Diaoyutai and Cross-Strait Relations
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 27, 2012
Summary: Taiwan has been marginalized during the recent clashes over the Diaoyutai Islands. This shows that the Republic of China must assert that it is "China." It must also make distinctions between itself and the "People's Republic of China." Otherwise, sooner or later it will lose its claim to being "China." Instead, it will be absorbed into the "People's Republic of China." The public on Taiwan, especially the DPP, should cease using the term "China" to differentiate between the two sides. They should insist that Diaoyutai belongs to China, specifically, the Republic of China.
Full Text below:
The recent clashes over the Diaoyutai Islands are now winding down. Consider the conflict from the macro level. The Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty issue remains what it has been for the past 40 years -- controversial. But each of the parties has gained or lost as a result of the recent clashes.
Japan may have "nationalized" the Diaoyutai Islands. But its losses are the heaviest. One. The recent clashes have transformed sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands into a long term bone of contention between Mainland China and Japan. Deng Xiaoping once said "[The issue may be] set aside. It is not urgent." Japan has now turned it into a hot button issue. Was this wise? Two. During the recent clashes, the most intense wave of anti-Japanese sentiment in four decades erupted on the Chinese mainland. This led to a resurgence of Sino-Japanese hatred, harking back to the first Sino-Japanese War over a century ago. This is a trauma Japan will have a difficult time overcoming. Three. The authoritarian regime in Beijing and the Mainland public feel lingering hatred toward the Japanese. Calls for economic sanctions have reached new highs. The impact has far exceeded Japan's expectations. As a result the dispute over sovereignty has intensified. Goodwill between the two peoples has been shattered. , Serious economic damage has been done. These are the three most obvious wounds Japan has suffered as a result of the recent clashes.
The Chinese mainland is probably the the biggest beneficiary. One. Beijing eventually forced Prime Minister Noda to admit that he misjudged the situation. The United States may continue to uphold the US-Japan Security Treaty. It may include the Diaoyu Islands. But it declared it held no position on the sovereignty of the Diaoyutai Islands. Secretary of Defense Leon Pannetta added the US would not allow Japan to do whatever it wants. These developments show that Beijing was not the loser. Two. During the recent clashes Beijing was able to put on a concrete show of its national strength. It has proved that it must not be underestimated. Its economic power bolsters its overall fighting ability. This is obvious to everyone. Three. From Beijing's perspective, the Diaoyutai Islands problem is a Taiwan problem. During the recent clashes over the Diaoyutai Islands, its warships broke through the first island chain and approached ROC waters. To the US and Japan it announced the adoption of a hardline attitude. To the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan, it announced the adoption of a "brothers may quarrel within the family, but must unite against outside enemies" reunificationist strategy.
Now consider Taiwan. The veterans of the Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement carried out their historical mission 40 years ago. In 2012, during the recent clashes over the Diaoyutai Islands, they passed the baton to Zhongnanhai and the Mainland public. This reflects four decades of evolution in international politics. It also reflects the ebb and flow of six decades of cross-Strait relations. Beijing's firm actions during the recent clashes have enabled Taipei to enjoy a free ride and to bask in Beijing's reflected glory. But they have also placed Taipei in a dilemma. Tokyo now appears willing to make concessions to Taipei regarding fishing rights. Taipei may be a beneficiary. But the recent clashes significantly impact cross-Strait relations. Taipei must weigh the gains and losses carefully.
"Diaoyutai has been China's territory since antiquity." This is the key premise of the Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement. Even DPP Yilan County Chief Lin Kung-hsien says that absent this premise, the Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement would have no case. During the First Sino-Japanese War, there was no dispute about what the term "China" referred to. But today the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have serious differences about what it means. This constitutes a serious disagreement between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. The Taiwan side says that "Diaoyutai is Republic of China territory." But why has the five star PRC flag appeared in Republic of China territory surrounding Diaoyutai? Why have People's Republic of China ocean surveillance ships declared that they will defend Diaoyutai? We have not even mentioned the 1.3 billion people on the Mainland who support the defense of the Diaoyutai Islands.
Diaoyutai is a game of chess. It is a microcosmic cross-Strait chess board. Beijing's firm actions may enable Taipei to hitch a ride and achieve a breakthrough in Taipei/Tokyo fishing rights negotiations. Beijing stresses that "Diaoyutai has been China's territory since antiquity." Taipei can hardly object. But can we persuade Beijing to stop at "Diaoyutai is Republic of China territory?" Mainland ocean surveillance ships have already entered Diaoyutai Island waters and proclaimed sovereignty over the islands. Are the two sides of the Taiwan Strait defining China the way it was defined during the First Sino-Japanese War? Or is Beijing trespassing on Republic of China's front door?
Beijing said "The Diaoyutai Islands have been China's territory since antiquity." What it should have said, but did not, is that "Diaoyutai is China's territory, because Taiwan is China's territory." Beijing's policy on the Diaoyutai Islands issue reflects Beijing's policy on the Taiwan issue. Never mind the frenzy of Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement activism in 85 cities on the Chinese mainland. That too is territory the Republic of China has regarded as "China's territory since antiquity."
The current Diaoyutai Island Defense Movement clashes are a warning for Taiwan. One. They provide further evidence that Taiwan independence is impossible. Two. They show that we must seek our future inside the conceptual framework of "China." Three. They show that we must seek common ground as well as maintain partitions among the "Republic of China, China, and the People 's Republic of China."
Taiwan has been marginalized during the recent clashes over the Diaoyutai Islands. This shows that the Republic of China must assert that it is "China." It must also make distinctions between itself and the "People's Republic of China." Otherwise, sooner or later it will lose its claim to being "China." Instead, it will be absorbed into the "People's Republic of China." Therefore we propose that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait meet under the "Big Roof China" concept. The Republic of China is democratic China. The People's Republic of China is socialist China.
In other words, the public on Taiwan, especially the DPP, should cease using the term "China" to differentiate between the two sides. They should instead use the term "democratic" as a buffer between the two sides. They should insist that the Republic of China is democratic China.
Therefore Diaoyutai belongs to China, specifically, the Republic of China.