BEIJING – Access to diplomatic documents at the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s archives has been strictly limited since early January, possibly because a 1950 government paper found in them earlier describes the Senkaku Islands as part of Japanese territory, sources said.
The facility is “in the process of upgrading its computer system for technical reasons,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Wednesday.
But Chinese researchers suspect the restriction may have been triggered by media reports in December that a government draft document written in 1950 describes the disputed Senkakus as part of Japan, and that Beijing may be scrutinizing documents stored at the archives.
The ministry’s archives are open as usual but public access has been limited to a handful of papers since early January. A recent search for documents related to Japan on a computer for visitors turned up only 27 documents listed as accessible. The archives opened in 2004 to allow public access to diplomatic documents between 1949 — when the People’s Republic of China was established — and 1965.
Jiji Press obtained a copy of the 1950 document showing that China used to view the Japan-controlled Senkakus as part of the Ryukyu Islands, or modern-day Okinawa Prefecture. This contradicts the Chinese government’s current position that the islet group belongs to China because it is part of Taiwan, to which Beijing also lays claim.
The document reportedly used Japanese names, including Senkaku, to refer to the islets.