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Origin of the One-China Principle

¡¡¡¡(2001-12-18) Xu Shiquan

¡¡¡¡The Chinese government¡¯s white paper,¡°The one-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue¡±£¬released on February 21£¬2000£¬points out: The One-China Principle has 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 dejure, is unshakable.

¡¡¡¡The most crucial event involving the Taiwan issue in contemporary history was the Shimonoseki Treaty imposed on the Qing govemment by Japan in 1895 through an aggressive war. However£¬Japan¡¯s 50-year occupation of Taiwan finally came to an end also as a result of war, the Japanese defeat in the Second World War. In December l941, following the Pearl Harbor Incident, the Chinese government declared war against Japan and proclaimed that all treaties£¬agreements and contracts concerning Sino-Japanese relations£¬including the Shimonoseki Treaty£¬be abrogated, and that China would recover Taiwan. In December l943, the Cairo Declaration issued by the Chinese£¬U.S. and British governments stipulated that Japan should return to China all the territories it had seized 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 term of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out. In August that year£¬Japan surrendered 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 Penghu Archipelago£¬resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan. This episode shows clearly that since l945£¬Taiwan¡¯s return to China has been both de facto and de jure. According to the norms of international law war makes the treaties signed among belligerent countries invalid£¬China¡¯s declaration of war on Japan naturally made invalid the Shimonoseki Treaty and thus nullified the legal basis of Japanese occupation of Taiwan. The Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation£¬international treaties bearing the full weight of international law, affirmed that Taiwan had been returned to China.

¡¡¡¡The United States played an important part in the formulation of the Cairo Declaration, and on the question of returning Taiwan back to China, President Roosevelt held identical positions with China and made a positive contribution. From that time till 1951 when the Korean War broke out, the United States basically maintained Roosevelt¡¯s policy towards Taiwan. However, there also were strong undercurrents to betray this policy as the Cold War unfolded and the Chinese civil war raged on in favor of a victory of the Chinese Communist Party. In 1947 when the February 28 Incident erupted, the U.S. Consulate-General in Taipei proposed in a report immediate intervention in the name of the U.S. or the United Nations. To justify this intervention, it alleged that legally, Japan still retains Taiwan¡¯s sovereignty. With Taiwan¡¯s status as such, direct intervention was appropriate. The report was approved by the then American Ambassador to China Leighton Stuard and was sent to the State Department. In 1949, when it became apparent that the KMT regime of Chiang Kai-shek would soon collapse, the National Security Council of the United States worked out a report on January 19, aiming at preventing the fall of Taiwan into the hands of the Chinese Communists. The Draft Report by the fall of Taiwan into the hands of the Chinese Communists. The Draft Report by the National Security Council on the Position of the United States with Respect to Formosa, numbered NSC37-1 further elaborated on the allegations of the Stuard report that Taiwan¡¯s status was undecided. It claimed that Taiwan was part of the Japanese Empire, and its final status was to be decided by a peace treaty (between China and Japan). It went even further by saying that China had only de facto occupation of Taiwan£¬denying China¡¯s de jure sovereignty over the island. Around that time£¬the U.S. also attempted to put Taiwan under the trusteeship of the U.N.

¡¡¡¡On December 8£¬1949£¬ the KMT regime retreated from the mainland and moved its government to Taiwan. This resulted in a heated debate in the U.S. over its China policy. On January 5£¬1950£¬President Truman reiterated American adherence to the Cairo Declaration and Potsdam Proclamation and that the United States had no ambition of seizing Taiwan or any other piece of Chinese territory. It had no intention to obtain special interests or rights in Taiwan£¬or to establish military base. Neither would the U.S. attempt to use her armed forces to intervene in the Chinese civil war£¬nor would it follow a path that would involve her in a war. This is the policy of waiting for the dust to be settled£¬as some people call it. Nevertheless£¬this waiting period proved to be very short. Less than 6 months later, the Korean War broke out. For the U.S. policy makers£¬the Taiwan dust had finally settled.

