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The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue


This is the second white paper on Taiwan released by the PRC State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office and the State Council Information Office. The white paper provides a comprehensive overview of the official PRC position on Taiwan’s status, outlining Beijing’s assessment of the current factors impacting cross-Strait tensions, and a policy pathway for achieving “reunification.”

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On October 1, 1949, the Chinese people won a great victory in the new democratic revolution and founded the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The Kuomintang (KMT) ruling clique retreated from the mainland to entrench in China’s Taiwan Province in confrontation with the Central Government with the support of foreign forces. This is the origin of the Taiwan issue.


Settlement of the Taiwan issue and realization of the complete reunification of China embodies the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. The Chinese government has worked persistently toward this goal in the past 50 years. From 1979, the Chinese government has striven for the peaceful reunification of China in the form of “one country, two systems” with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort. Economic and cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have made rapid progress since the end of 1987. Unfortunately, from the 1990s, Lee Teng-hui, the leader of the Taiwan authorities, has progressively betrayed the One-China Principle, striving to promote a separatist policy with “two Chinas” at the core, going so far as to openly describe the cross-Straits relations as “state to state relations, or at least special state to state relations.” This action has seriously damaged the basis for peaceful reunification of the two sides, harmed the fundamental interests of the entire Chinese nation including the Taiwan compatriots, and jeopardized peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese government has consistently adhered to the One-China Principle and resolutely opposed any attempt to separate Taiwan from China. The struggle between the Chinese government and the separatist forces headed by Lee Teng-hui finds its concentrated expression in the question of whether to persevere in the One-China Principle or to create “two Chinas” or “One-China, one Taiwan.”


In August 1993, we issued a white paper entitled “The Taiwan Question and Reunification of China,” which systematically expounds the fact concerning Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, the origin of the Taiwan issue and the Chinese governments basic principles and related policies regarding resolution of the Taiwan question. We deem it necessary here to further explain to the international community the Chinese government’s position and policy on the One-China Principle.


I. The Basis for One China, de Facto and de Jure


The One-China Principle has been evolved in the course of the Chinese people’s just struggle to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its basis, both de facto and de jure, is unshakable.


Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. All the facts and laws about Taiwan prove that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. In April 1895, through a war of aggression against China, Japan forced the Qing government to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, and forcibly occupied Taiwan. In July 1937, Japan launched an all-out war of aggression against China. In December 1941, the Chinese government issued the Proclamation of China’s Declaration of War Against Japan, announcing to the world that all treaties, agreements and contracts concerning Sino-Japanese relations, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, had been abrogated, and that China would recover Taiwan. In December 1943, the Cairo Declaration was issued by the Chinese, U.S. and British governments, stipulating that Japan should return to China all the territories it had stolen from the Chinese, including Northeast China, Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago. The Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the United States and Britain in 1945 (later adhered to by the Soviet Union) stipulated that “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.” In August of that year, Japan declared surrender and promised in its instrument of surrender that it would faithfully fulfill the obligations laid down in the Potsdam Proclamation. On October 25, 1945, the Chinese government recovered Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago, resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan.


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.”


The Chinese government’s solemn and reasonable stand for the One-China Principle has gained the understanding and support of more and more countries and international organizations, and the One-China Principle has been gradually accepted by the international community at large. In October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted at its 26th session Resolution 2758, which expelled the representatives of the Taiwan authorities and restored the seat and all the lawful rights of the government of the PRC in the United Nations. In September 1972, China and Japan signed a Joint Statement, announcing establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and that Japan recognizes the government of the PRC as the only legitimate government of China, fully understands and respects the Chinese government’s position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the PRC, and promises to adhere to the position as prescribed in Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation. In December 1978, China and the U.S. issued the Joint Communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations, in which the U.S. “recognizes the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China” and “acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China. “Up to now, 161 countries have established diplomatic relations with the PRC; they all acknowledge the One-China Principle and promise to handle their relations with Taiwan within the one-China framework.


