Thursday, October 03, 2013

Taiwan the Complicated -- Wrong

Vendors near Mingchuan Station.

This week on Facebook, for some reason people were passing around this completely wrong presentation of Taiwan' status over at Ilha Formosa called Taiwan the Complicated. It's actually a totally pro-KMT view and is a good way to see how people on the pro-China team create a propaganda construct and call it history. Note the opening:
So first thing first, is Taiwan part of China?

That would actually depend on which “China” you are referring to.

Taiwan was occupied by the Dutch (1624-1662) and Spanish (1626-1642) in the 17th century. The Dutch drove the Spanish out of the island in 1642, yet was defeated in 1662 by Koxinga, a remaining general of Ming Dynasty after it was overthrown by the Qing Dynasty. In 1683, the Qing Dynasty defeated the army in rebellion in Taiwan and formally annexed Taiwan in 1684 into the Qing Empire as part of the Fujian province 福建省. Taiwan was upgraded to the status of province in 1885.
There's a minor error; Taiwan became a province of the Qing in 1886, not 1885. The major problem is the answer --actually, it doesn't depend on which China you are referring to; it doesn't belong to either the ROC or the PRC (red text is mine, not Ilha's).

Now look at his next couple of paragraphs:
In 1895, the Qing Empire lost the First Sino-Japanese War and signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ceded Taiwan, the Pescadores, and the eastern portion of the bay of Liaodong Peninsula to the Japanese Empire.
In 1912, the Nationalists overthrew the Qing Dynasty and established theRepublic of China 中華民國 (ROC) with its capital in Nanjing (but moved to Beijing within one year of establishment, and back to Nanjing in 1928). Taiwan and the Pescadores were still colonies of the Japanese Empire at that time.(emphasis Ilha's).
Take a careful look.... what's missing... think... think... yes, that's right. In 1895, after the Manchus ceded Taiwan but before Japan had invaded, the government of Taiwan declared independence. This was a sham declaration but that is not important here. It is almost always left out of pro-China versions of Taiwan history, because one of the claims/arguments of the pro-China crowd is that Taiwan, since it was liberated from Japan, should revert to its former status. Of course, the last status it had was that of an independent state, which was crushed by the Japanese army (Chen and Reisman argue in Who Owns Taiwan: the Search for an International Title that the independence declaration probably impairs any Chinese claim of chain of ownership). Also, of course, even the mere idea of independence is a bad example, the pro-China side thinks. Best not to mention it.

But moving on, we come to bog-standard claims of the pro-China crowd, tell-tale fingerprints of Chinese propaganda, deliberate distortions of the facts of history. Here are the next four paragraphs as they currently stand:
In the Cairo Conference in 1943 held during WWII, one of the three main clauses of the Cairo Declaration was that “all the territories Japan has stolen from China, including Manchuria, Taiwan and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.”
On October 25th, 1945, when the commander-in-chief of Japanese forces on the island signed an instrument of surrender to the Allies in Taipei, the clause was accepted by the Japanese, and Taiwan and its nearby islands were returned under the rule of the ROC.
In 1949, when the Nationalists lost the civil war and retreated to Taiwan, the Communists established the People’s Republic of China 中華人民共和國 (PRC) with its capital in Beijing.
Beginning January 1st, 2013, the Republic of China 中華民國, now on the islands of Taiwan 臺灣, the Penghu islands 澎湖, Kinmen 金門, and Matsu 馬祖, is now officially in its 102nd year of establishment (1912-1945 occupying mainland China, 1945-1949 occupying both mainland China and Taiwan, 1949-present occupying Taiwan).  The people of Taiwan now enjoy a life of prosperity, democracy, and freedom (emphasis Ilha's).
Anytime you read that the Cairo Declaration justifies ROC control of Taiwan, you are reading propaganda. It does not. I explain why in detail here, but the reasons are simple:
  1. Cairo was a wartime agreement between powers, a temporary expedient about what they might do later, subject to change. It has no force in international law.
  2. Even by the standards of the day, territory cannot be handed from one nation to another without the consent of its people. 
  3. None of the powers who drafted Cairo owned Taiwan. Therefore none of them can dispose of the island. And see 2 again.
The US position on Cairo is quite clear and is given in that post above, Cairo was a temporary non-binding agreement subject to revisions in the postwar treaty negotiations. And that is exactly what happened when everyone sat down to talk about who was going to get what in 1951.

