Return to the Library

The Taiwan Question and “Reunification” of China


This is the first 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.”

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintCopy Link
Original text
English text
See an error? Drop us a line at
View the translated and original text side-by-side



It is the sacred right of each and every sovereign State and a fundamental principle of international law to safeguard national unity and territorial integrity. The Charter of the United Nations specifically stipulates that the United Nations and its Members shall refrain from any action against the territorial integrity or political independence of any of its Members or any State and shall not intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any State. The United Nations Declaration on Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation Among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations points out that any attempt aimed at the partial or total disruption of the national unity, territorial integrity or political independence of a State or country is incompatible with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations.


The modern history of China was a record of subjection to aggression, dismemberment and humiliation by foreign powers. It was also a chronicle of the Chinese people’s valiant struggles for national independence and in defense of their state sovereignty, territorial integrity and national dignity. The origin and evolution of the Taiwan question are closely linked with that period of history. For various reasons Taiwan is still separated from the mainland. Unless and until this state of affairs is brought to an end, the trauma on the Chinese nation will not be healed and the Chinese people’s struggle for national reunification and territorial integrity will continue.


What is the present state of the Taiwan question? What is the crux of the problem? What are the position and views of the Chinese Government regarding the settlement of this issue? In order to facilitate a better understanding by the international community, it is necessary to elucidate the following points.


I. Taiwan—an Inalienable Part of China


Lying off the southeastern coast of the China mainland, Taiwan is China’s largest island and forms an integral whole with the mainland.


Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times. It was known as Yizhou or Liuqiu in antiquities. Many historical records and annals documented the development of Taiwan by the Chinese people in earlier periods. References to this effect were to be found, among others, in Seaboard Geographic Gazetteer compiled more than 1,700 years ago by Shen Ying of the State of Wu during the period of the Three Kingdoms. This was the world’s earliest written account of Taiwan. Several expeditions, each numbering over ten thousand men, had been sent to Taiwan by the State of Wu (third century A.D.) and the Sui Dynasty (seventh century A.D.) respectively. Since early seventeenth century the Chinese people began to step up the development of Taiwan. Their numbers topped one hundred thousand at the end of the century. By 1893 (19th year of the reign of Qing Emperor Guangxu) their population exceeded 2.54 million people in 507,000 or more households. That was a 25-fold increase in 200 years. They brought in a more advanced mode of production and settled the whole length and breadth of Taiwan. Thanks to the determined efforts and hard toil of the pioneers, the development of the island as a whole greatly accelerated. This was the historical fact of how Taiwan, like the other parts of China, came to be opened up and settled by the Chinese people of various nationalities. From the very beginning the Taiwan society derived from the source of the Chinese cultural tradition. This basic fact had not changed even during the half century of Japanese occupation. The history of Taiwan’s development is imbued with the blood, sweat, and ingenuity of the Chinese people including the local ethnic minorities.


Chinese governments of different periods set up administrative bodies to exercise jurisdiction over Taiwan. As early as in the mid-12th century the Song Dynasty set up a garrison in Penghu, putting the territory under the jurisdiction of Jinjiang County of Fujian’s Quanzhou Prefecture. The Yuan Dynasty installed an agency of patrol and inspection in Penghu to administer the territory. During the mid- and late 16th century the Ming Dynasty reinstated the once abolished agency and sent reinforcements to Penghu in order to ward off foreign invaders. In 1662 (first year of the reign of Qing Emperor Kangxi) General Zheng Chenggong (known in the West as Koxinga) instituted Chengtian Prefecture on Taiwan. Subsequently, the Qing government expanded the administrative structure in Taiwan, thereby strengthening its rule over the territory. In 1684 (23rd year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi) a Taiwan-Xiamen Patrol Command and a Taiwan Prefecture Administration were set up under the jurisdiction of Fujian Province. These in turn exercised jurisdiction over three counties on the island: Taiwan (present-day Tainan), Fengshan (present-day Gaoxiong) and Zhuluo (present-day Jiayi). In 1714 (53rd year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi) the Qing government ordered the mapping of Taiwan to determine its size. In 1721 (60th year of the reign of Emperor Kangxi) an office of imperial supervisor of inspecting Taiwan was created and the Taiwan-Xiamen Patrol Command was renamed Prefecture Administration of Taiwan and Xiamen, incorporating the subsequently-created Zhanghua County and Danshui Canton. In 1727 (5th year of the reign of Emperor Yongzheng) the administration on the island was reconstituted as the Prefecture Administration of Taiwan (which was later renamed Prefecture Command for Patrol of Taiwan) and incorporated the new Penghu Canton. The territory then became officially known as Taiwan. In order to upgrade the administration of Taiwan, the Qing government created Taibei Prefecture, Jilong Canton and three counties of Danshui, Xinzhu and Yilan in 1875 (1st year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu). In 1885 (11th year of the reign of Emperor Guangxu), the government formally made Taiwan a full province covering three prefectures and one subprefecture and incorporating 11 counties and 5 cantons. Liu Mingchuan was appointed first Governor of Taiwan. During his tenure of office, railways were laid, mines opened, telegraph service installed, merchant ships built, industries started and new-style schools set up. Considerable social, economic and cultural advancement in Taiwan was achieved as a result.


