China officially labels Senkakus a ‘core interest’


The Chinese Foreign Ministry announced for the first time Friday that China regards the Senkaku Islands a “core interest.”

“The Diaoyu Islands are about sovereignty and territorial integrity. Of course, it’s China’s core interest,” ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a press conference, using China’s name for the Japanese-administered isles in the East China Sea. Taiwan claims the isles as the Tiaoyutai.

China usually uses the term when addressing such issues as Taiwan, Tibet and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Now Beijing has clarified that it also pertains to the Senkakus.

The statement suggests that China does not intend to make any concessions on the islets, which it claims have been its inherent territory since ancient times.

Hua made the comment after Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, told NHK in Tokyo that Chinese officials repeatedly told him during his visit to Beijing earlier in the week that the Senkakus are “one of China’s core interests.”

Japan, which has administered the islands for decades, maintains the Senkakus are an integral part of its territory and that there is no territorial dispute over them.

  • Iain Johnston

    Concerning whether or not the PRC has officially declared the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands to be a “core interest”, the source of this story, a Kyodo report, accurately reports that the PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson stated on April 26, “Of course, the Diaoyudao are part of China’s core interests”. But Kyodo does not report that the official transcripts of the spokesperson’s remarks removed this sentence. The transcripts officially state that “….China resolutely upholds the nation’s core interests,including national sovereignty, national security, territorial integrity etc. The Diaoyudao issue touches on China’s territorial sovereignty” (涉及中国领土主权). This is about as close to saying that the islands are part of core interests without, however, saying it.
    It is possible that the PRC spokesperson strayed a bit from the official position. The official record reflects official policy. This particular formulation — “touches on territorial sovereignty” – probably reflects a dilemma the PRC government faces. It cannot say the Diaoyudao/Senkaku are not a core interest. This would create domestic problems for the regime. But it cannot say explicitly that the islands are a core interest, because this could constrain any future space for negotiation. A critical piece of evidence will be whether or not the PRC drops the demand for negotiations with Japan over the islands. If it does, then this would be consistent with an official declaration that the islands are a core interest. If it continues to demand negotiations, this would be consistent with the official position of not (yet) directly stating the islands are a core interest.

  • Core interest? Does that mean China would be willing to go to war over some rocks? Or is it just propaganda? We have seen that China has published several reports that state the islands belong to China. ..well I am sure you can find more than 200 volumes that state Tibet
    Belongs to Tibet. That huge swathes of Chinese territory belongs to Mongolia India Russia Vietnam…and so on. If these countries were to state that territory was of core interest China would be embarrassed into rethinking its imperialist designs on Japanese territory as recognized by the UN. That it does not believe in democracy for Hong Kong…and for China itself is an insult against all those countries in the region that support democracy. It is time China grew up and stopped playing the bully.