Examination of Taiwan's Territorial Sovereignty and the ROC's International Legal Position

by Richard W. Hartzell




* The designation of "X" is used to indicate "non existent" or "not yet applicable."

Conclusion: United States Military Government in Taiwan has not yet ended. At the present time, United States' administrative authority over Taiwan is still active.

Explanation of this chart: This chart provides a timeline of major events which have some relevance to a discussion of Taiwan's sovereignty and ROC's international legal position in the present era. Twenty-five events are categorized, plus an additional entry for "Today."

The following considerations are particularly notable:
  1. As of April 28, 1952, the sovereignty of Taiwan is not owned by the PRC, Japan, or the ROC. This is explained in columns one to three.

  2. Although many Taiwanese politicians claim that "Taiwan equals the ROC," column four clearly shows that this is not true at any time.

  3. The ROC's status in the United Nations is given in column five. Upon the founding of the United Nations, the ROC was recognized as the sole legitimate government of China, and it retained this status until it was expelled on October 25, 1971.

  4. The status of the ROC under international law is given in column six. After the founding of the ROC, it was the "juridical person (legal government) of China" until late 1949, when it became the "government in exile of China."

  5. The status of the ROC in the view of the US government is given in column seven. By the late 1930's the ROC was the "recognized legal government of China," and beginning in late 1949, it was the "recognized government in exile of China." By early 1979, the ROC has become the "unrecognized government in exile of China."

  6. Administrative authority over Taiwan by the United States Military Government is given in column eight. The United States is the principal occupying power, and administrative authority by USMG has begun as of October 25, 1945, with the surrender of Japanese troops.

  7. The location of Taiwan's sovereignty is given in column nine. While it is often heard that the Taiwanese people enjoy "popular sovereignty," in practice this just means that they have the right to vote and to elect their representatives to various levels of councils, and to the Legislative Yuan. However, "territorial sovereignty" is held by a government. Taiwan was under military occupation beginning October 25, 1945, and military occupation is an exercise of the rights of sovereignty. Effectively speaking, beginning on October 25, 1945, Taiwan' s territorial sovereignty was held by the principal occupying power as fiduciary relationship and interim status condition, although still owned by Japan. Later, Taiwan was a territorial cession under Article 2b of the SFPT, effective April 28, 1952, but Taiwan's territorial sovereignty was not awarded to the ROC or to the Taiwan governing authorities. Today, Taiwan's territorial sovereignty is still held by the principal occupying power until such time as its military government (i.e. USMG) is legally supplanted.
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