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4. US attempts to seize Taiwan
On his way to Japan, Parry visited the Bonin and Ryukyu Islands. He proposed to the American government that the Bonin Islands be annexed and that American strongholds be established at the harbors of Port Lloyd on Piel (Bonin) Island and at Napa on the Ryukyu Islands. Believing that the Navy Department would agree to his proposal, Parry set up an American administration at Port Lloyd, raised the American flag there, and "bought" a piece of land for port warehouses and a wharf; he also announced the annexation of Coffin Island (Bailey). Parry believed that as a result of his actions, the Bonins were annexed to the United States.
However, as soon as the American commodore arrived in Hong Kong, the governor of this newly created English outpost of Bonham, at the direction of the Minister of Foreign Affairs Clarendon, told him that the Bonin Islands were already the possession of the English king, that back in 1827, the English captain Beechey, who visited the Bonins, declared Peel Island British possession (1) and that the English consul in Hawaii appointed one of the white settlers on Peel Island "English Governor".
Not in the least discouraged by Bonham's words, Parry set up an American stronghold at Napa on the island of the Greater Ryukyu to threaten Japan from there if the Japanese government did not agree to his demands. He also visited Taiwan (Formosa) and proposed to the American government to establish a protectorate over the Ryukyu Islands and Taiwan. He recommended that the island of Taiwan be turned into a stronghold for "American trade with China, Japan, Cochin China, Cambodia, Siam, and the Philippines." “The urgent appeals of American businessmen,” Parry declared, “will force the United States to extend its patronage both to Japan and the Ryukyu, and to other countries little known to the Western powers. I have in mind Siam, Cambodia, Cochin China, Borneo and Sumatra, and many of the islands of the eastern archipelago, and especially the island of Formosa.
In the face of the brewing conflict between the North and the South, the American government, seeing a negative attitude towards such an expansion of the American democratic public and meeting at every step the opposition of the British, who were striving to get ahead of the Americans, took a wait-and-see position regarding the seizure of territories and strongholds in the Pacific Ocean. Secretary of State Dobby, in a letter dated May 23, 1854, approved the establishment of an American coaling station at Port Lloyd and the declaration of the Bonins as a disputed territory, but the American government refrained from taking any further practical steps.
On March 31, 1854, under the muzzles of the guns of Parry's squadron, which consisted of seven ships, an agreement was signed "on the opening of the Japanese ports of Hakodate and Shimoda for American trade." The Boston Merchants struck out a special medal in Parry's honor; New York merchants presented him with a silver tray.
The following year, the Washington government appointed the bankrupt merchant Townsend Harris as consul general at Shimoda. Reminding the Japanese of the cannons of Parry's ships, Consul General Harris achieved an agreement in 1857 on trade and American extraterritoriality, and in 1858 a trade treaty was signed. Even during the civil war in America, in 1864, the Washington government, considering Japan the sphere of interest of American capital, took part in the naval punitive expedition of the capitalist powers against Japan - in the brutal bombardment of Shimonoseki.
Expansionists in the United States believed that if not all of Japan, then at least some of its ports and territories would become American strongholds in the coming years. At the same time, Britain's sharp reaction to every US attempt to seize strongholds in the western Pacific Ocean was an important reason that restrained the aggressive impulses of the American expansionists. These aggressive tendencies were far from exhausted by Parry's activities.
The Bonin Islands remained in the uncertain position of an object claimed by both England and the United States until 1878, when both sides, not wanting to cede them to the enemy, decided to come to terms with the transfer of the islands into the hands of Japan. At that time, England hoped to turn Japan into her vassal, and therefore believed that she had gained more as a result of Bonin's transfer to Japanese sovereignty.
As for Taiwan, Peter Parker, the American commissioner in China, followed in the footsteps of Parry and tried in every possible way to prove the need for the capture of this island by the United States. After Parry visited Taiwan, two American colonizers, Nai and Robinet, developed great activity there. They built a marina on the island, engaged in trade, raised the American flag over their settlement and inspired Parker with the idea of the need for the annexation of Taiwan by the United States. In December 1856, Parker, in a letter to the American government, expressed the hope that it would annex Taiwan and "not deviate from this step, which is necessary in the interests of mankind, civilization, commerce and navigation" (12). Even then, the American invaders brazenly and hypocritically motivated their predatory actions by the "interests of mankind" and "civilization."
Parker began to develop plans for an American expedition to capture Taiwan. He told Governor Bowring of Hong Kong that the United States has the right of priority to Taiwan in the event of alienation of the island from China, justifying the "right" to Taiwan by the fact that "the American flag has been flying over the settlement created by Nai for more than a year."
The third U.S. representative in the Far East, Townsend
Harris, recommended a more camouflaged form of takeover—the "purchase" of the island from China.