On Sept. 2, 1945, Japanese government and military representatives went aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay to sign the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on behalf of the Allied powers.
To commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, Washington organized a large-scale celebration and invited representatives from both Taiwan and China, thus allowing the Republic of China (ROC) to attend the event as one of the Allied powers.
It was a competition between China and the US, and the US won both in substance and by gaining face: Washington counterbalanced China’s military parade with a military exercise and it also reunited with representatives from four other Allied powers: Australia, Canada, France and a “fake” China — the ROC.
The next day, China held a large-scale celebration for the same reason, although it only managed to attract Russia as a representative of the former Soviet Union, thus losing the game 4-1. Surprisingly, in order to increase the number of the Allied powers attending its celebration, the US used its old Cold War trick: adopting a diplomatic strategy of confronting China with a “fake” China.
In the early 1950s, the US accidentally developed the strategy of replacing China with a “fake” China.
Originally, Washington only played this trick at the UN by letting the “fake” China occupy a permanent member seat for 21 years between 1950 and 1971.
In the end, China “restored” its permanent member seat.
The US then said that a “fake” China should also participate in the peace talks with Japan as an excuse to exclude China from the talks, and stated clearly in the 1951 San Francisco Treaty of Peace with Japan that China was not an Allied power and thus was not entitled to the Allied powers’ various benefits.
After achieving its goal, the US forced Japan to sign the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty, known as the Treaty of Taipei, with the ROC the following year. Washington played this trick for 20 years between 1952 and 1972 until Japan and China issued a joint statement, unilaterally abrogating the Treaty of Taipei.
Meanwhile, the US continued to maintain diplomatic relations with the “fake” China, a trick it played for 29 years between 1950 and 1979, until it changed its policy and established relations with China, thus ending its strategy of using a “fake” China to confront China.
After 36 years, the US is facing a strong military and diplomatic challenge from China. Militarily, the US has, since 2011, employed a policy of returning to Asia. Diplomatically, it must come up with new ideas as it can no longer play its old trick.
The return to its old strategy in connection with the celebrations marking the end of World War II was an isolated event, because history is unlikely to repeat itself. After all, the current situation is somewhat different from that of the Cold War era.
The defenders of the ROC should not rejoice for too long, because the US is not serious about this approach. Looking at the speeches from the celebration and its coverage by the media, it is seen that only Taiwan was mentioned, never the ROC.
The US understands that Taiwan is its own nation and its people are Taiwanese, and over the past few decades it has addressed the administration of Taiwan as the “Taiwanese government” or the “Taiwanese authorities.”
It is impossible for Washington to suddenly start addressing Taiwan as the “Republic of China” or “China.”
Of course, the policies of “one China, with each side having its own interpretations,” “one China, same interpretation” and “one China, common formulation” are impossible to accomplish.
The Chinese government is in China and it has been there for several decades. It has not relocated to Taiwan.
Of course, the ROC in Taiwan is the “fake” China.
Lai Fu-shun is a history professor at Chinese Culture University.
Translated by Eddy Chang
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