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Polis Report

Peace of the Rock

By Ami Chen Mills

Unbeknownst to most South Bay dwellers, the Chinese community here has undergone a transformation. Immigrants from Hong Kong, China and Taiwan--who normally can't sit together in a room without arguing about communism or the relationship between the People's Republic of China and Hong Kong--have joined against what they see as a common enemy: the Japanese military.

This unity springs from recent Japanese maneuvers to claim an archipelago in the Pacific, 120 miles from Taiwan. The islands, called the Diaoyutai by Chinese, are a smattering of barren rocks upon which the occasional Chinese fisherman makes camp. But the Diaoyutai cap hidden stores of oil beneath the ocean floor--and the dispute between the Japanese and Chinese over who owns them dates back to 1895.

In September, 20,000 Chinese carrying flags of Taiwan and China marched in San Francisco. As one speaker said there, "If we can come together, there is hope for China." Anger toward Japan has roots in the invasion of China before and during World War II--what Chinese activists call the "other holocaust."

Since the Japanese painted their flag on rocks on the Diaoyutai, Hong Kong nationals have been sneaking past Japanese boats to plant Chinese flags. One man drowned during attempts.

Local Chinese follow almost daily headlines in Chinese papers such as the World Journal and the Santa Clara­based Sing Tao Daily. Even NHK, the Japanese television network which captured George Bush barfing on camera, was in Cupertino last week interviewing Ignatius Ding, spokesperson for the Diaoyutai Defense Coalition of Northern California. Although the island chain is small and seemingly insignificant to the rest of the world, its status is a burning passion for Chinese here--and everywhere.

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From the November 27-December 4, 1996 issue of Metro

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