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?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).
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.
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.”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:
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).
- 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.
- Even by the standards of the day, territory cannot be handed from one nation to another without the consent of its people.
- None of the powers who drafted Cairo owned Taiwan. Therefore none of them can dispose of the island. And see 2 again.
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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