Rec­og­niz­ing one China is un­am­bigu­ously cor­rect

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

Bei­jing has warmly wel­comed Sao Tome and Principe’s de­ci­sion to sever “diplo­matic ties” with Tai­wan, prais­ing the West African coun­try for re­turn­ing to the cor­rect path of rec­og­niz­ing one China. Since the move means there are now only 21 coun­tries and gov­ern­ments still main­tain­ing of­fi­cial ties with the is­land, and it sig­nals an­other blow for the pro-in­de­pen­dence ma­neu­ver­ings of the Demo­cratic Pro­gres­sive Party on the is­land, it is not sur­pris­ing that the DPP has be­moaned the move.

Un­like her pre­de­ces­sor, Kuom­intang leader Ma Ying-jeou, who rec­og­nized the 1992 Con­sen­sus on the prin­ci­ple of one China, DPP leader Tsai Ing-wen has tried to avoid ac­knowl­edg­ing the agree­ment there is only one China. This ob­scu­ran­tism has strained cross-Straits ties and lim­ited the room for any mean­ing­ful ex­changes be­tween the two sides.

And while claim­ing to sup­port the sta­tus quo that ex­isted un­der her pre­de­ces­sor, the phone call she and US pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump en­gi­neered as a petty po­lit­i­cal gam­bit to chal­lenge the prin­ci­ple of one China, has shown there can be no doubt­ing this is not the case.

It is un­wise for Tsai to try and cling to the shirt­tail of the pres­i­dent-in-wait­ing’s pre-of­fice at­tempts to gain an up­per hand in his coun­try’s deal­ings with Bei­jing, since Trump said he fully un­der­stands the sit­u­a­tion.

The un­so­licited com­ment by a French For­eign Min­istry spokesper­son on Tues­day that France is com­mit­ted to the prin­ci­ple of the unity of China and its stance is “con­stant and un­am­bigu­ous” shows coun­tries re­al­ize one China is not some­thing that can be used as a bar­gain­ing chip to gain ben­e­fits from Bei­jing.

In­deed, the prin­ci­ple of one China was ac­knowl­edged by the United Na­tions in 1971 in Res­o­lu­tion 2758, which rec­og­nized the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China as “the only le­git­i­mate rep­re­sen­ta­tive of China”. That has now be­come the pre­vail­ing con­sen­sus world­wide.

Over the years, Bei­jing has demon­strated am­ple good­will to Taipei, in the form of trade and eco­nomic deals, and cross-Straits ex­changes. It has never tried to block the is­land’s ac­cess to any in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion whose mem­ber­ship re­quires no state­hood. Af­ter all, peo­ple in Tai­wan and the main­land are “broth­ers con­nected by flesh even if our bones are bro­ken”.

But all this has been made pos­si­ble by the is­land up­hold­ing the prin­ci­ple there is only one China.

Those re­main­ing 21 coun­tries and gov­ern­ments still main­tain­ing of­fi­cial ties with the is­land should fol­low the ad­vice French For­eign Min­is­ter Jean Marc Ayrault of­fered Trump, and show more “re­spon­si­bil­ity” to the true and ac­cepted prin­ci­ple of one China.

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