KaiwenLee wrote:By "possession" I mean "ownership"....
If one chooses instead to understand "possession" in the sense of "keeping", or even "holding in trust"....
I thought you had said earlier in this thread -- "it can be argued (this is not my argument, BTW) that Taiwanese sovereignty is held in trust by the US"
Note the words "this is not my argument". The above paragraph was my first attempt to distinguish the different definitions of "possession". With respect to the issue of soveignty, only the first definition (that of ownership) is relevant, as to hold sovereignty (or to be the sovereign) means
Poagao wrote:China was forced to "give away" many bits of land based on treaties that were themselves based on military force or threat thereof.
If this argument -- that Shimonoseki were invalid because China was "forced" to sign -- were to be given currency, it could equally be applied to every peace treaty ever signed
. By definition, the losing side in a war is being "forced" to capitulate to the terms of the treaty. Imagine Germany repudiating the Treaty of Westphalia and demanding the return of Alsace or Pomerania. Imagine a later Germany disavowing the Treaty of Versailles on the basis that Germany wasn't even allowed to participate in negotiations, but simply forced to sign terms dictated by the victors. Imagine Great Britain repudiating the Treaty of Paris and demanding the return of the thirteen colonies. Imagine Mexico repudiating the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo and demanding the return of New Mexico and California. In short, imagine every country on the losing end of a war suddenly unilaterally abbrogating their peace treaties and demanding the reversal of terms. What a mess we would be in.
In any case, China doesn't even make its argument consistently. If China's abbrogation reverses the cession of Taiwan, it should equally reverse other stipulations, such as the other
territories ceded by China, or the 200 million taels paid in reparation. Yet China has never asked for the return of either.
But the fact is, peace treaties are
legal documents, internationally recognized no matter how the losing side personally feels about them. And peace treaties cannot be unilaterally abbrogated unless they contain a stipulation permitting it (as in the recent unilateral abbrogation by the US of certain arms treaties with Russia). Shimonoseki contains no such clause.
Further, even if done legally, abbrogation does not applied to fulfilled
clauses. All fulfilled stipulations are held legally to "cease to exist" at the moment of their fulfillment, and are thus unabrogatable. Hence, for example, the war reparations paid by China are unreturnable as that stipulation was fulfilled at the time China made the final payment. Similarly, the stipulation ceding Taiwan to Japan ceased to exist legally speaking at the moment of cession, and is similarly unabbrogatable. China's argument, in short, is "unique" and unsupportable in international law.
Poagao wrote:And what of the people who are actually living in the house, who have always lived in the house?
Now we're back to the moral argument which, BTW, I am quite sympathetic to. It is an unfortunate fact, however, as I pointed out in a recent message, that moral arguments carried very little weight. And you are correct: the Taiwanese have never had a say in their own fate. Immoral as this may be, there's little that can be done about it.