After the Chinese people’s victory in the war against Japanese aggression in 1945, the Chinese government reinstated its administrative authority in Taiwan Province.


Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits carried out a prolonged, unremitting struggle against foreign invasion and occupation of Taiwan. Since the late 15th century Western colonialists started to grab and conquer colonies in a big way. In 1624 (4th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Tianqi) Dutch colonialists invaded and occupied the southern part of Taiwan. Two years later Spanish colonialists seized the northern part of Taiwan. In 1642 (15th year of the reign of Ming Emperor Chongzhen) the Dutch evicted the Spaniards and took over north Taiwan. The Chinese people on both sides of the Straits waged various forms of struggle including armed insurrections against the invasion and occupation of Taiwan by foreign colonialists. In 1661 (18th year of the reign of Qing Emperor Shunzhi) General Zheng Chenggong (Koxinga) led an expedition to Taiwan and expelled the Dutch colonialists from the island in the following year.


Japan launched a war of aggression against China in 1894 (20th year of the reign of Qing Emperor Guangxu). In the ensuing year, as a result of defeat the Qing government was forced to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki, ceding Taiwan to Japan. This wanton betrayal and humiliation shocked the whole nation and touched off a storm of protests. A thousand or more candidates from all 18 provinces including Taiwan who had assembled in Beijing for the Imperial Examination signed a strongly-worded petition opposing the ceding of Taiwan. In Taiwan itself, people wailed and bemoaned the betrayal and went on general strikes. General Liu Yongfu and others of the garrison command stood with Taiwan compatriots and put up a fierce fight against the Japanese landing forces. To support this struggle, people on the mainland, particularly in the southeastern region, showed their solidarity by generous donations or organizing volunteers to Taiwan to fight the Japanese forces. Taiwan compatriots never ceased their dauntless struggle throughout the Japanese occupation. Initially, they formed insurgent groups to wage guerrilla warfare for as long as seven years. When the Revolution of 1911 overthrew the Qing monarchy they in turn lent support to their mainland compatriots by staging more than a dozen armed insurrections. The 1920s and 1930s witnessed surging waves of mass action sweeping across the island against Japanese colonial rule.


In 1937 the Chinese people threw themselves into an all-out war of resistance against Japanese aggression. In its declaration of war against Japan, the Chinese Government proclaimed that all treaties, conventions, agreements, and contracts regarding relations between China and Japan, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, had been abrogated. The declaration stressed that China would recover Taiwan, Penghu and the four northeastern provinces. After eight years of grueling war against Japanese aggression the Chinese people won final victory and recovered the lost territory of Taiwan in 1945. Taiwan compatriots displayed an outburst of passion and celebrated the great triumph of their return to the fold of the motherland by setting off big bangs of fireworks and performing rites to communicate the event to their ancestors.


The international community has acknowledged the fact that Taiwan belongs to China. The Chinese people’s war of resistance against Japanese aggression, being part of the world-wide struggle against Fascism, received extensive support from people all over the world. During the Second World War China, the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, France and others formed an alliance to oppose the Axis of Germany, Japan and Italy. The Cairo Declaration issued by China, the United States and Great Britain on 1 December 1943 stated: “It is the purpose of the three great Allies that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the First World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa [Taiwan] and the Pescadores [Penghu], shall be restored to China.” The Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the United States and Great Britain on 26 July 1945 (subsequently adhered to by the Soviet Union) reiterated: “The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out.” On 15 August of the same year, Japan declared surrender. The instrument of Japan’s surrender stipulated that “Japan hereby accepts the provisions in the declaration issued by the heads of the Governments of the United States, China and Great Britain on July 26, 1945 at Potsdam, and subsequently adhered to by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.” On 25 October the ceremony for accepting Japan’s surrender in Taiwan Province of the China war theater of the Allied powers was held in Taibei. On the occasion the chief officer for accepting the surrender proclaimed on behalf of the Chinese government that from that day forward Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago had again been incorporated formally into the territory of China and that the territory, people, and administration had now been placed under the sovereignty of China. From that point in time forward, Taiwan and Penghu had been put back under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty.


Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, 157 countries have established diplomatic relations with China. All these countries recognize that there is only one China and that the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China and Taiwan is part of China.


II. Origin of the Taiwan Question


Taiwan was returned to China de jure and de facto at the end of the Second World War. It became an issue only as an aftermath of the ensuing anti-popular civil war started by Kuomintang, and more especially because of intervention by foreign forces.


Taiwan question and civil war launched by Kuomintang. During the war of resistance against Japanese aggression the Chinese Communist Party and other patriotic groups pressed Kuomintang into a national united front with the Communist Party to fight Japanese imperialist aggression. After victory of the war the two Parties should have joined hands to work for the resurgence of China. But the Kuomintang clique headed by Chiang Kaishek flouted the people’s fervent aspirations for peace and for building an independent, democratic and prosperous new China. Relying on U.S. support, this clique tore up the 10 October 1945 agreement between the two Parties and launched an all-out anti-popular civil war. The Chinese people were compelled to respond with a people’s liberation war which was to last more than three years under the leadership of the Communist Party. Since the Kuomintang clique had already been spurned by the people of all nationalities for its reign of terror, the government of the “Republic of China” in Nanjing was finally overthrown by the Chinese people. The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on 1 October 1949 and the Government of the new People’s Republic became the sole legal government of China. A group of military and political officials of the Kuomintang clique took refuge in Taiwan and, with the support of the then U.S. administration, created the division between the two sides of the Straits.


Taiwan question and responsibility of the United States. Against the backdrop of East-West confrontation in the wake of the Second World War and guided by its conceived global strategy and national interest considerations, the U.S. government gave full support to the Kuomintang, providing it with money, weapons and advisors to carry on the civil war and block the advance of the Chinese people’s revolution. However, the U.S. government never achieved its objective. The White Paper on United States Relations with China released by the Department of State in 1949 and Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s letter of transmittal to President Harry S. Truman had to admit this. Dean Acheson lamented in his letter: “The unfortunate but inescapable fact is that the ominous result of the civil war in China was beyond the control of the government of the United States. … Nothing that was left undone by this country has contributed to it. It was the product of internal Chinese forces, forces which this country tried to influence but could not.”


At the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China the then U.S. administration could have pulled itself from the quagmire of China’s civil war. But it failed to do so. Instead, it adopted a policy of isolation and containment of New China. When the Korean War broke out, it started armed intervention in the inter-Taiwan Straits relations which were entirely China’s internal affairs. On 27 June 1950 President Truman announced: “I have ordered the Seventh Fleet to prevent any attack on Formosa.” Thus the Seventh Fleet invaded the Taiwan Straits and the U.S. 13th Air Force set up base in Taiwan. In December 1954 the U.S. concluded with the Taiwan authorities a so-called mutual defense treaty placing China’s Taiwan Province under U.S. “protection”. The erroneous policy of the U.S. government of continued interference in China’s internal affairs led to prolonged and intense confrontation in the Taiwan Straits area and henceforth the Taiwan question became a major dispute between China and the United States.


In order to ease tension in the Taiwan Straits area and seek ways of solving the dispute between the two countries, the Chinese Government started dialogues with the United States from the mid-1950s onwards. The two countries held 136 sessions of talks at ambassadorial level from August 1955 to February 1970. However, no progress had been made in that period on the key issue of easing and removing tension in the Taiwan Straits area. It was not until late 1960s and early 1970s when the international situation had undergone changes and as New China had gained in strength that the U.S. began to readjust its China policy and the relations between the two countries started a thawing. In October 1971 the United Nations General Assembly adopted at its 26th session Resolution 2758 which restored all the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations and expelled the “representatives” of the Taiwan authorities from the U.N. U.S. President Richard Nixon visited China in February 1972 in the course of which the two countries issued a joint communiqu’e?? in Shanghai stating that: “The U.S. side declared: the United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position.”


