Taiwan News once again takes heads with a great editorial that says it ever so much better than I could. Among the highlights…

The accidental sinking of the allegedly fishing boat “Lienho” after a collusion with a Japanese Coast Guard patrol near the contested Tiaoyutai or Senkaku islets June 11 sparked a revealing test of the vow of new President Ma Ying-jeou that his restored Kuomintang government would be a “peace-maker” and not a “trouble-maker.”

Reacting to the sinking with the same reckless haste as shown in rushing into negotiations with the authoritarian People’s Republic of China, Ma and Premier Liu Chao-shiuan and other KMT Cabinet officials have engaged in a flurry of self-contradictory actions that have unnecessarily inflamed instead of cooling a crisis and have harmed Taiwan’s diplomatic interest and image.

Instead of investigate what actually happened off the Tiaoyutai islets and considering why this incident took place just as Taiwan and PRC negotiations were resuming in Beijing, Ma rushed to trumpet his government’s resolve to defend Taiwan’s claimed sovereignty over Tiaoyutai while Foreign Minister Francisco Ou lectured Japan’s semi-official representative in Taipei and demanded compensation for the “loss” suffered by “Lienho” captain Ho Hung-yi.

Moreover, Premier Liu stated Friday that he would “not exclude war” as an option in the dispute with Tokyo over the uninhabited islets in the East Sea, only to retract this careless statement hours later.

Taiwan News adds:

In our view, Ma’s government’s “loose cannon” behavior neglected numerous aspects of the incident and displayed an attitude out of keeping with international practice in resolving such disputes.

First, it should be noted that, even though Taiwan’s own marine regulations ban recreational fishing vessels from travelling more than 24 nautical miles away from their port or staying out for over more than 48 hours, the site where the “Lienho” encountered the JCG patrol boat was no less than 140 nautical miles from Keelung.

Instead of being lionized, “Lienho” Captain Ho Hung-yi could have more properly treated with an indictment for deliberating flouting Taiwan’s own marine safety regulations and for reckless endangerment of his craft and passengers.

Second, with regard to the Tiaoyutai issue, the accepted custom in international society in handling territorial disputes is to provisionally maintain the status quo until the time is ripe for the diplomatic or legal resolution and to absolutely prohibit the use of force.

Indeed, Tokyo and Taipei have already agreed to prohibit recreational fishing within 12 nautical miles of Tiaoyutai or in the delineated no-fishing zone in which fishing boats from either Taiwan or Japan are prohibited from engaging in fishing operations, an agreement with the “Lienho” transgressed.

In other words, Ma & Co. are displaying a bombastic lack of sophistication that forcibly reminds one of Beijing thirty years ago. While China and Japan already have mapped out a fishing agreement for disputed areas, showing maturity, Taipei simply ignores the agreements it has with Japan.

It’s worth saying again: the ship’s captain is not a hero. His behavior resulted in a collision, he was in violation of the 24 mile rule for recreational fishing boats, and he violated an existing agreement on fishing boundaries. He should be indicted, and have his license revoked. He won’t be, but it would be a nice precedent if he were. This is exactly the kind of unlicensed uncivil self-centered behavior we see all the time in Taiwan society, from illegal planting of betel and bamboo on restricted slopeland, to illegal harvesting of coral (in post below), to illegal parking and illegal trash burning. Only here its consequences are more than purely local.

But Taiwan News has the kicker:

We have difficulty in understanding why Ma is so eager to “set aside the sovereignty dispute” with a PRC regime that threatens Taiwan’s existence but is unwilling to “set aside” a dispute over the Tiaoyutai islets with a friendly northern neighbor.

Let’s hear it again about how sophisticated the KMT is compared to the DPP. Can anyone say “Diaoyutai”?

: The China Post is a crack up:

Taiwanese widely believe the incident was the result of a deliberate act of the Japanese vessel to sink the Lien Ho.

While condemning what they call was Japan’s outrageous act, the scholars nevertheless must still be rational and cautious in handling controversy.

Do Taiwanese “widely believe” that the Japanese did it on purpose? ROFL. The “scholars” in the article then go on to discuss whether the nation should be ready to go to war. What is this — the 15th century?

If they want a deliberate conspiracy, they should look closer to home: a Taiwanese fishing boat in violation of laws requiring it stay within 24 miles of home, nevertheless illegally fishes in an area known to be patrolled by Japanese craft, and then has a collision with a military vessel in which it turns in front of that vessel. And this event, perfect for nationalistic blowing up, happens just as important talks with China in which the nation’s sovereignty is damaged. Oh yeah, the boat’s name? Lian Ho, which could be translated as “united” or “unity.” Now that’s a conspiracy.

But of course, from my perspective, it looks like a fishing boat engaging in illicit (read: normal) behavior and panicking as the police showed up. Pretty much par for the course, no conspiracy required.

Maddog flipped me the links to Youtube videos here and here, both from CTI, the televised arm of the China Times, the pro-KMT newspaper.

UPDATE II: A friend flipped me this bit from the Kuomintang News Network (KNN):

In the early morning of June 16, Huang Hsi-ling, executive director of the Tiaoyutai Isles Defense League, led a 12-member group to sail towards the Tiaoyutai Isles under the protection of five ROC National Coast Guard cutters. Ignoring the obstruction of two Japanese frigates, the fleet entered waters roughly 0.4 miles off the Tiaoyutai Isles.

The Japanese Coast Guard also sent 8 frigates to surround the Taiwanese fleet. The civilian group from Taiwan had intended to climb onto Tiaoyutai Island, but the sea conditions rendered such a move too dangerous. The fleet reasserted sovereignty of the Republic of China over the Tiaoyutai Isles by sailing around it once, and then the fleet returned back to Taiwan. The entire event was completed without incident because both sides exercised self-restraint.

The ROC Coast Guard Administration also ordered that another 10 cutters and frigates standby to follow the fleet protecting the 12-member group to reassert ROC sovereignty over the Tiaoyutai Isles.

Let’s hear those words of Ma Ying-jeou in his inaugural address one more time:

At the same time, we are committed to cross-strait peace and regional stability. The Republic of China must restore its reputation in the international community as a peace-maker.

It’s a good thing they are committed to regional stability, eh?