Thu, May 05, 2005 - Page 8 News List

China's annexation bid won't work

By Chen Ching-chih 陳清池

Taiwan has never been a part of China, either historically or legally, since 1895 when the Manchu-led Qing empire ceded Taiwan to Japan. Imperial Japan ruled Taiwan as a colony until 1945 when the US-led alliance defeated Japan.

By virtue of the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty, Japan renounced "all right, title and claim" over Taiwan.

No recipient of the renounced sovereignty was designated. Cession of Taiwan without a recipient is neither unusual nor unique. In the 1898 Treaty of Paris ending the Spanish American War, Spain renounced "sovereignty over and title to" Cuba, but did not designate a recipient country.

Likewise, Libya, Eritrea and Somaliland were relinquished by Italy without recipient, according to the 1947 Treaty of Peace with Italy. In such cases, the renounced sovereignty naturally fell to the people of the relinquished territory.

Taiwan has therefore been a sovereign state for more than half a century. But the government of the People's Republic of China, however, has claimed the island nation as part of China since its founding in 1949, and has repeatedly threatened to invade Taiwan.

To demonstrate China's determination to Taiwan as well as to the Chinese themselves, China's National People's Congress unanimously passed its "Anti-Secession" Law on March 14.

The law authorizes the Chinese government to resort to the use of force, if necessary, to "reunify" Taiwan. What the Chinese euphemistically call "reunification" is, of course, annexation.

In its attempt to annex Taiwan by force or any other means, the leaders of China should learn from history. Since the early 20th century it has been proven again and again that annexation of another country or territory without the consent of the people will not last. As a matter of fact, nearly all such annexations sooner or later have been reversed. Let's examine some of these cases.

Claiming that Korea and Japan had deep historical and cultural ties, Imperial Japan annexed Korea by virtue of a 1910 treaty. Through intimidation and deception, the Japanese induced the Korean royal court to sign the Annexation Treaty. The Korean people, however, did not approve of the Japanese annexation; they continued to resist Japanese rule by various means.

Korean resistance culminated in a large-scale, anti-Japanese demonstration on March 1, 1919. Japan's brutal suppression resulted in the deaths of thousands of protesters. Koreans continued to suffer under the harsh Japanese colonial rule. Fortunately for the Koreans, the US and its allies defeated Japan in 1945. Korea was subsequently declared an independent state once more.

In the case of Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria, Adolf Hitler believed that German-speaking Austria ought to become part of Germany, and he did not want to allow the Austrians to decide the question themselves. Hitler's army invaded and annexed Austria in 1938, one day before the Austrian government had scheduled a referendum on the issue of unifying with Germany.

At first the Austrians thought that they would retain a considerable degree of separateness and be only gradually absorbed by Nazi Germany. They were wrong. In any case, the Allies defeated Nazi Germany and liberated Austria as well as other German-occupied courtiers in1945. German annexation of Austria lasted for only seven years.

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