China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands?

A Chinese spokesman on Sunday refuted the remarks of a Japanese politician and reiterated China’s sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands.

“It is a clear fact that the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets are China’s inherent territory,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hong Lei said in response to a question concerning Seiji Maehara’s remarks on the islands.

Maehara, a former leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, reportedly said Saturday that China was “distorting historical facts” when it said Japan grabbed the Diaoyu Islands from China.

“Seiji Maehara’s remarks are extremely wrong,” Hong said, adding that there are always some people in Japan, even some politicians, who “dare not face the history directly and try to evade it.”

“So it was no wonder that Seiji Maehara made such remarks,” said the spokesman.

It was in 1884 that Japan claimed to find the Diaoyu Islands for the first time, Hong said. “However, the islands had been under China’s jurisdiction nearly 500 years before that.”

According to Japan Diplomatic Documents compiled by the Japanese Foreign Ministry, Japan was completely aware, prior to the grabbing, that the Diaoyu Islands belonged to China, Hong said.

In 1951, Japan, the United States and a number of other countries signed the Treaty of San Francisco with China being excluded from it, and the treaty placed the Nansei Islands south of the 29th parallel of North Latitude under the United States’ trusteeship.

Hong said that the Nansei Islands placed under the U.S. administration did not include the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets.

He said the United States arbitrarily expanded its jurisdiction to include the Diaoyu Islands later, to which the Chinese government resolutely opposed.

In 1971, Japan and the United States signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which provided that the Ryukyu Islands and the Diaoyu Islands would be “returned” to Japan. The move triggered strong opposition of the Chinese government and people.

Hong said the United States, in response to the opposition, had to publicly clarify its position on the sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands and stated that the United States took a neutral position with regard to the competing Japanese and Chinese claims to the islands, despite the return of administrative rights over the islands to Japan.

During the negotiations on the normalization of China-Japan relations in 1972 and on the signing of the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship in 1978, there were also some people in Japan who tried to deny the dispute over the Diaoyu Islands, Hong said.

The historical documents and news reports at that time showed clearly that the dispute did exist and the then leaders of the two countries reached important understanding and common ground on “leaving the issue of the Diaoyu Islands to be resolved later.”

The Japanese government’s decision on Sept. 10 to “purchase” the Diaoyu Islands severely violated China’s sovereignty over its territory, was highly offensive to the Chinese people, and seriously impaired the relations between China and Japan, Hong said.

China strongly urges Japan to face facts and recognize the seriousness of the current situation, Hong said, adding that Japan should take measures immediately to correct its mistakes and work together with China to solve the problem through dialogues and negotiations.

He said China has always attached importance to developing relations with Japan, and the exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in various areas have been beneficial over the past 40 years.

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