The tussle between China, Japan and Taiwan over ownership of islands in the East China Sea spilled over into US newspapers on Friday, as the China Daily newspaper took out a double-page ad about the dispute.
A centerfold display in the New York Times — among the most expensive real estate in all of journalism — was devoted to the standoff, which has heightened bilateral tensions and reopened old wounds over World War II.
“Diaoyu Islands ... have been an inherent territory of China since ancient times, and China has indisputable sovereignty over the islands,” read the text of the newspaper advertisement purchased by the China Daily newspaper.
The ad pressed Beijing’s position that Japan had “grabbed” the islands and that they are the rightful property of China.
“China has opposed the backroom deals between the US” over the islands, read the text of the oversized advertisement, which also appeared in Friday’s Washington Post.
China for decades has demanded the return of the uninhabited islands — known as the Diaoyutais (釣魚台) in Chinese and the Senkakus in Japanese. Taiwan also claims the islands.
Beijing claims that Japan tricked China into signing a treaty which ceded the islands in 1895. Tokyo meanwhile maintains that its government began surveying the islands as early as 1885 and found them to be unoccupied and that there was “no trace of having been under the control of China.”
Ten years later, on Jan. 14, 1895, its Cabinet decided to erect a marker to formally incorporate the Senkaku Islands into Japanese territory, the foreign ministry says.
Tokyo maintains that China and Taiwan only began claiming the islands after 1970, once it became known that possible energy reserves are located in the seabed which surrounds the tiny outcrop of islets.