“I’m an American by birth, and a Taiwanese and a Chinese by blood. This blood is ideological. For me, and for the long dead philosopher Bishop Berkeley, to be is to be perceived.”
Following three groups of nationalists from China, Taiwan, and Japan, Terra Nullius or: How to be a Nationalist focuses on the geopolitical issues surrounding the disputed islands known in Japanese as “Senkaku,” in Chinese as “Diaoyutai” or “Diaoyudao,” and in English as the “Pinnacle Islands,” and the filmmaker’s attempts to set foot upon them. Claimed by Japan, China, and Taiwan, these minor, remote, and uninhabited islands, only approximately 7 square kilometers in size, are located roughly 170 kilometers northeast of Taiwan, 330 kilometers east of China, and 170 kilometers northwest of the westernmost tip of the Japanese Ryukyu Islands.
After WWII, the islands were administered by the US government as part of its occupation of Okinawa. Currently the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands are controlled by Japan, which received administration rights in 1971 from the United States.