Taiwan's Legal Status: An Overview of the San Francisco Peace Treaty


Article VI of the U.S. Constitution provides that:


This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land . . . . .

SFPT: Article 2 and Annotations

舊金山和約:第 2條和注釋

Article 2
(a) Japan recognizing the independence of Korea, renounces all right, title and claim to Korea, including the islands of Quelpart, Port Hamilton and Dagelet.

(b) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to Formosa and the Pescadores.

(c) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Kurile Islands, and to that portion of Sakhalin and the islands adjacent to it over which Japan acquired sovereignty as a consequence of the Treaty of Portsmouth of 5 September 1905.

(d) Japan renounces all right, title and claim in connection with the League of Nations Mandate System, and accepts the action of the United Nations Security Council of 2 April 1947, extending the trusteeship system to the Pacific Islands formerly under mandate to Japan.

(e) Japan renounces all claim to any right or title to or interest in connection with any part of the Antarctic area, whether deriving from the activities of Japanese nationals or otherwise.

(f) Japan renounces all right, title and claim to the Spratly Islands and to the Paracel Islands.

ANNOTATIONS to Article 2
In this Article, Japan renounced all rights over Taiwan, but no "receiving country" was designated. Unquestionably, Taiwan was not given to "China." However, the question arises: "How is this Article to be interpreted?"

Some scholars go so far as to claim that according to the wording of this Article, Taiwan has become terra derelicta or terra nullius, available for any country to annex. However, such an interpretation totally ignores the “laws of war” of the post-Napoleonic period.

Notably, the U.S. Dept. of State made a clear statement in the 1961 Czyzak Memorandum and the 1971 Starr Memorandum, quoting from the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations Report on the Treaty, dated Feb. 14, 1952:

It is important to remember that Article 2 is a renunciatory article and makes no provision for the power or powers which are to succeed Japan in the possession of and sovereignty over the ceded territory.


While it is true that the treaty has made no “final disposition” of Taiwan, it has made a “temporary disposition.” In recognition of the United States' role as the conqueror of Taiwan, Article 4(b) has confirmed that Taiwan is under the jurisdiction of the military arm of the U.S. government. This is USMG.
雖然說,該和約的確沒有做出台灣的“最終處置”,其實它做了“暫時處置”。因認清美國的角色是台灣的征服者,第4條(b)已經確認台灣是在美國政府軍方體系的管轄之下。這就是USMG (美國軍事政府)

For reference, also see definition of cede.

cede: (1) to renounce possession of, especially by treaty, (2) to transfer control of or sovereignty over specific property or territory, especially by treaty, (3) to relinquish and/or give up something such as land, rights, or power, (4) [noun] cession

割讓: (1) 放棄並交出所有權,特別是透過條約的安排,(2)移交對於特定財產、資產或領土的控制權或主權,特別是透過條約的安排,(3)交出或放棄諸如土地、權利或權力之類的東西 ,(4)[名詞] 割讓 cession

Note: According to the dictionary definition of cede as given above, there is no strict requirement that a "receiving country" be designated in order to complete the act of ceding, or making a cession.


When territory is ceded without the specification of a "receiving country" it may simply be called a limbo cession.


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