The Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed on April 17, 1895, in the Japanese city that lends the treaty its name. It came into effect on May 8 that same year. According to the treaty, Taiwan belonged to Japan, but people living in Taiwan were given the opportunity to choose their nationality by either leaving or staying within two years of the treaty being signed. This ability to choose one’s own nationality is a basic human right.
In the book On Taiwan’s Status and Relations, edited by National Chengchi University history professor Hsueh Hua-yuan (薛化元), it says that the Republic of China (ROC) government announced in January 1946 that the people living in Taiwan had “regained” their status as ROC nationals, which gave rise to diplomatic protests from the UK and the US.
Wang Shih-Chieh (王世杰), who was then minister of foreign affairs, also mentioned this event in a letter to Huang Kuo-shu (黃國書), a Taiwanese legislator at the time.
In the same book, it is stated that the Taiwan Provincial Administrative Executive Office said on Jan. 20, 1946, that the people of Taiwan Province had their Chinese nationality restored as of Oct. 25, 1945, according to an order by the Executive Yuan on Jan. 12, 1946.
The UK foreign ministry sent a communique to the ROC embassy in London on Aug. 31, 1946, saying that although it conceded that Taiwan was under the control of the ROC government, London regretted that it could not accept that Taiwanese had already had their Chinese nationality restored, according to A New Discourse on Taiwan’s Status by former Academia Historica president Lin Man-houng (林滿紅).
In a thesis about the peace treaty, Lin said that the US State Department in a November 1946 memorandum to the ROC government said that it was in full agreement with the UK’s position on this matter.
Official documents from April 19, 1952, that the Japanese government made public said that Taiwanese were to lose their Japanese nationality as soon as the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty — commonly known as the Treaty of Taipei, which did not enter into force until Aug. 5, 1952 — took effect. Clearly, then, the Taiwanese were forced to accept ROC nationality before the peace treaty had even come into effect. This was not only absurd and unreasonable, it was also in violation of international law.
Former foreign minister George Yeh (葉公超) made an additional remark to the legislature in July 1952 on the Treaty of Taipei: He said that Article 10 of the treaty — on the legal status of the people in Taiwan and Penghu — was not mentioned in the Treaty of San Francisco, but that is was of great importance to the people of Taiwan.
Imposing ROC nationality on Taiwanese without asking their prior consent and without giving them a choice in the matter is clearly in contravention of international legal principles and was done seven years before the Treaty of Taipei was ratified.
Chen Yi-nan is vice convener of Taiwan Society North’s science and technology subcommittee.
TRANSLATED BY TAIJING WU