2023-1130: “Taiwan Has Never Been a Part of China” (FAPA’s Op-Ed); Hsiao Bids Farewell to Taiwan’s Office in D.C.

“Taiwan Has Never a Been Part of China”: FAPA Fellow’s Op-Ed

In an op-ed published in the Taipei Times on November 28, titled “Taiwan’s history and status: Taiwan has never been a part of China,” FAPA Policy Fellow Chih-Jung Huang, who has his doctorate degree in international law from the University of Virginia School of Law, delivers a thorough legal and historical analysis on why Taiwan has never been part of China.

In the article, Dr. Huang writes: Contrary to communist China’s claim that “Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times,” the “pre-modern Han Chinese empires knew very little about Taiwan, and had long regarded Taiwan as a ‘savage’ island ‘beyond the seas’” and “outside the Chinese civilization and domain.”

“Taiwan’s indigenous peoples have inhabited the island for at least six thousand years, with various political entities exercising control over parts of it until colonial powers conquered increasingly large portions of Taiwan beginning in the 17th century” ― first with “Dutch Formosa (1624–1662) in southwestern Taiwan and Spanish Formosa (1626–1642) in northern Taiwan,” and then the Tungning Kingdom (1662–1683) established in Taiwan by former Ming loyalist general Koxinga.

After conquering all of China (i.e., China Proper) in 1681, the “non-Chinese” Manchu Qing Empire (1616–1912) ― which “was originally founded in what would later be known as ‘Manchuria,’ outside of China” ― continued to conquer the Tungning Kingdom in Taiwan in 1683.

Dr. Huang writes: “The Qing later expanded its colonial rule over western Taiwan, but that did not make Taiwan a part of ‘China.’ Just as the British Empire had colonized India and Sri Lanka at the same time, doing so did not make Sri Lanka a part of ‘India.’”

“Seeking to overthrow the Manchus’ alien rule over China, the Han Chinese revolutionaries officially established the Republic of China (ROC; 1912–1949) on Jan. 1, 1912. That was followed by the end of the Manchu Qing Empire on Feb. 12, 1912.”

Dr. Huang points out: “Since Taiwan had already been legally ceded by the Qing to Japan [by the Peace Treaty of Shimonoseki] in 1895, it was impossible for the newly-established ROC to claim and inherit territorial sovereignty over Taiwan as a successor to the Qing Empire.”

He adds: “Until the early 1940s, the ROC government and modern Chinese had never regarded and claimed Taiwan as ‘an integral part of China.’” Instead, before 1942, they “had generally considered and recognized that Taiwan was a Japanese colony and outside of modern China’s national territory.” Moreover, both “the Chinese Nationalist Party [or Kuomintang] (KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) even initially supported Taiwan independence.”

However, in 1942, “the ROC government and Chinese elites suddenly reimagined and expanded their ‘mental map of China’ and began to claim that Taiwan should be ‘returned to China.’” “This was only because the defeat of Japan suddenly became possible after the US had declared war on Japan in December 1941.”

“On Oct. 25, 1945, the ROC forces began to militarily occupy Taiwan at the direction of the ‘General Order No. 1,’ issued by the Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers, General Douglas MacArthur. However, right after Japanese forces in Taiwan surrendered, the ROC immediately and unilaterally proclaimed that Taiwan was ‘restored’ and became a province of ‘China.’”

Dr. Huang stresses: “Nonetheless, the ROC should not and could not convert its military occupation of Taiwan into what it called the ‘Retrocession of Taiwan,’ which was a blatant violation of international law.”

“Under the ROC’s military occupation, Taiwan remained de jure a Japanese territory, normally pending a peace treaty to finalize Taiwan’s post-WWII status, which, according to the UN Declaration [of 1942] and the UN Charter [of 1945], should accord with the freely expressed wish of Taiwanese.”

“Following the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) on Oct. 1, 1949, the end of the ROC government in China on Dec. 8, 1949, and the establishment of the so-called ‘ROC’ government in Taipei, Taiwan on Dec. 9, 1949, the status of Taiwan became a more complicated international political and legal issue.”