II. The One-China Principle–the Basis and Prerequisite for Achieving Peaceful Reunification


The One-China Principle is the foundation stone for the Chinese government’s policy on Taiwan. On Comrade Deng Xiaoping’s initiative, the Chinese government has, since 1979, adopted the policy of peaceful reunification and gradually evolved the scientific concept of “one country, two systems.” On this basis, China established the basic principle of “peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems.” The key points of this basic principle and the relevant policies are: China will do its best to achieve peaceful reunification, but will not commit itself to rule out the use of force; will actively promote people-to-people contacts and economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, and start direct trade, postal, air and shipping services as soon as possible; achieve reunification through peaceful negotiations and, on the premise of the One-China Principle, any matter can be negotiated. After reunification, the policy of “one country, two systems” will be practiced, with the main body of China (Chinese mainland) continuing with its socialist system, and Taiwan maintaining its capitalist system for a long period of time to come. After reunification, Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, and the Central Government will not send troops or administrative personnel to be stationed in Taiwan. Resolution of the Taiwan issue is an internal affair of China, which should be achieved by the Chinese themselves, and there is no call for aid by foreign forces. The afore-mentioned principles and policies embody the basic stand and spirit of adhering to the One-China Principle, and fully respect Taiwan compatriots’ wish to govern and administer Taiwan by themselves.


On May 1, 1995, President Jiang Zemin put forward eight propositions on the development of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and the promotion of peaceful reunification of China, explicitly pointing out: “Adhering to the One-China Principle is the basis and prerequisite for peaceful reunification.” Only by adhering to the One-China Principle can peaceful reunification be achieved. The Taiwan issue is one left over by the Chinese civil war. As yet, the state of hostility between the two sides of the Straits has not formally ended. To safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and realize the reunification of the two sides of the Straits, the Chinese government has the right to resort to any necessary means. Peaceful means would be favorable to the common development of the societies on both sides of the Straits, and to the harmony and unity of the compatriots across the Straits. Peaceful means is therefore the best means. The Chinese government’s declaration in 1979 on implementing the principle of peaceful reunification was based on the premise that the Taiwan authorities at that time upheld the principle that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is a part of China. Meanwhile, the Chinese government took into account the fact that the U.S. government, which for many years had supported the Taiwan authorities, had accepted that there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is a part of China and the government of the PRC is the only legitimate government of China, and saw this acknowledgment as being beneficial to the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. While carrying out the policy of peaceful reunification, the Chinese government always makes it clear that the means used to solve the Taiwan issue is a matter of China’s internal affairs, and China is under no obligation to commit itself to rule out the use of force. This is by no means directed against Taiwan compatriots, but against the scheme to create an “independent Taiwan” and against the foreign forces interfering with the reunification of China, and is intended as a necessary safeguard for the striving for peaceful reunification. Resort to force would only be the last choice made under compelled circumstances.


As for Taiwan, upholding the principle of one China indicates that it acknowledges that China’s sovereignty and territory are inalienable. In this way, both sides of the Taiwan Straits will have a common basis and premise and may find ways to solve their political differences and realize peaceful reunification through consultation on an equal footing. If Taiwan denies the One-China Principle and tries to separate Taiwan from the territory of China, the premise and basis for peaceful reunification will cease to exist.


As for the United States, if it promises to follow a one-China policy, it should earnestly implement the three communiques between the Chinese and U.S. governments and fulfill the series of promises it has made. It should maintain only cultural, commercial and other non-governmental relations with Taiwan; oppose “Taiwan independence,” “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” and not to stand in the way of the reunification of China. Acting otherwise will destroy the external conditions necessary for the Chinesegovernment to strive for peaceful reunification.


As for countries in the Asia-Pacific region and other regions in the world, the situation across the Taiwan Straits has always been closely linked with the stability of the Asia-Pacific region. Adherence to the policy of one China by countries concerned will be beneficial to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region and favorable for China to develop friendly relations with other countries, and therefore conforms to the interests of the Asia-Pacific region and other countries in the world.


