanding and consensus on "leaving the issue of Diaoyu Dao to be resolved later." But in recent years, Japan has repeatedly taken unilateral measures concerning Diaoyu Dao and conducted in particular the so-called "nationalization" of Diaoyu Dao. This severely infringed upon China's sovereignty and ran counter to the understanding and consensus reached between the older generation of leaders of the two countries. It has not only seriously damaged China-Japan relations, but also rejected and challenged the outcomes of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War.

China strongly urges Japan to respect history and international law and immediately stop all actions that undermine China's territorial sovereignty. The Chinese government has the unshakable resolve and will to uphold the nation's territorial sovereignty. It has the confidence and ability to safeguard China's state sovereignty and territorial integrity.

DiaoYuDao: History Shall Not Be Reversed

DiaoYu Dao: History Shall Not Be Reversed

The purchase of Diaoyu Dao by the Japanese government is invalid, nothing can change the fact that Diaoyu Dao is the territory of China, writes Liu Xiaoming

Windwing - DiaoYuDao: History Shall Not Be Reversed

1:25PM BST 03 Oct 2012

My first ambassadorial post was to Egypt. I have many memories of this ancient and beautiful country. One is the Mena House Hotel, which I visited many times. Situated at the foot of the spectacular Cheops Pyramid, the hotel is the venue that produced the famous Cairo Declaration. It was published on 27 November 1943 after discussions between the leaders of China, Britain and the United States, and was the master plan for rebuilding international order following the war with Nazi Germany and Japan.

The Cairo Declaration was a laudable outcome of the war against both Germany, with its repellent Nazism, and Japan, with its equally repugnant military fascism. It stated in explicit terms that: "all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China . Japan will also be expelled from all other territories she has taken by violence and greed."

Less than two years later the Potsdam Proclamation, released on 26 July 1945, reaffirmed that: "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." The Japanese government accepted the Potsdam Proclamation in the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, and pledged to faithfully fulfil its obligations stipulated in the provisions of the Potsdam Proclamation.

All of these facts show that in accordance with the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and the Japanese Instrument of Surrender, Diaoyu Dao, as affiliated islands of Taiwan, should be returned, together with Taiwan, to China.

However, up to now Japan still obstinately clings to a colonialist mindset. It is turning a blind eye to the international agreements made at the conclusion of World War II by claiming that Diaoyu Dao is Japan's territory. It reveals that Japan has failed to examine its conscience and remains disappointingly unrepentant about its history of military fascism. Moreover, it attempted to deny the outcomes of the war against fascism and challenge the post-war international order.

History shall not be reversed. We must not forget the untold sufferings incurred during World War II. China and Britain are both victims of fascism. We have shared memories and pains. Chinese and British troops fought side by side on the battleground against Japanese military fascism. It is the common responsibility of China and Britain and the entire international community to reaffirm the outcomes of the war against fascism and maintain the post-war international order.

Nazism was born in Germany. On December 7, 1970, West German Chancellor Willy Brandt travelled to Poland and dropped to his knees before the monument to the Warsaw Ghetto uprising of 1943. Many in the world were deeply moved by this famous gesture of repentance and apology. The extraordinary courage and sincerity of Germany won it trust and respect.

After World War II, German and Japanese attitudes form a stark contrast. Unlike Germany, Japan has never seriously reflected on its military fascist past and made a serious apology. Instead, it tried to reverse the history. Such a remorseless attitude has made it difficult for Japan to earn the trust of its neighbours and the forgiveness of people around the world.

Recently Japan has taken a series of provocative steps. In total disregard of the established post World War II agreements, Japan implemented its plan of "purchasing" China's Diaoyu Dao. The so-called purchase of Diaoyu Dao by the Japanese government is illegal and invalid. It can in no way change the fact that Diaoyu Dao is the territory of China.

Historical records show it is an indisputable fact that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China. China's Ming and Qing dynasties had always exercised sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands were already marked on maps as Chinese territory in the early Ming dynasty. The British authorities supported this sovereignty with maps such as A New Map of China from the Latest Authorities, published in Britain in 1811. Also there is: A Map of China's East Coast: Hong Kong to Gulf of Liao-Tung, compiled by the British Navy in 1877. Both these maps marked Diaoyu Dao as part of China's territory.

