Thursday, January 18, 2007

So many islands, so little agreement

It may come as no surprise that Formosa isn't the only island contested in Asia. In fact, there is a complex web of political entanglements in Asia.

The Diaoyutai or Senkaku Islands are just one of several that I will try to cover now and in later posts.

They are located almost exactly 170km between Japanese territorial islands and Keelung, Taiwan. If you look at a map of the area you will notice that Japan's islands extend downwards in a line. The last big island before hitting Mainland China is Taiwan.

The Diaoyutai or "Fishing Islands" are a matter of contention between Taiwan, China and Japan. These days Japan controls them but it didn't always.

Governments and waves of protesters have tried to lay claim to them in the past. Each time they have been repelled by Japanese coast guard forces.

And why make such a fuss over the islands? Well national pride is one part. China and Taiwan don't want to give an inch of territory to the Japanese due to wartime disputes. However, there's also the question of fishing and drilling for oil. Not only this but any islands in the shipping lanes of East Asia are strategic.

Next time we'll take a look at the South China Sea and see how the situation there is even more of a powder keg...


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