United Daily News Editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
April 27, 2016
Executive Summary: The "Dong Shen Ji 16" fishing vessel out of Pingtung was forcibly detained by Japanese government vessels in open waters off the Chong Zi Niao Reef. The owners were forced to put up 1,760,000 dollars in collateral. Otherwise their boat would be impounded and the crew imprisoned by Japan. Ruling and opposition party legislators have responded to this high-handed act with deafening silence. Contrast this to the stink they raised when Kenya repatriated scam artists from Taiwan to the Mainland. No clearer example of “opposing everything Chinese, and groveling before anything Japanese” can be found than this.
Full Text Below:
The "Dong Shen Ji 16" fishing vessel out of Pingtung was forcibly detained by Japanese government vessels in open waters off the Chong Zi Niao Reef. The owners were forced to put up 1,760,000 dollars in collateral. Otherwise their boat would be impounded and the crew imprisoned by Japan. Ruling and opposition party legislators have responded to this high-handed act with deafening silence. Contrast this to the stink they raised when Kenya repatriated scam artists from Taiwan to the Mainland. No clearer example of “opposing everything Chinese, and groveling before anything Japanese” can be found than this.
Did the repatriation of scam artists from Taiwan constitute “an affront to our sovereignty and dignity”? If it did, then Japan's impounding of one of our fishing vessels constitutes a vastly greater affront to our sovereignty and dignity. Chong Zi Niao Reef has a combined area of only 9 square meters. It is 1800 km from Taiwan, and 1000 km from Okinawa. Is is clearly a reef, and not an island. Yet Japan says it constitutes its southern border. Japan has been building up the reef for years. According to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, uninhabited reefs lacking significant economic activity do not have Exclusive Economic Zones. Yet Japan unilaterally claims territorial waters extending 200 nautical miles. The Dong Shen Ji 16 was detained 150 nautical miles from Chong Zi Niao Reef. This shows that the impounding of the vessel was highly questionable.
These fishermen eke out an living on storm tossed seas. Scam artists by contrast, resort to lies and deception to cheat people out of their life savings. Yet ruling and opposition party legislators screan “Human rights!” in the Kenyan and Malaysian fraud cases, insisting that Taiwan's sovereignty and dignity have been affronted. But when hard-working fishermen who make an honest living from the sea are arrested by Japanese authorities, their silence is deafening. Are these politicians merely incompetent? Or are they cowards? Green camp legislator Chuang Jui-hsiung from Pingtung had the temerity to say “We cannot butt heads” over the matter. Really? Then why did they butt heads over the Kenyan case? Why the tough talk when the Mainland is the other party?
This dispute differed from previous fishing disputes. The Dong Shen Ji 16 was fishing in open waters near Chong Zi Niao Reef. It neither trespassed nor poached. In fact, when the Japanese issued their warning, Department of Fisheries officials assured them that "As long as you remain outside Chong Zi Niao Reef's 12 mile limit, you will be fine”. Taiwan and Japan had very different perceptions regarding territorial waters and fishing rights. As a result fishermen from Taiwan were subject to false arrest. Do Department of Fisheries officials not bear responsibility for "leading people over the cliff”?
Japan's timing is particularly intriguing. It chose the eve of the handover of authority to seize a Taiwan fishing vessel. Three thoughts come to mind. One. The Taiwan-Japan Fisheries Agreement is being renegotiated. Okinawan fishermen are unhappy about Taiwan fishing boats in waters north of Ba Chong Shan. Japan is deliberately seizing Taiwan fishing vessels to mollify local Okinawan fishermen. Two. The DPP's hatred of “China”, i.e., Mainland China mirrors Japan's. Japan consequently feels no need to offer concessions on fishing rights to win over Taiwan. It knows it can abuse Taiwan callously, and Taiwan will not complain. Three. Japan is using the opportunity to reassert sovereignty over Chong Zi Niao Reef and an Exclusive Economic Zone.
Looking back, fishing vessels from Taiwan have been seized in waters near Chong Zi Niao Reef by the Japanese twice before, once in 2005, and once in 2012. Both times the fishermen were forced to submit collateral before their vessel was released. Given such precedents, why has the government not protested? Japan's Department of Fisheries provided Taiwan fishermen with incorrect information. As a result, the fishermen were arrested. This is incredible. Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs did nothing. Only after President Ma convened a national security council meeting and issued an order, did it finally act. How can such a passive response possibly win any concessions from Japan?
