Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
July 28, 2015

McCain Angers China Over Disputed Islands

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Comments made by Sen. John McCain in Japan Wednesday have drawn a rebuke from the Chinese government.

During a news conference Wednesday, the globe-trotting Arizona Republican called a collection of small islands in the East China Sea that Japan refers to as the Senkaku Islands “Japanese territory.”

“The Congress in the United States resolution last year said the [Senkakus are] Japanese territory. That is our position as a Congress and as a government. I will continue to repeat that when I go to China,” McCain said, according to the Japan Times.

The territory is disputed between Japan and China, and McCain’s comments drew criticism from the Chinese government. China refers to the same area as the Diaoyu Islands.

“We urge the U.S. lawmaker to stop making irresponsible remarks and avoid further complicating related issues and the regional situation,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told the state-owned China Daily.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Thursday that the official U.S. position remains the same, avoiding a specific stance on the territorial dispute.

“I don’t have anything specific on his remarks, other than to just reiterate that our policy on the Senkaku Islands is longstanding and has not changed,” Psaki said. “The United States does not take a position on the underlying question of the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, and that remains the U.S. government position.”

Shortly before the August recess, the Senate adopted a resolution offered by Foreign Relations Chairman Robert Menendez, D-N.J., that said in part:

Whereas although the United States does not take a position on the ultimate sovereignty of the Senkaku Islands, the United States Government acknowledges that they are under the administration of Japan and opposes any unilateral actions that would seek to undermine such administration, affirms that the unilateral actions of a third party will not affect the United States acknowledgment of the administration of Japan over the Senkaku Islands, remains committed under the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security to respond to any armed attack in the territories under the administration of Japan, and has urged all parties to take steps to prevent incidents and manage disagreements through peaceful means.

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  1. Phelps

    Aug. 23, 2013
    11:15 a.m.

    I’m sure McCain would acknowledge their assertion with a high five except that he CAN’T because of what was done to him by Chinese officers in a Vietnam prison camp.

  2. Dustin

    Aug. 23, 2013
    12:47 p.m.

    I’m not a fan of John Mccain, but he is correct in this case. These islands have been Japanese for a long time. They are governed by Japan today. China’s anger notwithstanding. Of course, China has tremendous control over US policy because we borrow so much money from them, so if John Mccain is serious he should act like a conservative and demand a balanced budget. The USA is a very rich country and we need to figure out a way to pay for our government without a trillion dollars of debt every year.

  3. jb willikers

    Aug. 23, 2013
    1:59 p.m.

    About 1 time in 20 McCain’s one track idiocy is right, in the same way that a stopped clock is right twice a day.

  4. Joe

    Aug. 23, 2013
    3:07 p.m.

    Jet-setting senator McCain and his senate colleagues need to stop frivolously traveling the world on taxpayer money and passing symbolic resolutions about the domestic affairs of other nations because he and his fellow travelers of the Ruling Class have got a world of problems right here in the USA that they are responsible for and need to fix ASAP.

  5. boinkie

    Aug. 23, 2013
    3:29 p.m.

    China is not only moving against Japan: They are also threatening India and those of us in SE Asia, while the US sits back and says “Duh”…China is claiming land if ever any Chinese government owned it…These are only “Chinese” lands if you acknowledge ancient land claims: it would be like allowing New York City be taken over by the Netherlands, and Canada by France, or Labrador by Norway…

    Here in the Philippines, we are buying boats because we figure that Obama will let China grab our fishing grounds (and potential oil fields) within what is legally our economic zone, Ditto for Viet Nam, who has just joined with India to exploit their oil fields despite China’s threats (and since China once “owned” all of Viet Nam, they are most aware of the danger)… McCain knows this: remember, he is the one who helped normalize US/Vietnam relations for Bill Clinton.

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    Aug. 24, 2013
    7:11 p.m.

    John McCain is a sick warmonger, and everyone in this country thinks that he’s a sick joke! That’s what China should be told. John McCain is no longer a state of AZ joke, nor a national joke, McCain has become an international joke.

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