In 1895 Japan illegally seized Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands through the first Sino-Japanese war. In 1951 Japan signed the Treaty of San Francisco with the US and a number of other countries, which in effect put the Ryukyu Islands under American administration. It must be stressed that China was excluded from this treaty and islands handed over to the American administration in this treaty did not include Diaoyu Dao.

In 1971 Japan and the US signed the agreement concerning the Ryukyu Islands and the Daito Islands, known as Okinawa Reversion Agreement. This treaty provided that powers of administration over the Ryukyu Islands and Diaoyu Dao would be "returned" to Japan.

The Chinese government has consistently opposed these agreements between Japan and the US that excluded China. So, it should be no surprise that China never recognised them.

In 1972 China-Japan relations normalised. In 1978 China and Japan signed the treaty of peace and friendship. Chinese and Japanese leaders agreed on shelving the Diaoyu Dao issue and waiting for a future settlement. Without such understanding and consensus, progress of Chinese and Japanese relations in the four decades that followed would have been impossible.

This year marks forty years of the normalisation of China and Japan relations. It ought to be a propitious year. The two countries had decided to hold a 'Year of Friendly Exchanges' between Chinese and Japanese People and nearly 600 exchange programmes were planned. All these were shelved following Japan's illegal 'purchase' of Diaoyu Dao. The atmosphere of celebration has gone sour.

Now the situation over Diaoyu Dao issue is escalating. Japan is the only one to blame. Japan does not even admit the existence of a dispute over Dioayu Dao! Such a position is an outright denial of the understanding and agreement reached between China and Japan.

It is imperative that Japan respects history and facts. It is vital that Japan reflects on its mistakes and comes to a clear understanding of the situation. It is critical that Japan displays the political courage to correct its wrongdoings, and respect China's territorial sovereignty.

LiuXiaoMing Is Chinese Ambassador To Britain


Territories Stolen From The Chinese

"Territories Stolen From The Chinese"

Inside The Anti-Japanese Protests In China


They've drawn far less attention in the U.S. media than the wave of anti-U.S. protests throughout the Islamic world responding to the infamous online anti-Muslim movie trailer. But the anti-Japanese protests in China might have more enduring significance. These are the largest in the postwar (post-1945) period, involving hundreds of thousands, causing Japanese owned factories and retail shops to shut their doors and even consider closing down permanently. Even Chinese-owned Japanese restaurants are posting Chinese flags and patriotic messages on their doors, hoping to avoid attack.

At the height of the violence," reports the Los Angeles Times, "dozens of Japanese businesses were attacked, including a Panasonic plant in Qingdao, a Toyota dealership and 7-Eleven shops. Hundreds of Japanese model cars were overturned or burned." Reuters reports that 41% of Japanese firms feel affected by the protests and are considering altering their plans for investment in China. As of last week Japanese automakers had lost $ 250 million in output due to the protests; Nissan, Toyota and Honda have suspended some operations.

There is a looming general crisis in the economic and political relationship between the world's second and third largest economies. These have been one another's top trading partners for some years now. Their total annual two-way trade is around $ 345 billon. Theirs is arguably the most important bilateral trade relationship in the world, after the Sino-U.S. relationship. But plans for a gala event to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and China have been postponed. This is all pretty serious.

What occasions the nationwide protests and unprecedented bilateral tensions? Five small uninhabited islands and three rocky outcroppings northeast of Taiwan and southwest of the Ryukyu island chain, which both China and Japan claim as theirs. The Chinese call them the Diaoyu Islands, the Japanese the Senkaku Islands. Some westerners have dubbed them the Pinnacle Islands. Strategically located in the South China Sea, surrounded by rich fisheries, they are thought to hold huge natural gas and oil reserves. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the seabed around them may hold as much as 100 billion barrels of oil. Sovereignty over them affects control over 21,000 square nautical miles.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has indicated that it does not want the territorial issue to become a "disturbing factor" in the mutually lucrative bilateral relationship with Japan. But the Japanese government has made it such. By moving to purchase three of the islands from their current private Japanese owner, following a campaign by Tokyo's right-wing governor Ishihara Shintaro, the Japanese government has inflamed the situation.

