UPDATE: Bruce Jacobs guts Han-yi Shaw, Feb 2013.
Lots of fun in the Senkakus this week! Mutual pissing contests! Media misreporting! Peripatetic right-wing cheerleader Niall Ferguson even weighed in, apparently undaunted by his total lack of knowledge about the issue...... long post follows.... UPDATED: Don't miss post above this one on how the ROC maps were altered to reflect new Senkakus claim
Taipei Times has some barebones reporting on the latest stupidity (Reuters too):
Coast guard vessels from Taiwan and Japan dueled with water cannons yesterday as Taiwanese fishing boats sailed close to the disputed Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台) to assert Taiwanese sovereignty over the islets.The fishing boats, according to local media reports, had been paid for by the head of the WantWant group, the ardently pro-China Robert Tsai (蔡衍明), who has been in the news recently over his attempts to grab a chunk of Taiwan's media market. J Michael argues that the mess was driven by local fisherman's issues. Tsai, however, is not involved because he supports the good fishermen of northern Taiwan.
The fishing boats came as close as 3 nautical miles (5.5km) to the Diaoyutais, known as the Senkakus in Japan, but were thwarted from making a possible landing by Japanese coast guard vessels, which deterred the protesters from approaching any further.
The Ma government probably should have never permitted this, especially with a Japanese envoy visiting Taiwan this week to discuss the Senkakus. Yet there it is: not only did Coast Guard vessels confront the Japanese, which must have been fun for everyone, but the Ma government also sortied fighter jets to monitor the situation, according to the Taipei Times. Unbelievable stupidity. Remember when Ma was "pragmatic"? Promised to be not a troublemaker but a peacemaker? All the Serious US analysts backed him and claimed that those of us shrill, small voices who correctly identified him as a weak, pro-China ideologue were wrong. LOL.
It should be noted that effectively, when the Ma government and the Beijing government tag-team Japan, the Ma government is working with China, whatever their denials.
As Ma dithers with these islands, Taiwan's economy continues to slide. Despite the constant reiteration of the word Taiwan in connection with the Senkakus, the public is not rallying to this cause, but appear rather to be wondering WTF Ma can be thinking. Polls bear this out -- Ma's disapproval ratings reached 71%, with only 16% approving in the last TISR poll, and 13% in the TVBS poll.
Something is up. As a smart observer of Taiwan's political affairs pointed out to me last night in a conversation in which both parties, astonishingly, were sober -- no state to be discussing politics in -- Ma has replaced the envoy to the US with King Pu-tsung, his longtime right-hand man. He has also replaced the head of the Mainland Affairs Council and the head of the Straits Exchange Foundation with people loyal to him. The envoy to Japan has been recalled. Something is in the air, he argues, probably after the leadership change in China and the Lunar New Year. Note also that China has scrambled its Taiwan affairs people.
The international media has once again predictably failed to accurately represent what is going on. Despite the harm false balance has done in so many areas, the media continually reaches for it. The result is that the international media legitimizes China's claims with every article, by treating them on par with Japanese sovereignty and by refusing to do any digging in the background of the "dispute". The "deeper" pieces attribute the current mess to current domestic political issues in both countries. This "dispute" has been simmering for the last two decades. There is always something going on domestically that can be blamed for its revival at any given time.....
The NYTimes took things a step further the other day with the publication of a right-wing Chinese propaganda screed from Han-yi Shaw, who has been writing on this topic for about 15 years, introduced by Nicholas Kristof (who has been claiming the Senkakus are Chinese for a while). Here is the image that the NYTimes published with the piece:
Here is what Shaw wrote near the bottom:
And according to Taiwan gazetteers, “Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.Heh. The Chinese text he highlights, presumably from the Chen Shouqi text on the right, actually says something like "the Diaoyu Island can hold 1000 large ships." Not ten, but a thousand. Is Shaw deliberately mistranslating, mistaken, or is it that the gazetteer he cites is not the one in the picture?
In 1999 the U of Maryland reprint series (take a moment to examine its editorial board and their output and you will know its politics) published his magnum opus on why Senkakus are Chinese. In it he also cites the Qing Gazetteers.
The Revised Gazetteer of Chen Shouqi published in 1871 is the document displayed in the photo above, according to the NYTimes caption. Shaw describes it...
Note that in this case he correctly translates this as "1000" ships. But, he says in the magnum opus, there is a 1722 gazetteer that has the "TEN" ships.....
