Will Trump free Taiwan?
Now that Taiwan has gotten the world’s attention, I suggest that President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) holds a conference inviting world-renowned academics and historians to address the legal status of Taiwan, which is still undefined, and to educate the world about the history of Taiwan, including some major foreign-policy blunders made by administrations of former US presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman.
The Cairo Declaration of 1943 states that “all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.”
However, in my opinion, this might be one of the major foreign-policy blunders made by the Roosevelt administration that had so little understanding of the history of Formosa.
Formosa was ceded to Japan based on the Treaty of Shimonoseki, which ended the Sino-Japanese War in 1895, but Formosa was never invaded or occupied with force by the Japanese.
I was quite puzzled as to why Japan had to return, or more likely was forced to return, Formosa to China, since it was not obtained through force during World War II.
It appears that Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) might have misinformed Roosevelt into believing that Japan had taken Formosa by force during the war.
We know the US acquired the Philippines in 1898 as a result of the Spanish-American War. The Philippines was invaded by Japan during World War II. However, the US did not return the islands to Spain, but allowed them to be independent according the will of the people and international law.
Roosevelt confessed during an interview with Edgar Snow, the author of Red Star Over China, early in 1945.
“I was never able to form any opinion of Chiang at Cairo. When I thought about it later, I realized that all I know was what Madame Chiang told me about her husband and what he thought,” he said.
In Cairo, Roosevelt held frustrating discussions with Chiang through an interpreter.
Former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt once remarked in December 1945 that Madame Chiang illustrated the nationalist Chinese attitude toward democracy in that she could talk beautifully about democracy, but did not know how to work toward it.
Franklin Roosevelt praised Chiang’s capability, depending too much on the advice of the Chinese lobby and eager to believe that Chiang’s regime was a progressive force that would at last end civil strife and commit to democratic principles, even though it was already evident that Chiang’s regime, as the historian Whitney Griswold wrote in 1938, was a fascist dictatorship.
Truman in his memoirs said that the actual status of Formosa was that it was a territory taken from Japan by the Allied forces in the Pacific. Like other such territories, its legal status cannot be fixed until there is international action to determine its future, he said.
The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) government was asked by the allies to accept the surrender of Japanese forces on the island. That is the reason Chinese are here now. It is obvious that Chiang’s government did not have the right to the island.
In my opinion, the Truman administration had made another major foreign-policy blunder. Truman was very critical of Chiang’s regime, which ruled Taiwan as a police state. Yet Truman allowed the remnants of the Chiang regime to relocate and to occupy the island without any conditions, such as it must govern with the consent of the people or adhere to democratic principles.