To the Editor: San Francisco and Taipei Treaties on Taiwan sovereignty

May 1, 2009
Taipei Times, Page 8

All were clear on treaty

President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) seems to be laboring in a bit of confusion as he ponders the 1952 Treaty of Taipei and its implications for who has ultimate sovereignty on Taiwan (“Treaty confirmed sovereignty: Ma” April 29, page 3).

There was no such confusion among the signatories of the San Francisco Treaty (“China” had been excluded from the negotiations because of the disagreement among the participants as to who actually represented the government of that country). Nor was the Republic of China’s (ROC) foreign minister George Kung-chao Yeh (葉公超) confused.

At the San Francisco Treaty, US delegate John Foster Dulles admitted it “would have been neater” if the treaty specified precisely “the ultimate disposition of each of the ex-Japanese territories” but cautioned that to do so “would have raised questions as to which there are now no agreed answers.” The British delegate stated: “The treaty provides for Japan to renounce its sovereignty over Formosa and the Pescadores Islands. The treaty itself does not determine the future of these islands.”

The Soviet delegate was indignant that “this draft grossly violates the indisputable rights of China to the return of integral parts of Chinese territory: Taiwan, the Pescadores, the Paracel and other islands … The draft contains only a reference to the renunciation by Japan of its rights to these territories but intentionally omits any mention of the further fate of these territories.”

The US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, which recommended the treaty for ratification, also took this view. Its report on the treaty dated Feb. 14, 1952, asserted: “It is important to remember that article 2 is a renunciatory article and makes no provision for the power or powers which are to succeed Japan in the possession of and sovereignty over the ceded territory.”

Although the ROC was not a party to the San Francisco Treaty, the ROC signed a separate “Treaty of Peace” with Japan in Taipei on April 28, 1952, which simply “recognized” that “Japan has renounced all right, title and claim to Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores).” ROC foreign minister Yeh explained this provision in Legislative Yuan interpellations, noting that the Taipei treaty made “no provision ... for the return [of Taiwan and the Penghus] to China.” He asserted, instead, that the ROC had “de facto” control of the islands, and therefore, “Inasmuch as these territories were originally owned by us and as they are now under our control … they are, therefore, in fact restored to us.” Still, he had to admit that “no provision has been made either in the San Francisco Treaty of Peace as to the future of Taiwan and Penghu.”

This raised anxieties among the legislators during the Legislative Yuan interpellations on the Taipei Treaty who bluntly demanded to know: “What is the status of Formosa and the Pescadores?” He replied: “The delicate international situation makes it that they do not belong to us. Under present circumstances, Japan has no right to transfer Formosa and the Pescadores to us; nor can we accept such a transfer from Japan even if she so wishes.”


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