Saturday, September 29, 2012

Paper on Parade: The Diaoyutai Islands on Taiwan’s Official Maps: Pre- and Post-1971

At this moment, for example, in 1984 (if it was 1984), Oceania was at war with Eurasia and in alliance with Eastasia. In no public or private utterance was it ever admitted that the three powers had at any time been grouped along different lines. Actually, as Winston well knew, it was only four years since Oceania had been at war with Eastasia and in alliance with Eurasia. But that was merely a piece of furtive knowledge which he happened to possess because his memory was not satisfactorily under control. Officially the change of partners had never happened. Oceania was at war with Eurasia: therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

I cracked open the mail this morning and found to my joy that longtime reader and friend FM had alerted me to this paper entitled The Diaoyutai Islands on Taiwan’s Official Maps: Pre- and Post-1971 (Asian Affairs: An American Review, 39:90–105, 2012) by Ko-hua Yap, Yu-wen Chen, and Ching-chi Huang. Many thanks, FM! (apologies to Scott Simon, still have to finish my post on his excellent paper on headhunting. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa).

As I noted yesterday in the long post, and many times in the past, the Senkakus "dispute" dates from the announcement of oil there in 1968. What Yap et al do in this paper is go over in fine detail the same information that the blogs I've pointed to present for Taiwan, with some delicious discoveries. I will leave out their discussion of certain international cases that might bear on the Senkaku issue and move along to their map presentation. Onward!

Yap et al succinctly summarize the issues:
"This research report is the first to present irrefutable evidence of the ROC government’s change of position from excluding to including the Diaoyutai Islands in the ROC’s territory in the early 1970s. The evidence lies in cartographic information produced by the ROC government before the 1970s, which had always tacitly assumed that the Diaoyutai Islands were part of the Ryukyu Islands, not under the ROC’s sovereign control. Not until 1971 and 1972 did the Taiwanese government modify official maps—such as national atlases, military topographic maps, and maps in national textbooks—labelling the Diaoyutai Islands as part of Taiwan or using the “Taiwanese name” (i.e., Diaoyutai Islands, Tiaoyutai Islets) to identify these islands."
The first case they present is one of the things I mentioned yesterday: the Taiwan Statistical Abstract. From 1946 to 1971, they observe, this text identified the northernmost point of Taiwan as Pengjia Islet, one of the three small islands off the northeast coast of Taiwan. But on Dec 2, 1971 the Executive Yuan announced that the Senkakus/Diaoyutai belonged to China and were administrated by Yilan county. The 1972 abstract was then duly altered, and Kuba Jima and Taisho Jima in the Senkakus were presented as the northernmost and easternmost points of Taiwan, respectively, thus creating a great trivia question for stumping the locals.

They then move on to the official maps. First they present the National War College maps, which as I noted yesterday, between 1959 and 1972 identified the Senkakus as Japanese and even used their Japanese names for them, never noting any controversy. They write:
"Evidence of the ROC’s shift of stance on the Diaoyutai Islands is also displayed in the NWC productions. For instance, in the National Atlas of China Vol. 1, the theme of which is Taiwan Province, the Diaoyutai Islands were not included in the first (1959), second (1963), or even third (1967) editions. It was only in 1972, when the fourth edition of the National Atlas of China Vol. 1 was published, that the Diaoyutai Islands were shown as part of Taiwan’s territory."

The figure above shows the 1959 map (unchanged in 1963 and 1967) of Taiwan from the National Atlas of China Vol I. The 1972 map, shown below, has suddenly added the Senkakus as the territory of China in the new inset box on the left. Then they, note, something else new appeared on this map:
It is equally interesting to note that, on the copyright page of the revised version, a line states that “the delineation of boundaries on the maps must not be considered authoritative.” This line never appeared in the original edition or in any other volumes of the National Atlas of China or the Grand Atlas of the World.
Yap et al argue that (obviously) the line appeared there because the mapmakers knew perfectly well that they could not backdate their claim to the Senkakus because the previous maps undermined their claim. Further, they note, the revision was prepared in a rush and the proofreaders appeared to have missed that the index still referred to the Senkaku Gunto under the Ryukyus.

This map is from the world atlas in the pre-1972 edition and shows the Senkakus as part of the Ryukyus. Note that the Japanese names for the islands are used (color image) and that there is no warning that there is a controversy over the islands. After that, the Senkakus are referred to as the Diaoyutais and are identified as Chinese.

