White Paper - The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue

Friday, April 06, 2018

On October 1, 1949, the Central People’s Government of the PRC was proclaimed, replacing the government of the Republic of China to become the only legal government of the whole of China and its sole legal representative in the international arena, thereby bringing the historical status of the Republic of China to an end. This is a replacement of the old regime by a new one in a situation where the main bodies of the same international laws have not changed and China’s sovereignty and inherent territory have not changed therefrom, and so the government of the PRC naturally should fully enjoy and exercise China’s sovereignty, including its sovereignty over Taiwan.

Since the KMT ruling clique retreated to Taiwan, although its regime has continued to use the designations “Republic of China” and “government of the Republic of China,” it has long since completely forfeited its right to exercise state sovereignty on behalf of China and, in reality, has always remained only a local authority in Chinese territory.

The formulation of the One-China Principle and its basic meaning. On the day of its founding, the Central People’s Government of the PRC declared to governments of all countries in the world, “This government is the sole legitimate government representing the entire people of the People’s Republic of China. It is ready to establish diplomatic relations with all foreign governments that are willing to abide by the principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect for each other’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.” Shortly afterwards, the Central People’s Government telegraphed the United Nations, announcing that the KMT authorities had “lost all basis, both de jure and de facto, to represent the Chinese people,” and therefore had no right to represent China at all. One principle governing New China’s establishment of diplomatic relations with a foreign country is that it recognizes the government of the PRC as the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China, severs or refrains from establishing diplomatic relations with the Taiwan authorities.

These propositions of the Chinese government met with obstruction by the U.S. government. On January 5, 1950, the U.S. President Truman issued a statement, saying that the U.S. and other Allied countries recognized China’s exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan Island in the four years since 1945. However, after the start of the Korean War in June 1950, to isolate and contain China the U.S. government not only sent troops to occupy Taiwan, but it also dished out such fallacies as “the status of Taiwan has yet to be determined” and later, step by step, lobbied for “dual recognition” among the international community in order to create “two Chinas.” Naturally, the Chinese government resolutely opposed this, insisting that there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is a part of China and the government of the PRC is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. China has evolved the One-China Principle precisely in the course of the endeavor to develop normal diplomatic relations with other countries and the struggle to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity. The above propositions constitute the basic meaning of the One-China Principle, the crucial point being to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

During the 30 or 40 years after 1949, although the Taiwan authorities did not recognize the legitimate status of the government of the PRC as the representative of the whole of China, they did insist that Taiwan is a part of China and that there is only one China, and opposed “two Chinas” and “Taiwan independence. “ This shows that for a long time there has been a common  understanding among the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan  Straits on the fundamental question that there is only one China  and Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory. As far back as October 1958, when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was engaged in the battle to bombard Jinmen, Chairman Mao Zedong declared to the Taiwan authorities, “There is only one China, not two, in the world. You agree with us on this point, as indicated in your leaders’ proclamations.” In January 1979, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC) issued a Message to Taiwan Compatriots, pointing out that “the Taiwan authorities have always stood firm on the one China position and opposed the independence  of Taiwan. This is our common stand and our basis for cooperation.”

 A Guest Editorial