Fri, Feb 10, 2017 - Page 8 News List

The second half of the ‘one China’ principle

By Peng Ming-min 彭明敏

It seems that Beijing can never get tired of talking about its “one China” principle. For years, it has been going on about “one China” with an almost religious intensity and requiring other countries to do the same, as if there were someone out there secretly planning to overthrow it by founding a second or third China.

Such a plan is unheard of anywhere in the world.

If the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) had the guts, it would have declared itself the ruler of a second China when it fled to Taiwan 70 years ago; instead, it has allowed itself to be bogged down in the “one China” swamp.

Unable to extract itself, it has come up with its policy of “one China, with each side having its own interpretation” of what “China” means — a policy that makes no sense because it was designed to cover up the KMT’s embarrassing defeat and is viewed as an international joke because the KMT does not even dare bring it up around Beijing. With that invention, no challenge or threat remained to the “one China” principle, and Beijing instead grew bold and began to use it to threaten other countries.

Why is Beijing so hysterically obsessed with its “one China” principle? Is it all based on imagined fear?

Definitely not. It must never be forgotten that every time the phrase “one China” is mentioned, the unmentioned second half of that statement is that “Taiwan is a part of China,” and that is what Beijing really wants to say. Behind the “one China” principle that almost no one rejects lies Beijing’s intention to deprive Taiwanese of their right to express their will and to decide their own future through democratic means.

Many countries, including the US, Japan, France and the UK, have seen through Beijing’s scheme. While they may pay lip service to “one China,” they openly refuse to accept the second part and treat Taiwan as a part of China. On the other hand, many smaller nations, out of fear for Beijing, have silently adopted its position and treat Taiwan as if it were part of China. For them, what happens to the Taiwanese is the least of their concerns.

US President Donald Trump has questioned why his country has to be bound by the “one China” policy for Beijing to be willing to make a deal regarding trade or monetary policies.

The remarks riled and panicked Beijing, as they hit the nail on the head.

However, Taiwanese must not start celebrating yet; what will they do if the US cancels its “one China” policy? Will they be able to found a second or even a third China? That is clearly impossible, as it would put the US in an awkward position.

Moreover, Trump’s remarks imply that the US could accept the “one China” policy if Beijing were willing to negotiate. What if China did decide to enter into negotiations with the US and the US continued to accept Beijing’s “one China” principle? What would happen to the second half of the statement then?

Taiwanese should always try to rely on themselves, especially when it comes to saving their own country. It does not matter how many Chinas there are. The only thing that matters is Taiwan is not ruled by China. The idea that Taiwan is part of China must be completely eradicated. Every time Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of China, Taiwanese should make it doubly clear to the world that it is not.

Peng Ming-min is a former presidential adviser.

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