I'm sure you've noticed the similarity in language, especially the Chinese. I can't find an image of that passage online, but this ROC Ministry of the Interior site scribes:
In volume 2, Military Defense 武備, Huang listed the patrol routes of the naval forces of Taiwan Prefecture, stating “in the seas north of Taiwan is an island Diaoyutai where a dozen large ships may be anchored.” Subsequently, Fan Cheng’s 范成Revised Gazetteer of Taiwan Prefecture 重修臺灣府志(1747) and Yu Wen-yi’s 余文儀Continued Gazetteer of Taiwan Prefecture 續修臺灣府志(1764) reiterated Huang’s references. In 1871, Chen Shuo-qi’s 陳壽祺Recompiled General Gazetteer of Fujian重纂福建通志further listed Diaoyutai Island under Kavalan Office (now Yilan County) of Taiwan in Volume 86: Coastal Defense and Strategically Important Places in all Districts《卷八十六．海防．各縣衝Aha.... what we have is genetic....one writer reproducing another in a downward transmission. A friend suggested that it is likely that the 1871 gazetteer isn't even thinking about the Diaoyutai Islands at all, because there is no harbor in the Diaoyutai capable of holding a thousand ships and the Diaoyutai were never under Gemelan administration (documents, please). The key is the phrase "north of the mountain" which signals that this prodigious harbor is north of Gemelan (Yi-lan) past the mountain. And sure enough, north of Yi-lan over the mountains on the northeast end of Taiwan is the fine natural harbor of Keelung. Were the writers of these gazetteers hazy on the geography and simply get confused over what harbor they were talking about? Check out a map and see where the Senkakus are relative to Taiwan.....
...but it appears that what Shaw did in the NYTimes article is select the first (text) and last (image) in a sequence of writers copying each other over 150 years, and presented that as authoritative. His quote is compiled of TWO different texts as if they each maintain the same thing, and he refers to the gazetteers using the plural.....
...but only the 1871 gazetteer makes the claim of Qing administration. AFAIK the others do not. Since Han settlement in the Yi-lan area dates from the beginning of the 19th century, the 18th century gazetteers most emphatically did not place the Senkakus under Gemalan/Kavalan administration, which did not exist. They merely note that the islands had a fine harbor that could hold ten ships.
- “...Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” (1722 text)
- under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan." (1871 text)
But there are a couple of deeper issues I'd like to point out. Han-yi Shaw's use of gazetteers written by is itself suggestive. Dear reader, ask yourself why Shaw simply doesn't show us the many maps produced by Qing authorities that show how the Senkakus belonged to the Qing/Taiwan throughout this period.
The answer is obvious, and this excellent post, much updated over the years, has it. Go and look at many maps listed there produced by during the Qing of Taiwan and make your own judgement. I've discussed Shaw's use of gazetteers in this old post. Further, most of my readers have some familiarity with the literature from foreigners on Taiwan -- does anyone know of anything written by a foreigner in the 19th century that identifies the islands as belonging to the Qing government or being under its Taiwan administration? Finally, had the islands been administrated from Taiwan prior to 1895, Japan probably would have made public note of that fact. Since it owned Taiwan after 1895, this might well have buttressed its claim. But perhaps not.....
The NYTimes piece leaves out a key piece of information that makes Shaw's position more rational than it really is, because if the paper's gentle readers saw it in print they would immediately realize an inconvenient truth: that Han-yi Shaw is a right-wing Chinese expansionist following a Chinese-invented Sinocentric form of sovereignty that hands all of Asia to China. Here is what he says in the long paper:
...Many Chinese scholars have argued that when evaluating the various historical evidence put forth by the Chinese side, one must not fail to recognize the important political realities of the time from which they originated, namely, an era characterized by the East Asian World Order (otherwise known as the Chinese World Order).It looks like Shaw claims that there are Chinese scholars arguing that if China says someone paid tribute to it at some point in history, China can determine the sovereignty in its favor. I doubt one can find many Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Japanese, Thai, or Vietnamese scholars to support this. It is hard to imagine a mindset more self-serving and expansionist than this. Imagine if the NYTimes column had been fronted by this nonsense. Instead, Shaw cleverly frames it as an attack on Tokyo's position rather than an announcement of his own with copious evidence, maps, and charts.
The underlying concern is the following: whether principles of modern international law, which has its origin in the European tradition of international order, can properly judge a territorial dispute involving countries historically belonging under the East Asian World Order with fundamentally different ordering principles from its European counterpart. First and foremost, it should be noted that the East Asian World Order was a system of international relations characterized as Sinocentric and hierarchical rather than one based on sovereign equality of nations. Under such a framework, relations between nations were not governed by principles of international law known to the West, but instead by what is know as the "tributary system" instituted by China.