The Chinese government is actively and sincerely striving for peaceful reunification. To achieve peaceful reunification, the Chinese government has appealed time and again for cross-Straits negotiations on the basis of equality and the One-China Principle. Taking Taiwan’s political reality into full account and out of consideration for the Taiwan authorities’ request for the negotiations to be held on an equal footing, we have put forward one proposal after another, such as that the negotiations should be held between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese KMT on a reciprocal basis and that the talks between the two parties may include representatives from all parties and mass organizations of Taiwan, and we have never spoken of negotiations between the “central and local authorities.” The Chinese government has also proposed that dialogues may start first, including political dialogues, which may gradually move on to procedural consultations for political talks to solve the name, the topics for discussion and the forms of official talks before political talks are held. Political talks may be carried out step by step. First, negotiations should be held and an agreement reached on an official end to the state of hostility between the two sides under the principle of one China so as to jointly safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and work out plans for the development of the future inter-Straits relations. In January 1998, to seek and expand the political basis for relations between the two sides, the Chinese government explicitly proposed to the Taiwan side that before the realization of reunification and in handling affairs concerning inter-Straits relations, especially during the talks between the two sides, the One-China Principle should be upheld, namely that there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is a part of China and China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity is not to be separated. The Chinese government hopes that on the basis of the One-China Principle, the two sides will hold consultations on an equal footing and discuss national reunification together.


To strive for peaceful reunification, the Chinese government has adopted a series of positive policies and measures to promote the comprehensive development of cross-Straits relations. From the end of 1987, when the state of isolation between the two sides was terminated, to the end of 1999, the number of Taiwan compatriots coming to the mainland of China for visiting their relatives, sightseeing or exchanges reached 16 million by turnstile count. The total indirect trade volume between the two sides of the Straits has exceeded US$ 160 billion; the agreed capital to be invested by Taiwan business people in the mainland has exceeded US$44 billion, of which US$ 24 billion has been actually used. Great progress has been made in the exchange of mail and telecommunications across the Straits; and some progress has been made in the exchange of air and shipping services too. The NPC and its Standing Committee, the State Council, and local governments have worked out a sequence of laws and regulations to safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots. To properly solve the concrete issues arising from the people-to-people contacts between the two sides through consultations, in November 1992 the mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation reached the common understanding during talks on routine affairs that each of the two organizations should express verbally that “both sides of the Taiwan Straits adhere to the One-China Principle.” On this basis, the leaders of these two organizations successfully held the “Wang Daohan-Koo Chen-fu talks” and signed several agreements on protecting the legitimate rights and interests of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits in April 1993. In October 1998, the leaders of the two organizations met in Shanghai, starting political dialogue across the Straits. The talks between the two organizations were carried out on an equal footing. Practice has proved that on the basis of the One-China Principle, it is entirely possible to find a proper way for holding talks, based on equality, between the two sides. Since Hong Kong and Macao’s return to China, people-to-people contacts and exchanges between Hong Kong and Taiwan and between Macao and Taiwan have continued and developed on the basis of the One-China Principle.


III. The Chinese Government–Staunch Champion for the One-China Principle


Separatist forces in Taiwan are bent on violating the One-China Principle. In 1988, after Lee Teng-hui became the leader of the Taiwan authorities, he publicly stated time and again that the basic policy of the Taiwan authorities was that “there is only one China, not two,” and “we have always maintained that China should be reunited, and we adhere to the principle of ‘one China.'”


