Let’s see China’s Argument
The People’s Republic of China has developed its argument by citing numerous ancient documents, although the interpretation of those documents in the statement does not always appear credible from an academic standpoint. Here, we do not delve further into the academic credibility of the interpretations, but rather, attempt to verify whether the Chinese argument demonstrates any grounds for territorial sovereignty that are regarded as valid under international law, assuming that the Chinese interpretation of the cited documents is correct.
China’s Argument (1)
Diaoyu Dao is China's Inherent Territory
I. Diaoyu Dao is China's Inherent Territory
1. Diaoyu Dao was first discovered, named and utilized by China
2. Diaoyu Dao had long been under China's jurisdiction
3. Chinese and foreign maps show that Diaoyu Dao belongs to China
Source:Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China, State Council Information Office,
the People's Republic of China (September 25, 2012)
1.The term “utilized” in the Chinese argument in fact means that the Senkaku Islands were just looked at as a navigation marker by the missions of the Ming and Qing Dynasties; hence “utilization” cannot be regarded as sufficient grounds for a territorial claim. Their “discovery” or “naming” is not sufficient grounds, either.
The People’s Republic of China asserts that China (PRC) discovered and named the Senkaku Islands, simply because Chinese names of the Islands appeared in Chinese documents written in the 15th to 18th Centuries. The PRC also asserts that China utilized the Senkaku Islands, simply because the Chinese Envoy’s mission of the Ming and Qing Dynasties went through the Senkaku Islands when dispatched to the Ryukyu Dynasty.
However, it is not clear that China really “discovered” or “named” any islands. Nor is it clear that the sailing of missions, dispatched once every few decades by the Chinese Dynasty, near the Senkaku Islands constitutes “utilization” of the Islands. None of these constitutes grounds to support China’s territorial claims.
Under international law, continuous and peaceful display of sovereignty with a clear intention of possessing territory is deemed necessary for gaining territorial title. However, there is no evidence from China that the country ever had such effective control over the Senkaku Islands.
2.The meaning of “coastal defense area” is not clear. The mere appearance of island names on charts and maps in books related to coastal defense cannot be regarded as grounds for territorial sovereignty.
The PRC asserts that China “has long placed the islands under its jurisdiction”, based on the grounds that documents in the 16th and 17th century depict that the Senkaku Islands were part of the coastal defense of Ming Dynasty China.
However, in the argument of the PRC, there is no explanation of what “coastal defense area” means. The mere appearance of island names on charts and maps in books related to coastal defense can absolutely not be regarded as proof of those islands being held as territory.
3.The distinction of colors on ancient maps is not sufficient grounds for territorial sovereignty.
The PRC asserts that maps made in the 16th to 19th centuries included the Senkaku Islands in the Chinese maritime area.
However, the grounds for this assertion is only that the islands and the Chinese mainland are the same color on the maps, which cannot be considered to be proof of territorial sovereignty.
As mentioned above, the PRC does not provide any effective grounds, in accordance with international law, to support its claims of territorial sovereignty, and has asserted that the islands are “China’s Inherent Territory,” based on its unilateral logic, without regard for international law.
China’s Argument (2)
Japan Stole Diaoyu Dao from China
2. Japan Stole Diaoyu Dao from China
1. Japan's covert moves to steal Diaoyu Dao
2. China was forced to cede Diaoyu Dao to Japan together with the Taiwan Island
Diaoyu Dao, an Inherent Territory of China, State Council Information Office,
the People's Republic of China (September 25, 2012)
1.In the process of incorporating the Senkaku Islands in 1895, Japan confirmed that they were not under the control by any other state.
The PRC states that in “a report sent in secrecy” within the Japanese Government in 1885, Japan “could not act impetuously,” taking in consideration the possibility of “inviting China’s suspicion if erecting national markers,” because the Senkaku Islands had Chinese names.
As explained above, Japan carefully confirmed that no other nations ruled controlled the Senkaku Islands, prior to issuing the Cabinet decision of incorporating the Senkaku Islands.
Moreover, after the incorporation of the Islands into the Japanese territory in 1895, although China appeared to have recognized that the activities of the Japanese were growing conspicuous, Japan effectively controlled the Senkaku Islands.
2.Japan’s incorporation of the Senkaku Islands (January 1895) was three months prior to the conclusion of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (April 1895). The Senkaku Islands were not part of “the islands appertaining or belonging to…Formosa” (Taiwan), and not ceded to Japan.
The PRC asserts that the Treaty of Shimonoseki was concluded as a result of the Sino-Japanese War, and the Senkaku Islands were “ceded” to Japan as the “islands appertaining or belonging to…Formosa.”
However, it was in April 1895 that the Sino-Japanese War was ended, while the incorporation of the Senkaku Islands into Japan’s territory was three months prior, and thus, the Senkaku Islands were already Japan’s territory at the time of the conclusion of the Treaty.
Moreover, it is clear from the negotiation records that the Senkaku Islands were not included as part of the island of Formosa nor the “islands appertaining or belonging to” it. Therefore, the assertion of the PRC that the Senkaku Islands were “ceded” to Japan by the Treaty of Shimonoseki is wrong.
As is demonstrated above, the Senkaku Islands were neither “stoled” nor “ceded.”