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Staying calm could well be mistaken as false weakness

By Gregory Yingnien Tsang (Global Times)

08:08, August 30, 2012

Editor's Note:

The Diaoyu Islands dispute touches the nerves of many in China. Facing rising tensions with Japan, there is a growing clamor for national cohesion and cooperation across the Straits. However, it seems rather difficult for Taiwan authorities to accept this. How should we interpret Taiwan's position over the Diaoyu Islands? Is unifying all Chinese to defend sovereignty possible? Two scholars share their views with the Global Times.


Forty years ago, the US unilaterally transferred to Tokyo the administration of the Diaoyu Islands and adjacent islets, which belong to China. Soon after the handover, movements organized by Chinese students abroad spread vigorously in US and Canadian colleges and universities to safeguard the Diaoyu Islands.

Many Chinese professors on US campuses tirelessly wrote articles to present historical evidence of Chinese territorial claim to these islands.

That year, I was the president of the Diaoyu Islands Movement Committee of the University of Washington. Most of the students, myself included, came from Taiwan and Hong Kong, but our cohesion as Chinese was apparently consolidated due to the astonishing move of the Nixon administration.

A big rally in Seattle was held, joined by more than 1,000 Chinese participants. We walked toward the Japanese consulate general in Seattle, and presented our letter of protest, requiring the return of the Diaoyu Islands to China.

Back then, the Taiwan leadership dared not to take a tough line with the US and Japan, as the latter two were influential over keeping Taiwan's UN membership. However at the grass-roots level, all Chinese were uniting. Later on, several Taiwanese graduates from US universities, who were very active in the student movements to safeguard Diaoyu, went to work in the Chinese delegation at the UN.

The Chinese activists' landing on Diaoyu in mid-August reminded me of that chapter of history. Over the past four decades, regional dynamics have undergone a great shake-up. China should make a major endeavor to break the Diaoyu impasse.
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