Sun, Aug 06, 2017 - Page 6 News List

Laying a new basis for legitimacy

By James Wang 王景弘

Former president Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) accepted the surrender of the Axis powers on behalf of the Allies at the conclusion of World War II and occupied Taiwan.

For more than 70 years, wartime documents such as the 1943 Cairo Communique and the 1945 Potsdam Declaration were used as the basis for the idea of “restoring” Taiwan and Penghu to the Republic of China (ROC).

Finally, the Ministry of Education has decided to address this and has removed it from the new curriculum guidelines for senior-high schools. This is a major step toward achieving an accurate reflection of reality in our education system.

The revised description of “Taiwan’s status” released in June by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs still misrepresents and exaggerates these wartime documents, but it at least concedes that it is only the foreign ministry’s viewpoint to “regard” these historical documents as legal documents having the force of treaties.

Therefore, the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed in 1951 merely “reaffirms” the restoration of Taiwan and Penghu to the ROC.

Aside from these well-worn arguments, the foreign ministry’s description adequately reflects reality, treating Taiwan as the main body of the state, and refers to Taiwan’s status from the perspective of democracy:

First, in terms of the argument of sovereignty, it goes from “effective governance” in the sense of an occupying force to the constitutional “sovereignty in the people.”

Second, it uses the constitutional “citizen” to define the ROC.

Third, it emphasizes that the Cairo Communique only said that Taiwan and Penghu shall be restored to the “ROC” to avoid using the word “China.”

On the dispute regarding Taiwan and Penghu’s sovereign status after the war, only the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Chiang regime took the Cairo Communique and other documents as the grounds on which to insist that Taiwan and Penghu are to be returned to respectively China or the ROC, without recognizing the legal fact that the Treaty of San Francisco and the Treaty between the ROC and Japan did not decide Taiwan and Penghu’s fate.

The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the CCP insist that the Cairo Communique is binding, but they clearly, and erroneously, overstate the situation. Then-US president Franklin Roosevelt feared that Chiang would surrender and agreed to hold the “Three Great Allies” military conference near Cairo with Chiang and then-British prime minister Winston Churchill, to give Chiang some face.

This conference was mainly on military issues: No US Department of State officials were present and Chiang was only accompanied by a foreign ministry official, while Churchill was accompanied by a senior British Foreign Office official.

The document, known as the Cairo Declaration, is a press communique drafted on the spot and released after the meeting had ended and the participants had left.

The terms used in this press communique were what the three parties had agreed — and it was not signed.

In the wartime diplomatic documents complied by Chin Hsiao-yi (秦孝儀) and published by the Committee of KMT History, this document was called a “press communique” rather than a “declaration.”

In his report to the foreign ministry, then-ROC ambassador to the US Wei Tao-ming (魏道明) only said that the White House released the “announcement” points of the Cairo Conference.

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