The Senkakus are a classic bit of Chinese territorial expansionism. As John Tkacik pointed out last year, neither the ROC nor the PRC governments considered the Senkakus, Japanese since 1895, to be part of China prior to around 1970. In the late 1960s scientists announced that there might be oil out there, and suddenly both Chinese governments discovered that the Senkakus had been Chinese for every picosecond of the last 5,000 years.
Once again the Senkakus are an irritant, as AFP reports in the Taipei Times, a Taiwanese fishing boat was nabbed in Japanese waters:
Taiwan sent coast guard vessels to disputed waters in the East China Sea where Japan arrested a Taiwanese skipper, accusing him of illegal fishing, officials on both sides said yesterday.Taiwan Today gives a very detailed account.
The Coast Guard Administration (CGA) said it had dispatched five patrol boats to the area, 110 nautical miles (200km) east of Taiwan, after Japanese officials said they were holding the skipper for questioning.
The incident began late on Sunday, when the Formosa Chieftain No 2, a 49-tonne sports fishing boat, was accosted by Japanese maritime vessels over allegations of fishing illegally, the administration said.
The skipper declined the Japanese officials’ request to board his vessel, arguing he believed he was operating in Taiwanese waters, the CGA said.
The Japanese coast guard said it arrested the 44-year-old skipper on suspicion of violating Japan’s fishing law by being within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
His boat was carrying one crew member aside from Wang and nine fishing tourists, Japanese authorities said.
The CGA said that while it had sent five vessels to the area, a flotilla of five Japanese maritime vessels was also involved.
The other day The Diplomat came out with a nifty article on Chinese military power, which questions western interpretations of it. Arguing that the US is losing its ability to project power in local waters, it observes:
If the US Navy can no longer provide for its flattops’ defense, the PLA Navy is already on the brink of sea denial in nearby waters, while local sea control is coming into sight for Beijing. Nor does the wider naval community share Ross’s confidence in the US Navy’s capacity to enforce sea control in Asia. His admission that the United States can’t ensure the survivability of its carriers, a mission verging on sacrosanct, is cold water in the faces of theater and fleet commanders entrusted with managing events in the western Pacific.Unlike the US-Taiwan situation, where US defense of the island is shrouded in ambiguity, the US commitment to Japan is defined by treaty. Not only must the US come to Japan's aid in case it is attacked, but in 2006 the US and Japan conducted exercises simulating coming to rescue the Senkakus -- which the US publicly states are administrated by Japan, and thus fall under the wording of the US-Japan treaty -- in case they are invaded.
Japan moved to formally take full sovereignty over the islands in 2005, a move which infuriated Beijing in the way only a bully can be when cheated of his prey. Small though the islands may be, they loom large on the list of the world's flashpoints. The stabilizing presence of the US navy hinges on its ability to project power into the area. If that is called into question....
I argued a while back that the "reduction in tensions" between Taiwan and China hasn't really reduced tensions, so much as enabled China to displace them to elsewhere in Asia. In the 2003-2004 there were several challenges from Chinese groups, including visits to the Senkakus, and in 2005 Chen Shui-bian stupidly asserted Taiwanese sovereignty over the islands. Now another aspect of the "reduction in tensions" between Taiwan and China that is really displaced tensions is that the KMT Administration can increase the tensions over the Senkakus -- acting now as Beijing's proxy -- in this case, sending out 5 Coast Guard craft. Look for more yanking of Tokyo's chain over the islands, enabling Beijing to cheer from the sidelines as China continues its attempts to grab islands in other seas.
A friend of mine suggested that the US really should pay attention to how the Ma Administration handles the Senkaku issue -- because that is how the pro-China Ma really wants to treat the US.
- Ministry of Foreign Affairs White Paper on Foreign Aid Policy. Important for Taiwan's diplomacy!
- Latest Taiwan What's Up newsletter out (Chinese).
- Remember CSIS head Ralph Cossa's claim that the DPP threatened EFCA? Ma says ECFA by the end of the year, or early next year. No sign that inviting the Dalai Lama had the slightest effect on ECFA. Also note that KMT politicians in the south are concerned about the financial agreements with Beijing -- they know perfectly well who is going to get screwed by that.
- Wild at Heart on the protests against the effluent discharge plans for the central Taiwan science park.
- Stephane at Tea Masters has Saturday afternoon tea with lovely pics.
[Taiwan] Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums!