Nationalists from Taiwan and Hong Kong wave the ROC and PRC flags at the Diaoyu islands in 1996. (Photo/Yan Yu-long)
China Fortune Investment Company has submitted an application to the State Oceanic Administration of China for the development of the disputed Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, known as the Senkakus to Japan, which exercises administrative control over them, reports our sister newspaper China Times.
As the chairman of the company, Tong Zeng, is also president of the China Federation for Defending the Diaoyu Islands, the move is being viewed as a way to counter the plans of Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara to purchase and nationalize the islands on behalf of Japan. Under the Provisions on the Administration of the Protection and Utilization of Islands with no Residents announced by China's State Oceanic Administration, Ministry of Civil Affairs and the PLA General Staff, Chinese companies are allowed to apply for development projects on uninhabited islands.
By creating a tourist spot under Chinese administration, Tong would thus legalize the sovereignty of Beijing over the Diaoyu islands. Meanwhile, an inspection group established by the Tokyo metropolitan government is also planning to visit the disputed islands by the end of August. An escalation of the dispute over the islands is apparently inevitable with civilians of both nations now taking tougher positions.
While President Ma Ying-jeou of Taiwan — which also claims the islands — has openly refused to cooperate with mainland China over the issue, a survey conducted by Want Daily showed that just over half of Taiwan's public would support a Beijing-Taipei alliance against Tokyo in the East China Sea. 48% of them also support similar cooperation between China and Taiwan over disputed areas of the South China Sea, according to the poll.
Tong Zeng 童增