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Talk of the Day -- Chinese hawks call for military zone for Tiaoyutais

2012/07/10 18:58:44

As tension rises over the sovereignty of the Tiaoyutai island group in the East China Sea, some Chinese hawks are calling for the establishment of a military drill zone around the disputed islands and for using them as an area for missile testing.

Retired People's Liberation Army Maj.-Gen. Luo Yuan has also suggested that Taiwan rename the island group as "Tiaoyutai Township, Yilan County," according to the China Times, a major Taiwanese newspaper.

Luo's remarks came after the Japanese government said it "cannot accept Taiwan's and China's protests" over its plan to purchase the island group from its private owners.

Following are excerpts of reports and analyses by major Taiwanese newspapers on the issue:

United Daily News:

Taiwan and China have both responded to Japan's plan to "nationalize" the disputed territory that lies just 100 nautical miles off Taiwan's northeastern county of Yilan.

In addition to issuing strongly-worded statements, China announced a live-fire maritime exercise in the East China Sea, set to begin Tuesday.

At home, President Ma Ying-jeou has said that on this territorial issue, Taiwan will not budge an inch.

The issue is complicated and sensitive. Taiwan must act carefully and meticulously in order not to spoil the current harmonious situation in its relations with Japan, China and the United States.

The U.S. has remained silent since the recent flareup of the issue, but in fact has been maneuvering behind the scenes -- a joint U.S.-Korea-Japan military exercise of June 21-22 was a U.S. attempt at showing its intentions on the issue.

China apparently was the target of the U.S. show of force.

For its part, China has launched both verbal protests and military threats against Japan. In the meantime, Beijing has been heightening its "united front" tactics against Taiwan.

The Ma administration has accused Japan of "stealing" and "occupying" the Tiaoyutais. Such rhetoric must be backed by follow-up actions, otherwise it will be seen as merely bluffing. (July 10, 2012)

China Times:

China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs has stressed that it will not allow Japan to take "unilateral action" regarding what it calls the Diaoyutai island group, noting that "sacred Chinese territory" is not for sale.

The Chinese government has added that it will take the necessary steps to "resolutely safeguard its sovereignty" over the islands.

The ministry's statements, however, were seen by some Chinese media as "weak."

For instance, the Global Times -- an official publication of the ruling Communist Party of China -- said China needs to take "more action" than mere protesting.

The newspaper proposed that Beijing raise the issue of Okinawa's sovereignty with Japan to counterbalance the latter's plan to annex the Tiaoyutais.

Luo Yuan's ideas about how to deal with Japan over the issue were carried by the newspaper, including setting up a "Tiaoyutai Township" under Yilan County, which he said would highlight China's "administrative" sovereignty over the island group.

Other strategies put forward by Luo include listing the islands as a military exercise zone to serve as a missile testing area or even as targets for air force bombing drills.

He also called for a Chinese coast guard fleet to replace its current maritime monitoring and fishery administration ships that are not equal to Japan's naval vessels in the event of a standoff.

China is also making a distinction between Japan's right-wing politicians and its government.

The Japanese prime minister is trying to "purchase" the privately owned islets probably to stave off trouble being stirred up by Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara's right-wing ambitions.

According to analysts in Beijing, this is why the Chinese government has adopted a cautious approach to the current dispute. (July 10, 2012)

(By S.C. Chang)