Sat, Oct 15, 2005 - Page 8 News List

Celebrating something that never really was

By Cao Changqing 曹長青

Celebrations for Double Ten National Day were held in Taipei, New York, Australia and several other places around the world. While Taiwanese people were enjoying the festivities celebrating the 94th anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China (ROC), they seemed to forget a fundamental question: is there really a national title called the "ROC," and does it really exist now?

First, let us look at the past 94 years. From the ROC's founding to Chiang Kai-shek's (蔣介石) Chinese National Party (KMT) to the regime's retreat to Taiwan, the name ROC had been the national title for China for 38 years. When the title ROC was first established in 1911 in China following the fall of the Qing Dynasty, it had jurisdiction over 35 provinces, excluding Taiwan (which had been ceded to Japan by the Qing government). Then, for 56 years after 1949, the title of ROC has referred to the government in Taiwan, with no jurisdiction over China.

In other words, the title ROC currently exists in a place (Taiwan) that was originally not under its jurisdiction, and the time it has been in a foreign place (56 years) exceeds that of its founding place (38 years). Is this reasonable? Is there another example of such a situation anywhere else in the world?

Second, during the four-year period between Japan's surrender in 1945 to 1949 when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) established a new regime in China, the ROC -- which used to govern the whole of continental China -- in fact ruled over Taiwan for only four years.

There are even controversies over this period of sovereignty arising from the fact that Japan's renunciation of Taiwan in the San Francisco Peace Treaty did not specify who would take over the government of the territory.

Some people argue that since Taiwan was ceded to Japan by the Qing government, when Japan relinquished it, it would have been given back to the ROC, the successor of the Qing Dynasty.

But, with the same logic, Beijing can also say that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) defeated the KMT, and the ROC was replaced by the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 in China -- therefore, China should be qualified to inherit the ROC's sovereignty over Taiwan.

But, most Taiwanese people think the vagueness over whose jurisdiction Taiwan fell under in the San Francisco treaty was intentional. The intention was to return Taiwan to its owners, the people of Taiwan. Such thinking has some legal basis for the theory that Taiwan's international status has yet to be determined.

But however we look at it, the continued existence of the title "ROC" is a ridiculous phenomenon. And, given the aforementioned examples, it is not difficult to see that the ROC is simply an illusion.

The cross-strait peace advancement bill (兩岸和平促進法) proposed by the KMT and the People First Party (PFP) aims to give legitimacy to the "two sides, one China" principle, preventing the Taiwanese people from changing the national title and using one that reflects the actual situation.

If the KMT and the PFP intend to recover the mainland, end the CCP's one-party regime and restore the sovereignty of the ROC, then their policy has some validity. But, the situation is entirely different, for they are willing to allow Taiwan to be conquered by China rather than allow the country to adopt "Taiwan" as its national title. This is the key issue.

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