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Diaoyu Dao is China's Inherent Territory
Diaoyu Dao and its affiliated islands, which consist of Diaoyu Dao, Huangwei Yu, Chiwei Yu, Nanxiao Dao, Beixiao Dao, Nan Yu, Bei Yu, Fei Yu and other islands and reefs, are located to the northeast of China's Taiwan Island, in the waters between 123o20'-124o40'E (East Longitude) and 25o40'-26o00'N (North Latitude), and are affiliated to the Taiwan Island. The total landmass of these islands is approximately 5.69 square kilometers.
Diaoyu Dao, situated in the western tip of the area, covers a landmass of about 3.91 square kilometers and is the largest island in the area. The highest peak on the island stands 362 meters above the sea level. Huangwei Yu, which is located about 27 kilometers to the northeast of Diaoyu Dao, is the second largest island in the area, with a total landmass of about 0.91 square kilometers and a highest elevation of 117 meters. Chiwei Yu, situated about 110 kilometers to the northeast of Diaoyu Dao, is the easternmost island in the area. It covers a landmass of approximately 0.065 square kilometers and stands 75 meters above the sea level at its peak.
1. Diaoyu Dao was first discovered, named and exploited by China
Ancient ancestors in China first discovered and named Diaoyu Dao through their production and fishery activities on the sea. In China's historical literatures, Diaoyu Dao is also called Diaoyu Yu or Diaoyu Tai. The earliest historical record of the names of Diaoyu Dao, Chiwei Yu and other places can be found in the book Voyage with a Tail Wind (Shun Feng Xiang Song) published in 1403 (the first year of the reign of Emperor Yongle of the Ming Dynasty). It shows that China had already discovered and named Diaoyu Dao by the 14th and 15th centuries.
In 1372 (the fifth year of the reign of Emperor Hongwu of the Ming Dynasty), the King of Ryukyu started paying tribute to the imperial court of the Ming Dynasty. In return, Emperor Hongwu (the first emperor of the Ming Dynasty) sent imperial envoys to Ryukyu. In the following five centuries until 1866 (the fifth year of the reign of Emperor Tongzhi of the Qing Dynasty), the imperial courts of the Ming and Qing Dynasties sent imperial envoys to Ryukyu 24 times to confer titles on the Ryukyu King, and Diaoyu Dao was exactly located on their route to Ryukyu. Ample volume of records about Diaoyu Dao could be found in the reports written by Chinese imperial envoys at the time. For example, the Records of the Imperial Title-conferring Envoys to Ryukyu (Shi Liu Qiu Lu) written in 1534 by Chen Kan, an imperial title-conferring envoy from the Ming court, clearly stated that "the ship has passed Diaoyu Dao, Huangmao Yu, Chi Yu... Then Gumi Mountain comes into sight, that is where the land of Ryukyu begins." The Shi Liu Qiu Lu of another imperial envoy of the Ming Dynasty, Guo Rulin, in 1562 also stated that "Chi Yu is the mountain that marks the boundary of Ryukyu". In 1719, Xu Baoguang, a deputy title-conferring envoy to Ryukyu in the Qing Dynasty, clearly recorded in his book Records of Messages from Chong-shan (Zhong Shan Chuan Xin Lu) that the voyage from Fujian to Ryukyu passed Huaping Yu, Pengjia Yu, Diaoyu Dao, Huangwei Yu, Chiwei Yu and reached Naba (Naha) port of Ryukyu via Gumi Mountain (the mountain guarding the southwest border of Ryukyu) and Machi Island.
In 1650, the Annals of Chong-shan (Zhong Shan Shi Jian), the first official historical record of the Ryukyu Kingdom drafted under the supervision of Ryukyu's prime minister Xiang Xiangxian (Kozoken), confirmed that Gumi Mountain (also called Gumi Mountain, known as Kume Island today) is part of Ryukyu's territory, while Chi Yu (known as Chiwei Yu today) and the areas to its west are not Ryukyu's territory. In 1708, Cheng Shunze (Tei Junsoku), a noted scholar and the Grand Master with the Purple-Golden Ribbon (Zi Jin Da Fu) of Ryukyu, recorded in his book A General Guide (Zhi Nan Guang Yi) that "Gumi Mountain is the mountain guarding the southwest border of Ryukyu".
These historical accounts clearly demonstrate that Diaoyu Dao and Chiwei Yu belong to China and Kume Island belongs to Ryukyu, and that the separating line lies in Hei Shui Gou (today's Okinawa Trough) between Chiwei Yu and Kume Island. In 1579, Xie Jie, a deputy imperial title-conferring envoy of the Ming Dynasty, recorded in his book, Addendum to Summarized Record of Ryukyu (Liu Qiu Lu Cuo Yao Bu Yi) that he entered Ryukyu from Cang Shui to Hei Shui, and returned to China from Hei Shui to Cang Shui. Xia Ziyang, another imperial envoy of the Ming court, wrote in 1606 that "when the water flows from Hei Shui back to Cang Shui, it enters the Chinese territory." Miscellaneous Records of a Mission to Ryukyu (Shi Liu Qiu Za Lu), a book written in 1683 by Wang Ji, an imperial envoy of the Qing Dynasty, stated that "Hei Shui Gou", situated outside Chi Yu, is the "boundary between China and foreign land". In 1756, Zhou Huang, a deputy imperial envoy of the Qing Dynasty, recorded in his book, the Annals of Ryukyu (Liu Qiu Guo Zhi Lue), that Ryukyu "is separated from the waters of Fujian by Hei Shui Gou to the west".
The waters surrounding Diaoyu Dao are traditionally Chinese fishing ground. Chinese fishermen have, for generations, engaged in fishery activities in these waters. In the past, Diaoyu Dao was used as a navigation marker by the Chinese people living on the southeast coast.