Thu, Nov 11, 2004 - Page 1 News List

The Cabinet gives Ma a history class

DOCTORED HISTORY The mayor, following KMT practice, confused a press release for an international treaty so the rest of the Cabinet had to correct him

By Ko Shu-ling  /  STAFF REPORTER

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Chi-fang yesterday points to a copy of the Cairo Declaration from the Academia Historica while praising the education ministry for its decision to include the San Fransisco Peace Treaty in high-school history teaching materials.

PHOTO: CHIEN JUNG-FENG, TAIPEI TIMES

Taipei Mayor Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) yesterday engaged in a heated debate with Cabinet officials over the nation's sovereignty and political status, in the wake of the education ministry's intention to modify high school history books to indicate that the Republic of China (ROC) is not the legal government of Taiwan.

While the ministry made public a draft outline for high school history books on Tuesday to include two international treaties to rebuff the previous administration's argument that Taiwan is part of China and that the ROC is the legitimate ruler of Taiwan, Ma said that the government should be consistent in its stance over the politically sensitive issue.

"There're at least 11 official documents related to Taiwan's political status when I come to think of it," Ma said. "The education ministry should be impartial in presenting the facts and be consistent in addressing the issue with other government agencies."

Ma was referring to the different stances taken by the education ministry and the foreign ministry. While the foreign ministry recognizes the Cairo Declaration of 1943, the education ministry does not.

The declaration, which actually is little more than a press release, followed a meeting of Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石), Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill in Cairo, Egypt, in 1943. It is a statement of the World War II Allies' intention that, after the Japanese surrender, territory that Japan had "stolen" from China -- including Taiwan and Penghu, would be returned to China.

Pro-unification groups, including the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), have long claimed that this, and the subsequent Potsdam Declaration in 1945, gave China the right to resume sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu.

They claim that the Cairo declaration is a legal document which established the ROC's claim.

The problem is that Taiwan and Penghu were ceded in perpetuity to Japan in 1895 in an internationally recognized treaty and which, in international law, can only be superceded by a similar treaty. But no treaty awards Taiwan and Penghu to the ROC.

The education ministry is planning to add two relevant international treaties to high school history textbooks to indicate that Taiwan is not part of China and that the ROC is not the legal government of Taiwan.

These two treaties -- the San Francisco Peace Treaty of 1951 and Sino-Japan Peace Treaty, better known as the Taipei Treaty, of 1952 -- were deliberately left out in high-school history textbooks during KMT rule.

Pro-independence activists have cited the two agreements to argue that Taiwan's international status is undefined. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, signed in 1951, six years after Japan's defeat and the end of its half-century rule of Taiwan, states that the Japanese government renounces sovereignty over Taiwan and Penghu, but does specify to which government that sovereignty was to be transferred.

The Taipei Treaty affirms the 1951 pact, reiterating that the Japanese government would renounce any claim to to Taiwan, Penghu, the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands. The treaty, again, does not specify the legal successor government of these territories.

While Minister of Education Tu Cheng-sheng (杜正勝) said that the ministry's proposal has not yet been finalized, he said that the ministry would merely present historical facts to include the two treaties in the textbook. He also questioned the legality of the Cairo Declaration.

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