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Home Editorials of Interest Taipei Times China’s ‘sacred’ claim to Taiwan

China’s ‘sacred’ claim to Taiwan

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Sun Yat-sen (孫逸仙) visited Taiwan three times. The first time, he stayed for a month and a half, while the second and third times were just brief stopovers. He never questioned that Taiwan’s sovereignty and territory belonged to Japan at the time.

However, on Nov. 11, at a ceremony marking the 150th anniversary of Sun’s birth, Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) repeated the hackneyed argument that Taiwanese are China’s “Taiwanese compatriots,” adding that Taiwan and China are part of “one China.” Were he still alive, Sun would have been stunned by Xi’s remarks.

As anyone familiar with Chinese history knows, the country has experienced more war than peace: The territories of the Qin, Han and Tang dynasties all differed in size, and even the Qing empire varied in size by as much as 1.8 million square kilometers, about 50 times the size of Taiwan. What does “China’s inherent territory” really mean?

When Emperor Yongzheng (雍正) of the Qing Dynasty took the throne in 1722, he said: “Taiwan has not been part of China since antiquity. My Father [emperor Kangxi, 康熙] traveled far and brought it into his realm.”

Still China’s State Council in 1993 said in a white paper that “Taiwan has been part of China since antiquity. It is an integral part of China’s sacred territory.”

It is obvious who was lying.

When China establishes diplomatic relations with another country, it never asks it to “recognize” that Shandong, Guangxi, Hunan or Hebei provinces are part of China, but it makes a big deal of making them “recognize” that Taiwan is. This is more of a confession that Taiwan is only a part of China in Beijing’s virtual world.

Although Beijing is working hard to obtain this “recognition,” the US, the UK, Japan, France, Germany and another 125 nations are only willing to “acknowledge,” “understand and respect,” or “take note of” China’s claim.

Taiwan was included in Qing territory in April 1684, but it was ceded to Japan on April 17, 1895, through the Shimonoseki Treaty.

As stated in the treaty: “China cedes to Japan in perpetuity and full sovereignty” the Pescadores group and “the island of Formosa, together with all islands appertaining or belonging to the said island of Formosa.”

Taiwan belonged to China for 211 years, from 1684 to 1895, and it is delusional to claim that it is an inherent part of Chinese territory. The Chinese take pride in their 5,000 years of history, but Taiwan was not part of it either during the first 4,700 years or the past 120 years.

Of course, Chinese often exaggerate by drawing forced analogies between facts and anecdotes, travel stories, poems and even pirate stories in their attempts to forge connections with this “inherent territory.”

China’s State Council proclaimed in a 2012 white paper that China first discovered, named and used the Diaoyutai Islands (釣魚台), and that they are part of China’s inherent territory, but a 1969 map drawn by China, designated them the “Senkaku Islands” and marked them as Japanese. Contradictory, to say the least.

Yang Fu (楊孚) of the Eastern Han Dynasty said in his Records of Rarities: “There are islands in the Rising Sea; and the water there is shallow and filled with magnetic rocks.”

Based on Yang’s writings, Beijing has made the preposterous claim that the South China Sea is an inherent part of China’s territory, as it discovered and started administering the South China Sea, and especially the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) and their adjacent waters, during the Eastern Han Dynasty more than 2,000 years ago.

If China can make such nonsensical territorial claims about its inherent territory, then what is stopping it from claiming that Japan is part of its inherent territory? After all, Huang Zunxian (黃遵憲), the Qing envoy to Japan under Emperor Tongzhi (同治), wrote in his The History of Japan that Emperor Jimmu — the legendary first Japanese emperor — was Chinese.

It would no longer matter whether the Diaoyutais belonged to Taiwan or Japan, as both countries belong to China, sovereignty over the Diaoyutais would still fall in Beijing’s lap.

Finally, Afghanistan, Hungary, India, Korea, Syria, Turkey and Vietnam were all conquered by Mongol troops. Why do not the Chinese authorities announce that those countries are also China’s inherent territory and integral parts of its sacred land?

Chang Kuo-tsai is a former deputy secretary-general of the Taiwan Association of University Professors and a retired professor of National Hsinchu University of Education.

Translated by Eddy Chang

Source: Taipei Times - Editorials 2016/11/24

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