In December 1978 the U.S. Government accepted the three principles proposed by the Chinese Government for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, namely, the United States should sever “diplomatic relations” and abrogate the “mutual defense treaty” with the Taiwan authorities and withdraw U.S. military forces from Taiwan. On 1 January 1979 China and the United States formally established diplomatic relations. The Communiqu’e on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations said that: “The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan … … The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” Normalization of Sino-U.S. relations was thus achieved.


Regrettably, however, scarcely three months after the event, a so-called Taiwan Relations Act was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by the President. A domestic legislation of the U.S. as it was, this Act contained many clauses that contravened the communiqu’e? on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. and the principles of international law, and seriously prejudiced the rights and interests of the Chinese people. Invoking this legislation, the U.S. Government has continued its arms sales to Taiwan, interference in China’s internal affairs and obstruction to Taiwan’s reunification with the mainland.


In order to resolve the issue of U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, the Chinese and the U.S. governments negotiated and reached an agreement on 17 August 1982. A communique? bearing the same date became the third joint communique? governing Sino-U.S. relations. In that communique? the U.S. Government stated that: “It does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China and that it intends gradually to reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading, over a period of time, to a final resolution.” Yet in the past dozen or more years the U.S. Government has not only failed to implement the communiqu’e? in earnest, but has repeatedly contravened it. In September 1992 the U.S. Government even decided to sell 150 F-16 high-performance fighter aircraft to Taiwan. This action of the U.S. Government has added a new stumbling block in the way of the development of Sino-U.S. relations and settlement of the Taiwan question.


It is clear from the foregoing that the U.S. Government is responsible for holding up the settlement of the Taiwan question. Since the 1970s many Americans of vision and goodwill in or outside the administration have contributed much by way of helping to resolve the differences between China and the U.S. on the Taiwan question. The aforesaid three joint communiqu’e testify to their effort and contribution of which the Chinese Government and people are highly appreciative. On the other hand, one cannot fail to note that there are people in the U.S. who still do not want to see a reunified China. They have cooked up various pretexts and exerted influence to obstruct the settlement of the Taiwan question.


The Chinese Government is convinced that the American and the Chinese peoples are friendly to each other and that the normal development of the relations between the two countries accords with the long-term interests and common aspiration of both peoples. Both countries should cherish the three hard-won joint communiqu’e?s guiding the development of bilateral relations. As long as both sides abide by the principles enshrined in those communique?s, respect each other and set store by their overall common interests, it will not be difficult to settle the Taiwan question that has been left over from history and Sino-U.S. relations will surely see steady improvement and development ahead.


III. The Chinese Government’s Basic Position Regarding Settlement of the Taiwan Question


To settle the Taiwan question and achieve national reunification — this is a sacrosanct mission of the entire Chinese people. The Chinese Government has persistently worked towards this end since the founding of the People’s Republic. Its basic position on this question is: peaceful reunification; one country, two systems.


Peaceful reunification; one country, two systems — how has this position been formulated? The Chinese Government conceived a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question as early as in the 1950s. In May 1955 the late Premier Zhou Enlai said at a NPC Standing Committee meeting that two alternatives were open to the Chinese people for the solution of the Taiwan question — by resort to war or by peaceful means. The Chinese people would strive for a peaceful solution wherever possible, he affirmed. In April 1956 the late Chairman Mao Zedong put forward thoughts for policymaking such as “peace is the best option”, “all patriots are of one family” and “it is never too late to join the ranks of patriots”. However, those wishes have not come to fruition for reasons such as interference by foreign forces.


Major changes took place in and outside China in the 1970s. Diplomatic ties were established and relations normalized between China and the United States. The Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to shift the focus of the work of the Party and the State to the economic modernization programme. In the meantime, people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, compatriots of Hong Kong and Macao as well as overseas Chinese and people of Chinese descent all expressed their fervent hope that the two sides of the Straits would join hands to work for a resurgence of China. It was against this historical background that the Chinese Government formulated the position of “peaceful reunification; one country, two systems”. The position takes the overall national interests and the future of the country into consideration. It respects history as well as the prevailing situation. It is realistic and takes care of the interests of all.


On 1 January 1979 the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China issued a message to compatriots in Taiwan, pronouncing the Chinese Government’s basic position regarding peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question. It called for the holding of talks between the two sides of the Straits to seek an end to the military confrontation. It pledged that in the pursuit of national reunification, the Government “will respect the status quo on Taiwan and the views of people of all walks of life there and adopt reasonable policies and measures.”


