Diaoyu, Senkaku, Moesia and Eastern Rumelia

Diaoyu or Senkaku island group, East China Sea

Disputed oriental islands provoke western interference

Bulgaria is on vacation! Thursday’s public holiday to celebrate 127 years since Unification means that we are now enjoying a 4-day holiday. It’s estimated that over 85,000 Bulgarians will travel abroad during this long weekend, while 280,000 will enjoy their days off within Bulgaria.

Distant dispute over islands

Meanwhile, my favourite American lady, Madam Clinton, has been on her own little trip: to China. What was the purpose of her visit, probably her last foreign mission during the current US administration?

Uncle Sam has become concerned with ongoing rows over territory, principally the stand-off between China and Japan concerning a group of small islands in the East China Sea, over which both countries claim sovereignty.

The islands in question are a small archipelago of 5 islets. The Japanese call them Senkaku, while the Chinese refer to them as Diaoyu. Japan unilaterally annexed them in 1895. For decades, they have been family-owned, and the Japanese government has been negotiating to buy them from the owners, thereby effectively nationalising them.

Diaoyu or Senkaku islands location

East China Sea

So why is Clinton involved in a bilateral dispute? Although she held extensive talks earlier this week with senior Chinese officials, she was noticeably snubbed by Chinese President-in-waiting Xi Jinping. At the last moment, he cancelled his scheduled meeting with the US Secretary of State, citing back problems (!).

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Wouldn’t you find a last-minute excuse, too?

Yet again, we see the US colossus interfering in other countries’ business. According to Clinton, the US does not take a position on competing territorial claims. “Our interest is in the maintenance of peace and stability, respect for international law, freedom of navigation and unimpeded lawful commerce,” she said in her mealy-mouthed, holier-than-thou, rasping way.

Is it remotely possible that the truth, as ever, lies elsewhere? A UN report published in the early 70s just happened to mention that the disputed area was extremely rich in oil supplies.

Fait accompli

Today, it’s reported that the Japanese government has succeeded in buying the islands for $26 million. There’s not so much official comment yet, but the Japanese say there will be no development on the island chain. We’ll see!

China has reacted with predictable anger. Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “For them [Japan] to nationalise the Diaoyu islands seriously violates China’s sovereignty and hurts the Chinese people’s feelings. I stress again that any of their unilateral acts with the Diaoyu islands are illegal and invalid.”[1]

This story is definitely not over, yet.

What’s all this to do with Bulgaria?

As I mentioned above, Bulgaria is celebrating the 1885 Unification of the Principality of Bulgaria and Eastern Rumelia. I’ve spent some productive (and very confusing) hours in reading more about this unification, and what led to this event being so close to Bulgarians’ hearts even today.

The turbulent events that led to the breaking of the yoke of the Ottoman Empire, the actions and international treaties that followed in the region, the unilateral declaration of Bulgarian Unification and its consequences – behind them all lies the malign influence of major powers of that time, especially Britain.

As the old saying has it: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”.

Unification of Bulgaria

In my next post, I’ll try to share some of the fascinating historical and political facts I’ve come across concerning the Unification of Bulgaria. It won’t (and – from me – can’t) be a long, tediously boring history lesson – this is definitely so complex, it’s best left to the experts!

Simple questions: for example, what was Moesia? Why Eastern Rumelia – is there a Western Rumelia? Where was the Republic of Tamrash, and what happened there? Where does the Treaty of Craiova fit in?

Watch this space…

[1]: Daily Mail

Further reading on the East China Sea islands:

[2]: Daily Telegraph

[3]: VOAnews

[4]: IBN Live

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