One of the ways that westerners exoticize China is that we accept these completely laughable, simpleminded, and historically inaccurate and anachronistic claims, whereas if Italy demanded the Mediterranean and France based on Rome, or Ankara was claiming the entire North African seaboard, Bulgaria, and Saudi Arabia based on the Ottomans, or the Macedonians wanted a chunk of India because Alexander once battled there, everyone would immediately realize how fantastically archaic this kind of thinking is. There is no "East Asian World Order"; that is merely a modern Chinese fantasy retrojected into the past to bolster up modern Chinese expansionist claims. As I noted when I first saw this:
Another issue is the conception of 'China' that existed prior to the Qing. Emma Teng's magnificent book on Qing travel writing in Taiwan, Taiwan's Imagined Geography, is online on Google books. I suggest a careful reading of the introduction -- one of Teng's major points is that pre-Qing China saw itself as a land power only, and saw the sea as its boundary -- the island of Taiwan was considered a distant land across the water which, as Qing official and visitor Yu Yonghe noted in his diary, had never in history sent tribute to China. Shaw's analysis above, which drags up navigational and defense records from the Ming, simply ignores the evidence from maps and texts, as well as scholarly publications and analyses of this body of material, that shows that the Chinese never thought of the sea as a place to extend borders across. Thinking about a China that included islands over the water within its own boundaries was, as Teng notes, a Qing innovation. Teng observes:
"The deeply ingrained notion that the seas defined the natural limits of the Chinese realm underlay the reluctance to annex Taiwan. As the Kangxi emperor's advisors argued, 'Since antiquity, no oceanic islands have ever entered the imperial domain.'"
Thus, one of the most important functions of the constant iteration of “5,000 thousand years of history!” is that it creates in the minds of hearers an entirely fictive politico-historical continuity that China uses to buttress these very real and very dangerous territorial claims.
But all this is really beside the point. As I've noted countless times before, between 1895 when Japan declared the Senkakus annexed, and the late 1960s, none of the Chinese governments protested this move. Indeed, in numerous published maps and texts, they stated that the Senkakus were Japanese and never hinted of any controversy. The idea of a "dispute" is a purely post-1970s claim; prior to the discovery of oil there were no such claims made.
Again, that excellent map post has many examples of maps issued by various institutions in Beijing and Taipei that include the Senkakus in Japanese territory and do not mention any controversy. For example, this 1958 map from the Beijing Map Publishing Company, and a 1959 map from the same outfit. Nor is the 1953 Renminerbao article I posted on before the only example of Beijing including the Senkakus with Okinawa in a text -- here is another from that post. Similarly, between 1946 and 1971 the Taiwan Provincial Statistics Guide repeatedly identifies Pengjia Islet as Taiwan's northernmost point. A 1970 junior high text issued by the government has the Senkakus as part of the Ryukyus and uses the Japanese name for them....National War College maps issued in Taipei between 1959 and 1972 show the Senkakus as Japanese and even use the Japanese name for them, not Diaoyutai. UPDATED: If you've come here via a direct link, don't miss this post two posts above this one on a recent academic paper that discusses these maps in detail). UPDATED: If the ROC really thought the Senkakus belonged to it, why didn't ROC representatives bring that up when they discussed territory when negotiating the Treaty of Taipei? But of course they never did.
One could multiply such examples.
This is why the Japanese government maintains "there is no dispute" since it knows perfectly well (who better?) that the controversy dates from the announcement of oil underneath the islands and did not exist prior to that time.
What has really happened here is that the East Asian World Order as deployed in the service of Chinese expansion means that when China wants to expand, it will rummage through its history to find justification for said expansion. Thus, the real inconvenient truth is that the Senkakus are Japanese and the Chinese claim is simply naked expansionism.
The even more inconvenient truth, as I have noted several times on this blog, is that many Chinese, especially on the right, argue that Okinawa is Chinese, "stolen territory" -- in Chinese minds, and on Chinese maps, the two are linked. WaPo had a piece on it a few months back....a taste:
In a fiery editorial this month, the Global Times newspaper urged Beijing to consider challenging Japan’s control over its southern prefecture of Okinawa, an island chain with a population of 1.4 million people that bristles with U.S. military bases.Coming next in the script, when China feels powerful enough, is Okinawa, linked in Chinese minds to the Senkakus. The East Asian World Order is just a Chinese language version of that old tune, the Greater East Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere, the Cape-to-Cairo Railroad, Manifest Destiny, and Lebensraum. Hopefully, this time around it will not be necessary to turn the globe into a killing ground to make people see how evil and dangerous such thinking is.
“China should not be afraid of engaging with Japan in a mutual undermining of territorial integrity,” the Communist Party-run paper declared.
Maj. Gen. Jin Yinan, head of the strategy research institute at China’s National Defense University, went even further. He told state-run radio that limiting discussion to the Diaoyu was “too narrow,” saying Beijing should question ownership of the whole Ryukyu archipelago, which by some definitions extends beyond Okinawa.
- White Paper from
BerlinBeijing on why the Sudetenland is Germanthe Senkakus are Chinese.
- China's first carrier is commissioned.
- Lin Cho-shui on the island mess in East Asia
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