In a statement on 30 September 1981 the late Chairman Ye Jianying of the NPC Standing Committee further elaborated the policy and principles for the settlement of the Taiwan question. He affirmed that “after the country is reunified, Taiwan can enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region” and proposed that talks be held on an equal footing between the ruling Parties on each side of the Straits, namely, the Chinese Communist Party and the Kuomintang.


Referring to Ye Jianying’s remarks, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping pointed out on 11 January 1982 that this in effect meant “one country, two systems”, i.e., on the premise of national reunification, the main body of the nation would continue with its socialist system while Taiwan could maintain capitalism.


On 26 June 1983 Deng Xiaoping further enunciated the concept of peaceful reunification, stressing that the crucial point was national reunification. He went on to expound the Government’s policy on reunification and on the creation of a Taiwan special administrative region.


On 12 October 1992 General Secretary Jiang Zemin of the CPC Central Committee pointed out: “We shall work steadfastly for the great cause, adhering to the principles of peaceful reunification and ‘one country, two systems’… … We reiterate that the Chinese Communist Party is ready to establish contact with the Chinese Kuomintang at the earliest possible date to create conditions for talks on officially ending the state of hostility between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and gradually realizing peaceful reunification. Representatives from other parties, mass organizations and all circles on both sides of the Taiwan Straits could be invited to join in such talks.”


Basic Contents of “peaceful reunification; one country, two systems”. This position is an important component of the theory and practice of building socialism with Chinese characteristics and a fundamental state policy of the Chinese Government which will not change for a long time to come. Its basic contents are as follows:


1. Only one China. There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and the seat of China’s central government is in Beijing. This is a universally recognized fact as well as the premise for a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question.


The Chinese Government is firmly against any words or deeds designed to split China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It opposes “two Chinas”, “one China, one Taiwan”, “one country, two governments” or any attempt or act that could lead to “independence of Taiwan”. The Chinese people on both sides of the Straits all believe that there is only one China and espouse national reunification. Taiwan’s status as an inalienable part of China has been determined and cannot be changed. “Self- determination” for Taiwan is out of the question.


2. Coexistence of two systems. On the premise of one China, socialism on the mainland and capitalism on Taiwan can coexist and develop side by side for a long time without one swallowing up the other. This concept has largely taken account of the actual situation in Taiwan and practical interests of our compatriots there. It will be a unique feature and important innovation in the state system of a reunified China.


After reunification, Taiwan’s current socio-economic system, its way of life as well as economic and cultural ties with foreign countries can remain unchanged. Private property, including houses and land, as well as business ownership, legal inheritance and overseas Chinese and foreign investments on the island will all be protected by law.


3. A high degree of autonomy. After reunification, Taiwan will become a special administrative region. It will be distinguished from the other provinces or regions of China by its high degree of autonomy. It will have its own administrative and legislative powers, an independent judiciary and the right of adjudication on the island. It will run its own party, political, military, economic and financial affairs. It may conclude commercial and cultural agreements with foreign countries and enjoy certain rights in foreign affairs. It may keep its military forces and the mainland will not dispatch troops or administrative personnel to the island. On the other hand, representatives of the government of the special administrative region and those from different circles of Taiwan may be appointed to senior posts in the central government and participate in the running of national affairs.


4. Peace negotiations. It is the common aspiration of the entire Chinese people to achieve reunification of the country by peaceful means through contacts and negotiations. People on both sides of the Straits are all Chinese. It would be a great tragedy for all if China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty were to be split and its people were to be drawn into a fratricide. Peaceful reunification will greatly enhance the cohesion of the Chinese nation. It will facilitate Taiwan’s socio-economic stability and development and promote the resurgence and prosperity of China as a whole.


In order to put an end to hostility and achieve peaceful reunification, the two sides should enter into contacts and negotiations at the earliest possible date. On the premise of one China, both sides can discuss any subject, including the modality of negotiations, the question of what Parties, groups and personalities may participate as well as any other matters of concern to the Taiwan side. So long as the two sides sit down and talk, they will always be able to find a mutually acceptable solution.


Taking into account the prevailing situation on both sides of the Straits, the Chinese Government has proposed that pending reunification the two sides should, according to the principle of mutual respect, complementarity and mutual benefit, actively promote economic cooperation and other exchanges. Direct trade, postal, air and shipping services and two-way visits should be started in order to pave the way for the peaceful reunification of the country.


