It is this distinction that promises to send national pundits and scholars running to scrutinize historical documents and also revives the old issue of what the US really means when it uses the phrase “one China.”
Using Shaw’s phrasing, the argument would posit that the US allowed the KMT to have administrative control over Taiwan, but it never gave the KMT sovereignty over Taiwan.
In effect, the KMT then remains a dispossessed diaspora that was allowed to settle in Taiwan and set up a one-party state — an unfortunate situation for the Taiwanese, but one that met the US’ national interests at the time.
This throws the KMT narrative of its legitimacy further into question.
So what to do now? Going back to change the past and eliminate the sufferings that Taiwan has endured is not possible. Nor is it possible to change Taiwan’s struggle to achieve democracy.
However, there is a potential solution to this conundrum, especially since Taiwan is now a democracy, which would be to say that sovereignty over Taiwan belongs to the Taiwanese and their democracy.
This would not be so pleasant for the KMT nor to the Chinese Communist Party since, similarly to Chiang, these two parties continue to desire settling the matter on a Chinese party-to-party basis.
Nonetheless, in addition to preserving the current “status quo” of the nation’s democracy, this solution would be the most satisfactory to the US, Japan and Taiwanese, as well as offer a way to fit the tenets of self-determination stipulated by the UN.
Jerome Keating is a commentator in Taipei.