Japan’s NHK World has just reported the detained Chinese captain (Zhan Qixiong) since September 8 will be released. The report said:
Japanese prosecutors have decided to release the captain of a Chinese fishing boat involved in collisions in the East China Sea. The captain’s detention has stirred tension between Japan and China.
I’d be shocked if the captain is dragged through some trial in Japan using Japanese law, because Diaoyutai (or Senkaku as known in Japan) is a disputed territory. If Japan prosecutes Zhan, it implies Japan has unconditionally rejected China’s claims. Doing so would have put Japan’s hope for a form of Asian Union on the line. The Chinese government has shown restraint too, in my opinion. If not, they’d put that same hope on the line as well. So, I am personally happy to see this issue coming to an end without further escalation (ok, reading Western media, it appears Japan and China are at each others throats with knives).
There are hawks both within China and Japan I am sure. They are likely egged on by those who rather see an unstable Asia. Lots of emotion running all over. If I am paid $1billion in salary to lead either China or Japan, I’d not want the job. Kudos to cooler heads.
The Japanese has definitely been the aggressor in this case. When there is territorial dispute, you don’t advance and press forward – by sending police / coast guard to arrest Chinese citizens on disputed territory.
A little bit of history: The Diaoyutai and Okinawa and surrounding islands had been considered part of China in the Qing dynasty. However, as modernization took hold in Japan and Japan became more powerful and militaristic, it took over Okinawa, Diayutai, Taiwan and surrounding islands. After the end of WWII, the U.S. came to administer the islands between Taiwan proper and Japan. The U.S. set up its forward Asia bases in Okinawa (bases that are still opposed by Okinawans today) and then returned the jurisdictions of the islands to Japan in the 1970′s.
China’s (and Taiwan’s) claim to the Diaoyutai islands is based on historical, cultural and traditional sphere of influence. Japanese is based on colonial aggression. It’s best argument is that under (current, Western-based) “International Law,” it was the first nation to claim the islands.
If we have to have a solution under today’s International Law, there is not much to say except that the most powerful nation will win – ultimately (that’s basically what International Law says: always status quo, irrespective how unjust the status quo is).
If we go back to Asia before Western “International Law,” where “sovereignty” is not a binary concept, where there is a hierarchy of sovereigns – the islands between Japan and China can be China’s jurisdiction as well as a sort of “local jurisdiction” where people in the region – regardless of “nationality” (Japanese or Chinese … as well as the many indigenous people) can share in the abundant resources of the region. As we look forward, I foresee a day where the entire polity of East Asia will be united. So all this will seem like petty fights.
Chineseness as we understand today is a concept imposed by Western norms of nations and sovereigns. I foresee, once China has recovered its place in the world, that Chineseness will be replaced with Asianness and eventually a sense of global citizenship, with traditions and cultures identified locally but citizenship and sense of community defined globally. When viewed in that light, we can feel less emotional about it. The dispute with Japan is important. But if Chinese hold their destiny in their hand and go where we know we should be, this is really – in that view – petty.
[Update 2] Updated map to show more exactly where Diaoyutai is located.
[Update 3] Some comments around the web on this topic:
There is very strong geographical evidence that TiaoYuTai/Senkaku belongs to China. The US was well aware of that evidence. In a “Senate Foreign Relations Committee Staff Memo, Okinawa Reversion Treaty” dated Oct. 26, 1971, p. 6, Subsection entitled
“The Senkaku (Tiao Yu Tai) Island,” the following statement was made.
“The Senkakus are located 130 statute mile northeast of Taiwan and about 80 miles from the nearest inhabited island in Okinawa. They are situated IN THE CHINESE CONTINENTAL SHELF AND ARE SEPARATED FROM OKINAWA BY A DEEP TRENCH IN THE OCEAN FLOOR. ” (Capitalization added by S. B. Woo)
Strangely enough, I am not sure if the Chinese governments in Mainland and Taiwan are aware of this fact, since the respective governments may not have surveyed the ocean floor in that area.
S. B. Woo, former Lieutenant governor of Delaware.
by what else, japan
September 22nd, 2010 11:36 am
Fact 1: Pebbles and pachinko balls have been thrown at Japanese schools in China. Not bullets. [In response to recent rumors some Japanese schools are being shot at.]
Fact 2: Threats have been made to Chinese Schools in Japan. By phone. Bomb threats included.
Fact 3: Japan said it might release videos on the incident, to which (when questinoned by reporters) the chinese side said ‘please, show them, not bits and pieces but completely.’
Fact 4: After 1895, this island was govened together with Taiwan but not Okinawa.
fact 5: This is only new in the sense how Japan treated it. Deng of China said many years ago let’s leave this dispute to the next generation so neither side has tried to change the status quo without giving up its own stance. Case in point: several years ago some Chinese landed on the island and were released without charge before long according to this mutual understanding of the two governments.
Fact 6: Action leads to reaction. Japan’s decision to arrest the captain is the cause of the current situation.
Fact 7: This actually involves not boats and ships but lives. Sept 8th is double trageties for the captain. His grandmother died after hearing he got arrested. And he lost the chance to carry out the duty as any eldest grandson would and should.
Fact 8: Once again the U.S. has shown itself a good student of imperial Britain. To return Taiwan to China but let Japan administer this island may be too small a piece of work to be worth mentioning, but look at how beautifully it has worked.
Fact 9: Japan likes to link this to the South China sea and China’s territorial disputes with some southeast Asia nations, while it forgets and China hardly ever points out that Japan has territorial disputes with not some but all its neighbours. The dispute with the Koreas is identical in nature. An island that Japan got when it colonized Korea in 1895.
Who said there is nothing positive about global warming? Maybe a few more melting Arctic glaciers is all that is needed for enduring peace.