Former president Lee Teng-hui’s (李登輝) assertion that the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) belong to Japan and not Taiwan amounts to “an act that humiliates the nation and forfeits its sovereignty,” Presidential Office spokesperson Charles Chen (陳以信) said yesterday.
Chen made the remarks yesterday after Lee reiterated his long-held view that sovereignty over the disputed islands in the East China Sea lies with Japan while answering questions at a meeting with the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo on Thursday.
According to media reports, Lee referred to the islands by their Japanese name, the Senkaku Islands, and not as the Diaoyutai Islands, the designation used in Taiwan. The islands are also claimed by China as the Diaoyu Archipelago.
“In the past, I have repeatedly said that the Senakaku Islands are part of the territory of Japan, not of Taiwan,” Lee was reported as having said.
Chen yesterday reaffirmed the government’s stance that the Republic of China (ROC) possesses sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands.
“Any denial that our nation holds sovereignty over the Diaoyutai Islands is tantamount to an act that humiliates the nation and forfeits its sovereignty. Neither the ROC government nor its people can accept that,” Chen said.
Chen said that the Diaoyutai Islands have “been the inherent territory of the ROC since 1683,” the year in which Taiwan was incorporated into the Qing Dynasty as a prefecture of Fujian Province.
Chen said that the ROC’s claim of sovereignty over the islands, solidly based on their location, geological composition, relevant historical evidence and international law, is “undisputed.”
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement reiterating that the Diaoyutai Islands are under the jurisdiction of Yilan County.
“Any remarks that deviate from the ROC’s stance have no effect on its assertion of sovereignty over the islands,” the ministry said.
Separately, KMT spokesperson Lin Yi-hua (林奕華) said that the party “regretted” Lee’s remarks, which they said were detrimental to the nation’s sovereignty.
Lin said that Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should make her stance on the issue clear.
“Taiwanese have the right to know whether she will denounce Lee’s position or if she shares the same view as him,” Lin said.
In the past, Lee has repeatedly said that the Diaoyutai Islands have always belonged to Okinawa and that they were not among territories, including Taiwan, ceded to Japan by the Qing Dynasty according to the Treaty of Shimonoseki in 1895.
On earlier occasions, Lee said he has contended that the islands have been Japanese territories since he was president from 1988 to 2000, because he knows the history of Taiwan and Japan well.
In response to a question by reporters yesterday about the criticism of his comments, Lee said he viewed the issue “as history stands.”
Lee said that President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) should study more and refrain from making comments on matters that he does not understand.
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