However, since the early 1990s, Lee Teng-hui has gradually deviated from the One-China Principle, trumpeting “two governments,” “two reciprocal political entities,” “Taiwan is already a state with independent sovereignty,” and “At the present stage the Republic of China is on Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China is on the mainland.” Moreover, he went back on his words, saying that “I have never said that there is only one China.” In addition, he has connived at and provided support for the separatists who advocate “Taiwan independence” and their activities, thus helping the rapid development of the “Taiwan independence” forces and the spread of the “Taiwan independence” ideology. Under the direction of Lee Teng-hui, the Taiwan authorities have adopted a series of measures towards actual separation. In matters of Taiwan’s form of government, the Taiwan authorities are seeking to transform Taiwan into an “independent political entity” through a “constitutional reform,” so as to suit the needs of creating “two Chinas.” In foreign relations, the Taiwan authorities have spared no effort to carry out the activities for “expanding the international space of survival,” with the aim of creating “two Chinas.” Since 1993, for seven years running, the Taiwan authorities have manoeuvred for participation in the United Nations. In military affairs, the Taiwan authorities have bought large quantities of advanced weapons from foreign countries and sought to join the Theater Missile Defence System (TMDS), in an attempt to establish a military alliance of a disguised form with the United States and Japan. In ideology and culture, the Taiwan authorities have endeavoured to obliterate the Chinese awareness of Taiwan compatriots, especially young people, and their identification with the motherland, in order to create misunderstanding of the motherland among Taiwan compatriots and estrange them from her, thus cutting off the ideological and cultural ties between the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.


Since 1999, Lee Teng-hui has stepped up his separatist activities. In May, he published the book “The Road to Democracy,” which advocates the division of China into seven regions, each enjoying “full autonomy.” On July 9, he went so far as to publicly distort inter-Straits relations as “state to state relations, or at least special state to state relations,” in an attempt to fundamentally change the status of Taiwan as a part of China, sabotage the relations between both sides of the Taiwan Straits, especially the basis for cross-Straits political dialogues and negotiations, and wreck the foundation for peaceful reunification. Lee Teng-hui has become the general representative of Taiwan’s separatist forces, a saboteur of the stability of the Taiwan Straits, a stumbling block preventing the development of relations between China and the United States, and a troublemaker for the peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region.


The Chinese Government firmly defends the One-China Principle. The Chinese Government and people have always maintained sharp vigilance and fought resolutely against the secessionist activities of the Taiwan separatists, represented by Lee Teng-hui.


After Lee Teng-hui’s “private” visit to the United States in June 1995, the Chinese Government has waged a resolute struggle against separation and against “Taiwan independence,” and made strong protests and representations to the US Government for openly allowing Lee Teng-hui to visit the United States, violating its promises made in the three Sino-US joint communiques, and seriously prejudicing China’s sovereignty. This struggle has shown the Chinese Government and people’s firm resolve and ability to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity, and exerted an important and far-reaching influence. Compatriots in Taiwan have further realized the serious harm “Taiwan independence” can cause. Lee Teng-hui has received a heavy blow for his separatist activities in the international community, so that some of the “Taiwan independence” protagonists have had to abandon certain extremist propositions aimed at division. The international community has further realized the necessity of upholding the one-China policy. The US Government has explicitly undertaken not to support “Taiwan independence,” not to support “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan,” and not to support Taiwan joining any international organization whose membership is restricted to sovereign states.


The Chinese Government and people have fought more unremittingly after Lee Teng-hui cooked up his “two states” theory. The relevant department of the Chinese Government has clearly stated that the attempt of the Taiwan separatists to implement the “two states” theory in “legal” form was an even more serious and dangerous step towards division and a grave provocation against peaceful reunification. Were the attempt to succeed, it would be impossible for China to achieve peaceful reunification. The struggle against this attempt has grown in momentum with Chinese both at home and abroad condemning the “two states” theory with one voice. Most countries in the world have reaffirmed their position of upholding the One-China Policy. The US Government has also reasserted its adherence to the One-China Policy and its commitment to the “Three Non-supports” for Taiwan. Finally, the Taiwan authorities have been compelled to announce that they will not amend their “constitution” and “laws” according to the “two states” theory.


Nevertheless, separatists in Taiwan are still attempting to detach Taiwan “de jure” from China in the name of the “Republic of China” by various forms, including “formulating a new constitution,” “amending the constitution,” and “explaining the constitution” or through “legislation.” Special vigilance should be maintained to the fact that the Taiwan separatists are continually scheming to disrupt Sino-US relations and provoke conflicts and confrontation between the two nations to achieve their aim of dividing China.


