Republic of China Vessels Circumnavigate Diaoytai for the First Time in 30 Years
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
June 17, 2008
Is Diaoyutai Republic of China territory or not? If it isn't, then all we can do is bite our lips and stare at our feet. If it is, then Japanese warships may not intrude into our sovereign territory and kill our people.
The Diaoyutai incident is currently occupying center stage. Not only is it a test of the ruling KMT government, it is also a test of the opposition Democratic Progressive Party.
Yesterday's ramming incident has led to two major developments. 1. On the part of the government: Defend Diaoyutai protestors boarded a boat named the "Quanjiafu" and entered Diaoytai Island waters. Over 20 Japanese ships attempted to block them. Republic of China Coast Guard ships positioned themselves between the Japanese ships and the protestors' boat, preventing the wake from capsizing the smaller boat. They positioned themselves to both the port and starboard sides of the Quanjiafu, helping it circumnavigate Diaoyutai Island. They even engaged in a water cannon duel with the Japanese ships. 1. On the part of the DPP: Representative to Japan Koh Se-kai, an advocate of Taiwan independence, offered his resignation. He attempted to force the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to "immediately approve his resignation." Former legislator Tsai Chi-fang returned to the Legislative Yuan and said: "Only Kinmen and Matsu are Republic of China territory. Taiwan, Penghu and Diaoyutai are not."
When the ramming incident first occurred, DPP legislators screamed for blood. They declared they didn't rule out a shooting war. They declared their willingness to sacrifice their lives for their country. But as soon as the government adopted a harder line, and recalled Koh Se-kai, its Representative to Japan, DPP Chairman Tsai Ing-wen abruptly changed her tune and said the government's response was "excessive."
Koh Se-kai's reaction was even more interesting. Japan expressed "regret" over the incident, but refused to apologize. ROC Minister of Foreign Affairs Francisco Ou said that Japan's response "fell short of expectations." Koh Se-kai however said "An expression of regret is an apology" and that the matter should "be considered concluded." How can one carry on diplomacy when an ambassador has the temerity to openly thumb his nose at the Minister of Foreign Affairs?
Before Taiwan independence advocate Koh Se-kai became a public official, he maintained that Diaoyutai is Japanese territory. Chen Shui-bian appointed him Republic of China Representative to Japan. The result was what we have today, suffering on the part of our own compatriots, and rejoicing on the part of our enemy. Koh Se-kai's resignation at this sensitive moment Is tantamount to deliberately kicking his own government when it is down. It is tantamount to deliberately humiliating the Republic of China. The ramming incident allows us to discern the vast difference between the Taiwan independence movement's concept of sovereignty and foreign policy, and the Republic of China's concept of sovereignty and foreign policy. Advocates of Taiwan independence such as Lee Teng-hui and Tsai Chi-fang go so far as to assert that Diaoyutai is Japanese territory. Other advocates of Taiwan independence dare not make such open declarations. But they are reluctant to challenge Japan's claims. That is why Tsai Ing-wen opposes recalling Koh Se-kai. That is why Koh Se-kai would like to consider the matter closed. That is why Tsai Chi-fang alleges that "Taiwan, Penghu and Diaoyutai are not Republic of China territory." Their reactions provide insights into the psychological workings of these individuals.
The DPP's response to the ramming incident is distinguished by two major characteristics: 1. The speakers are determined to insult their own government and avoid condemning Japan. When the government maintains a soft line, they adopt a hard line and blast the government. When the government adopts a harder line, they abruptly reverse themselves and blast the government for "excesses." 2. The DPP uses the media to humiliate the government, but categorically refuses to participate in or support public protests against Japanese aggression. When a fishing boat was turned over to Lee Ching-hua, the DPP took to the streets, demanding that it be turned over to political protest groups. Put simply, the DPP is using the Defend Diaoyutai movement as a pretext to engage in partisan warfare against the ruling KMT. It has never viewed the Defend Diaoyutai movement as a movement to defend the nation's territory against foreign aggression.
The ramming incident has once again exposed the DPP's hypocrisy and befuddlement. Open conflict has erupted with a foreign nation. How is one to resist foreign aggression, defend national sovereignty, and maintain national dignity with such a disloyal political opposition?
The Quanjiafu convoy represents the first time in 30 years that Republic of China naval vessels have circumnavigated Diaoyutai Island. The closest they came to the island was 0.4 nautical miles. This was the first time Republic of China warships openly confronted Japanese warships and declared that "Diaoyutai is Republic of China territory." Given such developments the ruling and opposition parties must reach a new consensus regarding Diaoyutai. As noted at the beginning of this article: Since Diaoyutai is Republic of China territory. Japanese ships have no right to intrude and ram our vessels. This is the only possible conclusion the public on Taiwan can reach. There is no alternative.
This Is a dispute over territory. This is a dispute over sovereignty. If the DPP considers a Japanese ship violating ROC territorial waters and ramming and sinking an ROC fishing vessel not "excessive," then our ships escorting an ROC vessel through ROC territorial waters can hardly be considered "excessive." Still less can recalling our Representative to Japan be considered "excessive." The situation being what it is, we hope the DPP will consider the big picture. We also hope the ruling KMT will respond properly. Yesterday's decision by the Coast Guard to navigate Diaoyutai waters, was authorized by our national security system. This is the right approach. By contrast, we take exception to members of the legislature hijacking the Defense Minister and forcing him to conduct an "inspection" of Diaoyutai. In June 2005, Legislative Yuan Speaker Wang Jin-pyng and Defense Minister Li Jye boarded an ROC ship and came within 38 miles of Diaoyutai. The Quanjiafu's private sector political gesture yesterday, along with the Coast Guard's numerous gestures are sufficient. Tomorrow's Lafayette frigate voyage is superfluous.
The Diaoyutai issue is the result of 30 years of weakness on the part of Taiwan. As a new beginning, the Coast Guard may wish to circumnavigate the island once a week. However everyone must have a well thought out plan. We must not be slapdash. We must not treat the waters around Diaoyutai as a stage for political posturing.
2008.06.17 03:11 am