excerpt                                                                   excerpt                                                                   excerpt

John Tkacik on Taiwan:
Taiwan's status remains 'unsettled'

Sun, Sep 30, 2007 - Page 8

In July 1971, the State Department's position was: "As Taiwan and the Pescadores are not covered by any existing international disposition, sovereignty over the area is an unsettled question subject to future international resolution."

And this remains the US' stance.

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For the following decade, the State Department kept silent on the matter of Taiwan's sovereignty. In a 1982 letter from the State Department to Republican Senator John East, the department answered the direct and simple question "What is the United States' position on the matter of sovereignty over Taiwan?" with the answer "The United States takes no position on the question of Taiwan's sovereignty."

Aside from that one assertion of agnosticism, the matter had been avoided assiduously for 34 years. Until now.

In June [2007], a mid-level State Department official began answering mail from citizens concerned about Taiwan with the explanation that: "Although the United States recognizes the PRC Government as the sole legal government of China, we have not formally recognized Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan. In fact, we have not made any determination as to Taiwan's political status."

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While it might not seem like it, this year [2007] marks a significant move forward for Taiwan's international status. For the first time in a quarter century, the US Department of State was obliged to reiterate its "long standing" position that the US has "not formally recognized Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan and [has] not made any determination as to Taiwan's political status."

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Moreover, given that Taiwan possesses "a permanent population; a defined territory; government; and capacity to enter into relations with the other states," it meets the description of a "state" under the 1933 Montevideo Convention (which the US ratified on June 29, 1934).

The TSAC does not agree that Taiwan meets the Montevideo Convention's criteria for statehood.   For a full analysis, see Montevideo Convention.

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Once Americans get into the habit of thinking of Taiwan's "sovereignty" as "undetermined," it is just a short distance to the question: "Who has sovereignty over Taiwan if not the people of Taiwan?"

In fact, "popular sovereignty" and "territorial sovereignty" are two totally different concepts.   For a full explanation, see Popular Sovereignty.

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