Abe's island bid 'illegal, invalid'

Updated: 2013-02-26 09:53

By Zhao Shengnan (China Daily)

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Beijing on Monday rejected recent remarks about the Diaoyu Islands by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, saying no matter how Japan tries to justify it, its theft of the islands remains unchanged.

The remarks came in response to the hawkish leader's speech to a top Washington think tank in which he claimed both history and international law can prove the islands belong to Japan.

No country had questioned Japan's control over the islands between 1895 and 1971, he told the Center for Strategic and International Studies on Friday.

The logic of Abe's remarks is ridiculous, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a daily news conference, adding that no country had questioned China's sovereignty over the islands for almost 500 years between the 15th century and 1895.

Unfulfilled obligations

"It's like someone stole something from the others. Can hiding it in the pocket for a while change the nature of the theft and illegal occupation?" said Hua.

"After the end of World War II, Japan did not fulfill its due international obligation as a defeated country in accordance with the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation and did not return the Diaoyu Islands to China," she said.

"All activities of Japan regarding the Diaoyu Islands are based on illegal theft and occupation and are therefore illegal and invalid."

China's evidence is more solid and much earlier than Japan's, and the country had never stopped negotiating with Japan over the islands, even between 1895 and 1971, said Shen Shishun, a specialist on Asia-Pacific studies at Haikou College of Economics in Hainan province.

Abe's assertive rhetoric during his long-anticipated first visit to the United States after taking power in December is aimed at wooing support over the Diaoyu Islands issue from growing right-wing forces in Japan and from the international community, especially its ally Washington, Shen said.

But US President Barack Obama shunned the China-Japan territorial row during Abe's four-day trip, which concluded on Sunday.

Hua said China's stance on the development of relations with Japan based on the "four political documents" has not changed, urging Tokyo to show sincerity through substantial actions.

The right-wing forces led by conservative Abe are going to continue to undermine the post-war pacifist order and make China a scapegoat by flaring up the tension, Shen said.

Abe is boosting defense spending for the first time in 11 years and is planning to revise previous official statements about Japan's wartime history, including a landmark 1995 apology for Japan's aggression during World War II.

In another development, Abe could announce a decision soon to join negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement initiated by the US, NHK said on Monday.

He issued a joint statement with Obama last week confirming that universal tariff cuts are not a precondition for joining the agreement talks. Hua said China is open to all cooperative proposals that will help to promote economic cooperation and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.

Given the current situation, all sides concerned should fully consider the diversity and differences of the region and push ahead with economic integration in an open, inclusive and transparent way, she added.

Liu Yedan and Xinhua contributed to this story.