Peaceful reunification is a set policy of the Chinese Government. However, any sovereign state is entitled to use any means it deems necessary, including military ones, to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Chinese Government is under no obligation to undertake any commitment to any foreign power or people intending to split China as to what means it might use to handle its own domestic affairs.


It should be pointed out that the Taiwan question is purely an internal affair of China and bears no analogy to the cases of Germany and Korea which were brought about as a result of international accords at the end of the Second World War. Therefore, the Taiwan question should not be placed on a par with the situation of Germany or Korea. The Chinese Government has always opposed applying the German or Korean formulas to Taiwan. The Taiwan question should and entirely can be resolved judiciously through bilateral consultations and within the framework of one China.


IV. Relations Across Taiwan Straits: Evolution and Stumbling Blocks


The present division between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits is a misfortune for the Chinese nation. All the Chinese people are yearning for an early end to this agonizing situation.


In order to enable normal movement of people across the Straits and to achieve reunification of the country, the Chinese Government has made proposals towards this end and, at the same time, adopted measures to step up the development of inter-Straits relations.


On the political plane, policy adjustments have been made with a view to breaking down the mentality of hostility. The Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate have decided respectively that people who had gone to Taiwan would no longer be prosecuted for offenses prior to the founding of the People’s Republic of China.


On the military plane, initiatives have been taken to ease military confrontation across the Straits. Shelling of Jinmen and other islands have been discontinued. Some forward defense positions and observation posts along the Fujian coast have been transformed into economic development zones or tourist attractions.


On the economic plane, doors have been flung open to facilitate the flow of goods and people. Businessmen from Taiwan are welcome to invest or trade on the mainland. They are accorded preferential treatment and legal safeguards.


The Chinese Government has also adopted a positive attitude and taken measures to encourage bilateral exchanges and cooperation in areas such as two-way travels, post and communications as well as scientific, cultural, sports, academic and journalistic activities. A non-governmental Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits has been set up and authorized by the Government to liaise with the Straits Exchange Foundation and other relevant non-governmental bodies in Taiwan for the purpose of upholding the legitimate rights and interests of people on both sides and promoting inter-Straits relations.


Such policies and measures of the Chinese Government have won the understanding and support of more and more Taiwan compatriots, compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao as well as overseas Chinese and people of Chinese descent. On their part, Taiwan compatriots have contributed tremendously to the development of inter-Straits relations. In recent years the Taiwan authorities have in turn made readjustments in their policy regarding the mainland. They have taken steps to ease the situation, such as allowing people to visit relatives on the mainland, gradually reducing the restrictions on people-to-people exchanges and contact, expanding indirect trade, permitting indirect investment and cutting red tape in inter-Straits post, telecommunications and bank remittance services. All these are conducive to better interchanges. The past few years have witnessed rapid growth of economic relations and trade as well as increasing mutual visits and sundry exchanges across the Straits. The Wang Daohan–Koo Chen-fu Talks in April 1993 resulted in four agreements, marking a step forward of historic significance in inter-Straits relations. Thus an atmosphere of relaxation prevails in the Taiwan Straits for the first time in the past four decades. This is auspicious to peaceful reunification.


It should be pointed out that notwithstanding a certain measure of easing up by the Taiwan authorities, their current policy vis-a-vis the mainland still seriously impedes the development of relations across the Straits as well as the reunification of the country. They talk about the necessity of a reunified China, but their deeds are always a far cry from the principle of one China. They try to prolong Taiwan’s separation from the mainland and refuse to hold talks on peaceful reunification. They have even set up barriers to curb the further development of the interchanges across the Straits.


In recent years the clamours for “Taiwan independence” on the island have become shriller, casting a shadow over the course of relations across the Straits and the prospect of peaceful reunification of the country. The “Taiwan independence” fallacy has a complex social-historical root and international background. But the Taiwan authorities have, in effect, abetted this fallacy by its own policy of rejecting peace negotiations, restricting interchanges across the Straits and lobbying for “dual recognition” or “two Chinas” in the international arena. It should be affirmed that the desire of Taiwan compatriots to run the affairs of the island as masters of their own house is reasonable and justified. This should by no means be construed as advocating “Taiwan independence”. They are radically distinct from those handful of “Taiwan independence” protagonists who trumpet “independence” but vilely rely on foreign patronage in a vain attempt to detach Taiwan from China, which runs against the fundamental interests of the entire Chinese people including Taiwan compatriots. The Chinese Government is closely following the course of events and will never condone any manoeuvre for “Taiwan independence”.


