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An Article by H.E. Mr. Wu Hailong, Ambassador of China to the European Union
The Undeniable Historical Facts on Diaoyu Dao
2012/10/29

A while ago, I wrote an article for our European friends on the historical background of Diaoyu Dao and the position of the Chinese government on this issue. Both historical and jurisprudence evidence suggest that China has indisputable sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. The announcement made by the Japanese government to "purchase" and to " nationalize" Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands has gravely violated China's territorial integrity. It runs counter to the mutual agreement and understanding between the two countries, and is an open denial of the world anti-Fascist war outcome. The Chinese side has strongly urged the Japanese side to face squarely the current grave situation in Sino-Japan relations. We have called on the Japanese government to recognize the competing sovereignty claims over Diaoyu Dao, correct the wrong doings that violate the Chinese sovereignty, and come back to the track of resolving the disputes through negotiations. Nevertheless, recent developments suggest that the Japanese side has refused to change its wrong position, and has been unscrupulous in misleading the international community by misrepresenting the historical facts.

The Japanese side has repeatedly claimed that China has never made sovereignty claims over Diaoyu Dao before 1970s. Recently, the Japanese side announced that a Chinese map said to have been published sometime over the last century could serve as an evidence to support their claim. One Japanese senior official also quoted the words of the previous generation of the leaders in two countries in an attempt to deny the existence of competing sovereignty claims over Diaoyu Dao. The fact is that these statements made and the evidence presented to support such are out of their context at best, and are nowhere near the objective presentation of the history.

On the issue of the so-called "Chinese map", I have indicated in the previous article that numerous official maps published during the Qing and Ming dynasties have clearly marked that Diaoyu Dao is the Chinese territory. Maps published during the 19th century in Japan, Europe and the United States all marked no otherwise. The map in question raised by Japan is the World Atlas published in China. In that map however, it has been clearly noted that Shenbao Newspaper library was the source of the mapping data, during which time it was under Japanese control as a result of the War of Aggression. Since the conclusion of the World War II, international legal documents such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation all clearly provide that all Chinese territories that Japan has gained control through war must be returned to China, including Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands. Therefore, it simply makes no sense for the Japanese side to make a case for the sovereignty claim based on an individual map published, especially given the context of it as a result of the Japanese War of Aggression against China.

On the issue of Japan's denial of competing sovereignty claims over Diaoyu Dao, I believe that the readers who are informed of the historical developments surrounding the Diaoyu Dao issue are well aware that competing sovereignty claims over the island have been around for a long time. What the aforementioned senior Japanese official has done was that he intentionally cut out only a part of the conversation between the then Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai and the then Japanese Prime Minister Kakuei Tanaka in 1972 to argue that the two leaders had not reached understanding and agreement on "shelving the Diaoyu Dao dispute". A full review of that conversation in 1972 would suggest that the two leaders agreed to resolve the Diaoyu Dao issue "in the future" in order to achieve the normalization of Sino-Japan relations. In 1978, during the meeting between the then Vice Chinese Premier Deng Xiaoping and the then Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda Takeo, the two leaders again expressed the need to put aside the Diaoyu Dao issue until in the future when the two sides "could find a mutually acceptable solution". The previous generations of the two leaderships have reached such a political resolution in an effort to remove the Diaoyu Dao issue as an obstacle for Sino-Japan relations and to serve the larger interest of the two sides. Today, however, the Japanese authority is trying openly to play the word game and to deny the history. We in China find such moves highly irresponsible and have failed to live up to the aspiration and efforts of our previous political leaders and the two peoples to grow friendly relations between China and Japan.

Any attempt to misinterpret or deny history should be met with the strongest opposition. One important lesson that the world should learn from Europe as home to time-honored civilization is that the respect for history is the prerequisite for durable peace and prosperity. Only by facing the past with honesty could we truly reflect and right the past wrongs. Only by cautioning ourselves with previous mistakes, could we find the correct path forward. I strongly believe that the people of Europe, the same as the people in China, will not tolerate any reckless moves to go against history.

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