The other day JapanFocus posted another in the seemingly endless examples of Lefties forwarding the claims, language, and ideology of imperialism and expansionism -- apparently, so long as it is non-western imperialism, it is ok. This is Lin Man-houng's awful Taiwan and the Ryukyus (Okinawa) in Asia-Pacific Multilateral Relations – a Long-term Historical Perspective on Territorial Claims and Conflicts (アジア太平洋地域の多国間関係における台湾と琉球諸島（沖縄）領土権主張や紛争を長期的視野でとらえる), a turd so vast that, properly composted, it could fertilize California for a year. Ordinarily I'd just give this laugher a nod on my way by, but it contains new propaganda points that allow me to pass along some useful links and discussion. Onward and downward...
Early on, Lin observes:
Both areas [Taiwan and Ryukyus] were at one time central to the trading hub in East Asian waters (14th~17th Century): As the Ryukyus became the “Bridge to various countries” including China, Japan, Korea and South East Asia, it entered its “Golden Age” during the 14th~17th Century (Lin 2006b). In contrast, despite frequent trade between China and the South Seas during the 13th and 14th centuries, there were few contacts between China and Taiwan at this time. But between 1540 and 1700, the East Asian sea route became vibrant with trade pivoting on Japanese silver, Chinese silk and other commodities. At this time, three quarters of the silver China needed for its silver-based currency came from western Japan. Yet this vibrant trade was not conducted directly. Just as Hong Kong was a third party terminal for Taiwan and mainland China between 1988 and 2008, Korea, Hanoi, Macau, the Ryukyus and Taiwan were all important sites for this Japan-China silver-silk trade. (Lin 2006a: Chapter 1)I've bolded several of her claims. For those of you for whom these claims will be new (i.e., everyone not the author), you will probably nod when you realize that Lin has in fact cited herself for this set of claims.
At the time, Taiwan had no substantial political organization or formal ties with the Chinese government, so Zheng Zhilong, the Fujian sea-trade businessman, followed by the Dutch, the Spanish and then the family of Zheng Chenggong, successively established trading entrepots on this island. The Zheng family’s wealth, rooted in Japanese silver, was an important means for establishing political power in Taiwan. With the Chinese silk—Japanese silver trade as the core, other goods from Europe, South East Asia, Japan, mainland China, and elsewhere were also traded in Taiwan, making it an Asia-Pacific commercial centre. This was also why in the 17th Century, Chinese people flocked to Taiwan, and from a minority group eventually became the majority population on Taiwan. However, by the second half of the 17th Century, Japan restricted silver to its domestic use. The result was that the Sino-Japanese silk and silver trade declined, and the Ryukyu kingdom also entered a period of decline. From 1609, while paying tribute to the Qing Dynasty, the Ryukyus also paid tribute to Japan, and the Qing replaced the Zheng family in ruling Taiwan between 1683 and 1895 (Lin 2006c).
Observe the second paragraph's first sentence with its telltale assumptive claims:
At the time, Taiwan had no substantial political organization or formal ties with the Chinese government,Why should it have formal ties with the Chinese government? And the aborigines had substantial political organizations, they just were not of the nature that the Chinese recognized, then or today. Next she says:
...Zheng Zhilong, the Fujian sea-trade businessman, followed by the Dutch, the Spanish and then the family of Zheng Chenggong, successively established trading entrepots on this islandZheng was a pirate/trader, of course. Where does this claim come from? If you're feeling the tingle of right-wing Chinese expansionist propaganda because the Zhengs are conveniently re-located to the period before the Europeans, congrats, your spidey sense is dead-on. Tonio Andrade's excellent and eminently sensible How Taiwan Became Chinese is available for free on Gutenberg (note, I said FREE. Read it.). He writes in Chapter 6...read it most carefully:
Perhaps there were other Chinese organizations that sponsored Chinese colonization. Yang Yanjie, a historian from mainland China, argues that the pirates Yan Siqi and Zheng Zhilong established "political authority" (政權) on Taiwan before the arrival of the Dutch.11 His aim is to show that Chinese claims to Taiwan predate the Dutch, and he overstates his case (he also, perhaps intentionally, conflates Taiwan with the Penghu Islands, using the anachronistic term Tai-Peng, 台澎), but he does make an important point: Chinese pirate-merchant organizations may have contributed to the sinification of Taiwan. Still, it is difficult to determine the extent of the colonial involvement that these organizations had on Taiwan, because our evidence is scanty and indirect.8Reality: the claim that Zheng preceded the Dutch and Spanish is Chinese expansionist nonsense, deliberately constructed to create the false view that the Chinese were there first. An oft-overlooked aspect of this move is that it ignores prior aboriginal claims to Taiwan. Other scholars have also dismissed the (Chinese nationalist) claim that there were many Chinese on Taiwan before the Dutch, see also John Shepard's superb Statecraft and Political Economy on the Taiwan Frontier, 1600 to 1800 for an accounting.
