Ghostly Tentacles: "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory"
United Daily News editorial (Taipei, Taiwan, ROC)
May 5, 2009
Masaki Saito, Japan's representative to Taipei, openly proclaimed that "Taiwan's status is undetermined." This cannot be explained away as "merely his personal opinion." Our Ministry of Foreign Affairs' "expressions of regret and solemn protest" are tough on the exterior but soft in the interior. Demands that he be expelled and replaced are fully justified.
Taiwan's status never has been undetermined. Japan, via the Makuan Treaty of 1895, forcibly annexed Taiwan. But following the War of Resistance against Japan, the Nationalist Government nullified all treaties with Japan. The Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Declaration, and Japan's signing of the instrument of surrender, repeatedly affirmed Taiwan's retrocession to China. Therefore no legal or historical doubt whatsoever remains about Taiwan's retrocession.
However, when we condemn Japan for alleging that "Taiwan's status is undetermined," we must realize that post-war Japan was essentially a vassal of the United States. The real mastermind was the United States. The so-called "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory" was concocted by the United States. It later realized the theory was untenable and let it drop. Japan is merely playing the part of the United States' parrot.
The United States has coveted Taiwan ever since the nineteenth century. It has never forgotten it. Despite numerous failed attempts to annex it, it has never given up. It has always adjusted to the situation as it develops. Taiwan was retroceded to China following the war. But soon afterwards the Nationalist government was defeated on the Mainland. The Korean War broke out. The United States was presented with another opportunity. When Truman dispatched the Seventh Fleet, he declared that Taiwan's status was still undetermined. The U.S. military command in Japan also asserted that Taiwan's status was undetermined. It attempted to use the Peace Treaty with Japan to place Taiwan under the trusteeship of the United States or the United Nations. Therefore the United States concocted its "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory." It used the Soviet Union's refusal to recognize the Nationalist Government as a pretext to exclude both Taipei and Beijing from the proceedings. It stage-managed its "San Francisco Peace Treaty." Because the KMT government needed the support of the United States back then, it bit its tongue. Ever since then the San Francisco Peace Treaty has been the basis for claims that "Taiwan's status is undetermined."
Therefore, when we condemn Japanese officials for alleging that "Taiwan's status is undetermined." We must not target only Japan. Instead, we should thoroughly understand the context.
One. In terms of historical context: "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory" is an example of U.S. meddling in China's internal affairs. It was an attempt to use extralegal force, using the San Francisco Peace Treaty as a pretext to override the Cairo Declaration and other legal documents. It was an attempt to use "Taiwan's Undecided Status Theory" to create for itself some political maneuvering room. It was a throwback to an era of imperialist hegemony. For example, a subsequent United States/apan "two-plus-two meeting" dealt with Taiwan as a "peripheral matter."
Two. In terms of its significance at the time: The United States deliberately muddied the meaning of the Cairo Declaration and other international treaties. It concocted the "San Francisco Peace Treaty." It turned Taiwan into its protectorate. It ensured that Taiwan and the rest of China would preserve the status quo and remain separate. Meanwhile on Taiwan two movements developed: "Taiwan independence" and "an independent Taiwan." Following the Saito incident, some Pan Blue legislators even said, "In fact he's helping Taiwan." This reveals that even within the KMT many people have internalized the premise.
Three. In terms of ideology: After World War II, United States regarded Taiwan as "spoils of war," as something it can order about as it wishes. The United States believes it has an extralegal prerogative to dispose of Taiwan as it pleases, to give its "spoils of war" to whomever it desires. For example, the United States combined the Ryukyu Islands with Diaoytai and "gave" them to Japan. For example, on the one hand, its "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory" helps it contain Beijing. On the other hand, it manipulates Taipei by casting doubt on the legitimacy of the ROC govenment's rule. During the 1950s the U.S. attempted to stage a military coup on Taiwan. It wanted to promote the notion that the ROC government was a "foreign power." This was an extension of its "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory."
Just as cross-Strait relations are warming up, enabling the resolution of past disputes, Saito brings up "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory." This is hardly something that can be explained away as "merely his personal opinion." Do Japan and the US really want to turn back the clock? Do they really want to provoke conflict between the two sides?
Under the circumstances, the Ma administration must not merely express regret and allow the matter to drop. It must review the entire "Taiwan's Undetermined Status Theory" and thoroughly expose it for what it is. It must take a stand and offer a vision for the nation's future. Saito's proclamation was merely an interlude. The ghostly tentacles that remain poised over Taiwan, ever ready to meddle in our internal affairs and provoke hatred and confrontation, is what we must be truly vigilant against.
2009.05.05 06:35 am