Commentary Editor's Pick

Fact checking the claim of the Chinese Embassy

The Business Mirror reported yesterday, August 15, 2023, that Chinese Deputy Chief of Mission  Zhou Zhiyong claimed during a news conference at the Kamuning Pandesal Forum in Quezon City that the Potsdam Declaration and the Cairo Declaration stated that “all territories Japan has seized from the Chinese, including those of Nansha Islands and Xisha Islands, shall be restored to  China.”

This claim is false.

What the 1943 Cairo Declaration stated is that “all the territories Japan has stolen from the  Chinese, including Manchuria, Formosa, and the Pescadores shall be restored to the Republic of  China” and that “Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by  violence and greed.” The Cairo declaration never mentioned the “Nansha Islands” (Spratlys) or the “Xisha Islands” (Paracels). The Spratlys and the Paracels fell under the phrase “Japan will  also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed,” which phrase never identified to what country these other territories would be restored.

The 1945 Potsdam Declaration stated that the “terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out  and Japanese sovereignty shall be limited to the islands of Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu, Shikoku  and such minor islands as we determine.” The Potsdam Declaration merely reiterated the Cairo  Declaration and never mentioned the Nansha Islands or the Xisha Islands.  

What is definitive is what transpired in the 1951 San Francisco Peace Conference that formally  ended the Pacific War. The motion of the USSR to award the Spratlys and the Paracels to China  was defeated by a vote of 46 to 3, with one abstention. Thus, the San Francisco Peace Treaty merely states: “Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel  Islands.” There is no mention to what country the Spratlys or the Paracels would be awarded.

The 1952 Treaty of Taipei between Japan and the Republic of China merely recognized the San  Francisco Peace Treaty. Thus, the Treaty of Taipei states: “It is recognized that under Article 2 of the Treaty of Peace with Japan signed at the city of San Francisco in the United States of America  on September 8, 1951 (hereinafter referred to as the San Francisco Treaty), Japan has renounced all right, title and claim to Taiwan (Formosa) and Penghu (the Pescadores) as well as the Spratly Islands and the Paracel Islands.” There is no award of the Spratlys or the Paracels to China because the Treaty of Taipei obviously could not deviate from the San Francisco Treaty to which Japan was a party.