On the face of it, focusing on Taiwan as the world’s worrisome hotspot may seem an odd choice. The past year has witnessed an unusual amount of turmoil – the ravages of the coronavirus outbreak and the resulting global economic fallout, deepening political dissention in the United States and weakening American international leadership, and nationalism, intolerance and isolationism on the ascent across the globe. The entire post-World War II order seems to be breaking down under the strain.
The world changed this year. Covid-19 appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan, and gradually spread to Europe and the United States. At the time of writing (July 12), there are nearly 13 million confirmed cases of the virus worldwide. The global death toll is 565,917, with the United States suffering the most deaths (134,830). Yet Taiwan, a small, self-ruled island that is geographically close to mainland China, had seen only 443 confirmed cases and 7 deaths by June.
Not just a new president and a new parliament: Taiwan’s elections will be heavily influenced by the country’s relationship with Beijing, its increasingly meddlesome neighbour.
International relations and warfare technology have reached such sophistication that they have apparently rendered international wars a relic of the past. For these and other regional reasons, a conflict between China and Taiwan seems impossible to conceive.
Despite the recent hike in attention devoted to a Sino-Japanese territorial dispute in the East China Sea, skirmishes between China and Japan over the control of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islets are nothing new. Periodically, tensions arise among Japan, China, and Taiwan over this small group of islets. This paper examines the legal grounds on which Japan’s claim to the islands rest. It emphasizes the historical ties that have led Japan to exercise administrative control over the islands.