Posts tagged ‘Phyllis Hwang’

Saturday, February 5, 2011

It’s hard to be a Historian in Taiwan

The Five Represents - snapshot of the Academia online poll by Lianhe Wanbao / Bonaparte

The Five Represents - snapshot of the Academia online poll by Lianhe Wanbao / Bonaparte (click on this picture for full article)

Conducting opinion polls may not be a core task of an institution which officially records a republic’s history, and to conduct an online opinion poll is not scientific.  But this alone didn’t exact   Taiwan’s Academia Historica president Lin Man-houng‘s (林滿紅) head, in December last year. What really finished her were the emerging results of the Academia’s “vote” on the Republic of China’s top 100 most influential figuresMao Zedong was ranking third in the category of political leaders – more than one position ahead of Chiang Kai-shek –, and Deng Xiaoping ranked first in the category of military leaders. That Sun Yat-sen was still at the top of the list of political leaders didn’t really placate KMT legislators and members of the government. Lin had to go. As she resigned, she said that it had been inappropriate to include Mao and Deng in the poll as the purpose is to celebrate the 100 years of the founding of the ROC, but insisted that “Mao and Deng were definitely among the most influential people in the history of the ROC”.

Chinese citizens wouldn’t confuse the ROC’s history with the PRC’s that easily. Chances are that not a single Chinese citizen who attended school for one year would rank Deng Xiaoping or Mao Zedong higher than Sun Yat-sen, when it comes to the ROC’s history. (Where you would find Chiang Kai-shek on their list may be a more complicated question.)

That most Taiwanese “voters” on the Academia’s “poll” blended Deng’s (military) career with the Republic of China’s history probably has a lot to do with the fact that “China”, to many Taiwanese, is a foreign – and hostile – country, and that Taiwan isn’t China. On the other hand, the Republic of China is close to the hearts of the KMT’s leaders.

But let’s not jump to unscientific conclusions. The online poll hardly justified the uproar it provoked. Deng “won” the Republic of China’s top job in the military category with a score of 90 votes, if we may believe Bonaparte‘s or Lianhe Wanbao‘s*) snapshot. Sun Yat-sen came first in the political category with 2,666 votes. That’s hardly a meaningful database.

But anyway, Chiang Ching-kuo (蔣經國) might have taken some pleasure in the results, even if only inwardly (for filial piety): at the time when Lianhe Wanbao looked at the online poll, he bested Mao Zedong (3), plus his father Chiang Ching-kuo [correction, Feb 5: Chiang Kai-shek – JR] ( apparently 4), and came in second only to the Republic’s founding father Sun Yat-sen.

Lu Fang-shang (呂芳上), Lin Man-houng’s successor as the head of Academia Historica, warned in January that Taiwan was risking the loss of its right to interpret the history of the Republic of China.

He said that the many seminars held by China recently to commemorate the Xinhai Revolution of 1911, the last and most important of a series of uprisings led by R.O.C. founding farther Sun Yat-sen that led to the end of the Qing Dynasty, have “carried the purpose of united front operations” against Taiwan,

wrote the China Post.

“It’s predictable that the chronicles compiled by Beijing say that the R.O.C. no longer existed after 1949, and term the R.O.C.’s history after that time as just local history, which are things definitely unacceptable to us,” the historian said.

The claim that Taiwan would be Chinese at all is contested. Japan’s ambassador to Beijing, Uichiro Niwa, highlighted the issue last summer, when he pointed out that Japan had never recognized Taiwan as part of China. As Maysing Yang (then the DPP’s foreign affairs director) and Phyllis Hwang, a lawyer, wrote in a letter to the International Herald Tribune seventeen years earlier,

“After World War II, the Japanese empire was dismantled but Taiwan was never legally reincorporated as part of China. The 1951 San Francisco treaty, in which Japan relinquished its sovereignty over Taiwan, did not specify to whom title to the island would be transferred.”

That, of course, isn’t the KMT’s party line.

