History of the DiaoyuIslands
The Diaoyu Islands, located in theEast China Sea between China and Japan, have belonged to Chinasince ancient times. The islands are 120 nautical miles northeastof China’s Taiwan Province, 200 nautical miles east of China’smainland and 200 nautical miles west of Japan’s southernmost islandOkinawa.
Geologically the islands are attachedto Taiwan. The waters around the islands are 100 to 150 meters deepand there is a 2,000-meter-deep oceanic trench between the islandsand Japans’ Okinawa Islands. Fishermen from China’s Taiwan, Fujianand other provinces conducted activities such as fishing andcollecting herbs in the area for millennia.
The islands have appeared on China’smaps since the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). There are records notingthe islands in a book published during the rule of Emperor Yongle(1403-24) in the Ming Dynasty, more than 400 years before Japanclaimed discovery of the Diaoyu Islands in 1884. After the MingDynasty, the islands were recorded in many historical documents. Ona map published by Japan between 1783 and 1785, marking theboundary of the Ryukyu Kingdom, the Diaoyu Islands were shown asbelonging to China.
Japan never questions China’ssovereignty over the islands until the Sino-Japanese War of1894-95. In Aprial 1895, the Government of the Qing Dynasty(1644-1911) was forced to signthe Treaty of Shimonoseki,under which China ceded the whole island to Taiwan and itssurrounding islands, including the Penghu Archipelago, to Japan.Only since then has Japan had its own name for the area where theDiaoyu Islands are located. Before that, Japanese maps marked theislands by their Chinese names.
Japan was occupied by theUnited States after it was defeated in World War II. In 1951, Japanand the United States illegally signed a treaty in San Franciscowithout the presence of China, which was one of the victorcountries in World War II. While Article Two of the treaty saidthat Japan surrendered its claim over Taiwan and the PenghuArchipelago, Article Three assigned the Diaoyu Islands, which Japanhad taken from China, to the Ryukyu zone, which was under U.S.control. Then Chinese Premier Zhou enlai lodged a strong protestand said the Chinese Government would never recognize the SanFrancisco Treaty.
In a statement on territorial watersin 1958, the Chinese Government said that Japan should return allthe territory of the People’s Republic of China, including Taiwanand its surrounding islands, to China.