The Significance of the Cairo Declaration Should Be Restored in the History Curriculum
Author: Lin Man-houng, Adjunct Research Fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica
Translator: Tyler Bennett
The Kuomintang’s recently announced presidential campaign policies include the consolidation of national identity through adjustments to middle school curriculum. In the fifty years from 1957 to 2006, Taiwan's high school history textbooks stated that the Cairo Declaration confirmed that Taiwan's sovereignty lies with the Republic of China. In the ten years across 2006 to 2011 and 2019 to the present, the theory that Taiwan's status is undetermined and the theory of people's self-determination gained primacy. In the six years between 2012 and 2018, history textbooks described “the process of the confirmation of Taiwan's international status,” which aimed to depict the importance of the Treaty of Peace between the Republic of China and Japan (simplified as the Sino-Japanese Peace Treaty or the Treaty of Taipei), but it had little apparent effect. Further explanation regarding the relationship between the Cairo Declaration and the present Taiwan and the significance of this declaration to safeguarding security across the Taiwan Strait might help Taiwan both internally and externally.
The Cairo Conference was held eighty years ago between November 22 and November 26, 1943. Before the meeting, the Allied powers led by the United States and Britain achieved important victories in Europe and the Pacific. Italy surrendered, Germany lost against the Soviet Union and was defeated across Africa. The United States had won many battles including the Battle of Midway and the Solomon Island campaigns. Only the counterattacks against Japan in the Western Pacific remained to be handled. At this time, T.V. Soong, the Foreign Minister of the Republic of China, and Mei-ling Soong, wife of Chiang Kai-shek, traveled to the United States to seek support. After their return, they sent many telegrams expressing hope that the Republic of China’s independent war against Japan could become a joint war fought together with the Allied powers.
In order to achieve victory and prepare for the post-war world, the United States and Britain convened what was to be the sole summit of World War II focused on the Asian theater, and the United States was the more eager of the two. The communiqué drafted for the meeting was published by the United States and Britain on December 1 of the same year with the approval of the Soviet Union. This communiqué is commonly known as the Cairo Declaration in Taiwan.
According to the Cairo Declaration, “The three great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan.” It continues, “It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied [...], and that the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as [...] Formosa and the Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China.” Lastly, the communiqué states, “With these objects in view the three Allies, in harmony with those of the allies at war with Japan, will continue to persevere in the serious and prolonged operations necessary to procure the unconditional surrender of Japan.” The transfer of Taiwan and Penghu to the Republic of China was to be carried out after the surrender of Japan.
After Japan's defeat, all documents of surrender mandated observation of the Potsdam Declaration. Article 8 of this declaration states, “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out...” President Truman of the United States approved General Order No. 1 of the Supreme Command for the Allied Powers, which required that Chiang Kai-shek take command of Taiwan. The Allies ended war with Japan, and Japan accepted Article 4 of the San Francisco Peace Treaty. Article 26 of this treaty set the Republic of China and Japan to sign the separate Taipei Peace Treaty and gave it the same legal effect as the San Francisco Peace Treaty. The Allies expedited the completion of the Taipei Peace Treaty, and one result of this was Diplomatic Note No. 1, which established the area under effective rule of the Republic of China as the scope of implementation. The United Nations also registered the Taipei Peace Treaty as No. 1858 in the United Nations Treaty Series.
The preface to the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and China signed between the People’s Republic of China and Japan mentions that the principles expressed in the 1972 joint statement between the two governments should be strictly observed. In this statement, Japan insisted on following the Potsdam Declaration.
The Cairo Declaration also brought the government of the Republic of China to try its best to hold out against the two-fifths of Japan’s military that was stationed in China for one year and nine months, allowing the United States to devote itself entirely to dealing with Japan in the Pacific War. US victory in this war conversely allowed China to retrieve the massive territories it had lost.
The Cairo Declaration enabled the Republic of China to become one of the world's top four powers and laid the stage for its subsequent participation in the founding of the United Nations as well as its Security Council membership. During the Second Sino-Japanese War, the death toll of government troops was approximately seven times that of the Communist troops. The government army mainly staged counterattacks targeting the Japanese in urban areas, which set the stage for the Communist army to encircle the cities from the countryside.
In May 1971, before the Republic of China withdrew from the United Nations on October 25 of that year, US President Nixon sent Robert Murphy as a special envoy to Taiwan. President Chiang Kai-shek had already nodded in agreement to the dual representation proposal in the United Nations but had reservations about the Security Council position. From the preceding description, we can come to an understanding of his state of mind at the time.
Chapter 1, Article 1 of the United Nations Charter states that its purpose is "to bring about by peaceful means, in conformity with the principles of justice and international law, adjustment or settlement of international disputes or situations which might lead to a breach of the peace..." In line with this purpose, this editorial is aimed to assist the People's Republic of China propose the most realistic and reasonable countermeasures to Taiwan Strait security from its position on the United Nations Security Council.
"The Significance of the Cairo Declaration Should Be Restored in the History Curriculum," United News Network, https://udn.com/news/story/7339/7607951, reviewed on November 30, 2023.