In this complicated and often confusing post-Cold War era, the US and other nations need to up their international game and establish a “one Taiwan” policy. This is long overdue.
The nations should understand that a “one Taiwan” policy is not in conflict with the existing but purposely vague “one China” policy that they hold. People that see a conflict there, show that they have never grasped the differences between a “one China” policy and the “one China” principle that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) foists on the world.
The “one China” policy expresses that a nation acknowledges that China has territorial claims that it wishes to assert, but not that the nation accepts the claims — that would be holding to the “one China” principle.
This is why former US secretary of state Mike Pompeo could hold to the US’ “one China” policy, but still say: “Taiwan has never been a part of China.” Pompeo was simply expressing the reality of Taiwan’s history and its de facto independence.
Some might find irony in how the US seemed to accept a “one China” principle in the era when it supported the Republic of China (ROC) and Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) in the UN. Nonetheless, since the end of World War II in 1945 and the subsequent 1952 Treaty of San Francisco, the official US position on Taiwan has been and remains “undecided.”
The US did at one time consider having “two Chinas” in the UN, as there are two Koreas. That was rejected by the PRC and the ROC. However, when the ROC lost its UN membership, the decision did not officially apply to Taiwan or Taiwanese, as the wording stipulated the “followers of Chiang Kai-shek.”
When the US switched its embassy to Beijing in 1979, it no longer viewed the ROC as the representative of China, but again this did not affect the official US position on the status of Taiwan. From then on, the US began to address Taiwan as “Taiwan.” This is when the true nature of the US’ “undecided” position became apparent.
Last month, US support of a “one Taiwan” policy was demonstrated in the US House of Representatives. It passed and sent to the US Senate a bill that would forbid the use of funds to “create, procure or display” maps that show Taiwan as part of China, including past color-coded maps.
Some might dredge up the Shanghai Communiques, but they were a product of a different time. Their purpose was to establish relations with the PRC and prevent the then-Soviet Union, or any other nation, from establishing hegemony in the Asia Pacific region.
As the PRC has voided that through its hegemonic aims, the US should no longer feel bound to hold back on the wording of a policy that separates Taiwan from China.
A “one Taiwan” policy needs to be promoted all the more. China continues to change its tactics and rhetoric, and force its growing hegemonic ambitions on the region.
In 2005, People’s Liberation Army major general Zhu Chenghu (朱成虎) boasted that if China involved itself in a nuclear war with the US over Taiwan, it would be willing to sacrifice everything east of Xian to the offensive.
However, China presently takes on more of a bullying role. On July 11, a video reposted by a Chinese Communist Party (CCP) committee in northeastern China threatened Japan with nuclear obliteration.
The threat, which has been dubbed “the Japanese exception theory,” says that if Japan were to send even one soldier to help defend a Taiwan under attack by China, then China would feel justified in unleashing its nuclear arsenal on Japan.
Japan is coming to realize the growing threat that China represents, and has expressed that its survival is intricately linked to a free and democratic Taiwan.
Yet there remain too many “useful idiots,” historic or otherwise, who support the CCP’s doublespeak in interpreting history.
For example, China was part of the Manchu empire from 1645 to 1911. The Manchus conquered and ruled China, along with Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia and even the western half of Taiwan. Despite the Manchus ruling China for 266 years, their whole empire — including Tibet, Xinjiang, Mongolia and so on — is called “China” by such people.
When the Manchu empire split apart in 1911, the part that was China set about “liberating” all of the other parts, but kept all of them as “China,” of course. Readers of history are told to accept that the Manchu empire was really “China” and that this justifies further expansion.
Although the Chinese resented Manchu rule, in a Stockholm syndrome sort of manipulation, the CCP — which was formed in 1921, a decade after the Manchus demise — claims the humiliation of the Manchu defeats by calling them China’s “century of humiliation.” There must be a psychological term for such manipulation.
This is what nations must sort through as they develop the needed “one Taiwan” policy.
China is facing the risk of an implosion, as the gap between poor and rich grows due to Beijing’s creation of an elite class of ultra-wealthy.
At the same time, the factories that used to manufacture the goods desired overseas are moving to other parts of Asia in search of cheaper labor. The Chinese worker is demanding a bigger piece of the pie, but there are still millions of poor in China.
While portraying itself as a benevolent patriarch, the CCP forces the round pegs of the Manchu-conquered nations into the square holes of identifying as China. Beijing expects and pushes for absolute party conformity in Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia — they are all somehow “one China.”
The one nagging denial that hangs in the air is Mongolia, which escaped the CCP’s doublespeak trap. At the time, the CCP needed support from the then-Soviet Union, which in turn demanded a buffer state between them.
All of these diverse currents have been converging over the past decade and, as the CCP races to establish its hegemonic gains in Asia, it works to reduce the risk of an implosion.
The time has come for the US and other nations to put an end to this charade and to stick a pin in the hegemonic balloon that the CCP is breathing life into.
The quickest, easiest and least confrontational way to do this would be to declare a “one Taiwan” policy. It is simple and even avoids the controversial “I” word that would officially express Taiwan’s de facto independence.
At the same time, it provides the perfect counter balance to the “one China” policies that nations hold.
Jerome Keating is a writer based in Taipei.
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