'Farce' would damage relations, say analysts
An attempt by Tokyo's governor to buy the Diaoyu Islands is 'merely a farce' that will only damage relations between China and Japan, say a maritime scholar and international affairs experts.
'What [Tokyo Governor] Shintaro Ishihara has done will not sway the Chinese government or the people's determination to defend the Diaoyu Islands, which are a sacred and indivisible part of Chinese territory,' said Wang Hanling , a professor of maritime affairs and international law at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, referring to Ishihara's fund-raising campaign.
Ishihara is spearheading a campaign to raise funds, with nearly 24,000 people donating more than HK$30 million so far.
'The fund-raising activity will definitely stir up another wave of nationalism and anti-Chinese sentiment among the Japanese public,' Wang said.
Liu Jiangyong , a professor of international relations at Tsinghua University, said Ishihara's fund-raising effort was politically motivated. 'At a time when both Beijing and Tokyo are preparing to mark the 40th anniversary of the normalisation of bilateral ties, the fund-raising will stir up anger in Japan towards China, and ruin the warming celebratory atmosphere,' Liu said. 'The fund-raising is merely a farce, and such a gimmick could be used to help Ishihara and his right-wing followers win public support to wrest power from the ruling Democratic Party.'
Liu stressed that Sino-Japanese relations would be jeopardised if the dispute over the sovereignty of the Diaoyus, which Japan calls the Senkaku Islands, escalated.
He said many Chinese and Japanese historical documents proved the Diaoyus were discovered and named by Chinese in ancient times, with both the rulers in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties noting the chain as a navigation path to the Ryukyu Islands, which have been under the administration of Japan's Okinawa prefecture since 1952.
'The Japanese renamed the chain Senkaku 500 years after China first named it,' Liu said. 'But that does not change the fact it has been a part of China since ancient time.'
On March 3, Beijing issued standard names for the main island and 70 affiliated islets, after Tokyo had announced names for 39 uninhabited islands to outline Japan's exclusive economic zone.
Jiang Lifeng , former director of the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said Japan had claimed the Diaoyus as its territory since the Qing dynasty lost the first Sino-Japanese war in 1895. As part of the peace treaty, Taiwan was ceded to Japan.
'Japan thus claimed Diaoyu Island as part of its territory as the islets had been part of Taiwan, but Tokyo failed to announce it [internationally],' he said. Taiwan was returned to Kuomintang hands after the end of the second world war in 1945.
'Our point is, the Diaoyus are a part of Taiwan, and Taiwan is part of China, so the Diaoyus are also part of China. Beijing and Taipei have reached a consensus on this issue even though both sides have failed to resolve cross-strait relations under the 'one-China principle'.'