Shelve What Controversy? Develop What Resources? With Whom?
China Times editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
November 5, 2012
Summary: The ROC government cannot prattle on about "shelving disputes" or "joint development," including fishing rights negotiations. To do so is tantamount to selling out the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of China. Japan has continually aggressed against China for the past one hundred years. Therefore the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait must shelve their dispute over their separate territorial jurisdictions, so that they may defend their common territorial sovereignty.
Full Text below:
Both Taipei and Beijing have adopted three positions regarding the Diaoyutai Islands conflict. Both maintain that "My side has sovereignty." Both maintain that the two sides can "shelve disputes" and engage in "joint development." So far, these three positions have been espoused with reference to Japan.
The three positions complement each other. If we fail to argue that "My side has sovereignty," then the controversy evaporates altogether. Japan will develop the waters surrounding the Diaoyutai Islands on its own. If one fails to advocate "shelving disputes," then one must seek an immediate solution to the question of sovereignty. Troops must immediately confront each other on the battlefield. If one fails to advocate "joint development," then one cannot shelve the dispute. Therefore we must advocate all three positions.
In 1972, Japan was attempting to normalize relations with the Chinese mainland. During the third summit between the two sides, held on September 27, Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka raised the "Senkaku Islands" (Diaoyutai Islands) issue on his own, without any prompting. Mainland Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai said: "I do not wish to talk about this issue at the moment. Talking about it now will do no good. We should resolve whatever larger issues we can first, such as the normalization of relations between the two countries. Other issues we can talk about later." Tanaka agreed. He said, "I had to raise the issue at this time, otherwise I would not be able to answer to the Japanese public."
As we can see, the Japanese government acknowledged that the issue was "controversial." Otherwise why would it have raised the issue to begin with? It also agreed to to shelve disputes. That is why it raised the issue, but avoided any mention of specifics. Later on however, Japan went back on its word. It alleged that "There is no dispute over the territorial sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands." It avoided mentioning the fact that Kakuei Tanaka raised the issue on his own. It denied that the two sides had agreed to "shelve disputes." It merely said that during negotiations "there was no discussion of this issue."
Until September of this year, the Mainland authorities continued to abide by the agreement to "shelve disputes." It exercised restraint. It avoided conflict. It even attempted to suppress widespread anti-Japanese sentiment among the public. It refused to support private sector Diaoyutai Islands defense movement activities. It refused to support fishermen who traveled to Diaoyutai Island waters to catch fish. It refrained from conducting maritime surveillance. It seldom dispatched fisheries boats to Diaoyutai Island waters. But on September 10, the Japanese government decided to "nationalize" the Diaoyutai Islands. It reneged on its agreement to "shelve disputes." It crossed the Mainland's line in the sand regarding sovereignty. It transformed the nature of the issue.
The Mainland was forced to proclaim that "Our side has sovereignty." It published the names of the islands and their geographical coordinates. It delineated its territorial waters. It dispatched warships, maritime surveillance ships, and fisheries ships to Diaoyutai Island waters. This restored the Diaoyutai Islands issue to its former status as an ongoing controvery in which the two sides "shelved disputes." On October 30, Mainland ocean surveillance ships went even further. They expelled Japanese vessels from the territory, unequivocally declaring China's sovereignty.
Sad to say, the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan are unwilling to take part in consultations with the Mainland under the "one China principle." They are unwilling to sign a cross-Strait peace agreement. Taiwan and the Mainland should participate in the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. This is something expressly provided for in the Constitution of the Republic of China, under "reunification." But the ruling and opposition parties on Taiwan choose to spin this as a loss of dignity and as "annexation." In order to resist reunification, they prefer to kowtow to the United States and Japan. They prefer to "de-Sinicize" themselves. They have long lived under this identity confusion. When confronted by Japan's aggression against the Diaoyutai Islands, it is hardly surprising that their words and deeds are so perversely inappropriate. Lee Teng-hui, the instigator of "de-Sinicization," even alleged that "The Diaoyutai Islands were Japan's to begin with!" President Ma Ying-jeou is seeking an historical legacy. He is the person who championed the aforementioned three positions. Yet he told the Japanese, "Taiwan has no intention of joining hands with Mainland China to fight Japan." He told the Japanese, "I hope our Japanese friends know that we attach great importance to relations with Japan." When Mainland ocean surveillance ships expelled Japanese ships from the region, some Taiwan media even denounced it as a hostile act. They complained that "Mainland ships expelled Japanese ships from Republic of China territorial waters."
In fact, in 1992 the Mainland announced its "People's Republic of China Territorial Waters and Contiguous Zone Act." It stipulated that the Diaoyutai Islands are offshore islets belonging to Taiwan. Mainland ocean surveillance ships entered Diaoyutai Island waters to expel Japanese ships and safeguard China's territorial sovereignty. This includes the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan and the Chinese mainland. They were simultaneously upholding the rights of the public on Taiwan. The two are not mutually contradictory. Japan has long treated Taiwan with contempt. Suppose the Mainland had not acted? Would Japan have suddenly become so deferential toward Taiwan? Mainland China took action. It expelled Japanese ships. It did not harm to Taiwan's interests. This fact can not be ignored. It must not be distorted.
By contrast, Japan flagrantly violated its agreement with the Mainland to "shelve disputes." It even attempted to induce the Ma administration to abandon sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands in exchange for "joint development," i.e., so-called fishing rights, on condition that it agree "there is no dispute over sovereignty." Clearly Japan is determined to exploit Taiwan's identity confusion. It is attempting to drive a wedge between the Mainland and Taiwan by offering to negotiate with Taiwan on fishing rights. It is attempting to play the same game against the Chinese people that it has for the past century. It is attempting to divide and conquer. Japan has suddenly become deferential to Taiwan. But this newfound deference hides an ugly agenda.
According to both the ROC and PRC Constitutions, China's sovereignty is indivisible. The only thing currently divided is jurisdiction. Jurisdiction has yet to be reunified. The Diaoyutai Islands belong to the Republic of China. That is not something we can casually relinquish. Japan has the temerity to claim that there is no controversy over the islands' sovereignty. The ROC government cannot prattle on about "shelving disputes" or "joint development," including fishing rights negotiations. To do so is tantamount to selling out the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Republic of China. Japan has continually aggressed against China for the past one hundred years. Therefore the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait must
shelve their dispute over their separate territorial jurisdictions, so
that they may defend their common territorial sovereignty.