Friday, June 20, 2008
Diaoyutai of Taiwan or Senkaku of Japan?
Recently, the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai islands (as they are known in Mandarin Chinese), aka Senkaku (as they are known in Japanese) have been in the headlines and at the center of controversy in Taiwan.
A few months ago I spoke to Su Beng about his opinions and involvement with the Diaoyutai issue. Back in 1971, Su Beng, along with the Association for Taiwan Independence, supported the idea that Diaoyutai should be considered a territory of Taiwan. They also protested the Okinawa Return Agreement between America and Japan, which would incorporate the islands as Japanese territory. Even before World War II, Taiwanese fishermen fished near the Diaoyutai islands and during the Japanese occupation period of Taiwan, the Diaoyutai islands were under the jurisdiction of Taipei Prefecture. Su Beng has said that the disputed Diaoyutai islands is an international issue that must be discussed and negotiated between all the countries that want to lay claim on the islands, which include Taiwan, Japan, China and Korea.
I came across this website, which has an excellent explanation of the history of the Daioyutai movement in Taiwan, what basis Taiwan has for claim on the islands and how China's claims fit into the picture: http://www.twhistory.org.tw/20010423.htm
So what caused the recent uproar over the Diaoyutai islands in Taiwan?
On June 11, a Taiwanese fishing boat collided with a Japanese coast guard vessel near the Diaoyutai islands. Since then, there has been a lot of finger pointing. The Kuomintang government has accused the Japanese vessel of intentionally sinking the Taiwanese fishing boat. On the flip side, the Japanese charge that the Taiwanese fishing boat illegally entered its waters. An initial report about this incident appeared here in the Taipei Times: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2008/06/11/2003414420
The Kuomintang government blew the situtation out of proportion; Premier Liu Chao-shiuan even said that he wouldn't rule out going to war over this: http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2008/06/14/2003414673
For more on the recent Diaoyutai dispute read: http://www.taiwannews.com.tw/etn/news_content.php?id=674685