The Japanese government insists that "there is no dispute" about sovereignty over the islands. By this it means that Japan has a clear-cut claim based on international law, specifically the Shimonoseki Treaty signed in 1895 after Japan had defeated China in the Sino-Japanese War. (That is, it was legitimate war spoils, rather like, say, Guam which was won by the U.S. during the Spanish-American War of 1898.) This legalistic argument not only assumes the respectability of imperialism but ignores important details of postwar legal history.

Some relevant historical facts about the issue:

1. Chinese records dated 1403 and 1534 mention the islets, referring to the largest one as Diaoyu and naming two others. The latter text, A Record of the Imperial Envoy's Visit to Ryukyu, documents the visit of a Chinese diplomatic mission to the Ryukyu Island kingdom (centered on Okinawa), which was then not a part of Japan and never had been. Ming-era officials, en route to the investiture ceremony of the Ryukyuan king, regarded the isles as the border between the province of Taiwan and the Ryukyus, which had a tributary relationship with the Ming court. Neither the Ryukyuans nor the Chinese regarded the Daioyu cluster as part of the Ryukyus. They were obviously part of China.

The Record describes the islands as the "border that separates Chinese and foreign lands." Contemporary Taiwan gazetteers state "Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships," indicating that it was visited by Chinese junks. Another record of an embassy in 1561 mentions the islands as landmarks passed on the final stage of the voyage from Fuzhou to Okinawa. There is no record of Japanese visits to the Diaoyu islands or even Japanese knowledge of them as of the sixteenth century.

2. In the 1590s, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the warlord who had re-united Japan after centuries of division, sought to make the Ryukuan kingdom a vassal-state and cooperate in an invasion of Korea. The Ryukyuan king refused. But in 1609, forces from Satsuma, one of the many Japanese baronies of the time, invaded the Ryukyu kingdom and kidnapped the king, Sho Nei. They brought him to Japan and forced him to acknowledge both the daimyo of Satsuma and the Japanese shogun as his overlords. From that point the Ryukyus paid tribute to both China and Japan. Japanese officials saw the Ryukyus as a vassal-state—foreign, not part of Japan proper, but obliged to provide such goods as sugar-cane, tobacco, and products from China and Southeast Asia to Japan.

But the Japanese did not view the Diaoyu islands as part of this Ryukyuan vassal-state. Eighteenth century maps produced in both China and Japan plainly show the Diaoyu isles as Chinese territory. A map drawn up in 1785 by Hayashi Shihei, a military scholar in the castle-town of Sendai, in his Illustrated Survey of the Three Countries rendered the islands in the same color as that used for China rather than that used for the Ryukyu kingdom. Japan did not claim sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands during the Edo period (1603-1868).

3. Japan did not assert or obtain internationally recognized sovereignty over the Ryukyus until 1872, when it pronounced the former kingdom a han (barony) under its ruler Sho Tai. In 1879 this became Okinawa Prefecture and Sho Tai was forced to relocate to Tokyo. (He was granted a noble title and disencumbered of any further role in the governance of the islands his ancestors had ruled for over 400 years.) One might say Okinawa was the first Japanese colony. (The Ryukyuans, ethnically distinct from the Japanese of the main islands, and speaking a language incomprehensible to the latter, did not necessarily welcome the regime change.)

Still, Tokyo did not at that point assert sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands south of the Ryukyus. In 1885 the governor of the prefecture proposed that it do so, but the Japanese foreign minister, Inoue Kaoru, and Prime Minister Yamagata Aritomo, refused the suggestion. They felt that since the islands had Chinese names and were considered Chinese by the Qing court, Japan should not lay claim to them. This may have been a purely pragmatic decision, motivated not by any respect for Chinese sovereignty but concern for Japan's international reputation. In any case, the Japanese rulers did not at that time consider the small islands part of their new prefecture but Chinese territory.

4. In 1894-5 Japanese and Chinese forces fought a war in Korea and Manchuria. China had

responded to the Korean king's request for assistance in repressing a huge peasant rebellion. Citing an earlier agreement with China, Japan dispatched troops too. They kidnapped the Korean king and forced him to issue an edict terminating existing Sino-Korean agreements and authorizing the Japanese to expel Chinese troops from the country (even though the rebellion had been quelled and the Chinese had pledged to withdraw).

