China is China, and Taiwan is Taiwan; that is the reality of history. The CCP established its rule over China when it defeated the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 1949 in the Chinese Civil War. It then went on to conquer and lay claim to Tibet, parts of Mongolia, Xinjiang, and Manchuria. However, it twists reality and history; it has never ruled any part of Taiwan.
By The International Chronicles
As Russia continues its incursions into Ukraine and lays claim to larger parts of the nation, pundits continue to raise and use the words “irredentism” and “revanchism.”
Irredentism, where a country lays claim to land that it feels once belonged to it, is the most prevalent and is proving to be the “go-to” word to describe Russian justification.
This word has, unfortunately, become the curse and bane of our age.
How so? The problems exposed by any irredentist justification always lie in the manipulation of historical details, and namely depend on who is making the claim, what land are they referring to and what point in history they are using to link all this together.
As history contains numerous vast empires and changing boundaries, there are few places on Earth where some people or some nation could not lay a claim and “deserved right” to some adjacent land or territory simply because it once ruled it, or some of “its people” dwelt there at some point in the past.
An obvious example is when German Chancellor Adolph Hitler used irredentism to “reclaim” the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia in 1938. The satisfaction of his claim then ironically established the meme “peace in our time,” which of course it did not.
The issues are never that simple, and too often they ignore related claims by other territorial occupants. Irredentist claims also seem to feed upon success and lead to other claims. The claimants are rarely satisfied.
As a case in point, Hitler then decided that Germany also needed “lebensraum,” the living space necessary for economic self-sufficiency, and so it went. Few need to be reminded of how that did not end well.
The devil, as said, is always in the details, and how any irredentist claims always ignore counterclaims and the basic reality that time moves on. People change, cultures change and territorial concepts of homeland change as well.
Why discuss this? The Ukraine issue raises the challenge of Taiwan’s problematic relations with its hegemonic neighbor, China, and the fact that Taiwanese have to live with false memes such as: “Taiwan has been a part of China from time immemorial,” or “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.”
Such falsehoods need deconstruction, and reveal problems of nomenclature and history, as well as how too many historians oversimplify the past.
Begin by examining some related potential irredentist rights in Asia.
One of the greatest and most extensive empires that were ever built was that established by the Mongols in the 13th century.
The Mongols ruled Asia; only Japan could claim that the “divine wind” kept the Mongols from taking their lands, but few other nations can make that claim.
As a result, to its furthest extent, the Mongol empire went from Korea in the east all the way to Vienna in the west, and from Moscow in the north to present-day Vietnam in the south. So vast was this Mongol Empire that it was eventually divided into four political entities called Khanates.
While it might seem facetious to raise this issue now, if Mongolia ever achieved sufficient nuclear weaponry to bully others, it certainly could have a field day in making irredentist claims on much of its surrounding territory.
Unfortunately, Western historians dating back to the era of Marco Polo oversimplify and misname the Mongol Empire.
This happened especially after the Mongols established what is called the Yuan Dynasty. The reality of Mongol rule is that under the Yuan dynasty, China was not China, it was simply a part of one of the four Khanates of the vast Mongol Empire.
Later in what is called the Ming period, China did break free of Mongol rule and become a country once again.
However, it was later engulfed by the Manchu Empire. China again was not a country, but simply a conquered land that became part of another vast empire.
What has this to do with any claims of irredentism on Taiwan?
Like Japan, Taiwan was one of the few places in Asia that were spared Mongol rule, and for that reason, Mongolia could never make irredentist claims on it.
Yet what about others?
Historically, the colonizing Dutch could be the first to make an irredentist claim to at least a part of Taiwan, and they would soon be followed by the Spanish.
Fleeing Chinese Ming loyalists also briefly ruled over part of Taiwan, but that was quickly extinguished by the Manchus, who ruled the western half of Taiwan for more than two centuries.
They in turn surrendered their part of the island, as well as parts they did not rule, to Japan in 1895.
The first nation that could make an irredentist claim to all of Taiwan would be Japan, a fact that destroys any claims that Taiwan has been a part of China since “time immemorial,” or that it would be an “inalienable” part of China.
This exposes how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), a latecomer, continues to twist history to somehow justify its claim to Taiwan, irredentist or otherwise.
China is China, and Taiwan is Taiwan; that is the reality of history, as is China disappearing from history during the periods when the Mongol and Manchu empires held sway.
The CCP established its rule over China when it defeated the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) in 1949 in the Chinese Civil War. It then went on to conquer and lay claim to Tibet, parts of Mongolia, Xinjiang and Manchuria.
However, it twists reality and history; it has never ruled any part of Taiwan.
These are the facts that pundits must examine if they wish to justify any irredentist claims that the CCP might attempt to make on Taiwan.
Historians should concern themselves with how the CCP twists history and attempts to piggyback its false irredentist claims upon those who the Manchus or Japanese ruled. This reality challenges historians to reconsider their work using guarded nomenclature.
The final challenge would be to unravel the Gordian’s knot of how the Republic of China now claims the island of Taiwan, and why Japan surrendered its sovereignty over Taiwan in the 1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty without naming a recipient.
The answer lies in the matter of the US, the chief victor over Japan in the Pacific War, remaining “undecided” on the status of Taiwan.
Another matter emerges on how, with a slow, bloodless revolution or evolution, Taiwanese since 1996 have freely elected their president and legislators. The US has never objected to the results of any of Taiwan’s presidential elections, rather it has recognized its president as being rightfully chosen by its people to rule that nation.
Taiwan has achieved the right of self-determination as established by the UN for many former colonies at the end of World War II. That is a fact. What the CCP and its power-hungry Marxist mandarins claim when they declaim that Taiwan is “historically part of China” is totally counterfeit.