“Taiwan defends plans to develop long range nuclear missiles”(Taipei, Dec 9 1999 AFP). A top Taiwanese official on Thursday defended his government’s right to develop long-range missiles after US reports said China was building a new missile base targeting the island of Taiwan.
During the period of the Opium War, a British fleet tried to occupy Keelung harbor in north Taiwan but eventually failed. This was the first aggressive move on Taiwan by imperialist powers. In October 1856, the “Arrow” incident which occurred in Canton induced a Second Opium War, and as a result four Tientsin treaties were concluded during June, 1858. Based on the Tientsin treaties, Tamsui, Keelung, Anping and Takao were opened to the West, and western missionaries were allowed to propagate Christianity in Taiwan.
The summaries of treaties signed at that time were: (1) Abolish government monopoly of camphor business, permit foreigners and their employees to freely buy and sell camphor products; (2) Permit foreign merchants to travel freely in Taiwan; (3) Indemnify for the losses of churches, forbid the residents to slander Christianity; (4) Missionaries are given the right to live in Taiwan and propagate Christianity; (5) Complications between the natives and foreigners should be jointly judged by Ch’ing authorities and the British Council.
In 1871 an incident occurred where sixty-six Miyakojima residents of Ryukyu drifted into southern Taiwan, where fifty-four were killed by aborigines. This became known as the “Botan Incident”, which Japan quickly used to try and win recognition of its territorial right to Ryukyu. The following year the Japanese government set up a consulate in Fuchow and sent a consul to spy on Taiwan. Japan also hired ex-American consul of Amoi, C.W. LeGendre, who was well acquainted with Taiwan affairs, to act as an advisor to the Foreign Affairs Department. These moves were part of the preparation for a military venture into Taiwan.
Japanese troops led by Saigo, departed from Nagasaki on May 17, and landed near Hengchun in southern Taiwan. The Japanese troops successfully occupied the “barbaric territory by June. With Japan fighting for control of Taiwan, elite’s and residents of Taiwan, who advocated fighting to the last, already had their minds set on Taiwan independence. With preparation of Taiwan independence swiftly under way, a “Declaration of the Independence of Taiwan Democratic Republic” was proclaimed on May 23, 1895. On May 24, the Declaration was translated into several foreign languages and distributed to various consulates stationed in Taiwan, and on the 25th, an Independence Ceremony was held.
Contrary to the Japanese army’s expectation, suppression of the north was easily achieved. If everything continued as it was, it wouldn’t take much time to pacify the entire area of Taiwan. When the Japanese troops began to push southward in June of 1895, they met strong resistances from the residents and were forced into desperate battles. Although the Taiwan Democratic Republic had already collapsed, the resistance of the Taiwanese people kept on. By November however, the Japanese had control of the entire island.
Skipping forward in time, in 1945 Japan is defeated in World War IIIn spite of the fact that there was no international agreement regarding change of status on Taiwan, Chiang Kai-shek had swiftly renamed Taiwan as “Taiwan Province” of China. On September 5, 1945, Chen Yi set up a temporary office at Chungking, and appointed himself as the chief executive. Further on September 29, he set up an “advanced command post” combining the Governor’s Office and the Garrison Command headquarters, and began preparing for the occupation of Taiwan.
Following World War II, Taiwan experienced many financial problems caused by seizures of Japanese held assets and properties. Frustrated and in poor spirits, an uprising results on February 28, 1947 over the public beating of Lin Chiang-mai after seizing unauthorized cigarettes and money. Shortly thereafter, Taiwan was put under marshal law, which didn’t end until 1987. In 1949, Taiwan became a rebel province of China when it split from Mainland China.
In 1995, Chinese Communist Party Chief Jiang Zemin offered an “eight point proposal” for Taiwan’s reunification with Mainland China. Taiwan formally rejected Jiang’s offer. Latter that year Taiwan held direct legislative elections, resulting in a smaller majority for the Taiwanese Nationalist Party. Many believe that Chinese missile tests and threats of violence helped to increase the Pro-Beijing faction in Taiwan.
In this modern nuclear age, the century old conflict over China’s rule of Taiwan has the potential to cause world war. The United States has gone back and forth regarding China’s rights to Taiwan, perhaps adding to the tension. With both countries testing nuclear weapons in each other’s backyards, it’s only a matter of time before someone makes a critical mistake.