Taiwan and the Concept of Territorial Sovereignty

  • Jeremy T. Paltiel


Traditionally, territorial control by boundary delineation and administrative jurisdiction was an ancient tool of the Confucian bureaucracy both within China and between China and foreign states. Yet the concept of state territoriality (i.e., rule over spaces defined by geometric grids) was not part of the traditional Confucian-literati cognitive map. Based on the investiture-tributary strategy in the Confucian world order, the Chinese demanded loyalty to the person of the Chinese emperor, his representatives, and most of all to the hierarchical system of relationships patterned on the family. This strategy of international relations or international diplomacy symbolized the imperial-bureaucratic establishment. In other words, the Chinese emperors and their officials ruled men, not space, and loyalty was to individuals, to the family, and to the system—not to the area of the state. The area of rule was defined by evidence of human residence and use. Areas or places lacking in human use and organization were regarded as being on the margin, in the frontier and wilderness, or simply off the map as zones beyond civilization.2


Democratic Progressive Party Popular Sovereignty Territorial Sovereignty Taiwan Independence Chinese Emperor 
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  1. 3.
    Henrietta Harrison, Inventing the Nation: China (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001), 74.Google Scholar
  2. 17.
    Christopher Hughes, Taiwan and Chinese Nationalism: National Identity and Status in International Society (London: Routledge, 1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Jeremy T. Paltiel 2007

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  • Jeremy T. Paltiel

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