Chapter 2 – Discovering Taiwan’s International Legal Position under the SFPT

Discovering Taiwan’s International Legal Position under the SFPT

In the following pages, much additional information will be given to demonstrate the validity of the above given “Concise Statement of Taiwan’s International Legal Position.”

The goal in presenting this assembled data is to develop an analytical framework whereby any serious student of Taiwan studies can obtain this recognition of Taiwan’s International Legal Position by merely examining (a) the historical record and (b) the Senate-ratified SFPT.

Under Article 6 of the US Constitution, the content of the Senate-ratified SFPT is part of the “supreme law of the land.”

Let us begin with a general overview of recent Taiwanese history.

Notable Historical Events Related to the Recent History of Taiwan and the ROC


Historical Event


Treaty of Shimonoseki


Republic of China is founded


Marco Polo Bridge Incident


Atlantic Charter

1941.12 –


World War II in the Pacific


Cairo Declaration


Potsdam Proclamation


Japan’s Emperor Surrenders


Gen. MacArthur directs “representatives of Chiang Kai-shek to come to Taiwan to accept Japanese surrender


United Nations is founded


Japanese troops in Taiwan surrender

1947.02.28 –


The 228 Incident


People’s Republic of China is founded


Republic of China personnel flee to Taiwan


San Francisco Peace Treaty comes into force


Treaty of Taipei comes into force


ROC – USA Mutual Defense Treaty comes into force


Chiang Kai-shek (ROC) is expelled from United Nations


PRC & USA promulgate “Shanghai Communique”


USA breaks diplomatic relations with ROC


PRC & USA promulgate Second Communique


Taiwan Relations Act takes force


ROC – USA Mutual Defense Treaty is cancelled


PRC & USA promulgate Third Communique


Democratic Progressive Party comes to power


Historical Summary: In the aftermath of the First Sino-Japanese War, Qing China ceded Taiwan to Japan. Following the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki, Japan exercised sovereignty over Taiwan and held title to its territory. The Republic of China (ROC) was founded in 1912, with Dr. Sun Yat-sen as the provisional president. Taiwan, however, having come under Japanese rule in 1895, was not part of the ROC in the early years of the 20th century.

Article XIX of the Limitation of Armament Treaty Between the USA, the British Empire, France, Italy, and Japan, (signed at Washington, Feb. 6, 1922) affirmatively identified Formosa and the Pescadores as part of Japanese territory.

In 1935, Chinese General Chen Yi visited Taiwan to help to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Japanese sovereignty in Taiwan.  At those ceremonies, he  congratulated the Taiwanese on their good fortune to be Japanese subjects. Â In an interview with American journalist Edgar Snow on July 16, 1936, Mao Zedong advocated that Taiwan should be independent out of the Japanese colonial rule.

Most historians mark the beginning of the war between China and Japan began with the Marco Polo Bridge Incident of July 7, 1937.  However, the ROC did not formally declare war against Japan until Dec. 9, 1941, a day after the US Congress declared war against the Japanese Empire on Dec. 8th.  Notably, the US Congress’ announcement was not a “Declaration of War by the Allies.”

The Atlantic Charter was the blueprint for the world after World War II, and became the foundation for many of the international treaties and organizations that shaped the world.  In the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation, and the Japanese Surrender Documents, statements of intention were made to “return” Taiwan to the Republic of China after the war.

The United Nations was founded on Oct. 24, 1945, and the ROC was one of the founding members.  The surrender of Japanese troops in Taiwan was conducted on Oct. 25, 1945.  Importantly, the administration of Taiwan territory after the close of hostilities in WWII was conducted completely separately from that of the four main Japanese islands.

The Feb. 28, 1947 incident and resulting period of “White Terror” in Taiwan resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent civilians.

Near the end of the Chinese Civil War, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded in Beijing on Oct. 1, 1949.  ROC military officers, government personnel, and other loyal supporters fled to Taiwan, where the establishment of a “temporary capital” in Taipei was announced effective Dec. 10, 1949.

The post-war San Francisco Peace Treaty came into force on April 28, 1952, but neither the ROC nor the PRC were signatories.  As per Article 26 of the treaty, a separate Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty (Treaty of Taipei) was concluded between the ROC and Japan , and came into force on Aug. 5, 1952.  This treaty was abrogated by Japan in 1972.

In 1955, the ROC – USA Mutual Defense Treaty came into force.  Article 6 of the treaty recognized the “effective territorial control of the ROC over Taiwan, but not sovereignty. The US Senate’s Committee on Foreign Relations issued a report on this subject dated Feb. 8, 1955.

In late Oct. 1971, the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek (ROC) were expelled from the United Nations, and the China seat was awarded to the representatives of the PRC. The Three Joint Communiques of the USA and the PRC were promulgated in 1972, 1979, and 1982.  The United States broke diplomatic relations with the ROC on Taiwan as of Dec. 31, 1978.  The Taiwan Relations Act was passed by the US Congress in April 1979, and came into force (retroactively) as of Jan. 1, 1979.

The Democratic Progressive Party’s candidate won the ROC Presidential election in 2000, and took office on May 20th, thus ending over fifty years of KMT Presidential politics in Taiwan.

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