East only Sinicized in 1900s
I was happy to read the Taipei Times feature by Gerrit van der Wees (“Taiwan: ‘Ocean Nation,’” June 28, page 13), but I think it left out some important parts of the story.
Jerome Keating’s book The Mapping of Taiwan covered much the same material as Van der Wees, but in more detail. It is a very useful reference.
Van der Wees emphasized three or four aspects of what he calls the context of Taiwan’s regional history and global trade. Keating adds an aspect that I want to discuss.
Van der Wees and Keating agree on the importance of Taiwan’s connection with the other Pacific island peoples. Both refer to new research that suggests that the people of what Keating calls the island world of the Indian and Pacific oceans might have originated from Taiwan thousands of years ago.
They also agree about the importance of Dutch colonization from 1624 to 1662, the integration of Taiwan into world trade during that period and that the defeat of the Dutch by the Ming warlord commonly known as Koxinga in 1662 fostered increasingly closer connections between Taiwan and the coastal Chinese provinces.
Keating uses a series of historical maps from the 16th through the 20th centuries to illustrate the history and development of Taiwan’s place in the world. Chinese and other maps from the 17th and 18th centuries are especially interesting in the context of current political issues. These maps present the eastern side of Taiwan as under Aboriginal dominion up until Japan’s conquest of the whole island in the 20th century.
One of the first Manchu Qing maps of Taiwan from 1700 shows only the western side of Taiwan, ending at the central mountains. A Chinese map from 1760 is similar.
A map made by the US consul to Japanese Taiwan in 1901 divides areas of Qing control from the lands held by the original island peoples.
Japan took over the Qing claim on Taiwan in 1895, but it was many years before Japan controlled all of Taiwan. Japan gave up its claims to Taiwan in 1945, but the peace treaties after Japan’s defeat in the world war did not resolve the nation’s status.
The rights and claims of Taiwan’s original island people have been neglected, but a growing body of research gives increasing substance to those claims.
More respect for the island peoples of Taiwan and respect for their history, and recognition of Taiwan’s close ties to the island world of the Indian and Pacific oceans could benefit Taiwan in these uneasy times.
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