Countries involved in the dispute over the islands and rich mineral resources in the South and East China Seas have chosen their own names for the land masses - to underscore their property rights.
In March 2012, the Japanese parliament named the previously nameless chain of 39 islands Senkaku. The People's Republic of China responded promptly with its own name, Diaoyo, for a total 70 islands in the region. The Republic of China (Taiwan) rejected Japan's names.
The case shows how the naming of islands can be used as a political tool. The naming - as well as older documents and maps - aims to prove that the opposing parties have never cared about the region and that there has always been a legitimate claim to the disputed islands.
The result is a plethora of names and terms that can cause confusion. DW provides insight into the conflicts, the names and the players.
East China Sea
The East China Sea, called Dong Hǎi (东海) in Chinese and Higashi Shina Kai (東シナ海) in Japanese, is located west of the Chinese mainland, north of South Korea, east of the southwestern part of Japan and south of Taiwan.
The East China Sea is home to the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyo Islands, which are called Diaoyu dǎo (钓鱼岛) in Chinese, Diaoyutai lièyǔ (钓鱼台 列 屿) in Taiwanese and Senkaku Shoto (尖 阁 诸) in Japanese. These are eight uninhabited islands and reefs. The largest island, which is 4.32 square kilometers, is about the size of the English Garden in Munich.
Liancourt Rocks/Dokdo Islands
The Liancourt Rocks, or Takeshima (たけしま) in Japanese and Dokdo (독도) in Korean, include two rocky islands and a group of smaller rocks. Both South Korea and Japan claim the islands. They were managed by Japan up to 1945 and by South Korea after 1953.
South China Sea
The South China Sea, known as Biển Đông (East Sea) in Vietnamese and Nan Hǎi (南海) in Chinese, is slightly larger than the Mediterranean Sea. It lies between China, the Indochinese and the Malay Peninsula and Taiwan. Neighboring countries are the People's Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan), the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. The South China Sea is home to numerous controversial archipelagos.
The Paracel Islands, called Xisha Qúndǎo (西沙群岛) in Chinese and Quần đảo Hoàng Sa in Vietnamese, are a group of small coral atolls, which are largely controlled by China. They consist of 22 islands and a series of sandbars and sunken atolls. The largest of the Paracel islands is the size of Monaco. Most of the others are smaller than a football field and some are partially submerged.
The Spratly Islands, or Nansha Qúndǎo (南沙群岛) in Chinese, Quần đảo Trường Sa in Vietnamese, Kapuluan ng Kalayaan in Filipino and Kepulauan Spratly in Malay, comprise more than 100 islands, atolls and shoals, stretching more than 1,000 kilometers. Control of the islands is divided up among Vietnam, China, Taiwan, the Philippines and Malaysia. Currently, Taiwan operates a military base with about 600 soldiers and an airstrip on the largest of the Spratly Islands.
The Scarborough Reef, known as Huangyan Dǎo (黄岩 岛) in Chinese and Kulumpol Panatag ng in Filipino, is a largely sunken atoll off the coast of the Philippines. It covers an area of 150 square kilometers, which is slightly smaller than Lichtenstein.