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Taiwanese Threaten to Sue America for NOT Invading

A group of political parties, NGOs and political activists in Taiwan say that given the outcome of the Second World War, under international law the island nation is the responsibility of the United States government. And according to this article from Taiwan’s China Post, if Washington refuses to respond, they may take legal action against it.

By Joe Hung

September 26, 2005

Original Article (English)    

'Generalissamo' Chiang Kai-shek, One-Time Ruler of China

C. P. Scott, the celebrated Manchester Guardian editor, has a very apt dictum for journalists the world over. He says: "Facts are sacred, but opinions are free."

Similarly, everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, and a group of independence activists - including the Taiwan Defense Alliance, Civil Party, Farmers' Party, Taiwan Independence Party and foreigners' rights advocate Richard Hartzell - are exercising that freedom of speech by urging the United States to take over the island militarily.

The activists purchased a US$70,000 ad in The Washington Post last Tuesday calling on the Pentagon to send the U.S. Marines to Taiwan to impose military rule as a transitional phase toward a truly independent, sovereign state. And if Washington fails to do so, they are threatening to sue.

By far, the great majority of people think - and they are right - that what these activists are attempting is a ridiculous, pathetic, anachronistic and Quixotic attack on the United States, the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China on Taiwan.

To be fair, however, one must listen to their views about changing the status quo between Taiwan and China. Hartzell and Roger Lin, a spokesman for the Taiwan Independence Party, have enumerated a number of historical facts to back up their claim that "Taiwan's international legal position is as an unincorporated military territory under the United States Government," which must "recognize its responsibilities to Taiwan under the U.S. Constitution."

The Cairo Conference; Chiang, Roosevelt and Churchill, 1943

One of the facts given is that Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek accepted the surrender of Japanese forces in Taiwan at the end of World War II, pursuant to the Japanese instrument of surrender and General Order No. 1, issued by General Douglas A. MacArthur, the Supreme Commander of the Allied forces in the Far East.

The instrument of surrender didn’t mention Taiwan specifically, but it stipulated the complete acceptance and fulfillment of the terms of the Potsdam Declaration, which had confirmed the provisions of the Cairo Declaration of 1943, in which U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Prime Minister Winston Churchill of Great Britain and Generalissimo Chiang demanded that Japan return to the Republic of China all of the territories it "has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores."

General Order No. 1 provided, among other things, that the surrender of Japan’s armed forces in Taiwan be accepted by Generalissimo Chiang. It was then decided that only if the Chinese were unable to establish effective control or if military necessity should arise, would the United States concern itself further with the matter.

Finally, in September 1945, after the Japanese surrender, when it was determined that with American help, Chinese forces were prepared to move via amphibious lift into Taiwan, that consideration of American military rule was dropped.

MacArthur Visits Taiwan During Korean War.
Chiang Watches MacArthur and Genaral Sun Li-en

Taiwan’s administrator-general, General Chen Yi, accepted the instrument of surrender from his Japanese counterpart, General Rikichi Ando, in Taipei on October 25, 1945, this completing the Chinese reoccupation of the island. That would have been the end of the episode if Chiang, now as president of the Republic of China, had not been defeated in the Chinese civil war.

After Mao Zedong defeated him and proclaimed the People's Republic of China, the Generalissimo moved his government to Taipei. Indeed, had there been no Korean War in 1950, Taiwan would have been annexed as a province of the People's Republic.

By that time, President Harry S. Truman had written off Chiang's Republic of China as a bad deal, and all but invited a Mainland invasion of Taiwan, which the Pentagon was convinced was indefensible. At the beginning of 1951, eight months after hostilities broke out in Korea, Taipei formally expressed its readiness to participate in the [U.N.] peace conference, scheduled to be held in San Francisco in September.

The United States, now in complete support of the Republic of China [Taiwan], prevented the People's Republic of China from attending the San Francisco conference. Hartzell points out that the peace treaty, which was signed that September without Taipei or Beijing as signatories didn’t authorize Mainland Chinese rule over Taiwan.

Chiang in Time, September 3, 1945; Again on April 18, 1955

But his argument that the treaty confirmed the United States as an occupying power, with the Republic of China subordinate to Washington, is impractical. The fact is that Japan, free to sign a peace treaty either with Taipei or Beijing, chose the Republic of China to negotiate with and end the war. Under pressure from the United States, Japan signed the peace treaty in Taipei on April 28, 1952. So Japan renounced its sovereignty over Taiwan, but never specified that it would be restored to China.

The treaty came into effect on August 5, and brought to an end the abnormal relations that existed between the two countries [Japan and Taiwan] since the Sino-Japanese Commercial Treaty of 1871. But that peace treaty was only formally abolished when Tokyo established diplomatic relations with Beijing on September 29, 1972.

Tokyo's diplomatic switch doesn’t affect Taiwan’s legal status, thanks to the concept of uti possidetis, which means - what was won in war remains in the country of actual control’s possession.

Taiwan was a territory under the actual control of the Republic of China when the 1952 peace treaty was signed. No other agreement was concluded to otherwise stipulate to whom that absolute property should belong.

As far as international law is concerned, Taiwan belongs to the Republic of China, not an unincorporated military territory of the United States. Of course, the independence activists are absolutely free to advocate and advance their idea of how to solve the current stalemate between Taiwan and China.
But the chances are one in a million that they will succeed in getting
Washington to lend its ear

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