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Searching for a symbol

Mon, Dec 03, 2012 - Page 8

At first reading it seems hard to dispute a hearty call to wave the national flag as a way to promote a sense of patriotism among the readers of this newspaper. However, after some careful research and reflection, I feel I must object to the comments made in Chang Shin-ping's recent letter (Letter, Nov. 23, page 8).

Looking at the historical and legal record, it is an indisputable fact that when the Republic of China's (ROC) government moved to Taiwan in December 1949,Taiwan was still a part of the empire of Japan. US General Douglas MacArthur later clarified this in a congressional hearing in May 1951.

The interpretation that the surrender of Japanese troops in Taiwan on Oct. 25, 1945, amounted to the transfer of Taiwan's territorial sovereignty to China is impossible under international law. Indeed, none of the Allies recognized any such transfer. Oct. 25, 1945, only marked the beginning of the military occupation of Taiwan, and international law clearly states that "Military occupation does not transfer sovereignty."

By moving outside of China's national territory, the ROC became a government in exile as of December 1949. There has been no change in this status to date.

Some would argue that the ROC on Taiwan certainly appears to meet all of the Montevideo Convention's criteria for statehood. However, in fact, all of its "qualifying criteria" are bogus: It exercises effective territorial control over Formosa and the Pescadores, but there has been no official transfer of title; the native Taiwanese population was mass-naturalized as ROC citizens in 1946, based on the false premise of "Taiwan Retrocession Day," and in direct violation of the Hague Convention's stipulations regarding the treatment of the populace of occupied territory: It has a government, but it is a government in exile, etc.

Based on the above, I must conclude that in the world today: "Taiwan" is a geographical term and there is no country in the world called the "Republic of Taiwan" (or anything similar), with its own government, population, etc. The ROC flag is not the flag of Taiwan and as a government in exile, the ROC does not exercise sovereignty over Taiwan, but only a high degree of territorial control.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will no doubt take exception to the above and point out that the issuance of ROC passports is the act of a sovereign state. However, I must mention that in a March 18, 2008, District Court Decision in Washington, in Roger Lin versus USA, the judge held that native Taiwanese are essentially stateless. The ministry has yet to offer any "official rebuttal" to the judge's conclusion in that important lawsuit.

One might wonder what symbol can be used to connect Taiwanese around the world. I do not have the answer to that question, but I am sure that it is not the flag of the ROC government in exile.