Japan from the inside out

More on Han-yi Shaw and the Senkakus

Posted by ampontan on Saturday, September 29, 2012

MICHAEL Turton examines the recent guest article by Han-yi Shaw about the Senkakus in the Nicholas Kristof New York Times column and shreds it. Literally. Here was my response, but his is better. First, kudos for sharp eyes: I’ll let Turton explain it.

Here is what Shaw wrote near the bottom:

And according to Taiwan gazetteers, “Diaoyu Island accommodates ten or more large ships” under the jurisdiction of Kavalan, Taiwan.

Heh. The Chinese text he highlights, presumably from the Chen Shouqi text on the right, actually says something like “the Diaoyu Island can hold 1000 large ships.” Not ten, but a thousand. Is Shaw deliberately mistranslating, mistaken, or is it that the gazetteer he cites is not the one in the picture?

Sure enough, that’s exactly what the text in the photograph says: 1,000 large ships. That’s physically impossible.

Shaw was new to me, so I wondered in the piece whether he had another agenda. He wasn’t new to Michael Turton. Here’s his explanation of the Shaw background.

The NYTimes piece leaves out a key piece of information that makes Shaw’s position more rational than it really is, because if the paper’s gentle readers saw it in print they would immediately realize an inconvenient truth: that Han-yi Shaw is a right-wing Chinese expansionist following a Chinese-invented Sinocentric form of sovereignty that hands all of Asia to China. Here is what he says in the long paper:

…Many Chinese scholars have argued that when evaluating the various historical evidence put forth by the Chinese side, one must not fail to recognize the important political realities of the time from which they originated, namely, an era characterized by the East Asian World Order (otherwise known as the Chinese World Order).

The underlying concern is the following: whether principles of modern international law, which has its origin in the European tradition of international order, can properly judge a territorial dispute involving countries historically belonging under the East Asian World Order with fundamentally different ordering principles from its European counterpart. First and foremost, it should be noted that the East Asian World Order was a system of international relations characterized as Sinocentric and hierarchical rather than one based on sovereign equality of nations. Under such a framework, relations between nations were not governed by principles of international law known to the West, but instead by what is know as the “tributary system” instituted by China.

It looks like Shaw claims that there are Chinese scholars arguing that if China says someone paid tribute to it at some point in history, China can determine the sovereignty in its favor. I doubt one can find many Korean, Mongolian, Tibetan, Japanese, Thai, or Vietnamese scholars to support this. It is hard to imagine a mindset more self-serving and expansionist than this. Imagine if the NYTimes column had been fronted by this nonsense. Instead, Shaw cleverly frames it as an attack on Tokyo’s position rather than an announcement of his own with copious evidence, maps, and charts.

There’s more:

What has really happened here is that the East Asian World Order as deployed in the service of Chinese expansion means that when China wants to expand, it will rummage through its history to find justification for said expansion. Thus, the real inconvenient truth is that the Senkakus are Japanese and the Chinese claim is simply naked expansionism.

The even more inconvenient truth, as I have noted several times on this blog, is that many Chinese, especially on the right, argue that Okinawa is Chinese, “stolen territory” — in Chinese minds, and on Chinese maps, the two are linked.

He also touches on the chartered Taiwanese fishing boats that sallied forth to the Senkakus and back:

It should be noted that effectively, when the Ma government and the Beijing government tag-team Japan, the Ma government is working with China, whatever their denials.

It’s all here, and worth reading every word.

It would seem that the credibility of a certain Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist in the New York Times is rapidly evaporating.


One Response to “More on Han-yi Shaw and the Senkakus”

  1. […] say that despite the assertions of a recent NY Times editorial column by Han-Yi Shaw, and numerous rebuttals in which he is gloriously torn apart, this is not really about who truly, legally, rightfully, is in the right regarding claims to these […]

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