Why is Taiwan not a country?

The Taiwan question often arouses the world's attention, and the people in the Kurdistan region have also heard about it. We may ask, is Taiwan an independent country?
دۆسیە: نێودەوڵەتی
Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times.

Ni Ruchi
Consul General of People’s Republic of China in Erbil

The Taiwan question often arouses the world's attention, and the people in the Kurdistan region have also heard about it. We may ask, is Taiwan an independent country? Why China’s Taiwan and the mainland have been isolated from each other for a long time even they have the same customs, culture and language? What is the difference between Taiwan's so-called "Republic of China" and the People's Republic of China which was internationally recognized? Is there reasonable and legitimate basis for Taiwan’s independence? What is the Chinese government's policy to solve the Taiwan question? I’d like to introduce something about it through this article.

I. Taiwan is an inalienable part of China

Lying off the southeastern coast of the China mainland, Taiwan is China's largest island and forms an integral whole with the mainland. Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times.Since the 3rd century AD, the successive dynasties in mainland China have gradually exploited Taiwan and established administrative institutions and exercised effective jurisdiction. In 1727, the Qing dynasty designated "Taiwan" as the island’s official name.

Taiwan has suffered colonial aggression many times in the history. Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits carried out a prolonged and unremitting struggle against foreign invasion. For example, in 1624 and 1626, Dutch and Spanish colonialists invaded Taiwan. In 1661, Chinese national hero General Zheng Chenggong led an expedition to Taiwan and expelled the colonialists in the following year. Japan launched a war of aggression against China in 1894, China’s Qing dynasty was defeated and forced to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceding Taiwan to Japan, butTaiwan compatriots never ceased their dauntless struggle throughout the Japanese occupation.

In 1937 the Chinese people threw themselves into an all-out war of resistance against Japanese aggression. In its declaration of war against Japan, the Chinese Government proclaimed that all treaties, conventions, agreements, and contracts regarding relations between China and Japan, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, had been abrogated. The declaration stressed that China would recover Taiwan, Penghu and the four northeastern provinces. During the World War II, China, the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and others formed an alliance to oppose theFascism. The Cairo Declaration issued by China, the United States and Great Britain on 1943 stated: "All the territories stolen by Japan from China, such as Manchuria, Formosa [Taiwan] and the Pescadores [Penghu], shall be restored to China." After grueling war against Japanese aggression, the Chinese people won final victory and recovered the territory of Taiwan in 1945.

This was the historical fact of how Taiwan, like the other parts of China, came to be exploited and settled by the Chinese people of various ethnic groups. Even it suffered colonial aggression, but quickly returned to the motherland. Taiwan society derived from the source of the Chinese cultural tradition and this basic fact had not changed even during the half century of Japanese occupation. It is undoubtedly that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China.

II. The origin of the Taiwan question and the Chinese government's policy

Taiwan has been a part of China since ancient times, and it has returned to China after World War II, so there is no doubt in law and history. Then why did the Taiwan question arise again and cause Taiwan’s isolation with the mainland for a long time? We can find the answer in the civil war between the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang, KMT) and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in the background of the "Cold War".

The Taiwan question is a legacy of China's civil war, which is China's internal affair, but External interference under the "Cold War" has exacerbated the cross-strait isolation. During the war of resistance against Japanese aggression (1937-1945), CCP and KMT cooperated for a national united front to fight against Japanese aggression. After the victory of the war, KMT launched a civil war in order to maintain its dictatorship. CCP and its core leader Mao Zedong led the Chinese people to wage a war of liberation for more than three years, defeating the "Republic of China" regime held by the KMT, establishing the People's Republic of China on October 1, 1949. The remnants of KMT retreated to Taiwan. Since then, the Government of the People's Republic of China became the sole legal government of China, thereby bringing the historical status of the "Republic of China” to an end. Since the KMT ruling clique retreated to Taiwan, although its regime has continued to use the designations "Republic of China”, it has long since completely forfeited its right to exercise state sovereignty on behalf of China. In reality, it has always remained only a local authority in Chinese territory. Under the "Cold War” situation after World War II, the US government adopted an isolation and containment policy against the newborn People’s Republic of China, and launched armed interference in cross-strait relations which were purely China’s internal affairs, causing a long-term tense confrontation in the Taiwan Strait.

