Skip to main content

The Diaoyutai Islands are an island group appertaining to Taiwan and part of the territory of the Republic of China (Taiwan). They were first discovered, named, and used by the Chinese in the early 15th century, and incorporated into China’s maritime defense system during the Ming dynasty and national territory during the Qing dynasty. 

Japan was clearly aware that the islands belonged to China, yet in 1885, it planned to set up a national marker on the islands and annex them on the pretext that they were uninhabited. However, mindful of the Qing court’s vigilance, Japan considered the plan to be inopportune at that time and decided to postpone it.

In January 1895, three months prior to the signing of the Treaty of Shimonoseki, when the Qing dynasty was on the verge of a resounding defeat in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Japanese cabinet secretly passed a resolution to occupy the Diaoyutai Islands. The resolution was not made public. 

After the Second World War, the Diaoyutai Islands, along with the Ryukyu Islands, were placed under the administration of the United States.

The United Nations Economic Commission for Asia and the Far East, joined by scientists from Asian countries (including the Republic of China [Taiwan]), conducted a six-week geological survey of the Yellow Sea and East China Sea region and found that the continental shelf near the Diaoyutai Islands in the East China Sea might be rich in petroleum resources. 

In 1972, the United States reverted the administrative rights over the Diaoyutai and Ryukyu Islands to Japan, sparking protests from the R.O.C (Taiwan) government and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities. The dispute remains unresolved today.