A Taiwanese coast guard vessel confronts the Japanese coast guard while escorting a Taiwanese fishing boat to the disputed islands. (Photo courtesy of ROC Coast Guard)
"Mainland China has a seat at the United Nations, which Taiwan does not," Huang Hsi-ling, a former city councilor from New Taipei told Duowei News as he attempted to explain why he controversially raised a PRC flag rather than Taiwan's flag on a recent visit to disputed islands in the East China Sea which are claimed by Taiwan, China and Japan. "I am not selling out Taiwan, but we have to admit that only mainland is able to reclaim sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai islands back from Japan."
The islands are known as the Tiaoyutais in Taiwan, the Diaoyu islands in China, and the Senkakus in Japan, which exercises administrative control over them.
Huang told Duowei, a news outlet operated by overseas Chinese, that he thinks it does not really matter whether it is Taiwan or mainland China which can take the islands back from Japan as long as they are Chinese. He also said he hopes Taiwan and China's military forces can work together regarding the islands and also in the South China Sea, where the two sides have competing claims with other countries from Southeast Asia.
Huang together with a group of other people from Taiwan last week chartered a vessel to approach the disputed islands. When they got close, however, the flag raised to assert sovereignty was not the flag of the Republic of China government of Taiwan but that of the People's Republic of China on the mainland, earning praise from observers in China but condemnation from Taiwan's public, who asked what point Huang was trying to make and if he was not only symbolically ceding not only Taiwan's claim to the islands but also acknowledging China's claim to Taiwan.
"When our fishing boat was approaching the Tiaoyutais, the captain tried to attack the Japanese vessels with the cannon he uses to scare dolphins away," Huang told Duowei. "But officers from Taiwan's coast guard sent to protect our boat warned us not to do so." Because the Taiwanese coast guard deployed five ships to escort them, Huang and his group were able to approach to within 10 meters of the islands islands. "Our coast guard did a wonderful job this time," said Huang. "Taiwan should be tougher and stronger with regards to Japan, and there was really nothing the Japanese could do about it."
"It was the decision of the World Chinese Alliance in Defense of the Diaoyu Islands for us to wave the flag of the PRC," Huang said. "This is an organization consisted of members from Hong Kong, Macau, mainland China and the overseas Chinese community." Since the People's Republic of China is the government considered by most to be the legitimate representative of China, Huang said he did nothing wrong as a Taiwanese citizen to bring the PRC flag, adding that he had also planned to bring an ROC flag as well but this was overlooked at the last minute. "We tried to bring a flag of the Republic of China (Taiwan) with us," said Huang, "but we forgot it with our seasick pills."
Because Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by Japan, Huang believes only the People's Republic of China is able to reclaim the islands back from Japan as the representative of a "Greater China." "Taiwan is having trouble dealing with issues of fishing rights with the Japanese," Huang said.
Huang Hsi-lin 黃錫麟