Certain foreign forces who do not want to see a reunified China have gone out of their way to meddle in China’s internal affairs. They support the anti-Communist stance of the Taiwan authorities of rejecting peace talks and abet the secessionists on the island, thereby erecting barriers to China’s peaceful reunification and seriously wounding the national feelings of the Chinese people.


The Chinese Government is convinced that Taiwan compatriots want national reunification and that this is also true with most of the political forces in or out of office in Taiwan. The people on both sides of the Straits will overcome all the barriers and stumbling blocks by their joint efforts and ensure a better development of relations across the Straits.


V. Several Questions Involving Taiwan in International Relations


As has been elucidated in the foregoing, there is only one China in the world, of which Taiwan is an inalienable part. The Government of the People’s Republic of China has been recognized by the United Nations and throughout the world as the sole legal government representing the entire Chinese people. In the interest of safeguarding state sovereignty and realizing national reunification the Chinese Government has always stood firm on the principle of one China and ensured the interests of Taiwan compatriots in international relations involving Taiwan. The Chinese Government has no doubt that its position will be respected by all other governments and people.


The Chinese Government deems it necessary to reiterate its position and policy on the following matters.


(1) Relations between Taiwan and countries maintaining diplomatic ties with China All countries maintaining diplomatic relations with China have, in conformity with international law and the principle of one China, undertaken in formal agreement or understanding with the Chinese Government not to establish any ties of an official nature with Taiwan. According to international law, a sovereign state can only be represented by a single central government. As a part of China, Taiwan has no right to represent China in the international community, nor can it establish diplomatic ties or enter into relations of an official nature with foreign countries. Nevertheless, considering the needs of Taiwan’s economic development and the practical interests of Taiwan compatriots, the Chinese Government has not objected to non-governmental economic or cultural exchanges between Taiwan and foreign countries.


In recent years the Taiwan authorities have vigorously launched a campaign of “pragmatic diplomacy” to cultivate official ties with countries having diplomatic relations with China in an attempt to push “dual recognition” and achieve the objective of creating a situation of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”. The Chinese Government is firmly against this scheme.


It is noted that the overwhelming majority of the countries of the world cherish friendly relations with China and abide by their agreement or understanding with China on the issue of Taiwan. The Chinese Government appreciates this. On the other hand, it should be pointed out that, in disregard of their international credibility, certain countries have breached the undertaking made at the time of the establishment of diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China by evolving official relations with Taiwan, thereby putting a spoke in the wheel of China’s reunification. The Chinese Government sincerely hopes that the governments in question will take measures to rectify the situation.


(2) Relations between international organizations and Taiwan The sovereignty of each State is an integral whole which is indivisible and unsharable. The Government of the People’s Republic of China, as the sole legal government of China, has the right and obligation to exercise state sovereignty and represent the whole of China in international organizations. The Taiwan authorities’ lobbying for a formula of “one country, two seats” in international organizations whose membership is confined to sovereign states is a manoeuvre to create “two Chinas”. The Chinese Government is firmly opposed to such an attempt. Its principled position fully conforms to the fundamental interests of the entire Chinese people including Taiwan compatriots and overseas Chinese. Only on the premise of adhering to the principle of one China and in the light of the nature and statutes of the international organizations concerned as well as the specific circumstances, can the Chinese Government consider the question of Taiwan’s participation in the activities of such organizations and in a manner agreeable and acceptable to the Chinese Government.


All the specialized agencies and organizations of the United Nations system are inter-governmental organizations composed of sovereign states. After the restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations, all the specialized agencies and organizations of the U.N. system have formally adopted resolutions restoring to the People’s Republic of China its lawful seat and expelling the “representatives” of the Taiwan authorities. Since then the issue of China’s representation in the U.N. system has been resolved once and for all and Taiwan’s re-entry is out of the question. However, it should be pointed out that recently some elements of the Taiwan authorities have been clamouring for “returning to the United Nations”. Apparently, this is an attempt to split state sovereignty, which is devoid of any legal or practical basis. The Chinese Government is convinced that all governments and organizations of the U.N. system will be alert to this scheme and refrain from doing anything prejudicial to China’s sovereignty.


In principle, Taiwan is also ineligible for membership in other categories of inter-governmental organizations. As to regional economic organizations such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), Taiwan’s participation is subject to the terms of agreement or understanding reached between the Chinese Government and the parties concerned which explicitly prescribe that the People’s Republic of China is a full member as a sovereign state whereas Taiwan may participate in the activities of those organizations only as a region of China under the designation of Taipei, China (in ADB) or Chinese Taipei (in APEC). This is only an ad hoc arrangement and cannot constitute a “model” applicable to other inter-governmental organizations or international gatherings.