¡¡¡¡On June 27£¬President Truman made it public that he had ordered the 7th Fleet of the U.S. to sail into the Taiwan Strait. He also officially proclaimed the U.S. position that Taiwan¡¯s status is yet to be determined£¬adding that it could only be determined by a peace treaty with Japan or a resolution of the U.N. It is important to give a review over the evolution of U.S. policy towards Taiwan during and after the 2nd World War between l949 and l955£¬as it planted the seed of the present conflict over the one-China principle across the Taiwan Strait and to a lesser extent£¬internationally. The second period was between l956 and l979 and the third period started from 1979 to the present.

¡¡¡¡The Period of Liberation of Taiwan by Force (l949-1955)

¡¡¡¡In the last quarter of 1948£¬the Chinese civil war made a decisive turn. Over 470,000 KMT troops were put out of action during the Liao xi-Shenyang campaign in northeast China. The balance of power between the People¡¯s Liberation Army (PLA) of the Chinese Communist Party and KMT troops tilted for the first time in favor of the PLA. In the following months£¬the PLA stormed forward in various battlefronts and a final victory was in sight. Taiwan would obviously become the last stronghold of the KMT regime. Under such circumstances£¬the Xinhua (New China) News Agency in Yanan issued on March l5£¬1949£¬an editorial entitled ¡°The Chinese People Must Liberate Taiwan¡±. This was the first time that the phrase liberation of Taiwan appeared. On December 8£¬1949£¬the KMT regime officially moved its government from Kuangzhou (Canton) to Taipei. On December 3l the same year£¬the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party issued The Declaration to the Frontline Fighters and the Entire Nation. It emphasized that the most important task facing the Chinese people was to liberate Taiwan and accomplish the cause of unifying China. For this end£¬various preparations were made in l950. A Frontline Command was set up with General Su Yu as the Commander-in-Chief. Communist Party cadres who fled Taiwan to the mainland during the 228 Incident and PLA soldiers with Taiwanese origin were recruited into a training corps to prepare administrative staff for a liberated Taiwan. A concrete plan of operation was also formulated. However£¬the flare-up of the Korean War interrupted the launch of the attack.

¡¡¡¡To liberate Taiwan by force was the natural consequence of the continuing process of the civil war. And the political and military environment at that time did not allow the newly-born PRC to settle Taiwan issue by peaceful means. In June 1950£¬the U.S. sent its 7th Fleet into the Taiwan Strait following the eruption of the Korean War. Subsequently£¬the U.S. set up an embassy in Taipei£¬markedly increased its military and economic aid to Taiwan and concluded a joint defense accord with Taiwan on December 2,1954. Nevertheless£¬with the signing of the truce agreement in Korea in 1953 and the conclusion of the cease-fire agreement at the Geneva Conference on Vietnam in l954£¬the situation in the Far East actually began to relax. This provided the ground for China to adjust it policy towards the settlement of the Taiwan issue.

¡¡¡¡The Period of Liberation of Taiwan by Peaceful Means (l955-1979)

¡¡¡¡After the Geneva Conference, Premier Zhou Enlai, who led the Chinese delegation to the conference, pointed out that the success of the Geneva Conference had proved that international disputes could be settled through peaceful consultations. Based on this analysis and understanding of the international situation, the central authority of the Chinese Communist Party, in a written comment on a report on the guidelines for a public awareness campaign on the liberation of Taiwan in July 1954, instructed that pending a U.S. participation in the war, the method of diplomatic struggle should be used. In April 1955, Premier Zhou Enlai led the Chinese delegation to take part in the Bandung Conference in Indonesia. Before its departure, Chairman Mao Zedong instructed Premier Zhou to let known, if a proper opportunity occurs, the possibility of peacefully liberating Taiwan under the condition that the U.S. pulls out its armed forces from Taiwan and the Taiwan Strait. At the Bandung Conference, Premier Zhou seized an opportunity and expounded the position of the Chinese government on the Taiwan question. He said, ¡°The liberation of Taiwan is an internal affair of China. The U.S. occupation of Taiwan and as a result the tension in the Taiwan Strait area is an international issue between China and the U.S. These two questions should not be mixed together¡±. He also said, ¡°The Chinese people and the American people are friendly. The Chinese people do not want to fight with the U.S. The Chinese government is willing to sit down with the U.S. government to negotiate and to discuss the question of relaxation of the situation in the Far East, particularly the relaxation of the tension in the Taiwan Strait area¡±. Subsequently, under the good offices of the British government, China and the U.S., starting from August 1955 till February 1970, had 136 rounds of ambassadorial talks with Taiwan as the core issue.

