Monday, October 04, 2010

Ma Gov't Revives ROC Claim to China

A very extraordinary document has been circulated to the foreign media -- and foreign media only -- to explain why the government has not protested to China regarding incidents in the Senkakus. The Taipei Times reports:
According to a document obtained by the Taipei Times, the government’s basic position, in the context of the ROC’s relations to China, is that the ROC has a territorial claim over the Diaoyutais and believes that the territorial dispute should be resolved through peaceful means, and not in concert with the Chinese. It also holds that fishermen’s rights are the priority.

Second, the government does not dispute China’s territorial claims to the islands because China is still part of the ROC as Article 4 of the ROC Constitution states: “The territory of the Republic of China, according to its existing national boundaries, shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly.”

In addition, as the islands are effectively under the control of Japan, the incidents so far have involved Japanese patrols either expelling or detaining Taiwanese or Chinese fishing vessels involved in incidents within the territorial waters of the Diaoyutais. The disputes exist between Japan and Taiwan, or Japan and China, and do not directly involve both Taiwan and China. Therefore, there is no cause for China and Taiwan to protest against each other, but aim solely at Japan, the document says.

The document also noted that there is no dispute over territorial claims to the Diaoyutais with China under the (so-called) “1992 consensus.”

The governance of the Diaoyutais comes under the administrative jurisdiction of the Dasi (大溪) administrative unit in Toucheng Township (頭城), Yilan County, so the ROC government reserves the right to expel or detain any -Chinese fishing vessels found to be operating in commercial fishing grounds surrounding the islands jointly claimed by Taiwan and Japan, the document added.

Sources said some Cabinet members have privately expressed reservations about the interpretation expressed in the document, concerned about the implications regarding Taiwan’s position vis-a-vis the “one China” policy.
It's hard to believe that Ma himself did not approve of this, since the discussions have been held at the highest level and the Senkakus is an area Ma takes a personal interest in. Think about what it implies:

1 -- a de facto alliance between the KMT government of Taiwan and Beijing against Japan in the Senkakus. Thus the joint KMT-CCP united front is aimed at Japan. At present. Japan is probably viewed as a good target -- it is a leading exporter to China, and an important US ally, and abusing Japan stokes domestic nationalism in China. But this is an important test of the US. It should also signal to policymakers in Washington where the KMT will go if the US does not apply the brakes somewhere. Hello Washington: we told you where Ma would go. This is only the beginning, the equivalent of the KMT-CCP axis clearing its throat in front of the microphone. As Taiwan falls further into China's orbit, Beijing will only become more aggressive.

Ask yourself: despite the mad claims of some, there was never any threat of war between Taiwan and China during the Chen Administration. And even if there had been a war, the US could plausibly have abstained from participation. But the US is bound by treaty to defend Japan and the Senkakus. China will continue to test Japan with its seaborne militia, its fishing boat fleet. But more aggressive military actions are likely as well, with all the potential for stupidity igniting conflict that such moves imply. Now imagine if (Japan-educated) DPP politician Frank Hsieh were President. What would this conflict look like? Would there be one? Would Beijing have an ally in Taipei?

Yea, verily, beware the law of unintended consequences.

2 -- The ROC government "reserves the right" to expel Chinese fishing vessels. But note that it does not affirm that it will do so. Indeed, it implies that it will let such vessels carry out fishing there since both Chinas agree the Senkakus are Chinese and fishing vessels from China have just as much a right to be there as those from Taiwan.

3 -- the ROC claims it is the government of China, not merely as a kind of ideological formality, but as an active component of its foreign policy that can bring it into clashes with other nations. Welcome to the 1950s, folks.

4 -- Disagreements between Taipei and Beijing in these matters are being handled under the 1992 Consensus which does not exist and which China has indicated that it does not recognize.

4 -- what does the KMT-CCP united front aim at next? If China claims something, the ROC also claims something. Does this work in reverse? Remember the ROC still has an ambiguous claim to Mongolia, but China appears to have given up all claims. What if China decided to work this game in some other area based on an ROC claim?