Facts prove that a serious crisis still exists in the situation of the Taiwan Straits. To safeguard the interests of the entire Chinese people including compatriots in Taiwan and maintain the peace and development of the Asia-Pacific region, the Chinese Government remains firm in adhering to “peaceful reunification” and “one country, two systems;” upholding the eight propositions put forward by President Jiang Zemin for the development of cross-Straits relations and the acceleration of the peaceful reunification of China; and doing its utmost to achieve the objective of peaceful reunification. However, if a grave turn of events occurs leading to the separation of Taiwan from China in any name, or if Taiwan is invaded and occupied by foreign countries, or if the Taiwan authorities refuse, sine die, the peaceful settlement of cross-Straits reunification through negotiations, then the Chinese Government will only be forced to adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force, to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and fulfill the great cause of reunification. The Chinese Government and people absolutely have the determination and ability to safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and will never tolerate, condone or remain indifferent to the realization of any scheme to divide China. Any such scheme is doomed to failure.


IV. Several Questions Involving the One-China Principle in the Cross-Straits Relations


Chinese territory and sovereignty has not been split, and the two sides of the Straits are not two states. The Taiwan authorities support their position on “two Chinas,” including the “two states” theory proposed by Lee Teng-hui, with the following arguments: Since 1949, the territories on either side of the Straits have been divided and governed separately, with neither side having jurisdiction over the other; the government of the PRC has never ruled Taiwan; and since 1991 Taiwan has witnessed a form of government that has nothing to do with that of the Chinese mainland. These arguments are absolutely untenable, and can never lead to the conclusion that Taiwan may declare itself a state under the name of the “Republic of China,” or that the two sides of the Straits have been divided into two states. Firstly, state sovereignty is inseparable. The territory is the space in which a state exercises its sovereignty. In the territory of a country there can only be a central government exercising sovereignty on behalf of the state. As we have already said, Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory and, after replacing the government of the Republic of China in 1949, the government of the PRC has become the sole legal government of China, enjoying and exercising sovereignty over the whole of China, including Taiwan. Although the two sides of the Straits have not been reunified, Taiwan’s status as a part of Chinese territory has never changed, neither, therefore, has China’s sovereignty over Taiwan ever changed. Secondly, the international community recognizes that there is only one China, that Taiwan is a part of China, and that the government of the PRC is the sole legitimate government of China. Thirdly, the reason that the Taiwan question has not been settled for such a long period of time is mainly due to the intervention of foreign forces and the obstruction of the separatist forces in Taiwan. Although the two sides of the Straits remain to be reunified, the long-term existence of this abnormal situation has not imbued Taiwan with a status and rights in international law, nor can it change the legal status of Taiwan as a part of China. The problem now is that the separatists in Taiwan and some foreign anti-China forces seek to change this state of affairs, and it is this that the Chinese Government and people are firmly against.


We firmly oppose changing Taiwan’s status as a part of China by referendum. The Taiwan separatists’ attempt to change Taiwan’s status as a part of China by referendum on the pretext that ” sovereignty belongs to the people” is futile. Firstly, under both domestic and international laws Taiwan’s legal status as a part of Chinese territory is unequivocal, and there can be no premise for using referendum to decide any matter of self-determination. Secondly, the phrase “sovereignty belongs to the people” refers to all the people of a state, and not certain people or the people of a certain area. The sovereignty over Taiwan belongs to all the Chinese people including Taiwan compatriots, and not to some of the people in Taiwan. Thirdly, at no time in history has Taiwan been a state in its own right, and since 1945 Taiwan has not been a foreign colony, nor has it been under foreign occupation. The issue of national self-determination, therefore, does not exist. In short, from the time that China recovered Taiwan in 1945, there has been no question at all of changing Taiwan’s status as a part of China by holding a referendum. The only future for Taiwan is reunification with the China mainland, and certainly not separation. Any attempt to separate Taiwan from China through so-called referendum would only lead the Taiwan people to disaster.


