Diaoyu Islands

China should agree to arbitration

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 06 June, 2013, 2:10am

I refer to your editorial ("A good place for friends to meet", May 27), referring to the imminent meeting between presidents Xi Jinping and Barack Obama in California.

One of the items on the agenda of the meeting will be China's and Japan's territorial dispute on the Diaoyu Islands. It is showing signs of escalation, with Japanese right-wing activists sailing to the islands to "reaffirm" their country's sovereignty over the islands recently. Chinese and Japanese patrol boats again had a face-off near the islands; fortunately there were no damaging incidents.

If in the coming meeting Mr Xi is going to repeat Beijing's position that sovereignty of the islands belongs to China, and the US should not get involved in the dispute, there will not be much progress.

The US has clearly stated its position: that it has no position on the sovereignty of the islands, but it recognises Japan's right to administer them, and in case there is a war over the islands, the US will be on Japan's side because of the mutual defence treaty between the two nations.

The key to solving this dispute does not lie in negotiating about the islands.

It lies in finding a solution for the South China Sea dispute between China and various countries.

China, with no historical proof, arbitrarily declared that the part of South China Sea that is within its "nine-dash line" (which is nearly the whole of it) is Chinese territory. Its military is now committed to "defending" the sea territories within this zone.

China has always condemned that period of Japan's history when militarism was dominant.

However, this act by Beijing is reminiscent of Japan in the Meiji era having military designs on Manchuria. At the time Japan's military leaders justified this hegemony by saying it was securing mineral resources for the country. China is claiming the South China Sea for its natural resources.

It is in the process of emerging as a superpower in the world and needs friends, not enemies. The days of using force to overpower others to gain territories are long gone.

If Mr Xi says to Mr Obama, in California, that China is willing to have an independent international panel to arbitrate on both the South China Sea and the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands disputes, the world will breathe easier.

Hopefully Mr Obama will then help to persuade Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to agree to arbitration on the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.

Alex Woo, Tsim Sha Tsui