Sat, Jan 12, 2019 - Page 8 News List


The truth of Oct. 25, 1945

After the outbreak of the Korean War on June 25, 1950, then-US president Harry Truman declared that the “neutralization of the Straits of Formosa” was in the best interest of the US. He sent the US Navy’s Seventh Fleet into the Taiwan Strait to prevent any conflict between the Republic of China and Red China.

President Truman’s actions must be understood vis-a-vis Taiwan’s legal status in 1950. Put simply, if Taiwan had already been recognized as Chinese national territory, the Taiwan Strait would constitute an “internal sea” of China. There would be no legal basis for the president to direct the Seventh Fleet into the Strait.

On Aug. 25, 1950, the US replied to the UN Security Council, saying: “The action of the United States was expressly stated to be without prejudice to the future political settlement of the status of the island... The Chinese Government was asked by the Allies to take the surrender of the Japanese forces on the island. That is the reason the Chinese are there now.”

This historical excerpt is just one example that shows the Allies did not recognize any transfer of Taiwan’s territorial sovereignty to China upon the Oct. 25, 1945, Japanese surrender ceremonies.

Nevertheless, the historical analysis in my Dec. 28 letter (Letters, page 8) did not please Wen Lam Chang of Hong Kong (Letters, Jan. 4, page 8). He argued that “1945 marks the date when China resumed sovereignty over Taiwan, not the beginning of military occupation as Mr Chang contends.”

In support of his “resumed sovereignty” contention, he asserts that Taiwan “was returned to China in 1945 in accordance with international law provided under the 1943 Cairo Declaration and the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, which forms Japan’s instrument of unconditional surrender.”

However, my associates and I have never been able to find such examples — which could serve as “precedent” — in the writings of law scholars.

Might I challenge W.L. Chang to provide us with two, three, or more examples in the post-Napoleonic period where the international community has recognized “surrender ceremonies” as resulting in an immediate transfer of territorial sovereignty?

There is simply no international precedent for saying that an international declaration (or “press release”) can create any such legal power upon the date of surrender. The overwhelming international precedent is that a transfer of territorial sovereignty must be specified in a treaty.

I also want to stress that Taiwanese territory is not a “special case.” The correct guidelines for handling Taiwan’s territory can easily be found by researching the disposition of conquered territory after the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War and the Spanish-American War.

The Web site of provides abundant data on these topics, including the “Truth of Oct. 25, 1945” and an “Overview of the San Francisco Peace Treaty.” Links to YouTube videos are also given. This information may be of interest to Taipei Times readers.

Tom Chang

Alhambra, California

War — what is it good for?

You might have published something stupider than the Paul Lin (林保華) column you published Saturday, but I did not see it (“US could go to war to fix China,” Jan. 5, page 8).

War is good for absolutely nothing. Encouraging Trump to start a war with China and claiming it would have many benefits — including some to Taiwan — is the most ridiculous thing I have read in a long time.

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