Article 2(b) of the Treaty of Peace with Japan, or the San Francisco Peace Treaty (signed between 48 Allied Powers and Japan on Sept. 8, 1951, and entered into force on April 28, 1952) simply stated that “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.”

“The treaty intentionally did not transfer sovereignty over Taiwan to China, nor did it provide any other settlement for the status of Taiwan.” “Subsequently, the position that Taiwan’s legal status remained ‘undetermined’ was commonly shared by many countries such as the US and the UK, and the international community, at least in the immediate years after 1952.”

“On Oct. 25, 1971, United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 2758 was passed to resolve the issue of ‘China’s representation’ in the UN. The resolution recognized the representatives of the PRC government as ‘the only lawful representatives of China’ to the UN.”

Dr. Huang emphasizes: “UNGA Resolution 2758, however, said nothing about Taiwan being ‘an integral part of China,’ nor did it give the PRC government the right to represent the people of Taiwan. It did not address the issue of ‘Taiwan’s representation’ in the UN system, and did not touch upon the question of Taiwan’s sovereignty. In fact, it did not even include the word ‘Taiwan.’”

“History and international law clearly show that Taiwan has never been an integral part of China, and also that since its founding in 1949, the PRC has never acquired sovereignty over Taiwan by any treaty or UN resolution, nor has it ever ruled Taiwan for a single day.” Nevertheless, “the PRC went on to fabricate its historical and sovereignty claims over Taiwan regardless. Those claims are simply lies.”

“Without a doubt, the most direct and effective way to challenge the PRC’s ‘one China principle’ and counter its fabricated claim over Taiwan’s sovereignty is to officially recognize and establish diplomatic relations with democratic Taiwan, and support Taiwan’s full membership in the UN and all other international organizations.”

Dr. Huang concludes: “The US, as the leading democratic country, should have the courage and determination to lead the free world to diplomatically recognize Taiwan as an independent, sovereign country. It is not only the right thing to do. It is long overdue.”

(Read the full article HERE)

[1] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2023/11/28/2003809807

Hsiao Bids Farewell to Taiwan’s Representative Office in Washington

On November 27, outgoing Taiwan’s Representative to the U.S. Hsiao Bi-khim bid farewell to her colleagues in Washington D.C. after last week resigning to become Vice President Lai Ching-te’s running mate in Taiwan’s January 2024 presidential election.

Hsiao wrote on X, formerly Twitter, that “It has been an honor to represent Taiwan in the US.”

“As I embark on another challenging path, I am truly grateful to all who have worked with me to strengthen the Taiwan US partnership over the last three years,” she wrote.

Hsiao said she was “blessed to have an incredibly diligent and dedicated team” at Taiwan’s representative office in the U.S.

“Taiwanese diplomats can never take support for granted. We know we must earn it and work for it,” she said, adding that she would miss “the cherry blossoms and colorful foliage of DC” as well as “the warmth of bipartisan friends who have committed to stand with Taiwan.”

After participating in presidential campaign activities in Taiwan for much of last week, Hsiao flew back to the U.S. and arrived in Washington D.C. on November 26 to take care of handover procedures.

Hsiao then returned to Taiwan via New York on November 28.

Hsiao officially tendered her resignation as Taiwan’s Representative to the U.S., a post she had held since July 2020, to President Tsai Ing-wen and Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu on November 20.

President Tsai has approved Hsiao’s resignation, which would take effect on November 30.

Moreover, Taiwan’s Representative to the European Union Alexander Yui has been appointed representative to the U.S., replacing Hsiao, Taiwan’s Presidential Office said on November 29.

To show appreciation for Hsiao’s tenure as the Taiwan’s Representative in Washington D.C. and to wish her well, we hope that you send a tweet and tag @bikhim. Thank you!

[1] Focus Taiwan: https://focustaiwan.tw/politics/202311280008
[2] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/taiwan/archives/2023/11/29/2003809875
[3] Taipei Times: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/archives/2023/11/30/2003809915