Most historians believe that Japanese forces provoked the Chinese in July 1894, triggering the Sino-Japanese War and a crushing Chinese defeat. (About 35,000 Chinese dead or wounded, compared to 5,000 Japanese, although twice that many Japanese died from disease.) China sued for peace and was obliged to pay Japan an indemnity, cede control over the Liaodong Peninsula in southern Manchuria, and hand over the island of Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (Pescadore) islands west of the island to Japanese colonization. (The Liaodong Peninsula was soon returned to China due to intervention by the Russians, French and Germans.)

Taiwan became, in the words of Diet member and historian Takekoshi Yoshisaburo, Japan's "colonial university" in which administers honed their skills at civilizing "barbarians." After 1905 Japanese carefully studied British colonial policies in Africa and elsewhere, the better to administer the Japanese Empire expanding to include Korea, southern Sakhalin, Shandong, the Northern Marianas, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Manchuria, China.

The Shimonoseki Treaty of 1895 specified that "the island of Formosa, together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa" would be ceded to Japan. It did not mention the Diaoyu group by name. But the Japanese claim to sovereignty rests almost entirely on this clause—in an agreement imposed upon China following a war of imperialist aggression.

Tokyo also claims that Japan "discovered" the islands as of 1884 when it carried out a survey. An academic accorded them the name Senkaku in 1890. In January 1895 the Japanese government erected a marker on the Senkaku islands and incorporated them into OkinawaPrefecture as part of Ishigaki City.

5. The establishment of Japanese control over the Ryukyus (1872) and Taiwan and the Diaoyu islands (1895) were all part of a continuum of imperialist expansion appropriately condemned by the Allies in World War II and formally repudiated by postwar Japanese leadership. Following defeat in the Second World War, the Japanese government was forced to accept the Allies' decision expressed in the Cairo Declaration of 1943 which stated that "Japanshall be stripped of all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese,such as Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores, [which] shall be restoredto the Republic of China." The Potsdam Declaration of 1945 had reiterated that "Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine." That is to say: the Allies did not acknowledge Japanese sovereignty even over the Ryukyu Islands, much less the Diaoyu group.

From the beginning of the Occupation in 1945, the main islands of Japan and the Nansei Shoto ("Southwest Group," the islands between Kyushu and Taiwan including the Ryukyus) were administered separately by U.S. forces. The Ryukyus became a U.S. "trusteeship," the main island of Okinawa covered (to this day) with U.S. military bases. Taiwan reverted to Chinese sovereignty and from 1949 became the headquarters of the routed Guomindang, viewed by Beijing as a "renegade province."

In the spirit of Cairo and Potsdam, the Diaoyu islands between the Ryukyus and Taiwan might have been returned to Chinese control at the end of the war in 1945. Instead the U.S. military treated them as the defense perimeter of the occupied Ryukyus, in effect recognizing the legitimacy of the Japanese claim. In other words, while denying Japanese sovereignty over the Ryukyus, which had been established in 1872 in relatively peaceful fashion, the U.S. recognized the incorporation of the Diaoyu isles into Okinawa Prefecture dating to 1895, established (let us repeat) as the result of a predatory war. It apparently did not regard these islands as "territories…stolen from the Chinese" to be "restored to the Republic of China."

7. In the San Francisco Treaty of 1951, which formally ended the war and paved the way for the return of sovereignty to the Japanese government, Japan agreed to "concur in any proposal of the United States to theUnited Nations to place under its trusteeship system, with theUnited States as the sole administering authority, Nansei Shotosouth of 29 degrees north latitude (including the Ryukyu Islandsand the Daito Islands)."

Japan thus acceded to the indefinite U.S. colonization of Okinawa and adjoining islands, including Diaoyu/Senkaku.

In its dispute with Beijing, Tokyo can point out that China did not attend the San Francisco conference that formally ended the war. The U.S. did not invite representatives of the newly founded People's Republic, causing the Soviets and some of their allies to boycott the proceedings or refuse to sign the peace treaty. The Japanese government argues that, having made no agreement with China over the dispensation of the islands, its claim to sovereignty dating to 1895 still holds and that its agreement to return Taiwan to Chinese sovereignty does not include what it calls the Senkaku islands because they're actually part of Okinawa Prefecture.

