- An agreement was signed recently between China and the Central American country of Honduras to establish diplomatic ties, after Honduras ended its diplomatic ties with Taiwan.
- China has never recognized Taiwan as an independent political entity, arguing that it was always a Chinese province under its “One China” policy.
- Despite the policy being a contentious issue between China and Taiwan for decades, Taiwan has been engaging in separatist activities for independence.
- Currently, only 13 countries recognize Taiwan, including Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau, Tuvalu, Eswatini, Vatican City, Belize, Guatemala, Haiti, Paraguay, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.
What is the One China Policy?
- The “One China” policy refers to the idea that China is one country, consisting of mainland China and Taiwan.
- It dates back to the origins of the country in 1949 when the Mao Zedong-led Communist Party won the Chinese civil war and the nationalist Kuomintang fled to Taiwan and set up the government of the Republic of China.
- Both sides claimed to be the legitimate government of China, and for many years Taiwan was recognized as such by much of the international community.
- China asserts that Taiwan is a province of China and therefore part of “One China,” while Taiwan maintains its own government and claims to be an independent country.
Major issues between China and Taiwan:
- Sovereignty: China considers Taiwan as a renegade province that must eventually be reunified with the mainland. However, Taiwan has its own government, military, and economy and considers itself a sovereign state.
- Political Differences: Taiwan is a democratic country, while China is a one-party communist state. The differences in political ideology have contributed to tensions between the two countries.
- Military Threats: China has not ruled out the use of force to reunify with Taiwan and has conducted military exercises near the Taiwan Strait in the past, which have increased tensions between the two sides.
- Economic Competition: Both China and Taiwan are economic powerhouses, and there is significant competition between the two in terms of trade and investment.
- Diplomatic Recognition: China has been using its diplomatic clout to isolate Taiwan by convincing other countries to cut ties with Taiwan and recognize China instead.
- Taiwan’s International Status: Taiwan is not recognized as a sovereign state by the United Nations and is unable to join international organizations.
- Cross-Strait Relations: There are also a number of other issues that affect cross-strait relations, including Taiwan’s relationship with the United States, Taiwan’s national identity, and the possibility of a peaceful reunification.
Diplomatic Status of Taiwan
Stand of UN:
- The United Nations (UN) officially recognizes the People’s Republic of China as the only legitimate representative of China, including Taiwan.
- This is based on the “One China” policy, which holds that there is only one China, of which Taiwan is an integral part.
- As a result, Taiwan is not a member of the UN and has no representation in most UN specialized agencies.
Stand of USA:
- The United States, for its part, has maintained a “One China” policy since 1972, recognizing the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China but also maintaining unofficial ties with Taiwan.
- This delicate balancing act has become increasingly difficult in recent years as tensions between China and the US have risen, with the US taking a more confrontational stance toward China on a range of issues.
- The US One China Policy contains more elements than the “One China” principle, including the US interest in a peaceful process of cross-Strait dispute resolution and differing interpretations of Taiwan’s legal status.
Stand of India:
- It officially recognizes the One China policy and maintains diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China.
- India has not recognized Taiwan as a sovereign state and instead refers to it as a “part of China” which has remained consistent over the years.
- However, India maintains unofficial and non-governmental contacts with Taiwan including business, cultural, and people-to-people exchanges.
- India also recognizes the importance of Taiwan as a vibrant democracy and an important economic partner.
- The issue of the “One China” policy is likely to remain a thorny one for the foreseeable future, with both sides firmly entrenched in their positions.
- There are signs however that the situation may be evolving, with China becoming more assertive in its claims on Taiwan and the US taking a more confrontational stance toward China.
- Ultimately, the future of Taiwan and its relationship with China is likely to be determined by a complex mix of economic, political, and strategic factors, and will continue to be a major flashpoint in the region for years to come.