If you read Ilha Formosa's presentation you soon note that he claims that...
...the clause was accepted by the Japanese, and Taiwan and its nearby islands were returned under the rule of the ROC.
Both these claims are nonsensical. Japan did not accept the Cairo clause and anyone who has studied the matter knows that Japan retained formal sovereignty until 1952 when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect. The ROC occupied Taiwan as the occupying power under the authority of the wartime allies. It was not getting territory "returned" since it had never owned Taiwan and it did not receive Taiwan from Japan. ROC politicians knew this perfectly well. Consider that after the ROC reps signed the Treaty of Taipei, Minister of Foreign Affairs George Kung-ch'ao Yeh (葉公超) reported to the Legislative Yuan thus:
"The delicate international situation makes it that they [Taiwan and Penghu] do not belong to us. Under present circumstances, Japan has no right to transfer [Taiwan] to us; nor can we accept such a transfer from Japan even if she so wishes." 
Anyone who claims that Japan "returned" Taiwan to the ROC in 1945 is either lying or hasn't done his homework. It's really that simple.

But there is worse yet to come. Go back and see that the presentation jumps immediate from 1949 to the present. As always, the trick is seeing what isn't there.... the San Francisco Peace Treaty, the postwar treaty that determined who got what. Yup, Ilha simply omits it. Neither government of China was permitted to attend. Japan gave up sovereignty over Taiwan, but no recipient was named. Hence, the US position is that the status of Taiwan is undetermined, as readers of this blog are aware, and that is the position of Japan and many other nations. The Treaty of Taipei, which is the peace treaty between Japan and the ROC, is subordinate to the SF Peace Treaty and also does not name the ROC as the recipient of Taiwan's sovereignty. No document with force under international law assigns the sovereignty of Taiwan to the ROC or the PRC.

It's really simple: If you discuss the status of Taiwan and don't discuss the San Francisco Peace Treaty, you're writing propaganda. Further, the claim that Japan returned Taiwan to China is a lie of ROC propagandists, which for whatever reason Ilha Formosa repeats.

There are many other problems with Ilha Formosa's presentation and with the ROC claims in general, but for the sake of space I'll omit them and direct the reader to the Wiki page where they are listed at the bottom. Reader takeaway: if you see the claim that ROC has sovereignty over Taiwan because of Cairo, then you are reading pro-China propaganda. The island of Taiwan belongs to the people of Taiwan, who should have the say about who has sovereignty. Period.
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14 comments:

Nacho Pepe said...

I don't agree with Ilha Formosa and it smelled fishy from a start, your post is most welcome and eye-opening.

There are just a few points I don't see here.
How can a "independence declaration probably impair" any sovereignty claim over anything? A declaration made by whom? Having consulted the population at all? Recognized by which international community?
If I was the sole inhabitant of a Greek Island (which I also owned) in the Caspian, that would not entitle me to declare any independence from the Greek State. Legally a territory doesn't belong to its inhabitants, but to the Sovereign State which rules over it. And States actually only exist as long as they are recognized by other Sovereign States. That (and violence) is what it all comes to in the end.
So is there any other reason why "the last status it had was that of an independent state" before the Japanese? Otherwise I am afraid I will have to dissent on your, in my opinion, not less biased analysis than that of Ilha Formosa, no matter if right on the opposite side.
Seriously I don't understand why some foreigners take passion for a place they stay to supporting some political views inside of it with a passion that betrays the neutrality we ought to be able to have.
If it is all about history and rights here, I say the only thing I could support is kicking all Han people out of the damn place so they stop wasting the beauty of this paradise with their sick parody of progress and just let the previous "natives" stay who at least have much less tendency to behave like a plague on the land.
Note that I also don't want Spanish, Dutch or Portuguese back here, not saying their (our) "civilization" was any better.

