Okinawa discussion aimed to show sovereignty over Diaoyu: academics

By Wang Zhaokun Source:Global Times Published: 2013-5-10 1:23:01

China on Thursday rejected Japan's protest over a bylined article by two researchers in a major Chinese newspaper that questioned Japan's sovereignty over Okinawa, saying its position on the history of Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands remains unchanged.

One of the two authors of the article told the Global Times that their discussion was aimed at demonstrating Chinese sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands, dismissing concerns about any potential claim over Okinawa.

"Academics have long paid attention to the history of Okinawa and Ryukyu. The matter has become prominent again against the backdrop of Japan's repeated provocation on the Diaoyu Islands and its infringement on China's territorial sovereignty," Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters in Beijing.

"The article by Chinese scholars reflects the attention paid by the Chinese public and academics toward the Diaoyu Islands and their history," she added.

The article by two academics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Zhang Haipeng and Li Guoqiang, was published Wednesday in the People's Daily.

In the article, they said unsolved historical questions related to the Ryukyu Chain "had reached a time for reconsideration."

Tokyo-based reported that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe Thursday night said Japan "must voice its position to the world" in response to the bylined article, so as to reject China's "inappropriate claim."

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga Thursday also lodged a "strong protest" to Beijing over the article and it would be "absolutely unacceptable" if the Chinese government shares the position of casting doubt about Japan's ownership of Okinawa.

Bur he said the Chinese side has told Japan that the view in the commentary was only that of the researchers.

Li, one of the two authors, told the Global Times that it is wrong to believe the objective of their discussion was to show "China's claim over Okinawa."

"We wrote the article in order to reject the Japanese claim over the Diaoyu Islands. Japan asserted that it holds sovereignty over the islets because they were part of Ryukyu, but actually in history they were never part of that chain," Li said.

The Ryukyu Chain was once an independent kingdom that paid tribute to China. In 1879, the islands were annexed by Japan, after prolonged conflict.

China made solemn representations to Japan at the time after the annexation, but the issue has remained unsolved since then, according to Li, who stressed that in official documents of the former Ryukyu Kingdom, the Diaoyu Islands were never part of it.

"It is not our intention to talk about 'China's claim' over Ryukyu as they neither belonged to China or Japan. But Japan's repeated provocation on the Diaoyu Islands made it necessary for us to clarify these historical points," Li said.

Wu Huaizhong, a researcher with the Institute of Japanese Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the doubt over Japan's claim of Okinawa and Ryukyu has always existed among academics as Japan does not have enough evidence to back its "annexation of Ryukyu."

"It is exactly because of this lack of evidence on the issue why Japan was wary of Chinese scholars' discussing the matter," Wu said.

When Japan tries to provoke China over the Diaoyu Islands, Beijing could play the card of Ryukyu to hit back, Geng Xin, deputy director of the Tokyo-based Japan-China Communication Institute, told the Global Times.

But the factor of the US also can't be ignored, Geng noted.

"Behind the history of Okinawa and Ryukyu are more than China and Japan because the post-World War II status of Okinawa and Ryukyu was carefully planned by the US," he said.

"Okinawa hosts some of the most important military bases the US built along the First Island Chain. The major practical factor related to Ryukyu and Okinawa is the power exchanges between China and Japan as well as China and the US," Geng said.


Posted in: Politics, Diplomacy

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