It is worth mentioning that during the 30 or 40 years after 1949, although KMT in Taiwan did not recognize the legitimate status of the People's Republic of China as the representative of the whole of China, they did insist that Taiwan is a part of China and that there is only one China, and opposed "two Chinas” and "Taiwan independence”. This shows that for a long time there has been a common understanding among the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits on the fundamental question that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory.

The Chinese government has, since 1970s, adopted the policy of peaceful reunification and the concept of "one country, two systems”. The key points of this basic principle are: (1) One China. There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. This is the prerequisite for the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question. (2) Coexistence of two systems. On the premise of one China, socialism on the mainland and capitalism on Taiwan can coexist and develop side by side for a long time. (3) A high degree of autonomy. After reunification, Taiwan will become a special administrative region. It will be distinguished from the other provinces or regions of China by its high degree of autonomy. It will run its own party, political, military, economic and financial affairs. (4) Peace negotiations. People on both sides of the Straits are all Chinese. The Chinese government will do its best to achieve peaceful reunification, but will not commit itself to rule out the use of force. Military measures are aimed at the interference of external forces and a handful of local separatists in Taiwan, not aimed at the compatriots in Taiwan.

III. "One China" principle is the consensus of the international community

In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted at its 26th session Resolution 2758 which restored all the lawful rights of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations, and expelled the Taiwan authority’s "representatives" of the so-called "Republic of China”.In 1979, China and the United States formally established diplomatic relations. The two sides issued three joint communiqués in 1972, 1978, and 1982, stating: "The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China…acknowledges the Chinese position that there is only one China and Taiwan is part of China.”, "The United States of America intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution”.

Up to now, 180 countries have established diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China. They all recognize that "there is only one China in the world, the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory." Only 15 countries still maintain "diplomatic relations" with Taiwan’s so-called "Republic of China”, and this number is declining. In September 2019, China and the Solomon Islands formally established diplomatic relations. Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare of Solomon Islands said: "The Solomon Islands recognize the One-China principle, establish diplomatic relations with the People's Republic of China, and choose to stand on the right side of history and the side of most countries in the world." This fully shows that the "One China" principle is the mainstream and consensus of the international community, which is also the basis for the development of diplomatic relations between China and other countries. The Taiwan question involves China's core interests and is purely an internal affair of China, which does not allow any interference from outside.

Since the 1980s and 1990s, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have conducted a series of benign interactions and finally reached the "1992 Consensus", that is, "both sides of the strait adhere to the one-China principle and strive for national reunification." However, some local separatists in Taiwan gradually uttered theories such as "two states", "two governments", "dual recognition" and "two equal political entities". Entering the 21st century, especially after Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) came to power, it began to openly advocate "Taiwan independence", promote so-called "pragmatic diplomacy" to expand the so-called "international living space". Its essence is to create "Two Chinas" or "One China, One Taiwan". This act of separatism is unreasonable and runs counter to the desire of the people on both sides of the strait for reunification. No matter what tricks the DPP authorities play, they cannot change the fact that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory.

"Taiwan independence means war, no peace if there is secession." On issues concerning the core interests of the Chinese nation, the Chinese people have never wavered. Over the long course of history, the Chinese nation has witnessed changes of dynasties, transfers of governments, local separatist regimes, and foreign invasions. However, unity has always been the main trend in the development of Chinese history. After every separation, the country was invariably reunified. China's reunification does not allow any external forces to interfere, and the trend of China's reunification will not be stopped by any adverse currents.

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