For example, we know next to nothing about Yan Siqi. As we have seen, he did use Taiwan as a base before the Dutch arrived, and his organization is said to have been large and well structured, with ten "stockades" (寨), scores of ships, and hundreds of men, hierarchically organized.12 Did his people build actual stockades on Taiwan? If so, they were not in evidence when the Dutch arrived, and Chinese fortifications would have attracted Dutch mention in the voluminous and verbose records of the Dutch East India Company. More likely, his men lived among aborigines or in temporary camps near moored vessels. For the first twenty years of Dutch rule, the company struggled against Chinese "smuggling" organizations north of the Bay of Tayouan. It is possible that they were related to or descended from Yan Siqi. But there is no evidence of dedicated Chinese settlements in these areas, and the extent to which Yan Siqi encouraged colonization must remain in doubt.
We know far more about Zheng Zhilong, who, as we have seen, cruised the Taiwan straits under the Dutch flag. He likely had contacts with Chinese sojourners in the Bay of Tayouan and the deer- and pirate-rich areas northward, but the more interesting evidence for his role in Taiwan's colonization comes after he became a Chinese official in 1628. Chinese sources indicate that, during a severe drought in Fujian Province, he had a conversation with officials in Fujian and suggested moving drought victims to Taiwan, providing "for each person three taels of silver and for each three people one ox."13 This is a fascinating idea, but there seems to be no evidence that the plan was actually carried out. Until more sources are found, we must be careful not to overstate the role merchant-pirate organizations played in Taiwan's colonization. In any case, would-be settlers needed more stability and security than pirates probably would (or could) provide.
Where Lin got the idea that there was some kind of massive silver trade bringing Chinese thronging into Taiwan I have no idea, but Andrade has a thorough discussion of Chinese colonization in the book (well worth reading, accessible and erudite). His Conclusion summarizes how Chinese settlers under Dutch administration carried out colonization and trade, and the Spanish pursued similar policies. Japanese traders could be found on Formosa in those days, until 1635, when the ruler of Japan issued edicts against leaving Japan and closed the ports in 1639, freeing the Dutch from Japanese competition. The silver trade fell off after that time because its value eroded on the world markets and other reasons (see this fascinating overview paper). Though the Dutch used the port of Taoyuan/Tainan as a transshipment point for goods from China going to Japan sold by the Dutch for Japanese silver, Taiwan was not any major part of this flow of wealth from the silver mines of Japan and Mexico. The trade in silver for Chinese luxury goods went directly and illegally between Japan and China, as well as through Portuguese Macau and the central Vietnam port of Hoi-an. The Spanish silver trade flowed through Manila (the "almighty dollar" originally was the Spanish silver dollar). While there was trade, Taiwan could hardly be described as an Asia-Pacific commercial center. Note that Lin's pro-China presentation studiously avoids saying that Taiwan was a Dutch colony during this period. Inconvenient facts? Evanesco!
I should add that one reason Chinese settlement fell off after 1670 because the fighting between Ming and Qing died off and people who had fled that now sought to return. Not because the massive trade of the "Asia-Pacific Commercial Center" fell off.