¡¡¡¡Although the talks yielded little results£¬they however provided a positive atmosphere for the exploration of a peaceful solution to the Taiwan problem. During this period£¬Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai encouraged covert contacts between Taiwan and the mainland and secret emissaries traveled to and fro across the Strait£¬carrying messages or oral suggestions on a possible third cooperation between the KMT and CCP. In the early sixties£¬Mao Zedong had put forward£¬on different occasions concrete proposals for the reunification of the mainland and Taiwan£¬and Premier Zhou summed them up as the policy of One Headline and Four Items. The headline was that Taiwan had to be reunified with the rest of China. The four items were:

¡¡¡¡(1)After Taiwan had been reunified with the motherland£¬except for foreign affairs that would be handled by the central government£¬Chiang Kai-shek would be empowered to handle military£¬administrative and personnel affairs.

¡¡¡¡(2)All the deficit occurred in military£¬administrative expenditure and economic construction in Taiwan would be covered by the central government. (At that time£¬Taiwan had an annual budget deficit of US$800 million and Mao Zedong said that the central government would pay for that.)

¡¡¡¡(3)The social reform in Taiwan could be postponed until conditions were ripe and would proceed only with Chiang Kai-shek¡¯s agreement.

¡¡¡¡(4)Both sides should pledge not to send spies to each other¡¯s territory. Mao Zedong said that the mainland would not send red spies to Taiwan and Taiwan would not send white spies to the mainland. Neither side would do anything that would undermine the unity of the other side. Mao Zedong£¬Zhou Enlai and other top mainland leaders assured Chiang Kai-shek that so long as the Taiwanese authorities would hold up Taiwan and prevent Taiwan from being taken away from China£¬the mainland would not change this policy. In 1966£¬the Cultural Revolution broke out and contacts across the Strait came to a halt. But CCP¡¯s basic policy towards Taiwan remained unchanged. The end of the Cultural Revolution in 1976 and the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. in 1979 opened an entirely new horizon for the settlement of the Taiwan question and the CCP¡¯s Taiwan policy entered accordingly into its third period.

¡¡¡¡The Period of Peaceful Reunification and One Country Two Systems (1979-)

¡¡¡¡On January l£¬1979£¬the same day when China and the U.S. established diplomatic relations£¬the Standing Committee of the National People¡¯s Congress (NPC) issued the 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 was a common stand and the basis for cooperation. Proceeding from this common stand and basis for cooperation£¬the message did not use the term ¡°liberation of Taiwan¡± for the first time in mainland official documents concerning the Taiwan question. Instead, it proposed£¬also for the first time, concrete measures for the realization of peaceful reunification. These measures were:

¡¡¡¡(1)To put an end to the state of military hostility through talks between the government of the People¡¯s Republic of China and the Taiwanese authorities;

¡¡¡¡(2)To realize as soon as possible direct mail£¬trade£¬air and shipping services across the Strait(three direct links);

¡¡¡¡(3)To pin hopes on Taiwanese compatriots as well as on the Taiwanese authorities for the reunification of the country.

¡¡¡¡These proposals have since remained the basic policies of the mainland for a peaceful solution of the Taiwan issue.

