On 8 June 16, the Assistant Director of the Taipei Representative Office in Singapore, Ms Tsai Chi Yuan wrote to the Straits Times and clearly stated the how Taiwan has been administering the South China Sea islands since the 1930s with full acknowledgement by countries in the region and the world. Here are some of the key points raised by Ms Tsai:
‘Whether from the perspective of history, geography or international law, the Nansha (Spratly) Islands, Shisha (Paracel) Islands, Chungsha Islands (Macclesfield Bank) and Tungsha (Pratas) Islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of Taiwan's territory and waters.
When France attempted to occupy nine of the Shisha and Nansha islands in 1931 and 1933 during its colonisation of Annam (known today as Vietnam), Taiwan responded to this challenge by ordering its embassy in France to issue statements of sovereignty.
On April 29, 1930, at the Far Eastern Meteorological Conference in Hong Kong, the Taiwan-operated observatory in Tungsha Islands was acknowledged as the most important in the South China Sea. The Philippine representative for the Manila Observatory's suggestion that Taiwan set up meteorological observatories on the Shisha and Chungsha islands to enhance navigation safety was also passed unanimously….the International Civil Aviation Organisation's conference in Manila on Oct 27, 1955, a resolution was passed for Taiwan to provide weather reports on the Tungsha, Shisha and Nansha islands….
After World War II, with assistance from the Allies, Taiwan took formal possession in 1946 of South China Sea islands formerly seized by Japan.
The San Francisco Peace Treaty, which entered into force on April 28, 1952, and the Treaty of Peace between Taiwan and Japan signed on the same day, reaffirmed that the South China Sea territories occupied by Japan should be returned to Taiwan.’
And Taiwan is part of China under Chiang Kai Shek that claimed to rule the whole of China as the Republic of China until the PRC replaced the ROC in the UN in 1971.
The historical facts quoted by Ms Tsai were known to the Americans. The Americans cannot plead ignorance to the Treaty of San Francisco and the Treaty of Potsdam. And the Americans have also signed the following treaties with Spain and Britain that were very clear on the sovereignty of the South China Sea islands and the delineation of the Philippines territories. The Chinese islands did not belong to the Philippines as recorded in the 1898 Treaty of Paris between the US and Spain, the 1900 Treaty of Washington between US and Spain and the 1930 Treaty between Britain and the US, all excluded the ‘disputed’ islands as Philippines territory.
How then can the Americans be constructive and defuse the problems and tension in the South China Sea? It simply calls upon the Americans to be honest, honourable, to acknowledge and recognize the terms of these treaties that all clearly said the islands belong to China. It calls upon the American to honour all legally binding international treaties and obligations, to obey the rule of law that they are violating but accusing China of committing when China was playing by the rules of law.
By not wanting to talk about these treaties that were crafted by the Americans and pretending that they did not exist, the Americans are not only dishonest, dishonourable but also very mischievous. The irony is that the Americans are accusing the Chinese of using coercive tactics and might is right to intimidate and bully its neighbours. When the Americans are honest and honourable, and to wave these treaties to the claimant countries and telling them to recognize the terms in these treaties, all the claims by Japan and the Asean claimant countries would become irrelevant, illegal and unfounded. It would then be a case of unreasonable claims by Japan and the Asean countries on Chinese territories. And the issue of coercion, might is right or freedom of navigation will come to a natural end.
Would the Americans do the honourable thing by being honest and tell the historical truths that are written in these treaties that the Americans wrote and signed? There is no dispute in the South China Sea and the claims were based on fallacies and spurious logic and the Americans knew. It is time that the Americans stop their mischievous agenda and defuse the tension in the South China Sea by telling the truths in these treaties.