The Government Must Deliver on Diaoyutai Fishing Rights
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
September 25, 2012
Summary: Since the beginning of recorded history, the Diaoyutai Islands have fishing grounds for fishermen from Taiwan. In recent years however, Japan began preventing our fishermen from fishing in the surrounding waters. It has even provoked numerous incidents. Taipei and Tokyo have held 16 fishing rights negotiations, but to no effect. This time, besides defending our sovereignty, the relevant government agencies must defend our fishermens' fishing rights. They must not allow the Japanese to yet again play them for fools.
Full Text below:
Yesterday Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement activists held the largest scale Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement demonstration in Taiwan's history. As one beheld the mighty fishing fleet one could only sigh. A half century has changed everything. Yet 42 years later, the Diaoyutai Islands sovereignty issue remains controversial and difficult to resolve. The Japanese government's unilateral "nationalizing" of the Diaoyutai Islands has reignited this unresolved historical conflict. We must safeguard our nation's sovereign territory. We must not surrender even an inch. For the Taiwan region, there are even more pressing practical problems, such as fishing rights.
Since the beginning of recorded history, the Diaoyutai Islands have fishing grounds for fishermen from Taiwan. In recent years however, Japan began preventing our fishermen from fishing in the surrounding waters. It has even provoked numerous incidents. Taipei and Tokyo have held 16 fishing rights negotiations, but to no effect. This time, besides defending our sovereignty, the relevant government agencies must defend our fishermens' fishing rights. They must not allow the Japanese to yet again play them for fools.
Forty-two years ago, the Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement campaign was drawing to a close. A China Times reporter successfully planned and executed an island landing. For the first time, the national flag of the Republic of China flew on the island. Until recently, this was an unprecedented and possbily unrepeatable historical feat. In the 42 years since, every so often the Diaoyutai Islands conflict would flare up yet again. But over time the controversy was forgotten. The resolve of Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement activists has never wavered. They have merely gotten older. Forty-two years later, the Japanese government misjudged the situation. As a result they provoked the largest scale outbreak of Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement protests in years. Eighty percent of the public on Taiwan supports the defense of the Diaoyutai Islands. Yet Blue and Green government officials remain indifferent. We regret having to say this to those who wield political power. But how can you defend our fishermens' fishing rights if you lack the courage to defend our nation's territorial sovereignty?
President Ma Ying-jeou has proposed an "East China Sea Peace Initiative." It is basically consistent with the interests of the public on Taiwan. It also increases the ROC's visibility in the international arena. But the political climate on Taiwan is perverse. The Democratic Progressive Party was in power for eight years. Yet all it can do today is mock the ruling administration. Lest we forget, legally speaking the Diaoyutai Islands are under the jurisdiction of the DPP ruled Ilan County Government. Former party chairman and former Premier Yu Shyi-kun even declared sovereignty over Diaoyutai. A country belongs to all of its people. How can sovereignty be divided between Blue and Green? The DPP is utterly indifferent to defending our sovereignty. This is deeply worrisome. Suppose it returns to power in the future? Will it cavalierly relinquish sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands to others?
Back then the authorities did not permit protesters to land on Diaoyutai. Nevertheless the China Times reporter overcame overwhelming obstacles and landed on the Diaoyutai Islands. National sovereignty is not the exclusive domain of any particular group or person. Safeguarding national sovereignty is everyone's responsibility. Today the China Times Media Group allies itself with the spontaneous, grass roots Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement campaign. The Group President has offered his personal support. He too is motivated by his love of Taiwan and his country. Ironically this love of one's native land, this feeling for one's country, has been coopted by the DPP. It has become stage dialogue spouted by DPP officials, in a "major production," directed by the media, with the acquiescence of the ruling authorities. The ruling party controlling the central government, and the ruling party controlling the local governments, are all civil servants paid monthly by the taxpayers. When are they going to do something for their country? Why have they made defending the nation's sovereignty and fishermens' fishing rights the sole responsibility of fishermen who lack financial resources? Why have they made it necessary for these fishermen to seek private financing? Politicians think only about their own power. But the media should stand with the people. We have asked ourselves what can we do for our country. We have come up with a practical plan of action. The DPP covets the office of the president. But it remains indifferent to the plight of the nation. In which case, what gives the DPP the right to speak ill of others?
Back then, the Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement gave rise to Taiwan's largest student movement. Among overseas Chinese, it led to the Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement controversy. The Diaoyutai Islands conflict is an historical legacy left behind by two world wars. The Diaoyutai Islands are proof of a shared cross-Strait historical experience. The Republic of China government was one of the victors of World War II. But the Chinese Civil War forced it to move the nation's capital from the Mainland to Taiwan. It was unable to oppose the United States' administration of the islands. This provoked intense anger among the public. Mainland China had no say in the matter during the Cold War East and West confrontation. The Diaoyutai Islands Defense Movement campaign left an historical wound in peoples' hearts. Today, the international situation has changed. The Mainland has risen. It is a power the world cannot ignore. It is even angrier about Diaoyutai than Taiwan. The reason is simple. Japan invaded a once weak China. The issue must be settled rationally and peacefully. But infringements of our sovereignty can no longer be tolerated. The Republic of China government on Taiwan must speak out on the sovereignty of Diaoyutai. Rights must be fought for. We cannot compromise on the issue of sovereignty. This is the only way to remind the world that the Republic of China exists and is real.
The Democratic Progressive Party ruled for eight years. Fishing boats from Taiwan that sailed into waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands were driven away or impounded and fined. The interests of Taiwan fishermen were seriously harmed. The first year Ma took office, Japanese ships sank a fishing boat from Taiwan in waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands. , Taipei/Tokyo relations were tense. The National Security Council and a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lodged a solemn protest. They forced Japan to apologize to the boat owners and their families. The long-suspended Taipei/Tokyo fishing rights negotiations were soon restarted. Unfortunately, three years later, the Taipei/Tokyo fishing rights negotiations have led nowhere. This has been galling in the extreme. The recent spontaneous, grass roots protests have proclaimed our sovereignty. Those in power must be bold and resolute. They must safeguard our sovereignty. They must wage a bitter fight for our fishing rights. The opposition DPP must not merely snipe at the ruling administration from behind its back. Only a unified nation can win international respect.