Statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People's Republic of China
10 September 2012
Regardless of repeated strong representations of the Chinese side, the Japanese government announced on 10 September 2012 the "purchase" of the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated Nan Xiaodao and Bei Xiaodao and the implementation of the so-called "nationalization" of the islands. This constitutes a gross violation of China's sovereignty over its own territory and is highly offensive to the 1.3 billion Chinese people. It seriously tramples on historical facts and international jurisprudence. The Chinese government and people express firm opposition to and strong protest against the Japanese move.
The Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have been China's sacred territory since ancient times. This is supported by historical facts and jurisprudential evidence. The Diaoyu Islands were first discovered, named and exploited by the Chinese people. Chinese fishermen had long been engaged in production activities on these islands and in their adjacent waters. The Diaoyu Islands have been put under the jurisdiction of China's naval defense as affiliated islands of Taiwan, China since the Ming Dynasty. The Diaoyu Islands have never been "terra nullius". China is the indisputable owner of the Diaoyu Islands.
In 1895, as the Qing government's defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War was all but certain, Japan illegally occupied the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands. After that, Japan forced the Qing government to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki and cede to Japan "the island of Formosa (Taiwan), together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa". After the end of the Second World War, China recovered the territories invaded and occupied by Japan such as Taiwan and the Penghu Islands in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. According to international law, the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands have already been returned to China. Facts are facts, and history is not to be reversed. Japan's position on the issue of the Diaoyu Island is an outright denial of the outcomes of the victory of the World Anti-Fascist War and constitutes a grave challenge to the post-war international order.
In 1951, the Treaty of Peace with Japan (commonly known as the Treaty of San Francisco, a treaty partial in nature) was signed between Japan, the United States and other countries, placing the Ryukyu Islands (known as Okinawa today) under the trusteeship of the United States. In 1953, the United States Civil Administration of the Ryukyu Islands arbitrarily expanded its jurisdiction to include the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands, which are in fact Chinese territories. In 1971, Japan and the United States signed the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, which arbitrarily included the Diaoyu Islands in the territories and territorial waters to be reversed to Japan. The Chinese government has, from the very beginning, firmly opposed and never acknowledged such backroom deals between Japan and the United States concerning Chinese territories. The claims of the Japanese government that the Diaoyu Island is Japan's inherent territory and that there is no outstanding territorial dispute between Japan and China showed total disregard of historical facts and jurisprudential evidence and are absolutely untenable.
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, the then leaders of the two countries, acting in the larger interest of China-Japan relations, reached important understanding and common ground on "leaving the issue of the Diaoyu Island to be resolved later". This opened the door to normalization of China-Japan relations and was followed by tremendous progress in China-Japan relations and stability and tranquility in East Asia in the following 40 years. Now, if the Japanese authorities should deny and negate the previous common understanding reached between the two countries, then how could the situation of the Diaoyu Island remain stable? How could China-Japan relations continue to grow smoothly? And how could Japan ever win trust from its neighbors and people of the world?
The Japanese government has repeatedly stirred up troubles in recent years on the issue of the Diaoyu Island. Particularly since the start of the year, the Japanese government has endorsed rightwing forces to clamor for the "purchase" of the Diaoyu Island and some of its affiliated islands in an attempt to pave the way for a government "purchase" of the islands. People have reason to believe that what Japan did regarding the Diaoyu Island was nothing accidental. The political tendency these actions point to may well put people on the alert. We cannot but ask: where is Japan heading to? Can anyone rest assured of Japan's future course of development?
The Chinese government has always attached importance to developing relations with Japan. China and Japan and the Chinese and Japanese peoples can live together only in friendship, not confrontation. To advance the China-Japan strategic relationship of mutual benefit serves the fundamental interests of the two countries and two peoples and is conducive to peace, stability and development of the region. Yet, to ensure sound and stable development of China-Japan relations, the Japanese side needs to work together and move in the same direction with China. The "purchase" of the Diaoyu Island by the Japanese government runs counter to the goal of upholding the larger interest of China-Japan relations.
The Chinese government solemnly states that the Japanese government's so-called "purchase" of the Diaoyu Island is totally illegal and invalid. It does not change, not even in the slightest way, the historical fact of Japan's occupation of Chinese territory, nor will it alter China's territorial sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islands. Long gone are the days when the Chinese nation was subject to bullying and humiliation from others. The Chinese government will not sit idly by watching its territorial sovereignty being infringed upon. The Chinese side strongly urges the Japanese side to immediately stop all actions that may undermine China's territorial sovereignty. Japan should truly come back to the very understanding and common ground reached between the two sides, and should return to the track of negotiated settlement of the dispute. Should the Japanese side insist on going its own way, it shall have to bear all serious consequences arising therefrom.