Thursday, January 24, 2013

12/24/2013 New Japan/ Taiwan Water Cannon Fight Near Disputed Islands Links checked 12/3/2015/Links updated 2/29/2016


American Admiralty Books Safety & Privacy Policies (Attention EU Visitors , possible "cookie" encounter ahead) 

Coast Guard Vessels of Taiwan and Japan Physically  Contest Each Other Without Gunfire
Photo from Wikipedia Commons

The Amber Wang , Agence France Presse reported today that Taiwan Coast Guard craft attempted to escort Taiwan activists into Japan's territorial waters off of the disputed Diautu / Senkaku Islands who intended to land on one of the islands to erect a religious statute. The Japanese Coast Guard intervened and another water cannon contest between the two vessels ensued.  Interestingly mainland China's "Ocean Surveillance Service" (Coast Guard like) ships were near by but outside Japanese waters. Radio contact was established between the Taiwan ships and the China ships , and monitored by Japan. The China ships stayed on the sidelines at the request of the Taiwan Coast Guard .  After a running scrape with water cannon Taiwan left the area without landing the activists and now loudly complains of Japanese aggression. What's up?

Opinion: China claims the islands as part of :the "Chinese Province of Taiwan". Taiwan claims them in their own right but obviously at least loosely coordinates with Mainland China. Given the commitment of the United States to defend Taiwan from forceful take over by China, probably both China and Taiwan speculate that Taiwan can be much more forceful against a formal U.S. ally like Japan than China could. Taiwan is so far the only power in the area that has directly entered the disputed waters in plain sight of the Japanese Coast Guard and then proceeded to directly attack the Japanese Coast Guard with physical though non deadly means. If the islands were surrendered to Taiwan, China could back off its confrontation with Japan. China figures to eventually absorb Taiwan anyway and trade between the island and the mainland is increasing, as is cooperation. If Taiwan administered the Islands China and Taiwan could enter into a formal joint lease and licensing arrangement for the development of offshore oil leaving their bigger argument over sovereignty for a later time. Taiwan is watching carefully the administration over Hong Kong a special zone with in China that seems to enjoy less central government direct hands on governance than the rest of the country and unique free trade commercial opportunities. American weapons and backing have kept Taiwan independent so far. But Chinese experience with Hong Kong is softening the attitude of both sides relative to some peaceful form of arms length reunification. Dare we say it? With Chinese/ Taiwanese cooperation so high in an endeavor showing such aggression to our long time formal ally Japan, maybe we need to rethink our commitment to Taiwan. 

 Taiwan doesn't take the issue to the an international tribunal due to its doubtful standing as a sovereign nation.  China can't really take the issue to an international tribunal because it claims the islands as part of Taiwan Province, a place where it can't really demonstrate actual sovereignty. Japan has never said that it would not respond in court, and we have said in these pages that China may have something of a case due to its absence from the final treaty deliberations at the end of WW II combined with the pre- WWI history of the Islands. But as long as they are separate both "nations" have standing issues in international tribunals. Meanwhile for us the law is the law and we are obligated to defend Japan unless or until the present treaty is modified to change the islands as a specifically described part of the "Japanese homeland". 

  Of course if the international tribunal agreed to doesn't side with China that probably won't be the end of it since the dragon is not fundamentally law abiding, but if we have to defend these rocks after a court decision that doesn't go the dragon's way at least we will definitely be on the excruciatingly correct legal high ground, which also usually puts a nation on the moral high ground, and in a better position to call due favors and attract allies. 

 So if the water cannon fights and physical confrontation continue by Taiwan, maybe its time to disconnect from Taiwan. We are not bound to them by a reciprocal defense treaty only by our statute expressing the will of Congress. We can repeal our own statute. We can't unilaterally ignore a call from Japan for defense assistance, we do have a mutual defense agreement with them and they are a valued and long standing ally. Why should we allow ourselves to be caught between a rock and hard place constructed by China and Taiwan? Our position should be clear and simple. If the "Chinas" don't like the existing international law on the subject they should file a case and argue it. If an international tribunal finds against Japan we are free to consider the internationally recognized borders as defensible under the existing treaty "as amended" by an international tribunal. If the "Chinas" lose in court, we are obligated to defend Japan's "home land" as described in the post WWII treaty. If that means sinking the PLAN and its "allies" so be it. Taiwan's aggressive behavior is forcing us to choose between a "client" and real ally. There really isn't any choice and Taiwan should be able to recognize that. 

 Below is a story lead in and a link to the full story :

China ships watch as Taiwan, Japan vessels duel over islets

TAIPEI: A boat with Taiwanese activists headed for disputed Japanese-controlled islands turned back on Thursday after coastguard vessels from the two sides converged and duelled with water cannon.
The boat, carrying seven people including four Taiwanese activists, gave up a plan to land on the East China Sea islands after being blocked by Japanese coastguard vessels as it sailed within 17 nautical miles of the archipelago.
“We fired water cannon at each other,” Taiwanese coastguard spokesman Shih Yi-che said of the confrontation.
The disputed islands, in an area where the seabed is believed to harbor valuable mineral reserves, are known as Senkaku in Japanese and Diaoyu in Chinese. Both China and Taiwan claim them.
As the standoff unfolded, three Chinese surveillance vessels were positioned a few nautical miles off, the Taiwanese coastguard said.
It added that it was the first time ships from China had been spotted near a Taiwanese-Japanese incident, and that it had sent a radio message to the three boats to keep their distance in order not to complicate matters.

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