The “two German states formula” cannot be applied to the settlement of the Taiwan issue. Some people in Taiwan have suggested that cross-Straits relations should be dealt with according to the “two German states formula,” since Germany was divided into two states after World War II, and was later reunified. This proposal shows a misunderstanding of history and reality. The division of Germany after the war and the temporary division between the two sides of the Straits are questions of a different nature, the difference lying mainly in three aspects. The first is the reasons for, and the nature of, the division. After its defeat in World War II in 1945, Germany was divided into zones occupied separately by the four victorious nations of the United States, Britain, France and the Soviet Union according to a declaration on the defeat of Germany and the assumption of supreme authority and the subsequent Potsdam Agreement. The reunification of Germany became a focus of the confrontation in Europe between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The Federal Republic of Germany and the German Democratic Republic were established in the zones occupied by the United States, Britain and France, and that occupied by the Soviet Union. Thus Germany was divided into two states. Obviously, the German question arose entirely from external factors, while the Taiwan issue, left over by China’s civil war, is a matter of China’s internal affairs. The second aspect is the difference in status between the two under international law. Germany was divided according to a series of international treaties during and after World War II, while the Taiwan question involves provisions of the Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and other international treaties, stating that Japan must return Taiwan, which it had stolen from China, to the Chinese. The third is the difference between the two in their actual conditions of existence. Against the backdrop of the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, the two German states had foreign troops stationed in their territories and so were compelled to recognize each other and co-exist in the international community. The Chinese Government has always persisted in the principle of one China. Before Lee Teng-hui assumed power, and during his early days in office, the Taiwan authorities recognized only one China and opposed “two Chinas,” and the One-China Principle has also been widely accepted by the international community. For these reasons, the Taiwan issue and the German issue cannot be placed in the same category, nor can the “two German states formula” be copied to settle the Taiwan question.


Any question can be discussed under the One-China Principle. The Chinese Government advocates that the final purpose of cross- Straits negotiations is to achieve peaceful reunification; and that to achieve this purpose, talks should be held based on the principle of one China. However, the proposals for “Taiwan independence,” “two Chinas” and “two states,” aiming for separation instead of reunification, violate the One-China Principle, and are naturally unacceptable to the Chinese Government. Provided that it is within the framework of one China, any question can be discussed, including the various issues that are of concern to the Taiwan side. The Chinese Government believes that Taiwan’s international space for economic, cultural and social activities compatible with its status, the political status of the Taiwan authorities and other questions can be finally settled in the process of peaceful reunification through political negotiations within this framework.


The so-called controversy about democracy and system is an excuse for obstructing the reunification of China. In recent years the Taiwan authorities have repeatedly declared that “democratization on the China mainland is the key to the reunification of China” and that “the real essence of the cross- Straits issue is a contest between systems.” This is an excuse for postponing and resisting reunification, as well as a scheme to deceive compatriots in Taiwan and world opinion. The CPC and the Chinese Government have consistently striven to achieve socialist democracy. To achieve peaceful reunification in the form of “one country, two systems,” and to allow the two different social systems on both sides of the Straits to coexist without imposing them on one or the other: this is best able to embody the wishes of compatriots on both sides of the Straits and is itself democratic. The different social systems across the Straits, therefore, should not constitute a barrier to peaceful reunification. Moreover, the Chinese Government acknowledges the differences between Taiwan on the one hand and Hong Kong and Macao on the other and, after peaceful reunification, is prepared to apply a looser form of the “one country, two systems” policy in Taiwan than in Hong Kong and Macao. It is totally unreasonable and undemocratic for the Taiwan authorities to seek to obstruct reunification on the pretext of the “controversy about democracy and system” and to force the more than 1.2 billion people living on the Chinese mainland to practise the political and economic systems in Taiwan. The demand for democracy should not be used as a reason for refusing reunification. The essence of the difference between the two sides of the Straits on this question lies by no means in the controversy over whether to practise democracy or in the controversy over what system to practise, but rather a controversy over the choice between reunification and separation.