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Note
*) Lianhe Wanbao (Evening Post) is a Singapore Press Holdings’ paper, as is Lianhe Zaobao (Morning Post)

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Related
Hsinhai – a Revolutionary Opera, December 2, 2010

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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Sino-Japanese Communiqué: Fully Understood

A-Gu‘s Taiwan Politics Blog links to a report today which quotes Japan’s new ambassador to China, Uichiro Niwa (丹羽宇一郎), as saying that Japan had never recognized Taiwan as part of China. The Liberty Times writes that the ambassador, who hasn’t yet arrived at his new post in Beijing, told a press conference in Tokyo today that Japan’s and China’s joint communiqué of 1972 contained no direct recognition by Japan of Chinese sovereignty claims on Taiwan, and that Japan’s position was rather that it only “understood and respected” that assertion, and that Japan maintained its position on the issue (一九七二年日中共同聲明有關中國對台灣領有權的主張,日本的立場只是「理解並予尊重」,並未直接承認,今後日本對此問題仍然堅持同樣的態度).

Bilateral documents signed by both countries after the joint statement (which was issued on the occasion of establishing diplomatic relations between Tokyo and Beijing) were also based on Tokyo’s non-recognition of China’s assertion that Taiwan were “an inseparable part of [China’s] territory”.

Japanese vice foreign minister Masatake Kazukimi (武正公一) had reportedly made a similar statement in a hearing of one of Japan’s parliamentary committees on May 19 this year, saying that based on the joint statement of 1972, Japan had renounced all its rights to Taiwan in the San Francisco Treaty, but with no recognition of other positions concerning Taiwan’s legal status.

The 1972 communiqué contains Beijing’s “three principles for the restoration of relations”, which include the recognition of the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China, and that the Japanese side reaffirms its position that it intends to realize the normalization of relations between the two countries from the stand of fully understanding the “three principles”.

An Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies paper explains that

three principles as presented by China contained elements which the Japanese Government could not accept. […] With regard to Taiwan, the two sides agreed to state their positions in paragraph 3 of the Joint Communique of September 1972, which says “The Government of the People’s Republic of China reiterates that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the People’s Republic of China. The Government of Japan fully understands and respects this stand of the Government of the People’s Republic of China, and it firmly maintains its stand under Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation.”*) When China raises questions about Japan’s attitudes toward Taiwan, China refers to this Joint Communique. On our part, Japan has always reiterated its commitment to fully comply with the Joint Communique. Japan has also expressed its earnest hope for the peaceful solution of the problems concerning Taiwan by the talks between the parties on both sides of Taiwan Strait.

As A-Gu writes, Uichiro Niwa reiterated a “rarely-spoken fact”. But it is one that other countries which also have diplomatic relations with China should study and take into consideration for their own positions – even when bearing in mind that the KMT, the party currently governing Taiwan, is at odds with Japan’s position. In 1993, Phyllis Hwang, co-wrote an article for the International Herald Tribune, saying that

“After World War II, the Japanese empire was dismantled but Taiwan was never legally reincorporated as part of China. The 1951 San Francisco treaty, in which Japan relinquished its sovereignty over Taiwan, did not specify to whom title to the island would be transferred.”

Yun Feng-Pai, then Information Division Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in New York (and therefore representing a KMT government in 1993), objected to this position in the same paper.

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Note
*) Excerpt from the Potsdam Declaration:
(8) The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku and such minor islands as we determine.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Taiwan Was Temporarily Part of China, but That Was Long Ago

“After World War II, the Japanese empire was dismantled but Taiwan was never legally reincorporated as part of China. The 1951 San Francisco treaty, in which Japan relinquished its sovereignty over Taiwan, did not specify to whom title to the island would be transferred.”

This is from an International Herald Tribune article by Maysing Yang and Phyllis Hwang, in 1993. Hwang was a Human Rights Watch advocate for the international criminal court in 1998.

In 1995, her position on Taiwan was contested by Yun Feng-Pai, Information Division Taipei Economic & Cultural Office in New York, in a letter to the New York Times editor.

Was that in line with the concept of state to state relations with China? Lee Teng-hui stated it in 1996 1999, referring to it as part of constitutional reforms in 1991.

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