Japan's plan to buy the disputed Tiaoyutai island group in the East China Sea has provoked a Chinese announcement that it will stage a maritime live ammunition exercise July 10-15, according to local media reports.
In Taiwan, President Ma Ying-jeou said Saturday that there will be no concessions on the nation's sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai islands.
After Japan announced plans to purchase the island chain from its private owners by the end of the year, local media said this means Japan is trying to "nationalize" the disputed territory.
The island group, some 100 nautical miles northeast of Taiwan, is known as the Senkaku islands in Japan and as the Diaoyutai islands in China, both of which claim sovereignty over the uninhabited islands.
Taiwan also claims sovereignty over the islands, and has deployed coast guard boats to protect its fishermen operating in the area.
The latest flareup was reported by major Taiwanese newspapers as follows:
China Times: Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping said China will not try to become a hegemony even if it becomes a developed country. It will stick to its "peaceful rise" policy, he added.
Xi also emphasized that China will make "steadfast efforts to safeguard its national sovereignty, security and territorial integrity."
In the meantime, China has announced that it will stage a military exercise at sea starting July 10, an indication that it will not bend in the face of Japan's ambition to "nationalize" the Tiaoyutais.
China's People's Liberation Army announced a "no-fly zone" and a "no- fishing zone," warning vessels not to enter the area east of its Zhujiajian-Yushan demarcation line in the East China Sea between July 10 and July 15.
The PLA advised all boats in this area to heed the guidance of its navy to ensure their own safety.
Analysts said the upcoming live-ammunition drill is a warning to Japan, signalling it to stop its "petty actions" over the islands.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has told Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara that the nation is prepared to buy the island chain.
Japan has made the decision in consideration of the development of Japan's relations with China, which call for "stable protection and management" of the island group.
Chinese scholars said that if Beijing does not lodge a strong protest with Japan, the latter will likely go one step further in the future to "push forward its policy guidelines" regarding the islands.
In Taiwan, Ma said he is making great efforts to improve relations with Japan and that bilateral ties are the best they have ever been.
But he also pointed out that while it is one thing to have good relations with Japan, the issue of national sovereignty is another matter.
"We will insist on our national interest and sovereignty, and we will not budge even one inch, and this is what a Republic of China president should do," Ma said. (July 8, 2012)
United Daily News: As Taiwan, China and Japan all claim sovereignty over the islands, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda's plan to "nationalize" the territory is bound to create tension and is likely to make the issue into a powder keg in Northeast Asia.
According to Noda, the islands are Japanese territory from both the historical and the international law perspectives.
As Japan has been exercising effective rule of the islands, "there is no territorial problem" regarding the ownership of the island group, he said.
Ishihara had earlier expressed an interest in raising funds to purchase the islands. Noda said he needs to enquire further into how Tokyo City s prepared to go about realizing the governor's plan.
The group is composed of five small islets, one of which is Japanese state property, while the other four are in private hands but since 2002 have been leased to the Japanese government, which bans any private landing on them.
Noda sent Cabinet officials to tell Ishihara that given the Tokyo municipal council's "procedural" problems, it would be faster for the state to buy the islands from the private owners.
In response, Ishihara told the Cabinet that it would be better if the city could gain ownership before handing it over to the national government.
The owners said that because Ishihara is the first person to contact them over the matter, based on the "trust" principle, "we will sell our property to him only," even if approached by the national government. (July 8, 2012)
(By S.C. Chang)