5 -- On the horizon: watch for the burgeoning claim to Okinawa to begin to rear its ugly head. It's a natural concommitant of the claim to the Senkakus. No doubt claims to other islands in that area such as the Yoniguni -- the Senkakus are closer to the Yonigunis than to Taiwan -- will follow as well. At present the yearning to annex Okinawa is seldom publicly mentioned. Yet a friend of mine posted to his Facebook account the other day that in Okinawa people are already talking about China claiming Okinawa. And rabid nationalists of Chinese extraction feel that Okinawa is a "stolen territory." Just as the 20th century was spent dealing with the consequences of German unification in the 19th, so the 21st will be spent dealing with the consequences of Chinese expansion in the 20th.

6 -- domestic ramifications. It will be interesting to see what happens when a document like this makes its way into the domestic political arena amidst hard-fought battles in the November elections. The public was unhappy enough with Ma's China policies as it is.

I was sent what the sender purported was a copy of the document last night. Links are posted below in the refs. Judge for yourself.

UPDATE: Taiwan to monitor US-Japan exercises simulating retaking the Senkakus.
Taiwan's representative office in Tokyo has launched a probe into a report published Sunday by the Sankei Simbun newspaper that the United States and Japan are slated to hold a joint military exercise in November as a mock operation to retake the Tiaoyutai Islands if China occupies them, Foreign Ministry spokesman James Chang said that day.

Chang said the Republic of China's sovereignty claim over the islands is unquestionable and that the government of Taiwan will closely monitor the situation.
Refs: Document page 1, document page 2
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jerome in vals said...

To Governor Ba Ei-kyu:

Fulfill your duties as head of the proxy military government on Japanese Formosa that you really are. Allow for a Formosan only Civil Government to be established as successor to your Chinese colonial administration of Japanese Formosa.

Allow the ROC mummy to give up the ghost once and for all. Then the Formosan Civil Governement and Japan will know how to handle the situation between brothers to the best interest of Formosan fishrmen.

Japan will be all too happy to oblige her former nationals.

Anonymous said...

The report says "not in concert with the Chinese".

You say "a de facto alliance between the KMT government of Taiwan and Beijing against Japan in the Senkakus"

How do you then make the conclusion that that it represents a de facto alliance between both countries? It would actually seem to suggest the opposite.

Ampontan said...

Not just the Okinawans--all of Japan is aware of possible Chinese designs on the Ryukyus, and has been for a while.(Qualification--all of Japan = people who pay attention to foreign affairs and public debate)

STOP Ma said...

The ROC = China stance is bound to make Taiwan less credible in the international community.

Is that something the KMT wants? I'm guessing it is.

Michael Turton said...

How do you then make the conclusion that that it represents a de facto alliance between both countries? It would actually seem to suggest the opposite.

I said it was a de facto alliance between both governments (actually between both Chinese nationalist parties but never mind that). If the KMT gov't says it won't criticize China because it is part of CHina, and Beijing has no problem with Taiwan's operations in the Senkakus, but both hack on japan, I think that implies tat they are de facto allied against Japan even if there is no signed agreement. What's your analysis?

Michael Turton said...


The Okinawa issue really needs more publicity, and I intend to give it some.

Anonymous said...

The Sankei Simbun report quoted by the ROC Foreign Ministry spokesman James Chang acc to CNA, refers to exercises in November focussing on the Senkakus/Diaoyutai. That's at odds with other reports dating back to August announcing that JMSDF and USN will hold joint exercises in December in the Ryukyus -- which are separated from the S/D islets by the Okinawa Trough.

The Jamestown report below by Holmes and Yoshihara says the December manoeuvres will focus on the Ryukyu chain because it is strategic catnip for the PLAN, particularly the islands of Miyako and Ishigaki which control straits giving PLAN access to the Pacific. The PLAN has been sniffing around that area with two rounds of exercises so far this year.

It would be a big surprise if the US/Japan manoeuvres have been switched to deal with a contingency involving the S/D islets -- which are strategically unimportant compared with the Ryukyus.

Wonder who's the more confused: Sankei Shimbun, James Chang, CNA, or me?

John Herodotus said...

There's no doubt that China will become more vocal about her "claim" to the Ryukyus at some point.

The thing about Ma is that if he were really a democrat or a liberal (not in the American sense), or if he were a realist (which is the appeal of the KMT to the Taiwanese electorate), he would be emphasizing the way China has handled the dispute rather than permitting himself to get dragged into this farce.