The next example Yap et al refer to is the national junior high school textbooks, which I also mentioned yesterday. As everyone knows, these were produced by the government. Again, until 1970, these showed the Senkakus as Japanese and used the Japanese names for them. Without mention of controversy. And again, in 1971, after the ROC reversed 60 years of placid acceptance of Japanese sovereignty over the Senkakus, the group of islands magically morphed into the Diaoyutai and were part of the ROC.

Military topographic maps are my favorite case in this study, producing a hilarious moment of unintentional insecurity about the map. Yap et al first put up a figure showing the 1962 topographic map set produced by the Combined Service Forces (CSF). That map has a set of dashed lines showing a boundary which put the Senkakus inside Japanese territory and noting that it derived from the Treaty of San Francisco. It did not, I should observe, note that there was any controversy. Then comes this flash of comic brilliance in the 1975 CSF map:

The dotted lines and warning about the SF Peace Treaty are gone, and some kindly bureaucrat has drawn a line to the Senkakus, in case the hapless reader missed the fact that they have always been Chinese, for every last second of the last 5,000 years.

Excellent work, Yap et al!
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! Delenda est, baby.


Tommy said...

SCMP had a story today on scholars' disputing views regarding the Senkakus. The line that the SCMP spouted about why China didn't make a fuss before the 1970s was that China was not yet in a position to challenge Japan and the US. But this seems like a preposterous explanation since China was even less in a position to challenge the Chiangs and the US, yet China made no secret that Taiwan was, from China's perspective, the property of the PRC. Moreover, the nine-dash line is a take-off of a previous extensive claim by Nationalist China. China must explain why, if the Senkakus have always been disputed, China mentioned not a word of it until the 1970s.

Anonymous said...

i'm going to assume that the same logic from taiwan also applies to the PRC; as you said in "senkakus round-up again", this is naked expansionism at its worst; the problem is that people want their cheap ipads and such, and are thus unwilling to counter an empire that cloaks its 19th century imperialism in a veil of modernity and consumerism. there's also, as you said, the exoticism at work. Nevertheless, this should not be a reason for blind stupidity as displayed by various politicians in the west; after the Senkakus, after Okinawa, where to next? remember that the Chinese considered that they had a divine mandate to rule over all of the known world....

MKL said...

What are your thoughts on this article in the NY Times?

The Inconvenient Truth Behind the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands

Which maps and interpretations are correct? How can the average observer such as myself see through this mess of historic evidence, that can go either way?

Michael Turton said...

There isn't any "either way" about it, the whole dispute is a Chinese creation of the post-1971 era. Look two posts down from this one, I have a very long post.

Also see this one on DKOS.

Ji Xiang said...

The second comment on how the Chinese "considered that they had a divine mandate to rule over all of the known world...." is just scare-mongering and silliness.

The Muslims also used to think they had a divine mandate to rule the world, and the Christian West also thought they had a duty to conquer and evangelize pagans.

Most civilizations probably used to have similar notions. It doesn't mean that they still act upon them nowadays.

arkhangelsk said...

I've read it. Its assertions are so weak that the Taiwanese scholar must either be fairly brainwashed himself or is hoping his American audience to read his article with their brains off. Otherwise, he might have noticed that, just to take one, this:

“Chinese newspapers have been reporting rumors of our intention of occupying islands belonging to China located next to Taiwan.… At this time, if we were to publicly place national markers, this must necessarily invite China’s suspicion.…”

does not in any way say Japan really believes those islands belong to China, just that they are close to China and so understandably there might be some diplomatic messiness.

His strongest claim's main strength is in being not easily verifiable or refuted. The article's picture is the perfect size, just big enough you can kind of see that it might have said what the Taiwanese scholar says it does, but not big enough you can confirm it does or does not. That forces a long search just to verify his claim, taking it out of the "speed-response" category.

E.Jones said...

I used to live in Okinawa. **The United States asked the ROC to administer the Senkakus immediately following WWII. Then, in approx. 1952, they asked the ROC to pass an act of legislature that moved the ownership to Ryukyus *also at that time a US territory*. The ROC gov gladly complied but felt BURNT and tricked and tried to reverse everything when the announcement came forth that Ryukyus would cease to be US and switch to Japanese territory. In other words, the ROC had transferred islands to Japan unwittingly because they thought they were transferring them to a US protectorate with ancient ties to Taiwan (LeeChiew). E. Jones in HK

Michael Turton said...

The Ryukyus were a Japanese territory in 1952, as was Taiwan until April 28, 1952. The ROC legislature can pass whatever fantastic laws it likes, but since it didn't own the Senkakus or Taiwan, it could neither alienate nor annex them.