Combo photo taken on Sept. 26, 2012 shows scholars speaking at a seminar discussing a recent dispute over the Diaoyu Islands in Shanghai, east China. More than 50 Chinese scholars from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and abroad gathered in Shanghai on Wednesday to discuss a recent dispute over the Diaoyu Islands in the South China Sea. (Xinhua/Liu Ying)
SHANGHAI -- More than 50 scholars from the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan and abroad convened in Shanghai on Wednesday to defend China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands with historical and legal evidence.
The seminar, organized by the Shanghai Institute for International Studies, Fangxia Cultural Exchange Association and the National Society of Taiwan Studies, came a day after the Chinese government issued a white paper asserting the country's indisputable sovereignty over the Diaoyu Island and its affiliated islets, referred to in the document as "the inherent territory" of China.
Scholars discussed historical and legal evidence for China's sovereignty over the Diaoyu islands, the impact of Japan's "purchase" of part of the islands and methods for the Chinese to protect their country's right to the territory. Trends in the development of the dispute and its impact on Sino-Japanese relations were also covered.
"All Chinese people, who share common interests and demands, have concerted responsibilities and obligations to safeguard the sovereignty of the Diaoyu Islands and to oppose Japan's violation of China's inherent territory," said a five-point consensus reached by scholars at the end of the one-day seminar.
All Chinese scholars should fully display their own strength to sustain their research and academic exchanges on issues related to the Diaoyu Islands and the East China Sea, according to the consensus.
Scholars also agreed to strengthen scientific research on maritime resources and environmental protection of the Diaoyu Islands.
"We should pool together our wisdom to maintain the heritage of all Chinese people," the consensus said.
"The islands are part of China's inherent territory," said Xu Dunxin, former Chinese embassador to Japan. "They are a precious heritage from the forefathers of all the Chinese people."
He said Japan's "purchase," a serious violation of China's sovereignty, has greatly hurt the Chinese people's feelings.
The 40th anniversary of the normalization of China-Japan relations, which falls this year, has been overshadowed by Japan's actions this month.
Zheng Hailin, a researcher with the Chinese University of Hong Kong's Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, told the seminar that the Diaoyu Islands were first discovered, named and exploited by the Chinese.
Zheng, an expert on the islands, said his latest study found that in maps published by countries including Britain, the United States and France after 1774, the English naming of the Diaoyu Islands and their affiliated islets was phonetically based on the local dialects of east China's Fujian Province.
Claims that the islands were first discovered and exploited by Japan are totally groundless, according to the researcher.
Other scholars criticized Japan's latest move from a global perspective, saying it is a serious challenge to the post-World War II international order.
Yang Jiemian, head of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, said the island row came at a time of gradual changes in the powers of China and Japan.
"Some Japanese people feel frustrated and have a great sense of loss," he said.
"If Japan refuses to realize its own mistakes, it will lose the qualification to spearhead East Asian economic development and will become a 'troublemaker' that destabilizes the region," he added.
Scholars also urged cross-Strait cooperation to safeguard the Diaoyu Islands.
Taiwanese scholars Fu Kuncheng and Sun Yangming said they believe there is much room for the further development of cross-Strait cooperation in conducting law enforcement patrols and fishery protection missions.
The scholars urged the Japanese government to refrain from infringing upon China's sovereignty and called on the country to take corrective measures to avoid jeopardizing bilateral relations.