Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Diaoyu Islands 

China and Japan have locked horns again. A few days ago, a Chinese trawler rammed a Japanese Coast Guard vessel. The Japanese confiscated the vessel and arrested the captain. He is currently awaiting the decision of prosecutors.

So I picked up today's paper and read this:
China has repeatedly lodged protests to Japan over the incident, and all Chinese people, including compatriots living overseas, have denounced Japan's illegal moves, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said on Monday.
So all ethnic Chinese the world over have exactly the same opinion about this issue? It's not unusual to see this kind of statement in the Chinese media. The government decides what everyone is supposed to believe, then announces to the world what "all Chinese people" think. This includes all ethnic Chinese throughout the world.

Of course this kind of statement is ridiculous when applied to all ethnic Chinese. But within China, the government strictly controls information, so the opinions of Chinese people tend to be much more uniform. In an amusing example of this, Han Han, noted Chinese blogger describes his attempt to post a comment about the issue on a forum:
A friend asked me how I haven't commented on the Diaoyu Islands incident, and suggested I take a few shots at Japan. I told him that while I myself may not have my own land to stand on, I care a lot about issues of territory. I first read about the incident on an online forum, and quite righteously posted, "Protect the Diaoyu Islands." However, this resulted in the forum telling me that my attempted sentence contained illegal content, and suggested that I change it. After puzzling over this for a while, I changed the sentence to read, "Protect the Senkaku Islands [the Japanese name for the Diaoyu Islands]," and the message was published without a hitch.
The islands Japan calls "Senkaku" have been administered by Japan since they took over them in 1895, except for the quarter century following World War II. The United States administered these islands after World War II because they were considered part of Okinawa, which was occupied by the Americans until the early Seventies. At the time that Okinawa was returned to Japan, these islands were returned along with Okinawa. But the problem is that just about this time, word came that these islands might be sitting on a huge reserve of oil. Needless to say, China and Taiwan suddenly became very interested.

One can be sympathetic with China's territorial concerns, given the history of relations between China and Japan, but it does appear that the fishing boat skipper in this instance did ram a Japanese Coast Guard vessel, and I don't see why he should get off without some consequence. If the Japanese don't take some action, what respect will anyone have for them? If a Japanese fisherman rammed a Chinese Coast Guard boat, would the Chinese just let him go?

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