Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.
People have often asked me my opinion of the Lin-Hartzell argument that Taiwan is still subject to determination by the US Military which was victorious (with its allies) over Japan. It is true that the San Francisco Peace Treaty stipulated that Japan give up Taiwan. Yet in 1952 the San Francisco Treaty did not say to whom Taiwan should be given. This was seven years after World War II, and three years after China’s Civil War on the continent ended with the expulsion of Chiang Kai-shek and the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT).
Many feel that there were only two alternatives for Japan, either the Republic of China (ROC) or the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the same two groups that had fought a civil war on the continent. But there is a third unexpressed alternative for this island nation that has suffered colonialism from countries like the Netherlands, Spain, the Manchu Empire and Japan and has been the unfortunate recipient of harboring running refugees like the Ming loyalists under the pirate/trader Koxinga or Chiang Kai-shek and his carpetbagger loyalists. In the two latter cases, the people of Taiwan have been rewarded for their hospitality by being further subjugated for their efforts. But there is still the third alternative and it is simple, finally at long last, return Taiwan to its rightful people, the Taiwanese.
Much ink and paper have been spent in the Lin-Hartzell arguments, and much money has been requested and spent by Lin-Hartzell but to what end? Similarly, Lin-Hartzell have provided many diverse legal examinations and specious arguments woven and interwoven for what end? Ask, what is the mentality of people behind such wrangling? What are they after?
To my mind, Lin-Hartzell are portraying Taiwan and Taiwanese as orphans of the planet begging the USA to admit to its paternity. In effect, they are saying to the USA, “We Taiwanese belong to you, please tell us our fate.” Do Taiwanese want to be in that position?
Some may like this, because of course they hope that somehow, someway they will be allowed to enter the USA master’s mansion and be recognized as heirs to the kingdom with its citizenship and privileges. If they want that, it is much easier to apply for US citizenship as many Taiwanese have already done. The USA has not helped matters much in this case since all it has repeatedly said is that Taiwan’s case is “undetermined.”
Some may see this orphan status as an alternative protection against the hegemonic PRC on the other side of the Strait. But is that true? The dark side of the Lin-Hartzell case is that they want to give the USA permission to say, “OK, enough of this hassle, we will give Taiwan to the PRC in exchange for preferential trade treatment” Sound dangerous? It is possible according to the Lin-Hartzell argument. That is why some suspect that Lin-Hartzell may in effect be agents of the PRC arguing long term that the USA will say Taiwan’s democracy is not worth the hassle. All in all, whatever way you want to cut it, Lin-Hartzell are denying Taiwan’s hard won democracy.
Ask yourself this. Do the people of Taiwan need the permission and approval of the USA to determine their future? Lin-Hartzell say they do. Do the people of Taiwan need the permission of the USA to tell them who their allegiance should be to? Lin-Hartzell say they do. Do the people of Taiwan still want to be orphans whose fate will be determined by a master? Lin-Hartzell want them to be in that position.
My thoughts? First, disregard things on the fate of Taiwan like the fabricated “Consensus of 1992” which was between two parties, the party of the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Then don’t worry about statements like the USA says it believes in “one China.” I have no problem with that, I believe in one China and I also believe in one Taiwan. I also believe in a lot of one-any things.
Instead, believe in the “Consensus of 1996” wherein the Taiwanese freely elected their president and said that their future is in the hands of their voters. Taiwanese did this disregarding any prior claims by either the PRC or the USA; they did this disregarding whether the voters were green or blue in political bent. In three subsequent elections, every four years, Taiwanese have elected their president, legislators etc. and said that they are masters of their future. Lin-Hartzell want to deny or abrogate this reality.
The PRC likewise protested Taiwan’s elections; they said that the Taiwanese do not have that right and that the PRC will not recognize Taiwan’s president as such. Interestingly, Lin-Hartzell side with the PRC on this; they do not want to acknowledge Taiwan’s elections and/or Taiwan’s self-determination of its future. They want to go back to square one. For what end do Lin-Hartzell want to go back to square one?
Ask this question. Did the USA protest Taiwan’s elections? It may not have always been happy with the results of the elections, but each time the USA government congratulated the elected government of Taiwan. This was not just tacit approval; it was open voiced approval by the government that Lin-Hartzell wants to be the determiner of Taiwan’s future.
My advice to Taiwanese? Quit pretending you are orphans. Quit trying to find a back door into the so-called master’s house; you have your own house to live in. Quit trying to say that your house belongs to someone else, whether it be the PRC or the USA. Defend your hard won democracy. Examine what is your true “imagined community” as presented by Benedict Anderson talking on the modern nation state. You have suffered too many colonial outsiders trying to tell you what your fate is; you have already determined it.
Other writings can be found at http://zen.sandiego.edu:8080/Jerome