Diaoyu Islands

Stating historical facts a better strategy than scrambling fighter jets

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 26 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 February, 2017, 4:55pm

I refer to the report ("China urges Japan to mend diplomatic ties", January 25).

You said that senior Chinese officials urged Tokyo "to take 'positive steps' to mend ties" during talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's special envoy Natsuo Yamaguchi.

Perhaps the first "positive step" should be taken by China by stopping "patrolling" of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands by its jets and patrol boats as if they are already Chinese territory.

This kind of behaviour by Beijing can easily start a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese jet fighters.

It only needs a trigger-happy jet pilot on either side to start a war between the two countries, with the US being dragged into it by the US-Japan Mutual Defence Assistance Agreement.

Even those countries that sympathise with China's claim over the islands would not condone this kind of self-righteous behaviour.

It would be far better for Beijing to tell the Japanese public about the article, "The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands", by Taiwanese scholar Han-yi Shaw, which was reprinted in The New York Times.

In his article, Shaw said that Japan's claim on the islands is based on the Japanese government having done repeated surveys from 1885 and, finding the islands uninhabited, annexing them in 1895.

However, as Shaw points out, there is evidence from his research, including the Japanese National Archives, that "clearly demonstrates that the Meiji government acknowledged Chinese ownership back in 1885".

That year, the Japanese foreign minister wrote: "At this time, if we were to publicly place national markers, this must necessarily invite China's suspicion."

Japan claims that taking over the islands was not related to the first Sino-Japanese war, because if that had been the case, it would have had to return the islands to China under the San Francisco Peace Treaty signed between Japan and the Allied powers in 1951.

It is up to the world to judge whether Japan's claim is the truth.

How was it that it did nothing about the islands for 10 years, and then, in 1895, just happened to take them over when it saw it was going to win the first Sino-Japanese war?

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui