The solution to the Taiwan question and the realization of the complete unification of China is linked to the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. For the past 50 years, the Chinese government has waged a relentless struggle to realize these goals. Starting from 1979, it, showing full sincerity and doing everything in its power, tried to achieve a peaceful unification of the country within the framework of the concept of one state – two systems (Harnett, 2021). As a result, since the end of 1987, there has been a significant expansion of economic, cultural, and individual exchanges between both sides of the Taiwan Strait (Harnett, 2021). However, since the 90s, the head of the Taiwanese administration, Lee Teng-hui, began to pursue a separatist policy in every possible way, ultimately aimed at creating two Chinas. This seriously destroyed the foundation on which it was possible to achieve a peaceful unification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, thereby jeopardizing peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The PRC government has consistently upheld the position of one China and categorically opposes any attempt to tear Taiwan away from China.
The principle of one China was formed in the course of the just struggle of the Chinese people for the protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity and has both a factual and legal basis. On October 1, 1949, the establishment of the Central People’s Government of the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed, which replaced the government of the Republic of China and became the sole legitimate government of China and the sole legitimate representative of China in the international arena. Thus, the existence of the Republic of China was ended. The old government was replaced by a new one while maintaining the same subject of international law. Such a replacement does not entail a change in China’s state sovereignty and territory, so it is only natural that the PRC government has and exercises all of China’s sovereign rights, including sovereign rights over Taiwan. Only by maintaining the principle of one China can peaceful unification be realized. The Taiwan issue is a problem that has arisen as a result of the Chinese civil war. The state of enmity between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait has not yet officially been put to rest. To protect the sovereignty of China and its territorial integrity, and to achieve the unification of the motherland, the Chinese government has the right to resort to any necessary means.
One China Principle
The use of peaceful means favors the joint development of society on both sides of the strait, favors friendly relations and unity between compatriots on its two banks, and therefore is the most optimal (Harnett, 2021). In proclaiming 1979 the policy of peaceful unification, the Chinese government proceeded from the fact that the then Taiwanese authorities recognized that there was only one China in the world, and Taiwan was part of China. All this is also conducive to a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue (Harnett, 2021). While pursuing a policy of peaceful unification, the Chinese government has consistently declared that the way to solve the Taiwan problem is China’s internal affair, which is not obliged to promise to refrain from using armed force in this matter. The refusal to make such a promise is not directed against Taiwan compatriots, but against those who are trying to promote “Taiwan independence” and those foreign forces that will interfere in the cause of Chinese unification. Thus, the necessary guarantee for the peaceful unification of the country is provided.
For Taiwan, upholding the principle of one China means recognizing the inalienable sovereignty of China and the integrity of its territory, which provides both sides with a common basis and prerequisite for equal consultations, during which a way will be found to resolve political differences between the two sides and thereby achieve the peaceful unification of the motherland. Rejection of the principle of one China attempts to tear Taiwan away from China will lead to the elimination of the prerequisites and foundations for the peaceful unification of the motherland. For the Asia-Pacific region and countries in other regions of the world, the situation in the Taiwan Strait has always been closely related to their security and stability. Advocacy by interested countries of the one-China policy is conducive to maintaining peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, conducive to the development of friendly relations between China and other countries, which is in the interests of this region and the interests of all countries of the world.
The Position of the PRC Government
Taiwan’s separatist forces are deliberately violating the One China principle. In 1988, Lee Teng-hui took over as leader of Taiwan. Under the leadership of Lee Teng-hui, the Taiwanese authorities took several concrete measures to split the country. On the issue of the political system, they seek to make Taiwan into an “independent political entity” through the so-called “constitutional reform” to create two Chinas (Harnett, 2021). In the field of foreign relations, the Taiwanese authorities are trying with all their might to “expand the international space of existence” to create two Chinas. Militarily, the Taiwanese authorities are buying large quantities of modern weapons from abroad, are striving to participate in the theater missile defense system, and are trying to create some kind of military alliance with the United States and Japan. In the area of culture and ideology, they deliberately weaken Taiwanese compatriots’ sense of national dignity to break the ideological and cultural ties between both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Relevance in the Present Time
As life shows, there is still a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait. In the event of serious changes, such as the separation of Taiwan from China, the occupation of Taiwan, or the indefinite postponement of negotiations on the issue of peaceful unification by the Taiwan authorities, the Chinese government will have to use all possible means to protect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country (Harnett, 2021). The Chinese government and people are determined and have all the necessary abilities to protect the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country, and will not in any way put up with any aspirations aimed at dividing China, tolerating and ignoring them. All such attempts are doomed to failure.
Problems in the Relationship of the Parties
The territorial integrity and sovereignty of China are indivisible, both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to the same state. First, state sovereignty is indivisible. The territory is a space for the exercise of state sovereignty. On the territory of one state, there can be only one central government, which, on behalf of this state, exercises its sovereign rights. As stated above, Taiwan is an integral part of Chinese territory. Although the two sides of the Taiwan Strait are still not reunited, the fact that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory remains unchanged, and therefore China’s sovereignty over Taiwan remains unchanged. Second, the international community recognizes that there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China’s territory (Harnett, 2021). The Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China. Thirdly, the Taiwan issue has not been resolved for a long time, mainly as a result of the intervention of external forces and obstacles from the Taiwanese separatists (Harnett, 2021). At present, the essence of the matter is that separatist forces in Taiwan and anti-Chinese elements in several countries are trying to change this situation, which naturally provokes strong protests from the Chinese government and people.
Opposition in the Realm of Taiwan’s Status
Strong opposition to attempts by referendum to change Taiwan’s status as part of China. First, China’s domestic legal acts, as well as international law, clearly define Taiwan’s legal status as part of China’s territory. Therefore, the prerequisite for holding a referendum on self-determination does not exist at all. Secondly, the slogan “sovereignty belongs to the people” implies that sovereignty belongs to the people of the entire country, and not to any particular part of this people or the people of any particular region of this country. Sovereignty over Taiwan belongs to all Chinese, including Taiwan compatriots, and not just to the Taiwanese part. Third, throughout history, Taiwan has never acted as a separate state (Harnett, 2021). After 1945, Taiwan did not have the status of a colony of other countries, nor the status of a territory occupied by foreign forces.
Model of “Two Germanys”
The “two Germanys” model is not acceptable for resolving the Taiwan issue. The post-war split in Germany and the temporary isolation of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait from each other are fundamentally different. First of all, the causes of the occurrence of these two situations and their nature are different. In 1945, Germany was defeated in World War II and was occupied by the victorious powers of the United States, Britain, France, and the USSR following the German Surrender and Supremacy Act and the subsequent Potsdam Agreement (Harnett, 2021). In the areas occupied by the USA, Great Britain, and France, and in the area occupied by the USSR, the Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were established respectively. It follows from the foregoing that the German question arose as a result of exclusively external factors. At the same time, the Taiwan issue was left as a legacy of the Chinese civil war and is purely China’s internal problem (Harnett, 2021). The division of Germany is determined by several international agreements concluded during and after the Second World War. Concerning the Taiwan question, several other international declarations and agreements stipulated that Japan was obliged to return Taiwan to China, which it had seized from it.
The Chinese government welcomes the broad commitment of the world community to the one-China policy. Taiwan has no right to participate in the UN and other international organizations, whose members can only be sovereign states. The UN is an intergovernmental international organization in which only representatives of sovereign states take part. As for those intergovernmental international organizations whose members may include representatives of the regions of the world, the Chinese government, based on the principle of one China, taking into account the nature, charter, and real situation in these organizations, has developed appropriate measures. Thus, Taiwan, as one of the regions of China and under the name “Taipei of China”, participates in the Asian Development Bank, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Harnett, 2021). At the same time, it should be noted that such a practice of solving the problem is inherent in these specific organizations, and it cannot be considered a “model” for other intergovernmental international organizations and international practices.
Chinese Government Approach
The Chinese government approaches Taiwan’s foreign relations from the standpoint of one China. The Taiwan authorities are trying to expand the international space of existence, ultimately trying to create two Chinas. The Chinese government, of course, categorically opposes this. However, considering the needs of Taiwan’s economic and social development and the real interests of Taiwanese compatriots, it does not object to Taiwan’s unofficial economic and cultural contacts with foreign countries (Harnett, 2021). Moreover, based on the premise of recognizing one China, it has taken several flexible measures to facilitate Taiwan’s trade, economic and cultural ties with foreign countries.
Assistance in International Implementation
So Taiwan remained in the International Olympic Committee under the name “Taipei of China”. It maintains broad trade, economic and cultural ties with many countries and regions of the world. The number of people who travel from Taiwan to foreign countries for tourism, business, and study purposes, as well as scientific, cultural, and sports exchanges, is over 1 million per year. Taiwan’s foreign trade turnover averages more than 200 billion US dollars annually (Harnett, 2021, p. 101). All this shows that adherence to the One China principle has not created and will not create obstacles to the informal relations of Taiwanese compatriots with the outside world and has not and will not hurt the normal activities of Taiwan in the field of economy, trade, and culture.
The Impact of Globalization in an Increasingly Connected, Technological, and Rapidly Changing World
It should be noted that the modern world is committed to the processes of globalization, and the relationship between China and Taiwan is no exception. The fact is that Taiwan, in a general sense, is easier to join a larger, yet native state because needs will be satisfied in this way more effectively. Here it is worth emphasizing both the legal and economic benefits, and the simplification of the life of the local population (Harnett, 2021). In other words, globalization efforts are aimed at global unification, both social and cultural. In this context, the unification of the two Chinas looks like the most effective method for resolving several topical problems described before.
Thus, one got to the main question, can China and Taiwan ever exist as one nation? The question is multifaceted and controversial, and the answer to it can be formulated based on all previous messages. It is well known that Taiwan is an important economic entity for China, but at the same time wants to have independence. In this barrier, it seems that their existence as one power is unrealistic. However, diplomacy involves making compromises, and one may come to the conclusion that there are some options. And the most suitable option is the creation of a unique union, which means that China and Taiwan are one state. However, Taiwan will be able to resolve critical issues itself and have independence. Thereby, the desire of both parties would be satisfied, and it could serve as the basement for further development.
Harnett, S. J. (2021). A world of turmoil. The United States, China, and Taiwan in the long cold war. Michigan State University Press.