Towards a "One Taiwan, One China" policy

The anachronistic "One China" policy is outdated

During the past few days, when both Mr. Gore and Gingrich visited China, much was written about the "One China" policy. As Taiwanese, we believe that this is an ambiguous and confusing concept, which should be discarded. The major reason why this policy is now outdated, is that the situation in Taiwan has changed drastically: we have achieved a democratic political system, and want to be accepted as a full and equal member in the international community.

In 1945, Taiwan -- which was part of the Japanese Empire -- was "temporarily" occupied by the Chiang Kai-shek’s troops on behalf of the Allied Forces. When Chiang lost his Civil War in 1949, he moved the remainder of his troops and government to Taiwan, and ruled with an iron fist. In the “February 28” incident of 1947, his troops massacred between 18,000 and 28,000 Taiwanese elite. The Taiwanese people, who comprise 85% of the island’s population, were thus oppressed, and became unwilling pawns in a bigger chess-game between the two Chinese adversaries.

From 1949 through the late 1960s the United States recognized the Kuomintang regime in Taipei as the government of “China.” It held the seat in the United Nations, kept up the pretense of representing China, and did not allow the Taiwanese any say in their political future.

When in the 1970s the United States and other Western nations recognized the Communist regime in Beijing as the government of China, the KMT’s fiction was discarded, but was replaced by another fiction: the “creative ambiguity” of the Shanghai Communiqué, in which the Beijing authorities were recognized as the government representing China, but in which the United States stated that it “acknowledged” the Chinese position, that there is but one China, and that Taiwan is part of China.

Did the wording of the Shanghai Communiqué mean that the US "recognized" that Taiwan is part of China ? The answer is an unequivocal no. The USA simply took note of the Chinese position, but did not state its own position on the matter. However, over time, this distinction started to blur, and some began to interpret the wordings of the 1970s as to mean precisely what they were not meant to be: "accept or recognize."

In any case, for the people of Taiwan any communiqué’s between other countries such as the United States and China are not binding and of little relevance, because they were made without any consultation with, or representation of, the people of Taiwan.

During the past fifteen years a totally new situation evolved: we Taiwanese achieved our transition towards a democratic system. There is thus a new and democratic Taiwan, in which the overwhelming majority of the population does not want to be a part of a repressive, dictatorial, and corrupt China, but cherishes its own Taiwanese identity, language, culture, and newfound political freedom. This new nation wants to find its own place under the sun, contribute not only economically, but also politically to the international community, and be accepted as a full member of the international family of nations, in particular the United Nations.

It is necessary for the rest of the world, and particularly the United States and Europe, to live up to the principles of universality and democracy on which the United Nations were founded, to accept Taiwan as a full and equal partner, and recognize it under the heading of a new and realistic “One Taiwan, One China” policy.

China would do well to accept Taiwan as a friendly neighbor, instead of perpetuating an old and anachronistic Civil War. The Taiwanese themselves didn’t have anything to do with that Civil War and their future should not be held hostage to it.

This would not alter international recognition of the authorities in Beijing as the government of mainland China, but would specifically state that according to the basic principles agreed upon in the context of the United Nations, it is up to the Taiwanese people themselves to determine their own future. It is up to the international community to guarantee that this is done freely, without any coercion by China.

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