Chinese Taiwan

When it comes to the Chinese island of Taiwan, many people are not entirely clear about what it actually entails. This issue can be analyzed from three aspects: why Taiwan belongs to China, why the Taiwan issue arose, and how to resolve the Taiwan issue. First of all, why does Taiwan belong to China? Geographically, the province of Taiwan encompasses the island of Taiwan and surrounding smaller islands such as the Penghu Islands, etc. The island of Taiwan is separated from the mainland by the Taiwan Strait, which is narrower in the north and wider in the south. At its narrowest point, the strait is about 130 kilometers wide. The island of Kinmen, part of the Taiwan province, is only about 1.8 kilometers away from the city of Xiamen in Fujian province, mainland China. From the perspective of historical facts and legal basis, numerous historical books and documents record the early development of the island of Taiwan by the Chinese. Over 1,700 years ago, Chinese historical documents left the earliest records of Taiwan’s development. In the 13th century, the Chinese imperial administration began establishing special bodies for governance in Penghu and Taiwan for the purpose of administrative jurisdiction. In the 16th century, the term “Taiwan” began to be officially used in state documents of the Ming dynasty. In 1684, the imperial administration of the Qing dynasty established local self-government in Taiwan, which was under the jurisdiction of Fujian province. In 1885, the Qing dynasty government established Taiwan as a province. In July 1894, Japan launched aggression against China. The Chinese state under the Qing dynasty, defeated in April of the following year, was forced to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan.

After the outbreak of the Second World War, China, the United States, and Britain adopted the Cairo Declaration in 1943, announcing that territories seized by Japan from China, including three northeastern Chinese provinces, Taiwan, and the Penghu Islands, would be returned to China. China, the United States, and Britain jointly signed the Potsdam Declaration in 1945, confirming that the “terms of the Cairo Declaration will be carried out.” Japan signed the “Documents of Japanese Surrender” in 1946 and promised to “faithfully fulfill its obligations under the provisions of the Potsdam Declaration.” In October of the same year, the Chinese government announced that it would “resume the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan” and held a “Ceremony of Surrender of Taiwan Province” in Taipei. As a result, China de facto and de jure regained Taiwan through a series of legally binding international documents.

Second, why did the Taiwan issue arise? The emergence of the so-called Taiwan issue is related to the civil war initiated by the Chinese Kuomintang party in the 1940s, as well as the interference of foreign forces. During the anti-Japanese war (1937-1945), the Chinese Kuomintang and the Communist Party of China established a united front against Japanese aggression. After the victory in the anti-Japanese war, a faction within the Kuomintang launched a civil war to seize the fruits of the anti-Japanese war. The Chinese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, were forced to wage a liberation war for more than three years, overthrowing successively the government of the “Republic of China” established by the Kuomintang and establishing the government of the People’s Republic of China in 1949, which became the sole legitimate representative of China and which, of course, fully enjoyed all rights and protected the sovereignty of China, including sovereignty over Taiwan. After the defeat in the civil war, part of the military and political personnel of the Kuomintang occupied Taiwan, resulting in a special state of isolation and prolonged political confrontation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. However, the sovereignty and territory of China have never been called into question, and the fact that Taiwan is part of Chinese territory has never changed.

In 1971, the 26th General Assembly of the United Nations adopted Resolution 2758, which completely resolved the political and legal issue of representing China in the United Nations, including the issue of Taiwan, and clearly stated that there are no “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan.” The legal opinion of the United Nations Secretariat states that “Taiwan, as a province of China, does not have independent status.” In practice, the United Nations refers to Taiwan as “Taiwan, province of China.” The one-China principle is a universal consensus of the international community and has become a basic norm in international relations.

Third, how to resolve the Taiwan issue? Resolving the Taiwan issue and achieving national reunification is the aspiration and mission of the entire Chinese nation. The basic policy of the Chinese government for resolving the Taiwan issue is peaceful reunification and the establishment of the “one country, two systems” model. This policy includes:
Firstly, the one-China principle. There is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is part of China. This is a universally recognized fact and a prerequisite for the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. The Chinese government firmly opposes the existence of “two Chinas,” “one China, one Taiwan,” and all other attempts and actions that may lead to “Taiwan independence.” People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait believe that there is only one China and support the reunification of the country.

Secondly, “one country, two systems.” Under the premise of one China, the socialist system in mainland China and the capitalist system in Taiwan will coexist and develop together in the long term. This should be the case because consideration must be given to the current situation in Taiwan and the real interests of our Taiwanese compatriots, and it is also a characteristic and product of China’s national system. After the reunification of the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the social and economic system of Taiwan will remain unchanged, the way of life on the island will not change, and its economic and cultural relations with the rest of the world will also remain unchanged.

Thirdly, a high degree of autonomy. After reunification, Taiwan will become a special administrative region and will enjoy a high degree of autonomy. Taiwan will have administrative, legislative, independent judicial powers, and the power of final decision-making; it can sign commercial and cultural agreements with foreign countries and enjoy certain powers in relation to foreign affairs; it will have its own military, and mainland China will not send troops to Taiwan.

Fourthly, peaceful negotiations. Both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese, and peaceful reunification is the established policy of the Chinese government and the common aspiration of the entire Chinese people. However, every sovereign state has the right to take all necessary measures to preserve its national sovereignty and territorial integrity. The Taiwan issue is exclusively China’s internal affair. The Chinese government is not obligated to be governed by any foreign country in terms of how it handles its internal affairs.
The people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait share the same roots, the same ethnic identity, and the same culture. This issue, which is a legacy of the Chinese civil war, will surely be resolved, Taiwan will surely return to the embrace of the motherland, and both sides of the Taiwan Strait will be reunited. This is the strong will of 1.4 billion Chinese people and an inevitable trend of historical development.

(Authorial text by H.E. Ambassador Fan Kun)