Yesterday’s Taipei Times had a couple of interesting articles.
The first by Julian Wang is a good one urging President Chen to stop blaming everyone, and do something positive about cross-strait relations. Good comments, Julian.
The second is by Richard Hartzell, a prominent expat in Taiwan who has done a lot of good things in support of the foreign community here, who I respect a great deal. However, I have a strong disagreement with his view on sovereignty issues. His basic analysis is that the Japanese abandoned Taiwan in the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty but did not specify a recipient nation to take sovereignty over Taiwan. Further, he says that under international law, it is the occupying force that attains sovereignty in those cases, and since the US captured Taiwan from Japan, then it became and remains a US territory.
His argument is based on the interpretation that the ROC forces which also occupied Taiwan shortly after retrocession in October 25, 1945 were subordinate to the occupying US troops, and that the US did not transfer sovereignty by inviting ROC troops in and allowing them to take control. It’s a persuasive argument except on this point. There’s a few flaws to it though. Who determines which is the primary or subordinate occupying force? Does the initial liberating force always automatically get to determine sovereignty? If the initial liberating force is subsequently replaced by another occupying force, who is then in control?
In my opinion, the ROC became the primary occupying force shortly after retrocession, and was certainly the primary occupying force by 1949, not to mention by 1952 when Japan formally abandoned their claims to Taiwan. If they had captured the territory or Taiwan from the US by force, this would certainly be true by the above argument alone, so why should it be different if they occupied Taiwan by agreement? It certainly complicates matters that US forces remained in Taiwan for quite a while after this, but that is not necessarily an occupation. The US made no effort to form a governing body in Taiwan, while the ROC did. The US had every opportunity to either object at the ROC governing Taiwan or formally cede Taiwan to the ROC. Instead, the US chose to recognize the ROC government in Taiwan through the late 70s.
I think it is a flimsy argument, and that the ROC qualifies as an occupying force and thus gained sovereignty over Taiwan legally.
(As an aside, I suspect Richard Hartzell was the one who left the anonymous comment in my April 26 entry on my subscription problems.)