So I got into a heated discussion about the Pinnacle Islands yesterday. To be honest, it’s not the first time, but it happened again.
Honestly, my friend was brought up in that sort of typical pro-communist, anti-Japanese education. Undoubtedly, the Japanese war atrocities are unmistakable, and those who deny them are fools. However, the average Chinese continues to view the Japanese in the eyes of World War II, but if you talk to Japanese today, they view China for what it is: A backwards country who still has catching up to do. Yeah, they’ve surpassed them economically, now what? Has that changed Japanese attitudes about China? No. Have the Japanese finally admitted to their atrocities? No. So what’s China to do? The point I couldn’t get across to her, is that the reason why the Japanese are able to deny such things so easily, is because China not only has no soft-power, it has no credibility. Abroad, no one can forget what happened during 六四事件(Tiananmen Square Protests), yet China seems very eager to not talk about it. To its own citizens, it still cannot bring itself to admit the horrors of the 大躍進(Great Leap Forward) and 文化大革命(Cultural Revolution). When you hide your own atrocities against your own people, everyone else around the world notices. If China really wanted to convince Japanese to admit their crimes in World War II, then they should follow the old addage:
「以身作則」 (Set the example)
If you don’t want to give Japanese any excuses when talking to them about these atrocities, you’d better fess up to your own. Then, they can’t criticize you for being a hypocrite. Once you have the moral highground, you have more sway in your dealings with them, no matter if its over past war atrocities, or if it’s over territory.
As far as territorial disputes go, I’m not going to go into the full history of who had the islands and when, because I’d be falling into the trap of the “History Says” arguement. The thing is, what does international law say? I’ll admit I’m not a lawyer, but I think it says something along the lines of “He who has continuous jurisdiction, has sovereignty.” So after WWII, who had continuous jurisdiction? Well, it was America. America had control of Okinawa, and the Pinnacles were drawn into its territories. When they handed over control of Okinawa to Japan in 1972, despite previously being an independent nation, when it was the Ryukyu Kingdom, it became Japan’s territory ever since, and neither China – PRC or ROC.
Her justification to this, is that, if you know someone stole something, and you didn’t say it immediately, it just means that you were waiting for the right moment to bring up the topic. That may be a good point in certain circumstances, but WWII has passed, and Japan no longer has a knife in China’s throat. So both Chinas were in perfect condition to bring up the issue. I mean, after WWI, both China and Japan had fought alongside with the Allied powers, yet with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, Japan obtained all of the German Empire’s former spoils, including TsingTao (as Qingdao was spelled then… Like the beer.) But wait… The Germans took it from the Chinese! This is what was called the 山東問題 (Shandong Issue), and caused the May Fourth Protests. Wow, the Chinese were quick to protest they saw something wrong then. What happened? Maybe years of malnutrition and starvation under oppressive governments on both sides of the straits slowed them down. Then of course, there weren’t mass starvation crisis in Taiwan…
Here’s another example: The Liancourt Rocks is both disputed by Japan and South Korea, and according to actual treaties signed, it’s hard to say. Guess what Korea did though? They immediately seized control of the islands, and Japan can’t do anything at this point. Why? (Refer back to the “continuous jurisdiction” section of this post)
Either China could have done the same with the Pinnacles
So all of a sudden, why now bring up the Pinnacle Islands in China? Especially considering the fact that China had voluntarily given away other territories, and no one bothered to protest at all (To see a map of disputed territories, click here). Well, aside from distracting everyone away from Gu, Kai-Lai‘s trial, which would just shed more light on other internal issues within the mainland Chinese government, it’s all a mystery… Or maybe they didn’t bring it up because technically, the US had control of the islands, when they drew it into Okinawa, and who wants to mess with them? Wait… Apparently, the Koreans didn’t give a crap if Japan was under American control, the Liancourt Rocks were theirs! Well, so much for Chinese sovereignty over the islands. The only way they’re getting them back is if they actually went to war.
UPDATE October 8, 2012
Reading this Chinasmack article:
This comment was pretty interesting…
UPDATE: October 21, 2012