Flat White

It’s time to bury the ‘One China’ myth

14 April 2022

9:00 AM

14 April 2022

9:00 AM

If history teaches us anything, it is that autocrats and would-be invaders should know what the world thinks before anything happens.

The West made a serious mistake when they merely looked on as Russia took control of the Donbas region of Ukraine, at the same time annexing Crimea in 2014. It made things so much easier for Putin when launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, having effectively persuaded the world that the Donbas and Crimea are ‘part of Russia’ and that Russian invasions had legitimacy.

The same should not be allowed to happen to Taiwan.

Now is the time for repudiation of the much-vaunted ‘One China’ policy. This is a policy meekly adopted by most in the West as a means of placating China. It is a policy that has been allowed to gather acceptance in the name of ‘pragmatism and diplomacy’.

It is a venomous policy.

This idea has been around since the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) assumed control of mainland China in 1949, but it is (and always has been) a political construct of the PRC without any basis in fact.

The ‘One China’ principle – as referred to by China – is based on myth and has no legitimacy either on moral, legal, or historical grounds. The CCP claim that they have any right to annex or control Taiwan has about as much validity as Great Britain now claiming Australia as British or France claiming sovereignty over Louisiana. Probably less.

It helps to look at history.

In fact, the CCP has never governed Taiwan, and that Taiwan exists as a sovereign state today is very much a determination of those who live in Taiwan. But it goes much earlier than that.

Until the mid-1600s, Taiwan was entirely self-governing (except for a few years under Dutch control). Then, for a couple of hundred years from the late 1600s, Taiwan was annexed by the mainland-based Qing dynasty – the last dynasty in the imperial history of China. From the mid-1880s, the Qing dynasty increasingly became unstable. Internecine conflicts and foreign imperial pressures gradually split the dynasty and undermined authority throughout China.

From the 1850s there were military conflicts with the Russians, Japanese, French, and English at various times. In 1895, with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing dynasty ceded control of Taiwan to Japan, who maintained total control until their defeat by the Allies in August 1945.

Whilst Taiwan was under Japanese control from 1895, the Qing dynasty finally came to an end on the mainland with the 1911 Xinhai Revolution. On January 1, 1912, the Republic of China (ROC) was established ending 2,000 years of imperial rule in China. From that time until 1945 when the Japanese were defeated, the ROC, under the Kuomintang, were the most authoritative government on mainland China. With the surrender of Japan, it was the Kuomintang who were the legitimate government in Taiwan and it was the Kuomintang Nationalist government which was the recognised government of mainland China.

Between 1945-49, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) gained increasing control over mainland China and under the leadership of General Chiang Kai-shek, the Kuomintang evacuated their Nationalist government and leadership to Taiwan, making Taipei the temporary capital of the ROC.

At the time, more than two million Chinese comprising mainly military, intellectual, and business elite also evacuated mainland China not wanting to stay in China under communist rule. That two million constituted a sizeable proportion of the entire population of Taiwan at the time.

It is clear to see the CCP have never governed nor been wanted in Taiwan. So where does the ‘One China’ policy come from?

In fact, both the PRC and ROC believed in a ‘One China’ principle from the outset. The PRC claim Taiwan and the ROC claimed mainland China, although these days the ROC no longer thinks it matters to bother pursuing their claim.

But the modern-day impetus for the policy arose following a breakdown in America–Russian relations during the Cold War in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Anxious to gain friends, develop new trade opportunities, and spit in the eye of the Russians, President Richard Nixon, together with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, agreed to embrace the ‘One China’ mantra in order to appease Chairman Mao. Since that time, the ‘One China’ policy has gained traction.

The essential issue for China is that as a condition of recognition and trade, any nation must renounce formal recognition of Taiwan and the ROC.

The Solomon Islands is the latest sovereign nation to give up recognition of Taiwan in order to welcome China. This does not simply apply at a government level, but at all levels – business, academic, and community. As an example, Qantas must neither fly to, much less display or recognise Taiwan in any way within the company.

Some 70 years after demanding the world accept Taiwan as part of China, the PRC have nearly succeeded in taking control, having persuaded most countries to accept the ‘One China’ policy. Three generations worldwide have grown up believing China, under CCP, legitimately own Taiwan – and China have yet to fire a shot!

How much easier invading Taiwan will be with most to the world growing up thinking the PRC are entitled to get back what was always theirs…

Except it never was!

With the illegitimate and ruthless invasion of Ukraine now on, the time has never been more appropriate to disavow China, and especially the CCP, of their wrongful sense of entitlement to take Taiwan.

Since 1949, the population of Taiwan has quadrupled to 25 million. These people are free to leave Taiwan and move to mainland China if that is what they want. However, the truth is quite the opposite. They have no intention of living under communist rule and value living in a free and democratic society.

Taiwan, under any interpretation, is a sovereign state and quite distinct from the PRC. If the rest of the world sits back and allows China to invade, democracy and the free world are at risk.

Not much can or will be done about resisting the Chinese military, but in renouncing the ‘One China’ policy, the free world can now send a strong signal to China and the CCP that any move to invade will leave no friends for China.

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