President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday cited historical references to defend the nation’s sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) and said that the government would not compromise in the fight over the islands’ sovereignty.
In discussing the sovereignty disputes over the islands, Ma said the disputed Diaoyutais fell under the administration of the Qing Dynasty until they were taken by Japan after 1895, and cited the Shanghai-based daily Shun Pao’s report on Japan’s attempts to occupy the Diaoyutai Islands on Sept. 6, 1885.
Although the Qing Dynasty knew about Japan’s attempt to occupy the islands, the Diaoyutais were occupied by the Japanese without the knowledge of the Qing government at some point after 1895, while Taiwan was ceded to Japan under the Treaty of Shimonoseki at the end of the first Sino-Japanese War.
“We do not recognize the Japanese occupation because it is invalid under international law ... The Republic of China government will fight for every inch of our territory to defend our sovereignty,” he told a seminar organized by Academia Historica.
In the wake of the Japanese government’s decision to ignore protests from Taiwan and China and proceed with its plan to buy three of the disputed islands from their private owner for ￥2.05 billion (US$26 million), Ma renewed his proposal for the three countries to put aside disputes and jointly develop the resource-rich area.
“If we can all acknowledge the sovereignty disputes, put the issue aside and focus our efforts on developing the resources there, I believe it will contribute to regional peace and stability,” he said.
Amid ongoing disputes over the sovereignty of the islands, Representative to Japan Shen Ssu-tsun (沈斯淳) has been ordered back to Taiwan to provide the government with a full briefing. He presented a report on the situation to Ma, Vice President Wu Den-yih (吳敦義), Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and Minister of Foreign Affairs Timothy Yang (楊進添).
Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi (范姜泰基) said Ma had instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to seek Japan’s support for his proposed “East China Sea peace initiative.”
He said Ma expected bilateral exchanges to be continue despite the sovereignty disputes.
The president also pledged to protect the rights of local fishermen who conducted fishing activities around the Diaoyutais, he said.