In sections 2 and 3 Lin subtly forwards another common Chinese expansionist claim, that Japan incorporated Okinawa in 1879. The Ryukyu kingdom actually became a vassal state of the southern Japanese kingdom of Satsuma in 1609 (Wiki). Lin repositions this as "From 1609, while paying tribute to the Qing Dynasty, the Ryukyus also paid tribute to Japan..." with the Qing at the forefront. Wiki observes:
The kingdom's royal governmental structures remained intact, along with its royal lineage. The Ryukyus remained nominally independent, a "foreign country" (異国, ikoku) to the Japanese, and efforts were made to obscure Satsuma's domination of Ryukyu from the Chinese Court, in order to ensure the continuation of trade and diplomacy, since China refused to conduct formal relations or trade with Japan at the time. However, though the king retained considerable powers, he was only permitted to operate within a framework of strict guidelines set down by Satsuma, and was required to pay considerable amounts in tribute to Satsuma on a regular basis.In Chinese expansionist presentations this period of Japanese control typically vanishes. Like in this piece, for instance, when the sovereignty over the Ryukuyus suddenly jumps into view in 1879 -- it had been incorporated into the Japanese central government in 1868, and under Japanese rule as a vassal state since 1609. This should also be a signal to readers of China's coming claim to Okinawa. Chinese expansionists quietly complain from time to time that China should have been consulted when Okinawa was returned to Japan. Longtime readers know the drill.
Further down Lin gives the standard rightist Chinese reading of the Treaty of Taipei:
The sovereignty Japan gained over Taiwan from the Treaty of Shimonoseki was renounced in Article 2 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Article 4 (b) of the San Francisco Peace Treaty stipulates that: “Japan recognizes the validity of dispositions of property of Japan and Japanese nationals made by or pursuant to directives of the United States Military Government in any of the areas referred to in Articles 2 and 3.” The US Military order relevant to Taiwan was General Order No.1 of 1945, specifying that, “the senior Japanese commanders … within … Formosa… shall surrender to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.” Article 26 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty provided that Japan shall conclude with any State which signed or adhered to the United Nations Declaration, and which is at war with Japan, which is not a signatory of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, a bilateral Treaty of Peace on the same or substantially the same terms as are provided for in the Peace Treaty. In terms of the conclusion of war between the Republic of China (“ROC”) and Japan, the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan that was signed in Taipei on April 28, 1952 (Illustration 1), ratified by both the Showa Emperor of Japan and Chiang Kai-shek, the President of the Republic of China (Illustrations 2&3), and exchanged and became effective on August 5th of the same year, (hereafter “Taipei Treaty”), is one such international treaty specifying the transfer of sovereignty of Taiwan. The Taipei Treaty was registered in the United Nations in 1952 as Treaty Series, No. 1858 (United Nations, 1952). The Japanese Embassy in the ROC, which became the Interchange Association in 1972, has been based in Taipei since the Taipei Treaty became effective (Guoshiguan 1999, p.162). The articles in relation to the conclusion of war and transfer of Taiwan sovereignty in the Taipei Treaty were in the nature of having been executed, which is not comparable to articles providing for diplomatic relations that are executive in nature and were terminated in 1972 when Japan established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (“PRC”).3 This is akin to the termination of consular jurisdiction of the United Kingdom in China in 1943 without terminating the 99 year-lease of Hong Kong.
- General order number 1 is here. It should be noted that the Japanese troops on Formosa are surrendering to the Allies and that Chiang was acting as their representative. Chiang IS NOT accepting surrender of Formosa on behalf of China alone as Lin appears to be implying.
- Treaty of Taipei: This is basic knowledge: nowhere in the Treaty of Taipei is the transfer of sovereignty over Taiwan from Japan to the ROC implied or stated. It is an article of faith that the Treaty of Taipei transfers sovereignty to Taiwan only among Chinese right-wingers, ritually re-iterated periodically to remind everyone how out of touch they are. The Treaty of Taipei is subordinate to the San Francisco Peace Treaty which in turn deliberately does not specify who the sovereignty of Taiwan belongs to. Moreover, the ROC knows this perfectly well. As I have noted several times in posts and comments:
After signing the treaty [of Taipei], the ROC delegate, then ROC foreign minister George Yeh (葉公超), faced harsh questioning from legislators in a Legislative Yuan meeting regarding why the treaty between the ROC and Japan did not state unambiguously that Taiwan and Penghu were returned to the ROC.
Yeh replied that "No provision has been made either in the San Francisco Treaty or the Sino-Japanese Treaty as to the future of Taiwan and Penghu." Yeh further explained: "In fact, we control them now, and undoubtedly they constitute a part of our territories. The delicate international situation, however, means that they do not belong to us. In these circumstances, Japan has no right to transfer Formosa (Taiwan) and the Pescadores (Penghu) to us. Nor could we accept such a transfer from Japan even if she wished to do so."
Please my fellow lefties, stop forwarding Other People's Imperialism.
Droned on long enough, enjoy the weekend...
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