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The Diaoyu Islands of China Part 1: Diaoyu Islands belong to China

10-06-2012 23:20 BJT

For the people of Yilan, our forefathers have been catching fish around the Diaoyu Islands. It can’t be cut off from our home. Diaoyu Islands consist of Diaoyu Island, Nanxiao Dao, Beixiao Dao, Chiwei Yu, Huangwei Yu and other islands and reefs. The total landmass of these islands is approximately 6 square kilometers and covers a sea area of 170,000 square kilometers.

Fresh water can be found on Diaoyu Island. However, with too many seabirds which contaminate fresh water, it is not suitable for people to live there for long. The Diaoyu Islands are the extension of Central Mountain Range of Taiwan as well as the continental shelf.

The Ryukyu Islands are to the northeast of the Diaoyu Islands. Though not very far apart, the two are separated by OkinawaTrough. The maximum depth around the Diaoyu Islands waters is no more than 200 meters. But the Okinawa Trough is 2,712 meters deep.

The book Illustrated Outline of the Three Countries (San Guo Tong Lan Tu Shuo)
written by the Sendai scholar Hayashi Shihei in 1785 was the earliest Japanese
literature to mention Diaoyu Islands.

They were referred as Diaoyu and Chikan Yu in books such as Voyage with a Tail Wind written around 1403. From the book, we can learn a lot about the Diaoyu Islands and the Ryukyu Islands.
Influenced by Taiwan warm current and the southwest monsoon, strong ocean currents flow from southwest to northeast and they are called the Black Currents.

Going from the Diaoyu Islands to the Ryukyu Islands, fishermen catch tail winds. But no fishermen from the Ryūkyū Kingdom would risk in their small boats, to fish down in the Diaoyu Islands waters.

Lin Xinchuan, Fisherman of Yilan, Taiwan, China, said, “We go to the Diaoyu Islands for fishing in groups. The Diaoyu Islands belong to China. It's clearly recorded in the books published by China, ancient Ryūkyū Kingdom, and even Japan.”

As early as the 7th century, the Book of Sui recorded visits to Ryūkyū. The island named Gaohua Yu, is the Diaoyu Island today. The Yudi jisheng, an imperial geography book finished in 1221.

In the 14th century, Ryūkyū Kingdom became a tributary state of China. In 1372, the first Ming Dynasty envoy Yang Zai embarked his journey to Ryūkyū Kingdom. From then, Diaoyu Island became a maritime landmark. 

Professor Liu Jiangyong, Vice Director, Institute of Modern International Relations, Tsinghua University, said, “The Chinese Ming Dynasty gave 36 Chinese family names to good sailors of the Ryukyuans. 36 names for 36 islands of the Ryukyuan Isles. They assisted the Ryukyuans in the exchanges with the mainland people. They became accustomed to the shipping route via the Diaoyu Islands to China.In 1534, the Ryukyuans accompanied imperial envoy, Chen Kan to Ryūkyū Kingdom. It's recorded in the book Record of the Imperial Envoy's Visit to Ryukyu, Seeing Gumi Mountain, the sight of their home, the Ryukyuans rejoiced in their boats to celebrate their return.The record shows that the Ryukyuans considered Gumi mountain as the token of their territory, passing by the Diaoyu Islands.”

“In 1808, Shen Fu, the writer in the Qing Dynasty recorded in Six Chapters of a Floating Life his experience to the Ryūkyū Kingdom with some Chinese officials Shen Fu (1763-1825), writer of Six Chapters of a Floating Life in 1808.In the morning of the 13th, we saw Diaoyu Tai, which is like a penholder, Beyong that is the Black Water Trough.”

“In the morning of the 14th, we vaguely saw Gumi Mountain. From now on, we came into the boundery of the Ryūkyū Kingdom. The Black Water Trough and Gumi Mountain were considered the borderline between China's Diaoyu Islands and the Ryūkyū Kingdom.”

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