Last Thursday was the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Beijing has intensified its propaganda recently, inflating its position to that of a leading world power.
Beijing produced a film called the The Founding of a Republic (建國大業), but that republic is in fact built on 60 years of oppressing its own people. Yet some Taiwanese were proud to be invited to attend China’s national day festivities. This makes them accomplices of a one-party authoritarian state.
By comparison, Taiwanese writer Lung Ying-tai (龍應台) has a new book out — Big River, Big Sea — Untold Stories of 1949 (大江大海一 九 四 九). At a time when the victor celebrates its national day, she relates the love and hate of the loser.
We must be careful as people remember the civil war to prevent incorrect historical interpretations.
Although the perspectives of the civil war’s winner and loser differ, they share common ground in that they are both the reflections of Chinese people and their vision for the future.
Certainly, they both want to include Taiwan in their discourse in the hope that the Taiwanese will be fascinated by these historical stories and begin to identify with China. In other words, both the film and the book seek to deconstruct and reconstruct the Taiwanese people’s memory and identity. We should be on guard against this trap and aware of the disaster the Chinese civil war brought to Taiwan. Only in this way can we extract ourselves from the China dilemma and become a normal country.
In 1949, after the devastation of the civil war and the defeat of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the PRC replaced the Republic of China (ROC).
This was essentially a Chinese change of dynasties that had nothing to do with the Taiwanese people.
Unfortunately, four years before this change, when World War II ended in 1945, General Order No. 1 of the Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers (General Douglas McArthur), stated that the Japanese forces in Taiwan should surrender to generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) troops and Taiwan was thus temporarily placed under Chiang’s military control.
After that, the outcome of the Chinese civil war became clear and the ROC government fled to Taiwan, where it began martial law rule with slogans such as “Retrocession of Taiwan” (光復台灣) and “Reconquering the Mainland” (反攻大陸).
The Cold War ensued, with the West attempting to block the expansion of communism, and the Western countries led by the US had no choice but to tacitly agree to the existence of the ROC government in exile.
Despite this, Article 2 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which took effect in 1952, clearly states that: “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.”
In other words, the post-war measures as specified in the international treaty signed by the victorious and defeated nations only state that Japan should give up Taiwan, but did not specify any country as the successor.
In accordance with principles of international law, Taiwan’s sovereignty belongs to the Taiwanese people. The PRC’s claim that Taiwan is part of China and the ROC’s claim that Taiwan was returned to it are groundless.
From this perspective, the significance of the 60th anniversary of the PRC’s founding to the Taiwanese people is that Taiwan remains occupied by the ROC to this day. The fact that the ROC does so without having sovereignty over Taiwan is used by the PRC as the reason for claiming that Taiwan is part of China.
After the PRC replaced the ROC in China in 1949, it tried to claim sovereignty over ROC-occupied Taiwan. However, the relationship between Taiwan and the ROC is simply a problem created by World War II that still remains to be resolved. Taiwan is not part of the ROC.
Even if the ROC in Taiwan were to surrender to the PRC someday, Taiwan would still not be part of China.
President Ma Ying-jeou’s (馬英九) government often claims that it would never sell out Taiwan. The fact is that it has no right to do so even if it wanted to because Taiwan’s sovereignty does not belong to the ROC.
Still, the government’s policies indicate its intent to work with Beijing to annex Taiwan.
Thus, the ROC and PRC seem bent on dealing with Taiwan between themselves.
This will be accomplished using military threats and economic and political integration to create a national identity.
By doing this, China can surround Taiwan on all sides as it integrates it.
The governments of both sides of the Taiwan Strait have been pushing for unification lately — offering incentives while quietly brainwashing the public.
Taiwanese must have a clear understanding of history and a firm national identity so as not to fall into a trap they cannot get out of.
TRANSLATED BY EDDY CHANG
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