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Definition: Senkaku Islands from Collins English Dictionary

pl n

1 a group of uninhabited islets in the East China Sea; claimed by China and Japan Chinese name: Diaoyu Islands

Summary Article: Senkaku Islands
from The Politics of Maritime Power: A Survey

The Senkaku Islands (in Chinese: Diayutai) are a group of eight uninhabited islands approximately 120 nautical miles north east of Taiwan and 200 nautical miles south east of Okinawa and are claimed by both China and Japan. The islands are both oil-rich and lie near key international shipping routes. From 1885, Japan carried out a number of surveys of the islands which led to a formal claim to sovereignty on 14 January 1895, subsequently erecting a marker on the islands and administering them as part of Nansei Shoto Islands territory. They came under US control after the Second World War and were returned to Japan as part of the agreement between the two countries concerning the Ryukyu and Daito Islands signed in June 1971. During the latter half of the 1970s, when the possibility of developing petroleum resources on the continental shelf of the East China Sea arose, the governments of China and Taiwan began to question the islands’ sovereignty.

China’s claim is based upon historical records concerning the islands’ discovery and geographical features dating back to 1403. In addition, for several centuries they were administered as part of Taiwan and were used exclusively by Chinese fishermen. The two countries also have overlapping exclusive economic zone (EEZ) claims in the East China Sea, with some 40,000 sq. km in dispute, in an area with proven natural gas reserves. Japan declared an EEZ around the Senkaku Islands in 1996. The presence of Chinese oil exploration vessels, warships and ocean research vessels around the islands has increased since then. In 2003, China, together with Taiwan, asserted its claims to the islands, with increased media coverage and protests. In June of that year, there was an attempt by protesters from China and Hong Kong to land on the island using a small fishing vessel. There was an incident between Japanese patrol boats and Chinese fishing boats in January 2004 and in March of that year Japanese police arrested seven Chinese activists who had landed on the main island. In February 2005, Japan made a declaration of formal possession of the Senkaku Islands, following an incursion into Japanese territorial waters of a Chinese nuclear submarine in November 2004.

© Routledge 2007, 2011

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