Taiwan Communiqué No. 87, August 1999

Discarding "One China"

Ending a fiction

President Lee Teng-hui's statement means that the "One China" concept is history. In the following paragraphs we trace the concept from its origin in the Shanghai Communiqué of 1971, and show how it grew into a monstrous concoction, which was starting to threaten the future of Taiwan as a free and democratic nation.

An examination of the various interpretations of the "One China" policy shows that there were actually four "One China" policies:

1. The policy as it was originally formulated in 1971-72, when the authorities in Beijing were accepted as the representatives of China in the UN - taking the seat held until that time by the Kuomintang regime. At that time, both the Beijing regime and Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists considered themselves the rightful rulers of all of China.

The US and other nations at that timethus acknowledged (=took note of) the Chinese position that there was but one China, and that the regime in Beijing considered Taiwan part of their China. This "acknowledgement" was never meant to be a permanent policy, but was intended to be a temporary holding position. It was hoped that time would somehow solve the issue.

2. A second "One China" policy is the one which evolved in the minds of some American academics and policymakers over the past 25 years: the original "acknowledged" became fuzzy, and — in a peculiar definition-creep — came to mean "accepted" or "recognized." This second _ degenerated — "One China" policy is much closer to the PRC-position than the original one.

3. The third "One China" policy is the one taken by the PRC-authorities in Beijing themselves: this one bases itself on the mistaken fiction that historically Taiwan is somehow an integral part of China. In fact Taiwan has never been part of the PRC, but was a Japan-held territory, occupied after World War II by the losing side in China's Civil War. According to this distorted PRC view, the issue of Taiwan's future is an "internal, domestic" Chinese matter, and that other nations should stay out of it.

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The U.S. knocking President Lee over the head, while James Soong hits him on his toes

4. The fourth "One China" policy was the one promoted by the Kuomintang authorities in Taiwan until recently, which maintained that there is "One China", but that within this "One China" there are two equal political states, the PRC and their ROC. This policy boils down to a "Two China" policy.

Mr. Lee's statement thus means that "Chinese on either side" no longer agree. In essence, the conclusion is that the people in Taiwan consider the "One China" policy outdated and no longer valid. This present-day reality should lead to a reassessment of US policy. As we have emphasized before, present US policy towards Taiwan — as well as the policies of other Western nations — is ambiguous and confusing, and doesn't reflect the growth of Taiwan into a full-fledged democracy.

The U.S. should thus adopt a "One China, One Taiwan" policy. This one recognizing the reality that Taiwan and China are two separate nations, which can coexist as two friendly neighbors without claiming sovereignty over each other. In this policy, the PRC is recognized as being the sole China, and Taiwan is accepted by the international community as a full, equal and independent member of the family of nations.

We believe strongly that a "One Taiwan, One China" policy is the only realistic, rational and reasonable one. It would mean that both the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists declare an end to their Civil War, and that the 22 million people of Taiwan are finally welcomed by the international community as a free, democratic, and independent nation.

Needed: "Out-of-the-box thinking"

The abovementioned reassessment of US policy towards China and Taiwan requires some "out-of-the-box" thinking at the State Department and the White House. These two institutions have boxed themselves into a "One China" corner.

It would be helpful if American policymakers and academics, instead of clinging to the "One China" fiction, would help convince the Chinese leadership that it is in China's own interest if they would accept peaceful coexistence with Taiwan as a friendly neighbor, instead of perpetuating an old Civil War. The Chinese should learn to distinguish between their old enemies (the former Kuomintang) and their possible new friends and neighbors (the Taiwanese).

Coming to terms with the reality of a new and independent Taiwan would bring stability and new prosperity to East Asia. It would enhance trade, cultural and social exchanges between Taiwan and the coastal provinces of China, and would remove an old sore point, which most people on both sides have already long forgotten.

China can thus come to an accommodation with Taiwan in which it recognizes Taiwan and establishes diplomatic ties with the island, just like the United States and Canada live peacefully next to each other. Who nowadays remembers the War of 1812 or the fact that in 1776 thousands of people in the American Colonies didn't want Independence and fled to the British-held territories in the North?

Press debates the issues

From mid-July until the time this issue of Taiwan Communiqué went to press, there was a large number of articles, analyses and editorials in the U.S. and international press regarding the implications of president Lee's statements, and about the subsequent threats from the Chinese side.

Most articles were supportive of Taiwan, and were very critical of the Clinton Administration for its tilt towards China. Below we list the analyses and commentaries, which stood out for their clarity, and contributed to a better understanding of the situation:

American academics add to confusion

During the weeks following president Lee's statements to Deutsche Welle, there were also a number of articles in the American press critical of Taiwan's new position. These came primarily from some confusing academics, such as Prof. David Shambaugh of George Washington University ("Two China's, But only one answer", Washington Post, 18 July 1999), and from former U.S. government officials associated with Henry Kissinger.

The latter category contains people such as Chas Freeman ("Caught between two China's", New York Times, 2 August 1999) and Brent Scowcroft ("Taipei Sows Distrust, Not Real Solutions", Los Angeles Times, 30 July 1999), whose main purpose seems to protect what is left of the heritage of their old mentor.

Taiwan Communiqué comment: As the titles of some of these articles indicate already, these people still live in the framework of the "One China" fiction (or was it two China's?). They haven't adjusted to the reality that the people in Taiwan consider themselves Taiwanese, and that the "One China" concept is dead as a doornail.

Perpetuating the "One China" confusion serves no purpose. It will only add to instability in the East Asia region, and will strengthen China's repressive hand against a democratic Taiwan.

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