Tim Maddog said...

Great to see your takedown, Michael! When a Twitter user (similarly-named, but unrelated to the "Complicated" post's author) brought that post to my attention and asked if I thought it was "accurate," I could only respond "No. Too many mistakes to point out. Please refer to my previous (and next) 43,365 Tweets."

Some details of your own excellent response could still be tweaked a bit.

Referring to the first blockquoted section, you wrote:
- - -
There's a minor error; Taiwan became a province of the Qing in 1886, not 1885.
- - -

As my next link will show, there's even more missing from the author's claims (as well as the claims of most others who write about the subject).

You subsequently touched upon part of this, but even at that relatively-late date, the Manchu-ruled (foreign, that is — even from the Han Chinese POV) Qing Dynasty's presence was limited to only about half of Taiwan.

Also… your last paragraph. Taiwan is not just an "island" — it's a multi-island nation. Repeating the "island" meme — even for "variety" does harm to Taiwan's status, especially in the midst of this kind of discussion. I beg you (Pài-thok ê~!) to stop describing Taiwan as "the/an island." Think of the children (of Penghu, Lanyu, and Green Island)!

But getting back to the "Taiwan the Complicated" post, did you notice this? It contains the text (which you also quoted): "Beginning January 1st, 2013, the Republic of China […] is…"

Using "is" (instead of "will be") makes it look like the post was written in 2013, doesn't it? I wonder, then, why the date on the first comment there is "September 11, 2011 at 4:04 am."

Tim Maddog

Anonymous said...

Without the ROC, Japan would have ceded Taiwan to the PRC. It's what the British wanted but was over-ruled by the Americans who favored the ROC. Without the ROC, the Americans would have no leg to stand on and the British would have gotten their way.

Michael Carl said...

I'm currently reading Rubenstein's "Taiwan, A New History". I agree that your comments are accurate, but they do not cover the full subject area. This issue is complex. Taiwan's major population is Han Chinese and has generally been controlled by Chinese since at least the late Ming Dynasty (less Japanese control). And don't forget that the KMT considered themselves not only the rightful government of the Province of Taiwan, but also all the various provinces across the mainland. My in-laws in Taiwan also see themselves as independent--but that is going to be a real tough case to make in a world court.

Anonymous said...

Words such as, "occupation", "mainland", "return" are deliberate twists of phrase to put a Chinese nationalist slant on the article. Moreover, the upgrade of Cheng Cheng-gong from being a militarized anti-Manchu sea trader to Ming General or somehow representative of the Ming throne is often overstated to lengthen Taiwan's ties with a Chinese empire... of the type Sun Yat-sen was keen to abolish.

Michael Turton said...

Taiwan's major population is Han Chinese and has generally been controlled by Chinese since at least the late Ming Dynasty (less Japanese control).

No, Taiwan's west and NE were under control of the Manchus and settled by Han settlers. The southern tip and east remained aboriginal until the Japanese era. No ethnic Chinese emperor ever controlled Taiwan. In the late Ming Taiwan was a Dutch colony. It has only been a Chinese-run territory since 1945.

Michael

Michael Turton said...

Great to see your takedown, Michael! When a Twitter user (similarly-named, but unrelated to the "Complicated" post's author) brought that post to my attention and asked if I thought it was "accurate," I could only respond "No. Too many mistakes to point out. Please refer to my previous (and next) 43,365 Tweets."

