Fri, Jul 26, 2013 - Page 8 News List


Administration or occupation?

While the debate of this topic may seem like hair-splitting, academic and trivial, I submit to you, the ideological motive behind the change in historical nomenclature by the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) is both ideologically insidious and historically nonsensical.

In accordance with the KMT’s reasoning, the Republic of China (ROC) fought an eight-year war to revoke the Treaty of Shimonoseki, therefore the era between 1895 and 1945 should be termed “occupation.”

“When Japan started to rule Taiwan, Taiwanese never ceased to rebel against Japanese colonialism during the colonial period. The Republic of China [ROC] went through the eight-year War of Resistance [against Japan] so the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki was repealed and Taiwan returned to the ROC,” Premier Jiang Yi-huah (江宜樺) said (“Jiang backs use of ‘Japanese occupation,’” July 24, page 1).

What Jiang chose to ignore is that equal or not, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was a perfectly legal and binding international treaty, and even more problematic, the ROC did not exist when the treaty was signed, nor did it include Taiwan in its boundary.

Therefore, calling Taiwanese residents under the Japanese Empire “People of the Republic of China” makes absolutely no sense to anyone who knows anything about history; people of Taiwan never stopped rebelling against the KMT dictatorship from 1946 to 1987; are we going to call it “the era of an occupation by an exile-government?”

The KMT’s logic only makes sense if we bring the question of a successor state into consideration, but even then, the issue remains problematic: Both the ROC and the Manchu Empire (Qing) were successor states of the Ming Dynasty. Any reasoning along the line of successor state has to get around the embarrassing problem that in 1622, Ming authorities told the Dutch East India Company that the borders of the Ming Empire only extended to as far as the Pescadores and no further. This effectively made the subsequent occupation by either the Ming renegade Koxinga or the Qing Empire illegitimate by modern standards.

So, if both Chinese and Japanese occupied Dutch Formosa through conquest, then why should Chinese occupation be deemed as a matter of course and Japanese occupation deemed illegitimate? This is why the shift from “Japanese administration” to “Japanese occupation” is ideologically insidious: It expressly states the illegitimacy of the Japanese rule while tacitly acquiescing to the legitimacy of the Chinese rule. So here is what I propose: We can term the era between 1895-1945 the era of Japanese occupation, if we term the era between 1946-1987 the era of Chinese occupation.

Luke Hsieh


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