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May 26, 2017

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Chen's shadow is getting eclipsed

One thing President Chen has conveniently forgotten is that MacArthur did not issue the general order for the United States, but on behalf of the Allied powers. Nor did MacArthur order the establishment of a military government, American or otherwise. President Harry S. Truman, who had given up on Chiang in 1949 but made an about-face to support him after the outbreak of the Korean War, had an American Embassy opened in Taipei on Aug. 10, 1950, re-recognizing the Republic of China as an independent, sovereign state that has never been under U.S. military occupation. Truman said in his statement announcing the neutralization of the Taiwan Strait that the status of the island would be determined after the Korean conflict was settled. The status of Taiwan as a province of the Republic of China was formally determined by a peace treaty signed in Taipei on Aug. 28, 1952.

Inasmuch as the United States was concerned, Japan could decide on the status of Taiwan, which it earlier renounced under the 1951 Treaty of San Francisco, by choosing either the Republic of China or the People's Republic to end the state of war between them. As Tokyo opted for Taipei, Taiwan belongs to the Republic of China under the 1952 treaty.

Moreover, uti possidetis applies. It is a principle in international law that a conclusion or treaty of peace between belligerents vests in them respectively as absolute property the territory under their actual control and the things attached to it and the movables then in their possession except as otherwise stipulated (as by treaty). Formosa and the Pescadores, which Japan was required to return to the Republic of China in accordance with the Cairo Declaration of 1943, were under control of the government of Chiang Kai-shek when peace was concluded. There was no stipulation otherwise. Japan did not mention to whom Taiwan should belong, but Tokyo's official stance is that Japan was in no position to name the country that would accept the island which was no longer in their possession in accordance with the Peace Treaty of San Francisco.

All this is fully known to President Chen, who, however, is cooking up a bizarre theory of an American military government to get a reprieve, which even he himself may not believe would come. But he has alienated or angered his hardcore independence activist supporters in the process. He has dethroned himself as godfather of Taiwan's independence movement by proclaiming he was a mere petty satrap for the Americans, while he served as president of what he wished to call a republic of Taiwan. As a matter of fact, he admitted his seemingly hard work for an independent Taiwan is nothing but a well-orchestrated con game.

The admission is making it possible for the hard-pressed opposition party to emerge from the long shadow of President Chen. It is more than enough cause for celebration for the party, which scored two wins in an electoral encounter with the ruling Kuomintang on last Saturday. Its candidate won a landslide in a legislative by-election in Yunlin, while voters on the Pescadores rejected a Kuomintang-supported casino referendum.

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