Hahaha. There's so much you can say, but I just wanted the post to stay on point and not sprawl. I still have to rip Trefor Moss' incompetent presentation on the Senkakus tonight. And round up the incredibly rebounding MaWang stupidity. Still stunned at home stupid Ma was.

Michael

Anonymous said...

Michael Carl,

One problem with ethnic nation states is that they are doomed. Somehow the mythology of a Han Chinese ethnicity is allowed by the West in imagining a Chinese state, but denied elsewhere. In cases where ethnic nationalism has been attempted, the political actors continue to divide and subdivide into pluralities, making ethnicity a very poor marker for any lasting political unity.

Even the idea of an ethnic Han Chinese is an untenable exercise in constructivism. Several recent studies have assailed the Chinese nationalist concept of a monolithic Han Chineseness. These are terms that have often been applied to people who otherwise would seem completely dissimilar sans the fact they were never labelled "non-han" or "Minzu" by some state or another. Aside from the culture of Sinitic languages, the ideas of Han as a single people and therefore mandating statehood under China is a weak argument in the least and fails to account for the vast plurality in China, Taiwan and everywhere else.

Moreover, the idea of ethnicity is also a slippery slope. At its best, it could be defined as shared social codes. These social codes are continually in a state of flux and renegotiation making ethnic drift inevitable. This ethnic shift is markedly shaped by the group's and the individual's contact with the state. In Taiwan's case, an individual's contact with the state is based upon the shifting ideals of the ROC, which has taken a markedly different trajectory than the PRC or any other state and therefore trod differing paths for an individual or group's social, political and economic mobility.

There is no Chinese race. No Chinese blood. No common Chinese anything... unless the state is introduced.

Michael Turton said...

Seriously I don't understand why some foreigners take passion for a place they stay to supporting some political views inside of it with a passion that betrays the neutrality we ought to be able to have.

I don't believe there is a neutral position between democracy and its enemies. And I don't think neutrality is a useful position to anyone. Especially since I have children and a wife who are citizens.

So is there any other reason why "the last status it had was that of an independent state" before the Japanese? Otherwise I am afraid I will have to dissent on your, in my opinion, not less biased analysis than that of Ilha Formosa, no matter if right on the opposite side

You can explain this, if you don't think it was really an independent state. But if you are discussing the status of Taiwan, you have to at least present that information and explain why it may be wrong and why you support the authoritarian, colonialist side. I left it up to the reader to make that determination.


Without the ROC, Japan would have ceded Taiwan to the PRC. It's what the British wanted but was over-ruled by the Americans who favored the ROC. Without the ROC, the Americans would have no leg to stand on and the British would have gotten their way.

We're lucky then, aren't we.

Michael

John Scott said...

reply to Michael Carl:

"..And don't forget that the KMT considered themselves not only the rightful government of the Province of Taiwan, but also all the various provinces across the mainland. .."

What territories or parts of China the KMT considered it had a right to rule over during the post-war period is hardly relevant to the right of self-determination of the people of Taiwan. Until the DPP-led democratic reforms of the 1990s, the KMT was a brutal and authoritarian one-party state.

How can you base any rational argument on what the KMT considered it had a right to do, when we know from historical record that the KMT and its allies also considered they had the right to spend the first years of their takeover of Taiwan robbing and murdering 1000s of Taiwanese.

Your Mikado said...

If Japan retained ownership of Taiwan after 1945 and only surrendered it to some unknown entity in 1952, why did Japan turn over all state owned enterprises (eg. Bank of Taiwan, Tobacco & Alc Monopoly Bureau, Taipei Imperial University, etc) to the ROC in 1945? The 228 incident was allegedly started by an agent of Japan's Monopoly Bureau that was turned over to the ROC in 1945. If Japan did not turn over sovereignty to the ROC, then the 228 incident was started by Japan because the incident was allegedly starated by Monopoly Bureau agents.

Michael Turton said...

For the same reason that german state entities wereturned overto the allies-

Anonymous said...