Chong Zi Niao Reef was “spoils of war”, given to Japan following World War I. The United States, Britain, France, and Japan carved up territory extracted from Germany. The reef has no historical or cultural connection to Japan. The reef is tiny, but Japan has worked hard to transform it, maintain it, and expand it. By contrast, the Republic of China has Taiping Island in the South China Sea. It is huge, but it has not been managed properly or used to full advantage. When President Ma visited the island, DPP legislators even condemned him as "irresponsible". They accused him of "violating international rules of the game". Given the DPP's attitude, how can anyone expect it to defend our sovereignty over Taiping Island?
When scam artists from Taiwan are repatriated to the Mainland, ruling and opposition party screams “Defend our sovereignty!" When a fishing vessel from Taiwan is seized by Japanese authorities on the other hand, their silence is deafening. Clearly "sovereignty" is merely a pretext by which politicians attract attention. When the time comes to negotiate, they are speechless. They oppose everything related to China. They grovel when dealing with anything related to Japan. By doing so, these politicians show their true faces. They prove that diplomacy without a brain will only lead to self-deception.
船東昨天被迫繳交一七六萬元訴訟保證金， 以期人船免於被押回日本。令人意外的是， 對於如此霸道的扣船行徑，朝野立委竟然均默不作聲； 比起稍早在兩岸肯亞詐欺犯遣返事件中的喧囂沸騰，有如天淵之別。 逢中必反，遇日腳軟，莫過於此。
此次扣船事件分明和主權與尊嚴更關係重大。「沖之鳥」 是兩座加起來面積僅僅九平方公尺的礁岩， 其位置距離台灣一千八百公里，距離沖繩一千公里，明明是礁非島， 日本卻處心積慮將此建設為其國土南疆。 日方多年來雖不斷在礁石上擴增人工設施，依《聯合國海洋法公約》 ，這樣無人居住且顯無經濟生活的礁岩，不能擁有專屬經濟海域， 日本卻片面主張有兩百浬海域。「東聖吉十六號」被扣處， 距離沖之鳥礁有一五○浬之遙，顯見日方扣船作為極為可議。
卻是靠著謊言及騙術榨取他人努力的成果。諷刺的是， 台灣朝野立委在肯亞案和大馬案中為詐欺犯大聲呼喊人權， 又叫罵謂台灣主權受到屈辱；而這次， 面對正當討海的漁民在公海被日本拘捕，他們卻毫無反應。 這種表現，是反映政治人物的技窮，還是他們吃軟怕硬？ 屏東綠委莊瑞雄更稱，此事現在「不能硬碰硬」； 如果這是理性的話，那麼他在肯亞案時對兩岸關係的冷嘲熱諷， 又為什麼裝得那麼硬？
在沖之鳥礁外海作業，並無所謂「犯界」或「盜漁」問題。事實上， 在接獲日方警告時，正是漁業署官員告訴他們「 只要不進入沖之鳥十二浬領海」即可。在這種情況下， 我國漁民因台日雙方對於海域作業權的認知差距而枉遭扣押， 漁業署沒有「驅民於淵」的責任嗎？
綜合而言，觀察重點有三：一，《台日漁業協議》正在重新談判， 因沖繩漁民對日本開放台灣漁船進入八重山北方海域迭有不滿， 日本此次故意扣押台灣漁船，以舒緩當地民怨。第二，民進黨「 反中」的基本立場，和日本不謀而合， 因此日方在漁業上對台灣已無特別「讓利」或「籠絡」之必要， 這難道是吃定台灣？第三， 日本趁機再度宣示它在沖之鳥的主權及經濟海域。
一次在二○○五年，一次在二○一二年， 兩次都在繳交保證金後人船獲釋。既有前例， 政府為何未採取積極的抗議或交涉作為， 漁業署又為何繼續提供漁民不正確的認知訊息，使他們誤蹈禁區， 是令人百思不解的事。包括外交部， 是在馬總統召開國安會議後下令它向日方交涉後，才採取行動； 這種消極、被動的反應模式，何能期其有所斬獲？
沖之鳥是日本在第一次世界大戰後美英法日四國瓜分戰果時， 從德國手中接收的「戰利品」，與該國並無歷史或文化淵源。 儘管該礁岩只是彈丸之地，日本卻極力改造、擴充、維護， 當成領土的延伸大力經營。反觀我國，雖在南海擁有偌大的太平島， 卻既不用心經營，也不妥善運用。年初馬總統登島時， 竟還遭民進黨立委譴責為「不負責任的行為」，指控他「 違反國際遊戲規則」。以這種態度，要靠民進黨維護太平島主權， 豈非形同「飼老鼠咬布袋」？
到如今台灣漁船無端被日扣押後的一片寂然，不難看出「主權」 只是供政治人物喊爽的道具；真正到了需要拿出本事交涉的時刻， 他們已啞然無言。逢中必反，遇日腳軟，除照射出政治人物的原形， 也說明不用腦筋的外交只能自欺欺人。