Diaoyu Dao: A Test of Attitudes towards History

The Website of Marknews, one mainstream media of Canada, published the article of “Diaoyu Dao: A Test of Attitudes towards History” by Ambassador Zhang Junsai of the People's Republic of China to Canada. In this article, Ambassador Zhang introduces China's position on the issue of Diaoyu Dao.

The following is the full text of the article:

The past September marks the 40th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Japan. I’d expected a series of celebrations, just like China and Canada did two years ago for the similar occasion. However, the Sino-Japanese relations have been overshadowed by tension since September due to the Japanese government's announced "purchase" of Diaoyu Dao. Diaoyu Dao, which is affiliated to China’s Taiwan Island, has then attracted international attention, and many Canadian people have asked me about the facts and truths about this issue.

Diaoyu Dao was first discovered, named and exploited by the Chinese people in the 14th century, and had long been under China’s jurisdiction since the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). In a number of official maps thereafter, Diaoyu Dao was clearly marked as China's maritime territory. The earliest Japanese document to mention Diaoyu Dao, which was written in 1785, also indicated that Diaoyu Dao was part of China's territory.

In 1895, Japan defeated the Qing court (the then Chinese government) in the Sino-Japanese War and forced to latter to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceding to Japan the island of Taiwan, together with all islands appertaining or belonging to it, including Diaoyu Dao.

In December 1941, the Chinese government officially declared war against Japan, together with the abrogation of all treaties between China and Japan. In 1943, the Cairo Declaration stated in explicit terms that all the territories Japan had stolen from China should be returned. In 1945, the Potsdam Proclamation stated that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out". In September 1945, the Japanese government accepted the Potsdam Proclamation with the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and pledged to faithfully fulfill the obligations enshrined in the provisions of the Proclamation.

In 1951, with China being excluded, the United States and a number of other countries signed the Treaty of Peace with Japan. The treaty placed the Nansei Islands south of the 29th parallel of North Latitude under the United Nation's trusteeship with the United States as the sole administering authority. The Nansei Islands include the Ryukyu Islands but not Diaoyu Dao. In 1953, The United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands arbitrarily expanded its jurisdiction to include Diaoyu Dao. In 1971, Japan and the United States signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which arbitrarily included Diaoyu Dao in the territories and territorial waters to be reversed to Japan. The Chinese government has, from the very beginning, firmly opposed and never acknowledged such backroom deals between Japan and the United States concerning Chinese territories.

In the 1970s, the then leaders of the two countries, acting in the larger interest of the Sino-Japanese relations, reached important understanding and consensus on “leaving the issue of Diaoyu Dao to be resolved later.” During Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka's visit to China in September 1972, Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and his Japanese counterpart agreed to resolve the issue of normalization of bilateral relations first and talk about the issue of Diaoyu Dao in the future. In October 1978, Chinese Vice-Premier Deng Xiaoping visited Japan to exchange the instruments of ratification of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship. During the visit, the two sides also agreed to temporarily shelve this issue. These facts can be found in historic archives.

Facing the undisputable historical and jurisprudence evidence supporting China’s sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao, some Japanese political figures still refuse to admit that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China and even deny that the two sides reached consensus on shelving the dispute over Diaoyu Dao. The whole issue of Diaoyu Dao mirrors Japan’s attitude towards history. Till today, there has only been a rather vague recognition in Japan of the nature of war of aggression it launched during WWII. Some Japanese rightist forces still deny Japan's aggression and colonial rule of Asian countries and pay homage to the Yasukuni Shrine where the Class A war criminals are consecrated. It is obviously no coincidence that the Japanese government chooses to deny the historical facts on the Diaoyu Dao issue.

What is even worse, the Japanese government's announced “purchase”of Diaoyu Dao is also an outright denial of the outcomes of the World Anti-Fascist War and poses a grave challenge to the post-WWII international order as well as the purposes and principles of the UN Charter. China and Canada are both on the winning side from the war and have sacrificed tremendously in fighting against fascism. I strongly believe that our two peoples, aspiring for common peace and prosperity, should always remain vigilant to any attempt to nullify the outcomes of the WWII.

Japan has no right to engage in any form of buying or selling of the Chinese territory. No bit of land, water and vegetation on Diaoyu Dao can be traded away. The "purchase" of Diaoyu Dao is always a serious infringement of China's territorial sovereignty.

The Chinese government always attaches importance to developing relations with Japan and advocates solving the dispute over Diaoyu Dao through negotiation. It is our sincere hope that the Japanese government can face up to history and realities and stop all actions undermining China's territorial sovereignty so as to allow the Sino-Japanese relations to get back on the track of sound development.