8. The Occupation ended formally in 1952, and sovereignty was restored to Japan. (This sovereignty was and is shaped by a "security treaty" with the U.S., the presence of tens of thousands of U.S. troops, and virtual U.S. veto power over Japanese foreign policy.) But the U.S. continued to administer the Nansei Shoto including Okinawa Prefecture up until 1972, when following a long campaign by the Japanese people and Diet, sovereignty over Okinawa Prefecture as well as the Diaoyu islands was restored to Japanese control. (Again, a limited sovereignty. Japanese leaders have sought in vain to significantly reduce the unpopular U.S. military presence on Okinawa.)

Article 5 of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty plainly states: "Each Party recognizes that an armed attack against either Party in the territories under the administration of Japan would be dangerous to its own peace and safety and declares that it would act to meet the common danger in accordance with its constitutional provisions and processes."

* * *

Such are the basic historical facts pertaining to the conflicting territorial claims. What of the future?

By the terms of the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, the U.S. must help defend the security of all Japanese territory. Would it challenge a Chinese effort to seize control of these tiny islands? Washington sends mixed signals.

On the one hand, U.S. diplomats have stated repeatedly that the U.S. takes no position on the sovereignty issue. In Sept. 1996 a State Department spokesman proclaimed the U.S. "neutral" on Senkaku. In April 1999 the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas S. Foley, stated, "The United States notes the Japanese claim to these islands, and we are not, as far as I understand, taking a specific position in the dispute…. We do not believe that these islands will be the subject of any military conflict, and so consequently, we do not assume that there will be any reason to engage the security treaty in any immediate sense." Defense Secretary Leon Panetta again stated in Beijing two weeks ago that the U.S. had no position on the dispute.

On the other hand, in 1996 both Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of defense, and Secretary of Defense William Perry specified that the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty covered the Senkaku Islands. In 2004 Adam Ereli, Deputy Spokesman at the State Department declared, "The Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the Government of Japan since having been returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972. Article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security states that the treaty applies to the territories under the administration of Japan; thus, Article 5 of the Mutual Security Treaty applies to the Senkaku Islands." In 2006 the U.S. ambassador to Japan, Thomas Schieffer, told Kyodo News that he considered "the islands as territory of Japan."

Campbell while acknowledging a U.S. obligation to "defend" the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands if attacked, acknowledges that the sovereignty claim of Japan is dubious. "Sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands," he observed, "is disputed. The U.S. does not take a position on the question of the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands. This has been our longstanding view. We expect the claimants will resolve this issue through peaceful means and we urge all claimants to exercise restraint."

Just two months ago a State Department official repeated, "The Senkakus would fall within the scope of Article 5 of the 1960 U.S.-Japan Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security because the Senkaku Islands have been under the administrative control of the government of Japan since they were returned as part of the reversion of Okinawa in 1972."

In other words: the U.S. doesn't have a position on the sovereignty issue, but will still fight to defend Japan's sovereignty claim, as required by treaty. The remote barren rocks, like all of Japan, fall under the U.S.'s "nuclear umbrella." This position can only embolden those in Japan eager to provoke China by constructing lighthouses (1978 and 1996) and most recently lobbying for the purchase of the islands by the Japanese government.

* * *

Tokyo's case for sovereignty is meager. The Chinese were there first, visiting, mapping, and defining the isles as the boundary between China and the Ryukyu kingdom from at least the fifteenth century. Japan only acquired the islands as war booty in 1895, and as such, pursuant to the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations, they should have been returned to their rightful owner at the end of the Second World War. However, the U.S. elected to retain them within its security parameters as administrator of Okinawa up until 1972, then turned over primary defense responsibilities to the Japanese "Self-Defense Forces" in that year. The U.S. proclaims itself "neutral" but it's not. It's troubled by the rising power of its Chinese rival, worried about conflict in the South China Sea, but committed by treaty and its geopolitical strategy to support its longtime ally Japan.