Mikado please....

Japan didn't turn over, they couldn't take the property with them back to Japan.

while we are at the subject of confiscated Japanese property.. ,,,,

Do you agree those properties and wealth belong to the People of Taiwan, or better yet belongs to the citizen of ROC.

or belongs to KMT alone.

(the reality and FACTS, KMT took them)

republicofformosa77 said...

It`s offensive and insulting that a pro-KMT person named himself `Ilha Formosa`. Those pro-China people are like in a cult religion group. They won`t wake up from illusion that they are living in. It`s time to have real textbook in Taiwan`s public schools to teach `Taiwan`s history` instead of `Knowing Taiwan` ( it`s like foreigners` mind to learn some other country`s history).
There is a misunderstanding among many people about ethnicity of Taiwanese. We are not Han. Although there is a proverb goes ``Having Teng Shua Kon ( in Taiwanese language means China grandpa) , but no Teng Shua Ma ( means China grandma)``, it does not mean we have half Han blood. We don`t have Han gene at all. We Taiwanese are mixed ethnic group of Malay-Polynesian and ancient Vietnamese. That proverb reflects that those settlers from Southern China went to Taiwan alone and settled down with local Malay-Polynesian natives. Taiwanese are mixed. As for those people from Southern China, they are not pure Han or not even Han. Ancient South China consisted so many ethnic groups that are not Han. Some were ancient Thai, ancient Vietnamese ( who are ancestors of current Vietnamese), and so on. Thing is China`s history is also twisted by Communist Chinese government. They team up with R.O.C. ( aka KMT) to twist Taiwan`s history in order to keep occupy it ( for R.O.C.) and attempt to own it ( for five star China). That is the only reason complex the situation. If people have correct knowledge and understanding about Taiwan`s history and international law status, it is actually pretty straightforward and it`s not complicated at all.
Taiwan already had civilization(such as Bi Nam Bun Hua``卑南文化``) prior to Malay-Polynesians arrived Taiwan and way prior Portuguese discovered Taiwan. So, actually Taiwan`s history is more than one thousand years instead of 400 years. Common ignorance from Chinese(not only China Chinese but also all Chinese descent like Chinese-Singaporean, Chinese descent in Taiwan aka Ua Shien Lan,etc.) is that native Malay-Polynesians were wiped out by so called Han settlers(again, genetically they are not Han) like European settlers wiped out native Americans. That is totally lie. Malay-Polynesians population is not distinguished at all. Rather, it was those settlers blended into Malay-Polynesian society. In fact, you can see a lot of social customs in Taiwan are inherited from Malay-Polynesian social customs.
Also, those KMT cult believers say Qing empire owned Taiwan for 212 years and ROC is inherited from Qing, so ROC owns Taiwan. I think people can figure the lie here, so I am not going to talk about it here. Qing is not really `owned` Taiwan based on facts that they strictly set up rules for their people to go to Taiwan. Also, there`s a saying goes `One small riot in three year and one big riot in five year` reflect Qing government`s mindset toward Taiwan that they think it is unmanageable and it is merely a `wasteland` where people cannot live. That is the main reason they easily gave it up to Empire Japan. Yet, those Chinese argue `Japan stole Taiwan from China` is completely non-sense.
There is only fact regarding status of Taiwan in terms of international law. As people may already know, status of Taiwan have been undetermined since Japan abandoned colony Taiwan. ROC`s owning Taiwan is purely based on Douglas McArthur`s General order number 1. That is the FACT!
After all, key is on we Taiwanese people. More and more people should `wake up` from brainwash ( by ROC`s make-up propaganda). More people should argue from internation law point of view to crack down China(both ROC and PROC) propaganda about Taiwan and international society will be noticing it. I only know few people have been actively lobbying Taiwan`s undetermined international law status to the world, primary to US government because apparently they are responsible for what current Taiwan has become in terms of international law point of view.