Unfortunately, no major powers or the newly created League of Nations showed any sympathy for Korea. Consequently, for 35 years, Koreans suffered under harsh colonial rule until liberation.
In the early 1940s, an increasingly militaristic and expansionist Japan attacked Western colonies, including the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaya. So in the long run, the interests of the Western powers were not served but damaged by sacrificing Korea in their appeasement of Japan.
Is the international community making the same mistake in their acquiescence toward the claim that Taiwan is a part of China?
Let us examine China's scheme to annex Taiwan. There are
two major similarities between
the Chinese and the Japanese scenarios. First, China is without doubt the dominant Asian power today as Japan was nearly a century ago. With its military might and growing economic power, China has the kind of leverage that Japan enjoyed in the early 20th century. Second, like Japan, China today is resorting to diplomacy as well as the threat of force to annex Taiwan. Beijing has claimed that China went to war against Japan for the sake of liberating Taiwan from Japanese colonial rule as well as to resist Japanese aggression against China. After Japan's defeat, according to the Chinese, Taiwan reverted to them. It was only because of the Chinese Civil War and its aftermath that Taiwan remained a separate jurisdiction. To annex Taiwan, Beijing insists that it will resort to force, if necessary.
In reality, according to the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty between Japan and the Allies, Japan renounced sovereignty over Taiwan but designated no recipient.
China, over the years, has manipulated all countries that have diplomatic relations with it into accepting its "one China" policy, which states that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China. In addition, Beijing has done its best to diplomatically isolate Taiwan by opposing Taiwan's efforts to join the UN and other international organizations, including the World Health Organization.
In spite of these similarities, there are at least two essential differences between the Chinese case and that of Japan. First, unlike Korea a century ago, Taiwan has enjoyed significant support from the US. While the US does not have diplomatic relations with Taiwan, it nevertheless has become Taiwan's closest and most important military ally. By virtue of the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act, the US is obligated to come to the aid of Taiwan if and when the nation is attacked by China.
In reminding the Chinese of its commitment to Taiwan, the US must have learned from the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991 that ambiguity can only encourage an aggressive country into miscalculating the US' position.
In any case, it is not only the legal duty of the US to protect Taiwan in case of a Chinese invasion, but also its moral responsibility to do so. Any weakening of support would contribute to other countries turning against Taiwan, as seen recently in certain countries' negative response to Taiwan's plan to have a national peace referendum. No democratic country, especially the US which has made democracy and human rights the core of its foreign policy, should assist Beijing in coercing, however subtly, Taiwan to accept Chinese annexation. No country should sacrifice democracy and the human rights of the Taiwanese under the pretense of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.