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Status of Ryukyu Islands and International Justice


 A Commentary

Status of Ryukyu Islands and International Justice
Source: China Times
April 25, 2014
Author: Wu, Zhe
For the first time, a US President stated that the scope of the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between the United States and Japan extended to the Diaoyutai Islands.  Public opinion in the US denounced Mainland China’s intention to expand its sphere of influence into the East and South China Seas. However, if we review China’s modern history, China gave up opportunities to expand its sphere of influence on numerous occasions.  The territorial claims of the Qing Dynasty and those after the establishment of the Republic of China do not differ.  US President Barack Obama’s unprecedented statement vis-a-vis the Diaoyutai Islands reflects the mindset of little men and the egoism of the US. 【Editor’s note: The author implies the expansionism of the United States in the 19th century.】
One of the main reasons the Pax Sinica established by ancient Chinese dynasties succeeded was that it embodied higher moral idealism and values.  Such principles and values influenced China for more than 2,000 years and continued even after China transformed itself into a modern state.
Both before and after the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, Chiang Kai-shek not only pursued China’s national independence, but also helped many Asian countries to rid themselves of colonial rule and seek independence and freedom.  Chiang considered such assistance as China’s moral obligation.  When Japan was about to be defeated in World War II, Chiang turned down the suggestion to annex Korea and Vietnam as spoils of war.  Instead, Chiang did his utmost to help Korea, Vietnam, Burma and India to become independent.  During the Cairo Conference, Chiang twice turned down US President Roosevelt’s suggestion to hand over the Ryukyu Islands to China.  Chiang proposed that the Ryukyu Islands should be put under the joint trusteeship of the Republic of China (ROC) and the United States, which should finally help the Ryukyu Islands to restore independence.
Chiang viewed Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, the Ryukyu Islands, Manchuria, Taiwan and Tibet from Chinese political tradition.  China never interfered in the Ryukyu Island’s internal affairs during the 500 years of vassal state-suzerain relations between Ryukyu and the Ming and Qing Dynasties.  Chiang combined the values of international justice in Chinese history and the values of independence and freedom of colonies and second-class-colonies, and did not accept the rights of Japan to rule over the Ryukyu Islands since Emperor Meiji.  Chiang’s position was quite different from the United Kingdom because the British did their utmost to maintain and protect their colonial interests.
Ever since the Cairo Conference, the ROC government has insisted that it would not recognize Japan’s claim of sovereignty over the Ryukyu Islands.  An editorial in the Taipei-based Central Daily News clearly explained the position of the ROC government on the issue of the Ryukyu Islands, i.e., sovereignty over the islands must be handled in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation.  The ROC continues to take the same position over the Ryukyu Islands and will not recognize the legitimacy of the US’s decision to unilaterally hand over the control over the Ryukyu Islands to Japan in 1972.
Confucius expounded on an ideal of “reviving states that had been extinguished, restoring families whose line of succession had been broken, and calling to office those who had retired into obscurity,” which reflected the principle of international justice in the Pax Sinica established by the ancient Chinese dynasties in East Asia and such values were lasting and universal, worth promoting.  Chiang devoted himself to standing up for people under colonial rule and supported their rights to become independent and free, establishing new values of protecting international justice in the post-war order.  The status and final settlement of the Ryukyu Islands must be reviewed under such principles and values.  

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