Taxi Talk

Taxi by Patrick Cowsill
Taxi, a photo by Patrick Cowsill on Flickr.

I took the above taxi yesterday. I asked the driver about the two American flags sticking out the back. He asked me if I knew about San Francisco. "Sure," I said. "I've been there many times."

"No, San Francisco 1952? The Treaty of San Francisco?"

The Treaty of San Francisco clarified that Japan did not have any claim over Taiwan after the Second World War. Chapter II, Article 2, (b) states the following: "Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores." This a bit redundant, especially since Japan agreed to give up all claims in the summer of 1945 when she agreed to the terms of the Potsdam Declaration in order to unconditionally surrender.

According to the taxi driver, Taiwan still belongs to the U.S. He asked me how I felt about that. "I'm not really into having colonies. And how does this serve Taiwan?" I asked. "If it is how you say, wouldn't it be better just to give Taiwan back to Taiwan?"

"You can't give Taiwan back to Taiwan because China will steal it every time," was the reply.

I'm looking at Potsdam right now. The terms state Japan would return to its pre-1895 status; it doesn't make mention of Taiwan returning to China. Why would it? The China of 1945 was a much different thing than the China of 1895. Plus, China signed the Treaty of Shimonoseki to get rid of Taiwan. In other words, China didn't want Taiwan.

I can't find anything in the San Francisco Treaty that says the Republic of China can set up here (I admit I should read it more closely). The Republic of China wasn't even invited to San Francisco to attend.

There is something in the Potsdam Declaration that could possibly validate China's presence: "the occupation of points of Japanese territory to designated to the Allies." Formosa isn't mentioned by name.

I can't help but to think of recent news in regard to the "occupation" word. The KMT government has set about to revise "history" textbooks once again. The plan is to call the Japanese colonial era an occupation and then have it taught to our kids, even though Japan signed a treaty in 1895 to receive and govern Taiwan. The revisers are not calling the KMT arrival an "occupation of points of Japanese territory," etc. They don't seem to think it's an occupation at all.

Business card 


Jay Cowsill said...

Where is the treaty or legal document that would justify the cab driver's belief that Taiwan had ever belonged to the U.S.? Is he simply basing this on some theory of a right of conquest? If so, if Taiwan belonged to the U.S. after WWII, why didn't the same hold for Korea--or Japan itself?

Patrick Cowsill said...

I don't have any problem with that. I don't know about right of conquest; he really doesn't want anything to do with China was my take. By bringing up the Treaty of SF, he can think it's not just purely emotional, cultural and so on, but that some kind of legality backs him up.

Something did pop out at me in the terms. Japan had to state Korea was an independent country.

BTW, I suppose some might say Japan's voice internationally has belonged to the US since the war, and that belonging to and being controlled by are similar.

James said...

Amazing card and flag!Did he make that stuff himself?

Couple of things: SF and Treaty of Taipei that same year(which the KMT clings to as the 'proof' even though it also clearly doesn't transfer Taiwan to the ROC but is just bilateral agreement recognising end of the war) were obviously formal clarifications of what was laid down in the Instrument of Surrender (incorporating Potsdam). These latter - as you know - did not actually mention Taiwan and the Pescadores, Kinmen etc.

As for the claim that China didn't want Taiwan, true or not (I don't think it is as it had only relatively recently incorporated it as part of Fujian province and was starting to make some semblance of effort in developing it*), the ceding cannot be used to back this up. They'd had their arses kicked and had no choice.

* I know you don't agree but you'll note that I couched my point in weak terms. :)

Jay: Taiwan's position is unique as no 'recipient' was specified and there was no clarification of its status. There was in the other two case and in fact, the US did/does to some extent occupy those two countries. A visit to Okinawa will make that clear.

Remember when those guys tried to 'sue' the US, Patrick, for not claiming Taiwan. I think Chen was trying that malarkey, too, as a desperate attempt to get off the hook.

Patrick Cowsill said...

"They'd had their arses kicked and had no choice."

China explored wiping their hands of Taiwan before. In 1683 for example the emperor wanted to pull out of this "blob of mud" as he referred to it and was talked out of it by his military leaders. They abandoned Taiwan for a short time in the 1730s too, when the duck farmer in Tainan and his gang went on a rampage. So I think it is fair to say that Shimonoseki might have been signed with not the heaviest of hearts. 159 uprisings in 212 years of Ching rule can be seen as a headache. At the very least, we should not forget this.

On the card, I think they're his invention. You can email him if you want (I'll give you his email if you are interested).

Mike said...

It was an occupation. What's wrong with that term? There was wide resistance all over Taiwan against the Japanese aggressors.

Are you high on shrooms?

Patrick Cowsill said...


That's fine. But are you willing to label the 2-28 massacre -- look it up -- and martial law for 38 years -- um, look it up -- an occupation? Nothing but a series of occupations going on here. Let's get that straight right now.

"Are you high on shrooms?" How is this related to the discussion we have going on? I think I will pull something out of left field to respond. Am I high on shrooms? Touche. Are you a fucking moron?

The Taiwanese rebelled against the Ching Dynasty (this total leaves any rebellions against the Japanese in the dust) 159 times in 212 years. I might add the Japanese were actually led to the gates of Taipei by concerned Taiwanese citizens.

"There was wide resistance all over Taiwan against the Japanese aggressors." That is b.s. It was fairly limited. It did occur, but it was not a "wide resistance." In most parts of Taiwan, there was no resistance at all.

Combine_Dave said...

Too wrongs don't make a right :P

Patrick Cowsill said...

"Too wrongs don't make a right :P"

Which means what?

As you must know, as a frequent contributor of nonsense, that I do not censor. Some have said I should. I suppose the reason I allow you to continue braying undermines you (or would, if you could ever figure out how to get coherent, witty, etc.). This is what I do think: your idiocy should be preserved as a means for embarrassing you into not coming back.

Theo said...


Combine_Dave said...

That's hardly a successful tactic. But certainly more noble then censorship.

The crimes committed by the imperial Japanese government in Taiwan are not somehow invalidated by those committed by the KMT during 2-28 massacre.

According to Wiki:

"in December a series of anti-Japanese uprisings occurred in northern Taiwan, and would continue to occur at a rate of roughly one per month. By 1902, however, most anti-Japanese activity amongst the ethnic Chinese population had died down. Along the way, 14,000 Taiwanese, or 0.5% of the population had been killed"


It seems that modern USA position is that Taiwan is not part of UAA nor independent of China.


Combine_Dave said...

My apologies.

Should read USA. Not UAA.

Patrick Cowsill said...


Do you have the stats for 2-28?

Wait a minute... I think it is at around 30,000 Taiwanese, in the matter of a few months. It seems a lot of the individuals who perished were not revolutionaries. Their main crime was to occupy a position of power; they were professors, bureaucrats and the like. Those positions were coveted by people fleeing China. You should think about this. The reason they were on the run was they had failed in China. They were not wanted there. The people in China were sick of them.

Does your wiki research also provide any insight into the amount of Taiwanese that perished in the 159 uprisings that occurred over 212 years of Ching Dynasty rule here in Taiwan, when this country was under the thumb of China?

You are posting wiki to back up your propaganda? What else do you have have your silly sleeve?

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Shelly Boris said...

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