If he were a statesman rather than a mere opportunist--admittedly, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference--he would be insisting on the stability of the status quo of the East China Sea and the peaceful resolution of disputes in the region.

For once, Taiwan had an opportunity to appear the reasonable third-party to an unseemly squabble rather than be painted as a troublemaker, but Ma's first instinct was to take sides. And, the wrong one at that.

Somebody from the gov't should have been out every day saying that as a matter of national principle shared by everybody on the island, Taiwan firmly believed in the peaceful resolution of all territorial disputes. It would have improved the image of Taiwan and his administration and avoided inflaming a dangerous situation.

Why waste political capital and national prestige so carelessly?

Anonymous said...

CHINA sees itself as dominating HEGEMON in Asia soon to be the World, not just a US Partner or just another Asian regional power.
"Rising China" is desirous of possessing "warm water" Asia-Pacific ports in support of its current, and future, Military and Economic policies espec as an anticipated "post-US"? Regional, Global Superpower. Perhaps more importantly, and whether Beijing admits it or not, CHINA isn't taking "no" for an answer from any of the sovereign states along the "First Island Chain" from Japan to Indonesia. JAPAN, on its part, desires to develop indigenous Nuclear Weapons bothas hedge agz China and as part of Japan-specific, US-requested requirements to support geopolitical security in East-North Asia, to include Regional GMD-TMD. China fears a STRONG, ASSERTIVE, NUCLEAR-ARMED JAPAN AS A COMPETITOR AND THREAT TO ITS SELF-PERCEIVED MANIFEST DESTINY, and that any failure on China's part to overcome the geophyical and geopolitical barriers of the "First Island Chain" means CHINA WILL NOT BE A TRUE GLOBAL SUPERPOWER NOR A "POST-US" GLOBAL LEADER, BUT MUST BE CONTENT WITH REMAINING A STRONG REGIONAL POWER IN LESSOR POSITION TO THE US + POSSIBLY OTHER MAJOR STATES. China is correct in this regard - what it cannot successfully achieve DIPLOMATICALLY via the barriers or constraints of "First Island Chain", IT MAY ATTEMPT TO ACHIEVE VIA CONVENTIONAL, NUCLEAR MILITARISM. The above is why China has declared the islands of the First, Second, + Third Island Chains as part of its strategic
Its NOT the Islands, but CHINA'S PERCEPTION OF ITSELF. Forebodingly, NORTH KOREA is well-aware of the above and may try to MILITARILY use it to achieve its own national agendum.

STOP Ma said...

"Why waste political capital and national prestige so carelessly?"

As I mentioned above, I would argue that the KMT would like to sabotage any credibility that Taiwan currently has with the international community.

Anonymous said...

FYI: It appears that Google Earth has updated their sat coverage of this area. The images now are quite amazing and worth a look. There is even Google Street views on some of the islands close to Taiwan. (plus you can see the underwater terrain much better now).

M said...

Chen Shui-bian also claimed Diaoyutai as a part of the ROC. Tsai Ing-wen is now saying that Diaoyutai belongs to Taiwan (probably to avoid upsetting the independence wing at the same time as leaving open the possibility of repairing relations with Beijing).

Lee Teng-hui has been more consistent: "of course Diaoyutai is Japanese"...

jerome in vals said...

Lee Teng-hui has been more consistent: "of course Diaoyutai is Japanese"...

Right. And he kept to himself, ”… as inalienably Japanese as Taiwan has been since the Imperial Rescript of April 1st(*), 1945 that endowed full Japanese citizenship, which included electoral and eligibility rights at both chambers of the Diet, while it incorporated the island under the Meiji Constitution.”

The 228 victims and their relatives are neither slaves, nor running dogs, nor second rate subjects of, but natural citizens of Japan.

When one takes into account that the ROC passport forced on the Formosans in 1946 is a forged document that no custom officer should accept, under what travel documents issued by which authority should the Japanese, whose newly US-minted government abandoned on April 28, 1952, be allowed to cross borders?

An answer, anybody?

(*) No, not a joke. The Japanese fiscal year starts on that day.