On October 26, 2012, Vice-Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun gave a briefing to Chinese and foreign journalists on the Diaoyu Dao issue. The following is a transcript of the briefing:
Zhang Zhijun: In the recent period, many friends from the media have been following the Diaoyu Dao issue and asked to interview me. I am very happy to set aside some time to have this discussion with you on the Diaoyu Dao issue.
At the outset, let me briefly talk about the history of the issue. Simply put, Diaoyu Dao shouldn't have been an issue and there shouldn't be a dispute over its ownership. It became an issue and turned into a dispute only because of the illegal action taken by Japan back in 1895 to seize and occupy Diaoyu Dao. Diaoyu Dao has been China's inherent territory historically and legally. If you look at the history, it was the Chinese people who first discovered and named the Diaoyu Dao. In the five hundred years beginning with the Ming Dynasty to the modern times, China has exercised sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao. And if you look at international law, there are clear provisions in international legal documents such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation that the Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands be returned to China along with Taiwan. It was made very clear in the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation that Japan should restore to China all the territories it has stolen from China. Therefore from the legal perspective, Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands, together with Taiwan, should have been returned to China. In 1971 the United States, through a backroom deal, transferred to Japan the administrative rights over Diaoyu Dao which had been placed under illegal US trusteeship. At that time, the Chinese government issued a solemn statement pointing out that this action was illegal and could not change, not even in the slightest way, the People's Republic of China's territorial sovereignty over Diaoyu Dao and affiliated islands.
In 1972, when China and Japan restored diplomatic relations, the two sides reached understanding and consensus on "putting aside the issue of Diaoyu Dao to be resolved later". Recently, the Japanese government, in defiance of the firm opposition of China, announced the so-called "purchase" of Diaoyu Dao. This move grossly infringed upon China's territorial sovereignty, caused the most severe disruption to China-Japan relations since normalization of relations 40 years ago and triggered widespread concern of the international community.
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