Julian Ku's awful piece at The Diplomat got spanked by J Michael Cole yesterday and by Michal Thim today. Thim's is excellent and very polite, don't miss.
I ripped Ku two posts below this one yesterday. Incredibly, as if he had no access to Google in the intervening hours, today he doubled down on his errors:
I get that this is a complicated issue, but I don’t think I am “misreading” historical documents when I write that i) the US recognizes the PRC as the government of China and that the US accepts that Taiwan is part of China; 2) Japan recognizes the PRC as the government of China, and Japan accepts that Taiwan is a part of China. Sure, neither country recognizes that Taiwan is a part of the PRC, but both the US and Japan have made clear that China is a single legal entity that includes Taiwan, and that the PRC is the sole government in charge of this entity. We can futz around the details, but there is a reason why neither the US nor Japan (nor almost anyone else) have diplomatic relations with Taiwan.Many of us who read this were wondering how Ku could have been unable to discover what US policy towards Taiwan is. There are a million people he could have asked overnight. And there's Google...
In case you can't remember, it's that Taiwan's status is undecided. The latest Congressional Research Service report lays it out on page 4, here is the formulation of it:
The United States has its own “one China” policy (vs. the PRC’s “one China” principle) and position on Taiwan’s status. Not recognizing the PRC’s claim over Taiwan nor Taiwan as a sovereign state, U.S. policy has considered Taiwan’s status as unsettled.How easy is that to find? If you ask Google, in the first five answers you get two State Dept sites (useless as State conceals this position, leading to endless problems and misunderstandings like Ku's) but you do get the Wiki page, which isn't very good, and the CRS report above, which is excellent.
The reason the US position is so important is that its position became the San Francisco Peace Treaty's construction of the Taiwan question. Recall that in the 1951 Treaty, the peace agreement that redistributed things from Japan, Taiwan is given up by Japan, but no recipient of sovereignty is named. Hence, the practice of not only the US, but also Japan, Canada, Australia, and other nations is as Cole correctly noted yesterday: they acknowledge that China wants to annex Taiwan, but they do not accept Beijing's claim that Taiwan is part of China, in any form. Those of us who've been studying this game for twenty-five years know every step of the Taiwan Status pavane. The question is why Ku didn't ask anyone what the situation is, not whether Ku is wrong. That latter question was settled in 1951.
Nor is this a mere paper policy. These were the very nations who, in 2007 when then-President Chen sent a letter to the UN asking for entry, reminded UN Sec-General Ban Ki-moon that his claim that Taiwan was part of China was not accepted by many UN members. The US State Department was unhappy about it, but it did go to bat on behalf of this policy.
As I noted yesterday, Taiwan is thus not part of China -- no treaty or similarly important and internationally accepted legal document anywhere recognizes that -- but a decolonized territory whose population awaits determination of its final status. Any invasion by China would be a totally illegal act of aggression. Thus, at every level, Ku's construction of, and understanding of, the issue of Taiwan's status is 100% wrong.
A Twitter acquaintance accused me yesterday of trying to shut down the discussion in my last paragraph yesterday. Hogwash. Some legal arguments are dead from the get-go and they are dead and should not be made because they are (1) factually inept; (2) legally indefensible; and (3) morally reprehensible. Ku's "argument" for the PRC's right to kill Taiwanese and annex their land fulfills all three of those conditions. It literally should not be made because -- especially because -- his position as a nominal expert on international law gives it a weight it should not have. Sadly, it made it onto RealClearWorld yesterday, let's hope none of the PRC nationalists spots it...
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