Chi Manjiao

Publication Date

Fall 2011

Document Type


First Page



The sovereignty dispute over the Diaoyu Islands between China and Japan is a sensitive issue touching upon various aspects of international law. One of the major claims of both countries is whether the Islands have been ceded to Japan, and if so, have they been reverted to China. Since cession and reversion were completed through a series of treaties, this paper explores the dispute by evaluating treaty law. The paper first outlines three sovereignty claims over the Islands and then provides a chronological review of the pertinent treaties. It then discusses the non-applicability contention and the treaty interpretation contention, two interpretations popular among mainland Chinese scholars. The article concludes that treaty law cannot provide a satisfactory solution to the dispute and suggests that both countries should resort to other international laws of territorial acquisition and strive for more innovative political solutions.

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