Sat, Oct 25, 2003 - Page 8 News List

The lie behind "Retrocession Day"

By Chen Ching-chih 陳清池

OctOBER 25 is Taiwan's so-called "Retrocession Day." According to Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) -- head of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and ROC government until his death in 1975 -- and his followers, it was Nationalist forces who liberated Taiwan from Japanese rule and returned Taiwan to the embrace of China. The KMT consequently picked Oct. 25th, 1945 as "Retrocession Day." Their claim, however, is self-serving and groundless.

Taiwan became a Japanese colony after 1895 when Japan annexed Taiwan and adjacent islands as a reward for her military victory over China. Up to the late 1930s, major Chinese leaders such as Mao Zedong (毛澤東) had accepted that Taiwan was Japanese territory and even argued that Taiwan, like Korea, should become independent of Japanese colonial rule. In addition, after Japanese forces began their all-out attack against China in July 1937, the Chinese, both Nationalists and Communists, were busy fighting for their own survival against the invaders. The Chinese were definitely not fighting the war against Japan to liberate other nations from colonial rule.

It is an indisputable fact that the defeat of Japan in World War II was essentially a result of the efforts of the US. It was thus the US that liberated Taiwan as well as Korea from Japanese colonial rule and helped China end a prolonged military occupation. With the withdrawal of the Japanese, the supreme commander of the allied powers in the Pacific, General Douglas MacArthur, entrusted Taiwan's post-war administration to Chiang and his government.

Japan's renouncement of sovereignty over Taiwan was officially confirmed with the signing of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty. Even the subsequent 1952 Peace Treaty between Japan and the KMT regime in Taiwan repeated Japan's renouncement of her claim over Taiwan. Neither treaty designated a specific country as the recipient of the renounced sovereignty.

In this era of human rights, this irrefutable fact can and must be interpreted in favor of the inhabitants of Taiwan. In this light, this renounced sovereignty over Taiwan, morally as well as legally, according to UN self-determination, has fallen into the laps of the Taiwanese.

It is clear that the people of Taiwan have no reason to help celebrate this "Retrocession Day," which was introduced by the KMT, and which has come to symbolize the latest instance of Taiwan falling under alien rule -- the rule of the illegitimate KMT regime. As part of the ongoing process of ridding Taiwan of the residue of this alien regime, the celebration of "Retrocession Day" ought to be seriously reconsidered.

Chen Ching-chih is professor emeritus of history at the Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville and a member of the Los Angeles-based Institute of Taiwanese Studies.

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