Five myths about ‘one China’

Trump crit­ics need a primer on U.S. pol­icy

The Washington Times Daily - - COMMENTARY - By John J. Tkacik

A fun diplo­matic fact is that the “one-China pol­icy” is mostly myth, and the “un­myth” part doesn’t mean what “ex­perts” think it means.

Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump sparked a brush­fire of commentary a few days ago when he took a con­grat­u­la­tory phone call from Tai­wan’s pres­i­dent, Tsai Ing-wen, known of­fi­cially in her home coun­try as “the pres­i­dent of the Repub­lic of China.”

Talk­ing heads in the main­stream me­dia chided Mr. Trump: Does he not know that the only “pres­i­dent of China” the United States of­fi­cially rec­og­nizes is Xi Jin­ping, “pres­i­dent of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China.” Had Mr. Trump vi­o­lated Wash­ing­ton’s long-held “one-China pol­icy”?

Well, no. A fun diplo­matic fact is that the “one-China pol­icy” is mostly myth, and the “un-myth” part doesn’t mean what “ex­perts” think it means. Let’s ex­plore more fun facts about the “one-China pol­icy.”

Myth No. 1: The “one-China pol­icy” means “Tai­wan is part of China.”

The United States has never rec­og­nized Tai­wan (or “For­mosa,” as it used to be called) as part of “China.” It still doesn’t. On Dec. 16, 1978, Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter for­mally de-rec­og­nized the “Chi­nese” gov­ern­ment in Taipei and rec­og­nized the Beijing regime. An ac­com­pa­ny­ing U.S.-China com­mu­nique phrased it care­fully: “The U.S. side ac­knowl­edges the Chi­nese po­si­tion that there is one China and Tai­wan is part of China.” This diplo­matic sub­tlety was ex­plained in Se­nate hear­ings two months later by Deputy Sec­re­tary of State Warren Christo­pher: “[The U.S.] has ac­knowl­edged the Chi­nese po­si­tion that Tai­wan is part of China, but the United States has not it­self agreed to this po­si­tion.”

Fun fact: Be­cause of post-World War II peace treaty com­pli­ca­tions, along with the Com­mu­nist Chi­nese war against the United Na­tions in Korea, the United States re­fused to rec­og­nize that Tai­wan was even part of the “Repub­lic of China.” In 1982, Pres­i­dent

Ron­ald Rea­gan re­as­sured Tai­wan in pol­icy known as the “Six As­sur­ances,” “that the United States would not al­ter its po­si­tion re­gard­ing sovereignty over Tai­wan,” and that the “United States would not for­mally rec­og­nize China’s sovereignty over Tai­wan.” Ev­ery ad­min­is­tra­tion since sup­ported Rea­gan’s “Six As­sur­ances.”

Myth No. 2: China and Tai­wan agreed to “one China” in 1992.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Taipei’s Na­tion­al­ist regime and Beijing’s Com­mu­nists met in Hong Kong in Novem­ber 1992 and with­out writ­ten record, agreed that they could pro­ceed with of­fi­cial busi­ness on a vague premise that there was “one China,” and each side could de­fine “one China” as it wished. In Au­gust 1993, how­ever, Beijing is­sued a for­mal white pa­per declar­ing Tai­wan to be un­der the sovereignty of the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic, that “‘self-de­ter­mi­na­tion’ for Tai­wan is out of the ques­tion,” and that Tai­wan’s airspace was Chi­nese and, there­fore, all for­eign air­lines needed Beijing’s per­mis­sion to fly to Tai­wan.

Three months later, Taipei is­sued its own state­ment that “‘China’ is not ‘the Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of China [PRC],’ nor is Tai­wan a part or a prov­ince thereof. Ac­cord­ingly ... the ROC [Repub­lic of China] and the PRC are two in­de­pen­dent and mu­tu­ally non-sub­or­di­nate sov­er­eign na­tions.” Since then, the only “con­sen­sus” on “one China” be­tween Taipei and Beijing has been that the word “China” is in the dic­tio­nary.

Myth No. 3: The United States has a “one-China pol­icy.”

Fre­quently, U.S. of­fi­cials in­voke some­thing called “one China,” the def­i­ni­tion of which eludes their pow­ers of ar­tic­u­la­tion. In 2004, As­sis­tant Sec­re­tary of State for East Asian af­fairs James Kelley in­vented the ne­ol­o­gism “our one-China” pol­icy in con­gres­sional tes­ti­mony. He said, “The def­i­ni­tion of ‘one China’ is some­thing that we could go on for much too long for this event. In my tes­ti­mony, I made the point [of] ‘our one China,’ and I didn’t re­ally de­fine it, and I’m not sure I very eas­ily could de­fine it. [But] I can tell you what it is not. It is not the ‘one-China pol­icy’ ... that Beijing sug­gests.” Beyond that, the “one-China pol­icy” only means that the U.S. rec­og­nizes one gov­ern­ment of “China” at a time.

Myth No. 4: The U.S. never had a “two-Chi­nas pol­icy.”

Although the United States al­ways pre­ferred the aspi­ra­tional goal of “one China,” Wash­ing­ton chose to main­tain ties with the Na­tion­al­ist Chi­nese on Tai­wan af­ter the Com­mu­nist Pek­ing regime en­tered the Korean War, and sup­ported Tai­wan in the United Na­tions. The U.S. adopted a “two-Chi­nas” pol­icy as it strug­gled to keep Tai­wan from los­ing its U.N. seat.

Fun fact: Ul­ti­mately, in Oc­to­ber 1971, the United States and its al­lies voted against China’s U.N. mem­ber­ship be­cause the res­o­lu­tion would also ex­pel Tai­wan. The res­o­lu­tion passed over Amer­i­can ob­jec­tions. But the United States con­tin­ued to main­tain diplo­matic mis­sions in both Taipei and Beijing un­til 1979. This “two-Chi­nas” pol­icy lasted from 1969 to 1979.

Myth No. 5: The United States does not rec­og­nize Tai­wan’s in­de­pen­dence.

The U.S. “does not sup­port” Tai­wan’s in­de­pen­dence, ex­cept in law. When the United States de-rec­og­nized Taipei in 1979, Congress passed the Tai­wan Re­la­tions Act (22 USC 48, Sec­tions 3301-3316), which states: “When­ever the laws of the United States re­fer or re­late to for­eign coun­tries, na­tions, states, gov­ern­ments, or sim­i­lar en­ti­ties, such terms shall in­clude and such laws shall ap­ply with re­spect to Tai­wan.” Congress also de­clared it U.S. pol­icy (Sec­tion 3301(b)(6)) “to main­tain the ca­pac­ity of the United States to re­sist any re­sort to force or other forms of co­er­cion that would jeop­ar­dize the se­cu­rity, or the so­cial or eco­nomic sys­tem, of the peo­ple on Tai­wan.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.