Fri, Feb 23, 2001 - Page 13 News List

'Chinese Confederation' versus 'One China'

By Lee Chang-kuei 李長貴

By Yu Sha

In 1949, the Communist Party of China (CCP) declared that the People's Republic of China (PRC) was a newly independent country, having changed its name, national flag, and national anthem. Thereafter, the issue of "one China" evolved into a complicated problem in the international arena. Between 1949 and 1971, the Republic of China (ROC) on Taiwan had maintained, both at the UN and in the international community in general, the position of "one China, with the ROC on Taiwan being the representative government of China." In 1971, the PRC replaced the ROC in the Chinese seat at the UN. Subsequently, the US established formal diplomatic relationships with the PRC. "One China, with the PRC as the representative government of China" became generally accepted in the international community.

A very ambiguously defined one China

In 1992, a conference between Koo Chen-fu (辜振甫) of the ROC's Straits Exchange Foundation (海峽交流基金會) and Wang Daohan (汪道涵) of the PRC's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait (海峽兩岸關係協會) took place in Singapore. During the conference, the issue of one China remained a subject of major dispute. With absolutely no consensus between the two sides, China expressed the view that "one China is the PRC, of which Taiwan is a part" while the ROC claimed "one China is the ROC, of which the mainland is a part."

Premised on the principle of "one China, with each side free to make its own interpretation," the conference reached several agreements over administrative affairs. However, the two sides never reached any consensus over a "one China principle."

In September 1997, PRC President Jiang Zemin (江澤民) told the 15th Central Committee of the CCP that "as long as Taiwan accepts [Beijing's] one China principle, any issue is negotiable." The demand is that Taiwan repudiate the existence of the ROC, and acknowledge itself to be a province of the PRC before any negotiations take place. This is basically a demand that Taiwan surrender just to get to the negotiating table. The PRC is apparently uninterested in negotiating anything with Taiwan except how Taiwan is to be subordinate to its new masters in Beijing.

In the battle of words between the two sides over the issue of one China during the past 50 years, CCP has never used the names "ROC" and "PRC," and instead referred to PRC as "China," and the ROC as "Taiwan." In 1998, the ROC on Taiwan was, absurdly given that it was the PRC which was the original rebellious entity, labeled by the PRC as a "rebellious province." For fear that this idea of Taiwan as a PRC province may become generally accepted internationally, Lee Teng-hui (李登輝) -- president of the ROC at the time -- declared that relations between Taiwan and China were a "special state-to-state relationship" -- that is, relations between two sovereign entities. His declaration immediately plunged the cross-strait relationship into crisis as China attempted (with some success) by saber rattling to force the Taiwan government to recant.

The incident clearly displayed the CCP's lack of willingness to face the reality that sovereignty of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is now divided. This is all the more ironic since this division was created by the CCP. It was the CCP's announcement of the establishment of the PRC, which created two Chinas, since the ROC established in 1912, continued to exist -- in a highly abbreviated rump form -- on Taiwan.

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