Sat, Jun 02, 2012 - Page 8 News List


Taiwan is occupied territory

In “Focus on national name a distraction,” (May 30, page 8), law professor Chiang Huang-chih (姜皇池) does a good overview of the recent 60-plus years of Taiwanese history, and says that before the coming into force of the San Francisco Peace Treaty (SFPT) on April 28, 1952, Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty remained with Japan.

He correctly states that the Republic of China (ROC), a “foreign regime,” ruled Taiwan between 1945 and 1949, while waiting for the signing of a peace treaty. When the ROC moved its central government to Taiwan in late 1949, it was moving outside of China’s national territory, and hence became a government-in-exile.

However, Chiang’s analysis fails when he states that since the early 1970s, the cross-operations of international and domestic law have meant that the ROC and Taiwan have been gradually fused into one entity. Under international law in the post-Napoleonic period, no such “fusion” is possible.

In this regard, two important legal tenets must be mentioned. First, “military occupation does not transfer sovereignty.” Second, there are no actions, procedures, or other methodology whereby a “government-in-exile” can become established as the legal government of its current locality of residence.

With the surrender of Japanese troops on Oct. 25, 1945, Taiwan came under the rule of the “foreign” ROC regime, and that was a condition of military occupation. There was no transfer of Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty to China in the late 1940s or early 1950s, as Chiang stated. When Japan renounced all rights to Taiwan in the SFPT without specifying a receiving country, the military occupation of Taiwan continued, and the status of the ROC as a government-in-exile remained unaffected.

Although Taiwan has democratized over the past few decades, it remains in a legal condition of military occupation, which means that its “final political status” is undetermined. Hence, Taiwan is not a country, it is merely an occupied territory. The ROC cannot obtain further international legitimacy, because it is, at the most basic level, a government-in-exile. (The status of the “Chinese government-in-exile in Taipei” is frequently abbreviated to “Chinese Taipei” for participation in international organizations.)

A chart which outlines these considerations in detail is available at

It is to be hoped that Chiang can produce a similar chart to present his views and analysis in more detail.

Based on the legal tenets above, the assertion that “the ROC is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the ROC” is not tenable. Realistically, it is not the “focus on national name” that is a distraction, but rather the focus on national sovereignty.

The world community only recognizes one China, and that is the People’s Republic of China (PRC). According to UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, the PRC is the successor government to the ROC. If the Taiwanese people continue to stress that the “ROC in Taiwan” is a sovereign entity, this amounts to handing Taiwan to the PRC on a silver platter.

Hence, such sloganeering should be avoided.

Lin Yung-cheng

New Taipei City

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