其他政府间国际组织,原则上台湾也无权参加。至于亚洲开发银行(ADB)、亚太经济合作组织(APEC)等地区性经济组织,台湾的加入系根据中国政府与有关方面达成的协议或谅解,明确规定中华人民共和国作为主权国家参加,台湾只作为中国的一个地区以“中国台北”(英文在亚行为TAIPEI,CHINA;在亚太经济合作组织为CHINESE TAIPEI)的名称参加活动。这种做法属于特殊安排,不能构成其他政府间国际组织及国际活动效仿的“模式”。

As regards participation in non-governmental international organizations, the relevant bodies of the People’s Republic of China may reach an agreement or understanding with the parties concerned so that China’s national organizations would use the designation of China, while Taiwan’s organizations may participate under the designation of Taipei, China or Taiwan, China.


(3) Aviation services between Taiwan and countries having diplomatic relations with China Airspace is an inalienable part of a country’s territory. The 1919 Paris Aviation Convention and the 1944 Chicago Convention affirm the principle of complete and exclusive sovereignty of each country over its airspace. Therefore, the opening of aviation services with Taiwan by any airlines, including privately-operated ones, of countries having diplomatic relations with China is a political issue affecting China’s sovereignty and cannot be regarded as a non-political transaction. State-run airlines of countries having diplomatic relations with China certainly must not operate air services to Taiwan. Privately-operated airlines must seek China’s consent through consultations between their government and the Chinese Government before they can start reciprocal air services with privately-operated airlines of Taiwan. As a matter of fact, according to the afore-said principle the Chinese Government has consented to such services between privately-operated airlines of Britain, Germany, Canada, etc. and their counterparts in Taiwan.


As for countries which already had aviation services with Taiwan before the establishment of diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China, they can negotiate with the Chinese Government to change the official nature of such services so as to be able to continue the operations as privately-run commercial transportation undertakings.


(4) Arms sales to Taiwan by countries having diplomatic relations with China. The Chinese Government has always firmly opposed any country selling any type of arms or transferring production technology of the same to 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 in any form or under any pretext. Failure to do so would be a breach of the norms of international relations and an interference in China’s internal affairs.


All countries, and especially big powers shouldering major responsibilities for world peace, are obligated to strictly abide by the guidelines laid down by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council to restrict the proliferation of conventional weapons so as to contribute to maintaining and promoting regional peace and security. However, at a time when relations across the Taiwan Straits are easing up, certain powers have seen fit to renege on their undertakings under international agreements and to flout the Chinese Government’s repeated strong representations by making arms sales to Taiwan, thereby whipping up tension between the two sides of the Straits. This not only constitutes a serious threat to China’s security and an obstacle to China’s peaceful reunification, but also undermines peace and stability in Asia and the world at large. It stands to reason that the Chinese people should voice strong resentment against this conduct.


In international affairs the Chinese Government always pursues an independent foreign policy of peace and adheres to the Five Principles of mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and peaceful Co-existence. It actively seeks to develop friendly relations with all countries of the world and will never undermine any country’s interests nor interfere in its internal affairs. By the same token it expects all other governments to refrain from undermining China’s interests or interfering in China’s internal affairs and to correctly handle their relations with Taiwan.




Reunification of the country embodies the fundamental interest of the Chinese nation.


After national reunification the two sides of the Taiwan Straits can pool their resources and make common cause in economic development and work towards China’s resurgence. Numerous problems that have been besetting Taiwan would be judiciously resolved within the framework of one China. Taiwan compatriots will share the pride and glory of a great nation with their kith and kin from the other parts of the motherland.


Taiwan question has long been a destabilizing factor in the Asia-Pacific region. Reunification of China will not only bolster the stability and development of the country itself, but also contribute to the further enhancement of the friendly relations and cooperation between China and other countries as well as to peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole.


The Chinese Government is confident that it can count on the understanding and support of governments and people of all countries in the pursuit of its just cause of safeguarding its state sovereignty and territorial integrity.


To top

Cite This Page

中华人民共和国国务院 (State Council). "The Taiwan Question and "Reunification" of China [台湾问题与中国的统一]". CSIS Interpret: China, original work published in Xinhua News Agency [新华社], August 31, 1993

FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrintCopy Link