Friday, May 30, 2008

From Pedra Branca to Diaoyutai


国际法庭下判,白礁岛(Pedra Branca)主权归星加坡。我在报章上看到有关的新闻后,想起了另一个海事纷争:钓鱼台。



再说,日本人也没有武力占据钓鱼台。(日本人称钓鱼台为尖阁岛 Senkaku。)1945年日本战败,美国占领冲绳和钓鱼台,中国光复台湾。1972年美国将钓鱼台连同冲绳交还日本。中国国民党和共产党原本可以向美国索取钓鱼台,但是他们却没有这么做。



International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that the tiny island of Pedra Branca (a.k.a Pulau Batu Puteh) belonged to Singapore, not Malaysia. While I was reading this news, I thought of another territorial dispute – one that is related to Diaoyutai, or Senkaku.

All Chinese in this world believe that Diayutai belongs to China. They angrily condemn Japan for “unlawfully occupying” the isles in the East China Sea. But if we can cool down to study the dispute, we will realize that the issue is not so straight forward.

According to China, Diaoyutai was discovered by the Chinese, so it is historically part of the Middle Kingdom. Unfortunately, international law is based on Western law, and in Western law, “discovery” does not equate “possession”. Among Europeans, the Dutch were to first to set foot on Australia, but the continent eventually became a British colony. (Now the Chinese will tell you that Admiral Zheng He was the first person to have discovered both Australia and the America.)

Furthermore, the Japanese did not take over Diaoyutai by force as many Chinese are brainwashed to believe. (The Japanese refer to Diaoyutai as Senkaku.) Japan was defeated in the end of World War II, when Americans occupied Okinawa and Senkaku, and China reclaimed Taiwan. In 1972, Senkaku was returned to Japan together with Okinawa. The Chinese – both Kuomintang and the Communists – could have requested the U.S. to hand over Senkaku right after 1945, but they failed to do so.

Of course, I am not a legal expert, and I can’t say for sure which nation has sovereignty over the disputed islands. However, as Chinese in South-East Asia, we need not “hate” the Japanese like the China nationals do.

Likewise, I didn’t hate Singaporeans over the Pedra Branca dispute. After all, my brother-in-law is a Singaporean.


  1. only i knw some background abt diayutai...thank for info:)

  2. 如果连这样小的事都要仇视,那么我们此不是很多仇人?

  3. sinji
    What you read here is different from what you will learn from Chinese media.

    Let's remember the Hippies' motto - Make love, not war.

  4. I'm always amazed by the mainland Chinese who gets too nationalistic everytime they see their possessions or national interests being threatened by foreigners, esp Japan. Kinda reminds me of the global Muslims who reacts over disproportionately to anything they regard as threatening their faith.

    China has been invaded by Japan and has had her people mass-murdered in Nanjing. But so do we Malaysians. The local Chinese here has been tortured and killed in large numbers too. But do we hate Japs? No. You see, the youngsters are embracing the Jap culture and the language has got many supporters! In China, it's diff. Maybe they still can't get over the wounds left by the Japs, but hey, all animosities should be left behind. We should move on and not look back...

  5. kyh
    I know you are an English speaker. But there are many Mandarin speakers in Malaysia who have been brainwashed by Chinese media. Now I worry they will become equally mad...

    BTW, China demonizes Japan not just because of history, but also because of politics. Beijing wants to be the big boss in Asia.

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  7. Do I sound like an English speaker to you?

    我在家说华语的啊! 与亲朋戚友都是! :P

  8. kyh
    I also speak Mandarin. But at least both of us are exposed to non-Chinese media.