In recent years, "islands disputes" have replaced "historical perception" to become a sensitive issue in international politics in East Asia.
The territorial rows, which involve sovereignty, maritime and security interests, not only exist between China and Japan, but also among Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, the Philippines and Vietnam, most of which are allies of the United States.
The situation has put America on the spot. Washington can do nothing but urge all concerned parties to sit down for talks.
Beijing, meanwhile, is sitting on the sidelines to see how the United States plays the big brother in East Asia, waiting for an opportunity to beckon to Taiwan in the hope that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait can work together in asserting their sovereignty claims over the Tiaoyutai Islands and the Spratly Islands.
China's idea, however, is unrealistic, given its isolation of Taiwan in the international community based on its "one China" principle.
A recent live-fire drill conducted by Taiwan on Taiping Island and a plan by President Ma Ying-jeou to visit Pengjia Islet near the Tiaoyutais are both implicit steps to highlight Taiwan's sovereignty claims.
Opposition Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang should not jeer at Ma's policy to protect the Tiaoyutais. If Su thinks Pengjia Islet has nothing to do with the Tiaoyutais, he should more clearly explain his stand on the issue, instead of condoning attempts by DPP politicians and supporters to link the Tiaoyutai issue with unification and "leaning toward China."
As long as the ruling and opposition parties unite with one voice, Taiwan will be heard and respected in the international community. (Editorial abstract -- Sept. 6, 2012)
(By Y.F. Low)