V. Several Questions Involving Adherence to the One-China Principle in the International Community


The Chinese Government has expressed its appreciation to the international community for widely pursuing a one-China policy. In August 1993, we published the white paper, The Taiwan Question and Reunification of China. In Chapter V of this document, “Several Questions Involving Taiwan in International Relations,” we explained our position and policy on a number of issues, including relations between Taiwan and countries maintaining diplomatic ties with China, relations between international organizations and Taiwan, aviation services between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic relations with China, and arms sales to Taiwan by countries having diplomatic relations with China. Here, we would like to reaffirm our related position and policy.


Taiwan is ineligible for membership in the United Nations and other international organizations whose membership is confined to sovereign states. The United Nations is an inter-governmental international organization composed of sovereign states. After the restoration of the lawful rights of the PRC in the United Nations, the issue of China’s representation in the UN was resolved once and for all and Taiwan’s re-entry became totally out of the question. The Taiwan authorities have asserted that Resolution 2758 of the UN resolved only “the problem of China’s representation,” but not “the problem of Taiwan’s representation,” and demanded participation in the UN. We will never permit such a separatist act of creating “two Chinas’ or “one China, one Taiwan.” All members of the UN should adhere to the purpose and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and related UN resolutions, abide by norms governing international relations, including mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and never, in any form, support Taiwan’s joining the UN or other international organizations whose membership is confined to sovereign states.


On the basis of the principle of one China, the Chinese Government has made arrangements for Taiwan’s participation in some inter-governmental international organizations which accept regional membership in an agreeable and acceptable way according to the nature, regulations and actual conditions of these international organizations. As a region of China, Taiwan has participated in the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC), respectively, under the names ”Taipei, China” and “Chinese Taipei.” In September 1992, the chairman of the council of the predecessor of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), stated that Taiwan may participate in this organization as “a separate Taiwan-Penghu-Jinmen-Mazu tariff zone” (abbreviated as Chinese Taipei) after the PRC’s entry into GATT. The WTO should persist in the principle defined in the afore-said statement when examining the acceptance of Taiwan’s entry into the organization. This is only an ad hoc arrangement and cannot constitute a model applicable to other inter-governmental international organizations or international gatherings.

对于某些允许地区参加的政府间国际组织,中国政府已经基于一个中国原则,根据有关国际组织的性质、章程和实际情况,以所能同意和接受的方式对台湾的加入问题作出了安排。台湾已作为中国的一个地区,以“中国台北”的名义,分别参加了亚洲开发银行(英文名称为TAIPEI,CHINA)和亚太经合组织(英文名称为CHINESE TAIPEI)等组织。一九九二年九月,世界贸易组织的前身关税及贸易总协定理事会主席声明指出,在中华人民共和国加入关贸总协定后,台湾可以“台湾、澎湖、金门、马祖单独关税区”(简称“中国台北”)的名义参加。世贸组织在审议接纳台湾加入该组织时,应坚持上述声明确定的原则。上述特殊安排,并不构成其他政府间国际组织及国际活动仿效的模式。

No country maintaining diplomatic relations with China should provide arms to Taiwan or enter into military alliance of any form with Taiwan. All countries maintaining diplomatic relations with China should abide by the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, and refrain from providing arms to Taiwan or helping Taiwan produce arms in any form or under any pretext. The Taiwan question is the most crucial and most sensitive issue in the relations between China and the United States. The three Sino-US joint communiques are the basis for the healthy and steady development of relations between the two countries. For over 20 years, the United States has promised to adhere to a One-China Policy, which has brought to itself benefits such as the establishment of diplomatic relations with China, the development of Sino-US relations and the relative stability of the Taiwan situation. Regrettably, the United States has repeatedly contravened its solemn understandings with China made in the August 17 Communique and continued its sale of advanced arms and military equipment to Taiwan. Recently, some people in the US Congress have cooked up the so-called Taiwan Security Enhancement Act and are attempting to include Taiwan in the TMDS. This is gross interference in China’s internal affairs and a grave threat to China’s security, obstructing the peaceful reunification of China and jeopardizing the peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large. The Chinese Government is firmly against such actions.