¡¡¡¡On October l£¬1981£¬Marshal Ye Jianying£¬the NPC Chairman, further elaborated on the mainland¡¯s policy for the realization of peaceful reunification with Taiwan. Known as Ye Jianying¡¯s Nine-Point Proposal£¬the proposal furnished a number of fresh ideas including talks between the Chinese Communist Party and the KMT on a reciprocal basis so that the two parties will cooperate for the third time to accomplish the great cause of national unification; after the country is reunified, Taiwan can enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region and it can retain its armed forces; Personages of the Taiwanese authorities and different circles of life can be appointed to leading posts in national political institutions and to participate in the running of the country.

¡¡¡¡From the NPC message to Marshal Ye¡¯s nine points, the new policy of peaceful reunification and one country two systems was formulated in accordance with the changing situations the mainland faced and reflected the strategic ideas of Deng Xiaoping in handling both internal and external affairs. On June 26,1983, Deng Xiaoping, in talk with an American professor of Chinese origin, put forward his well-know six-point proposal which laid down the basic principles of the policy of peaceful reunification and one country two systems. The six points are:

¡¡¡¡(1)The crux of the Taiwan question is the reunification of the motherland. Peaceful reunification has become the common language of the CCP and KMT£¬thus constituting the basis for a third cooperation between the two parties.

¡¡¡¡(2)While adhering to one China, the mainland and Taiwan could pursue different political systems. However, internationally, the People¡¯s Republic of China is the sole representative of China.

¡¡¡¡(3)The mainland does not agree to total autonomy for Taiwan because that would mean two Chinas.

¡¡¡¡(4)After reunification£¬Taiwan£¬as a special administrative region£¬will follow a system different from the mainland. Taiwan will maintain its judicial discretion and legislative power. Its court of final appeal does not need to be in Beijng. Taiwan will also have its own armed forces so long as they do not pose a threat to the mainland. The mainland will not send troops nor administrative personnel to Taiwan and Taiwan¡¯s partisan£¬political and military affairs will be handled by the Taiwanese themselves. In the central government£¬posts will be reserved for Taiwan.

¡¡¡¡(5)Peaceful reunification does not mean the annexation of Taiwan by the mainland nor vice versa. The so-called reunification of China under the Three Peoples Doctrine is unrealistic.

¡¡¡¡(6)The appropriate way for the realization of peaceful reunification is to hold CCP-KMT talks on an equal footing£¬not between the central government and a local authority£¬bringing about the third cooperation between the two parties, The talks brook no foreign interference.

¡¡¡¡Deng¡¯s Six-Point Proposal constitutes the fundamental principles of the policy of peaceful reunification and one country two systems. Yet£¬as the cross-strait relations and the international situation developed and, in particular, taking into account of the views and opinions of the Taiwanese compatriots£¬Jiang Zemin£¬CCP General-Secretary, announced his eight-point proposal on January 30£¬1995. The basic ideas of the Jiang¡¯s Eight-Point Proposal are as follows:

¡¡¡¡(1)Adherence to one-China principle is the basis and premise for the realization of peaceful reunification of China.

¡¡¡¡(2)The negotiation on China¡¯s peaceful reunification will be conducted step by step. For the first step£¬the two sides across the Strait could negotiate on officially ending hostility.

¡¡¡¡(3)The mainland will do its utmost to accomplish peaceful reunification, but at the same time does not undertake to renounce the use of force.

¡¡¡¡(4)In face of the 2lst century, the economic exchange and cooperation across the Strait should be greatly promoted.

¡¡¡¡(5)Compatriots on both sides of the Strait jointly inherit and develop the fine traditions of the Chinese culture.

¡¡¡¡(6)More hope will be pinned on the Taiwanese compatriots while still pinning hope on the Taiwanese authorities.

¡¡¡¡(7)Under the one-China principle, representatives from all parties and circles of life in Taiwan will be welcome to exchange views with the mainland on cross-strait relations and peaceful reunification.

¡¡¡¡(8)On the basis of one China, leaders of the two sides across the Strait will visit each other in their proper capacities.

¡¡¡¡Jiang¡¯s Eight-Point Proposal is the application and development of Deng¡¯s Six-Point Proposal under new circumstances and will remain the mainland¡¯s guiding principles in dealing with the cross-strait relationship before the country is finally reunified.