Kinmen and Matsu, Where Do They Belong? To Taiwan or China?

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Friday April 10, by Jerome F. Keating Ph.D.

In my posting of March 7, "Taiwan Was Never Part of China's Civil Wars, Part II," and "Taiwan, Samoa, US Passports for All? Who Knows?" (February 5) I mentioned the recent case of Lin/Hartzell that was before the US Court of Appeals in Washington DC. Well the Court of Appeals issued its verdict yesterday, and while it denied Lin/Hartzell's cause, it opened up a whole different Pandora's Box on Taiwan's sovereignty, status, and rights. Point blank, it admitted that the US policy of ambiguity for over the past sixty years had trapped the citizens of Taiwan in "political purgatory."

The Lin/Hartzell case had argued that after the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty (SPFT) the US as the chief occupying power after World War II still enjoyed sovereign authority over Taiwan. Why? The SPFT stated that Japan had to relinquish control over Taiwan and Penghu, but it never said to whom. With that answer still in limbo, by default or right, Lin/Hartzell have argued that the US still remains the principal occupying power of the island and maintains control. This then even raises the tantalizing question as to whether the US should issue the citizens of Taiwan, US passports.

The Court said that it could not rule in such matters since it would be impinging on the rights of the US Executive Branch which has "deliberately" remained silent. Tell me about it. I have repeatedly written on this and how the US has in effect played Taiwan as a pawn. Certainly after sixty years it is time for the US to make a stronger and clearer decision on supporting Taiwan's hard-won democracy.

Right now because of monetary pressure from the People's Republic of China (PRC), only 23 countries recognize Taiwan as a nation. Likewise Taiwan still cannot gain entry into the United Nations (UN), WHO etc. This is despite the fact that with its population of 23 million people it is larger than 75 per cent of the countries in the UN and economically, it ranks around number 15 in the world.

Lin/Hartzell will appeal and cite examples like Guam, Puerto Rico etc. and while this case is far from over, I want to raise a different issue. What about Kinmen and Matsu? The SFPT states that Japan will give up Taiwan and Penghu which were part of its colony. But Kinmen and Matsu were never part of Japan's colony, and Kinmen and Matsu have never been under the PRC. So where do they belong? Are they in the limbo of limbo, the purgatory of purgatory? If China's Civil War is over, then they belong to China and perhaps Taiwan should give them back to the PRC.

Another thought is that perhaps Taiwan should let all of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) members like Kuo Kuan-ying who want to unify with China, move to those two islands. That would clear the riff-raff out of Taiwan and let the rest of the people get about the business of strengthening Taiwan's democracy. The majority of the population on Kinmen and Matsu identify more with China than with Taiwan anyway. What do you think?