The Chinese Government adheres to the One-China Principle in dealing with Taiwan’s contacts with the outside world. The Taiwan authorities have spared no effort to promote “pragmatic diplomacy” in the international arena and enlarge their “international space of survival,” the essence of these being to create “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.” It is only natural that the Chinese Government should firmly oppose these moves. Meanwhile, considering the needs of Taiwan’s socio-economic development and the actual benefits of compatriots in Taiwan, the Chinese Government has no objection to Taiwan’s non-governmental economic and cultural contacts with foreign countries; in fact, on the premise of one China, it has adopted many flexible measures to make Taiwan’s economic, trade and cultural contacts with foreign countries more convenient. For example, Taiwan may stay on the International Olympic Committee in the name of “Chinese Taipei.” As a matter of fact, Taiwan has maintained extensive economic, trade and cultural relations with many countries and regions in the world. Every year, a million Taiwan compatriots go abroad for travel, business or study, as well as for academic, cultural or sports exchanges, and Taiwan’s annual import and export trade volume has exceeded the US$200-billion mark. This has demonstrated that adhering to the One-China Principle has not prevented Taiwan compatriots from engaging in non-governmental international exchanges or affected the needs of Taiwan’s normal economic, trade and cultural activities.


The Chinese Government safeguards all the justified and lawful rights and interests of Taiwan compatriots abroad. The people of Taiwan are of the same flesh and blood with us. The Chinese Government has always worked for safeguarding their justified and lawful rights and interests abroad. Chinese embassies and consulates stationed abroad have always considered it their duties to strengthen their ties with Taiwan compatriots, listen to their suggestions and requests and safeguard their interests, and do everything they can to help them overcome their difficulties. During the Gulf War, the Chinese Embassy helped Taiwanese labour service personnel stranded in Kuwait pull out of dangerous places safely. After the big earthquakes in Osaka and Kobe, Japan, the Chinese Embassy and consulate there promptly extended their sympathies to stricken Taiwan compatriots. When the civil war in Cambodia broke out, the Chinese Embassy lost no time in helping Taiwanese business people and tourists whose lives and property were seriously imperiled by the war move to safe places. All the above-mentioned facts reflect the Chinese Government’s care for Taiwan compatriots. When both sides of the Taiwan Straits are reunified, Taiwan compatriots will, together with people of all ethnic groups in the country, have more possibilities to fully enjoy the dignity and honour of the PRC in the world.




China has a long history of 5,000 years. The Chinese people have lived and multiplied on this land where all ethnic groups have mixed together, in the course of which they have developed a powerful cohesiveness, and the values of cherishing and safeguarding unity. Over the long course of history, the Chinese nation has witnessed changes of dynasties, transfers of governments, local separatist regimes, and foreign invasions, especially the untold invasions and dismemberment by foreign powers in modern history. However, unity has always been the main trend in the development of Chinese history. After every separation, the country was invariably reunified, only to be followed in its wake by rapid political, economic, cultural, scientific and technological development. Our compatriots in Taiwan have a glorious tradition of patriotism, and have performed brilliant exploits in the struggles against foreign invasions of Taiwan. Since the founding of the PRC, the Chinese people have particularly valued their hard-earned national independence, firmly upheld state sovereignty and territorial integrity and struggled unswervingly for reunification of the motherland. The 5,000-year history and culture have been implanted deeply in the minds of the Chinese people, sprouting the strong national consciousness of the need for national unification.


The Chinese Government hopes that the international community will follow the principle of one China now and always and that the US government will earnestly fulfil all the principles concerning the Taiwan issue in the three Sino-US joint communiques, and its solemn promise to uphold the One-China Principle.


As the Chinese Government has successively resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong and Macao, the people of the whole of China are eager to resolve the Taiwan issue as early as possible and realize the total reunification of the country. They cannot allow the resolution of the Taiwan issue to be postponed indefinitely. We firmly believe that the total reunification of China will be achieved through the joint efforts of the entire Chinese people including compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits and those living overseas.


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中华人民共和国国务院 (State Council). "The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue [一个中国的原则与台湾问题]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Xinhua News Agency [新华社], February 21, 2000

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