It's a dangerous situation. While angry protesters pelt the Japanese Embassy with eggs, waving banners with such slogans as "Kill Japanese Robbers," China's most senior military-political commissar, Gen. Xu Caihou, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, orders the People's Liberation Army to be "prepared for any possible military combat." While the likelihood of war seems remote, the Chinese elite has sought to shift attention from the faltering economy by encouraging nationalistic sentiment, especially among the youth who may find in the Diaoyu cause a relatively safe way to vent dissent. Portraits of Mao Zedong have become regular features of mass demonstrations; Mao is remembered as the heroic leader of the struggle against Japanese and later U.S. imperialism—a sharp contrast to the current leadership in their business suits who embrace capitalist-imperialist investment and steer foreign policy to encourage it. The mix of youth, the reverent memory of the eternal rebel Mao, contempt for a corrupt leadership and indignation over historical injuries might have unpredictable consequences.

The Chinese government routinely accuses Japan, more than any other country, of "hurting the Chinese people's feelings" (shang hai zhong guo ren de gan qing)—an understated way of saying the Chinese people are getting very ticked off every time the Japanese Education Ministry approves a high school history textbook that prettifies the Japanese invasion and occupation of China in the 1930s; or when politicians and academics question whether there was ever a Rape of Nanking (the moral equivalent of Holocaust denial); or when prime ministers visit Yasukuni Shrine where Class A war criminals are enshrined; or when Japan claims territory not on valid historical grounds but on narrow legalistic grounds rooted in a predatory war.

It may seem irrational for protesters to attack (mostly Chinese-owned) sushi restaurants or Japanese-owned factories or retail stores to vent such hurt feelings. The rhetoric heard is often nakedly racist ("Kill all Japanese devils!")—plain testimony to the fact that the ideal of proletarian internationalism isn't as prevalent as it should be in a country whose leaders cling to the pretense of "socialism with Chinese characteristics." But for Japan in the face of this wave of hurt feelings to blithely assert that "there is no dispute" is insulting. It compounds the indignation.

And for the U.S. top say simultaneously, "We have no position" and "The Senkakus fall under Article 5 of the Security Treaty" seems illogical, contradictory. Perhaps Washington thinks it can restrain Japan by affecting neutrality in the dispute, while deterring China from action by asserting a treaty obligation to "defend" these islands as Japanese territory. It's a dangerous game.

* * *

Many are talking about the South China Sea as the "new Persian Gulf." Unlike the old—clearly demarcated—Persian Gulf, this one is contested between the PRC, Taiwan, Japan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and Brunei. India's Oil and Natural Gas Corporation last year (Sept. 2011) signed an agreement with PetroVietnam to explore for oil in ocean blocks claimed by both Vietnam and China. (India has become closely allied to the U.S., while former foe Vietnam now welcomes U.S. warships to its shores.)

The Chinese Foreign Ministry responded: "China enjoys indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea… [W]e are opposed to any country engaging in oil and gas exploration and development in waters under China's jurisdiction." But it offered "to engage in peaceful negotiations and friendly consultations to peacefully solve the disputes over territorial sovereignty and maritime rights so as to positively contribute to peace and tranquility in the South China Sea area."

We will see how the claim to "indisputable sovereignty' over the Diaoyu group and other area islands surrounded by oil and natural gas allows for peaceful solutions with countries backed by the U.S.A. Bloodied by two failed wars, the U.S. is led by officials committed to a treaty that could embroil the country in yet more conflict. It has with some fanfare shifted its "pivot" (or "rebalance of forces") from Southwest Asia to the Pacific in order to "contain" rising China. On the one hand Defense Secretary Leon Panetta invites China to participate in joint naval operations with the U.S. (such as the planned 2014 Rimpac exercise); on the other hand he tells Chinese vice president (soon to be president) Xi Jinping on September 19 that the Senkaku Islands are covered by the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty.

It's a clear threat to enforce a provision of a shameful treaty signed over a century ago, as Japan and the western powers carved up a weak, demoralized China; ensure that stolen resource-rich territory remains under U.S.-Japanese authority; and remind the peoples of the region that no borders on the Pacific Rim can change without distant Washington's supervision and approval.

For all their bluster, Chinese officials are unlikely to, as they say, allow Diaoyu to become a "disturbing factor" in the Sino-Japanese relationship (or the Sino-U.S. relationship) at least in the short term. Still, there are those angry Chinese youth demanding action, a modernizing military eager to flex its muscles, and those Taiwanese fishermen planning nonviolent protest with hundreds of fishing boats. Smack in the center of the new U.S. "pivot," a situation could spin out of control.

About Author

GARY LEUPP is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@granite.tufts.edu