US-Taiwan Diplomatic Relations: Now Is The Time
胡平 - 2020-08-15
Hu Ping – – August 15, 2020
Compared with the 193 member states of the United Nations, Taiwan (the Republic of China) ranks in the forefront whether in terms of politics, economy, society or culture. However, Taiwan is excluded from United Nations’ membership. The most unfair thing in the world today is that Taiwan cannot get the international recognition it deserves.
Forty-one years have passed since the United States severed formal diplomatic relations with the Republic of China in 1979, and switched to establishing diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China. In the past 41 years, the entire world has undergone a major transformation. Major changes have taken place on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and in cross-strait relations. Now is the time. While maintaining formal diplomatic relations with the government of the People’s Republic of China, the United States should establish formal diplomatic relations with the government of the Republic of China.
Some will surely say: If the United States and Taiwan establish diplomatic relations, it will inevitably lead to a strong backlash from the Chinese Communist Party [CCP]. The CCP will definitely accuse the United States of violating the three US-China joint communiqués, and violating the “One China” principle. However, what I want to point out is that under the premise that Taiwan maintains the legal status quo of the Republic of China’s constitutional system, if the US government decides to establish diplomatic relations with the Republic of China government, it does not actually violate the “One China” principle. The United States can clearly tell the CCP: The United States’ policy is “One China, Two Governments,” and therefore still qualifies as “One China.” The United States can – confident it has justice on its side – ask the CCP: Didn’t you also modify the “One China” principle long ago, and no longer oppose “One China, Two Governments”?
1. The CCP Has Long Ceased Opposing “One China, Two Governments”
Yes, the CCP has long ceased opposing “One China, Two Governments,” as witnessed in the speeches of the CCP leaders and the documents of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council. What amazes me is that no one – not the United States nor Taiwan – seems to have noticed this subtle and important change in cross-strait relations and its implications.
What exactly is the CCP position on cross-strait relations? I thought we might as well start by interpreting the White Paper of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the Communist Party of China. The White Paper of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council is authoritative, complete, well-organized and rigorous in terms. It is an ideal text for understanding the relevant policies of the CCP.
The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council issued two White Papers. One was published on September 1, 1993 with the title “Taiwan Issue and China’s Reunification.” The other was published on February 1, 2000 with the title “One China Principle and the Taiwan Issue.” (1) The two White Papers differ in certain wording. What do these differences show? The following is my analysis.
The 1993 White Paper contains the following paragraph: “The Chinese government firmly opposes any words or deeds aimed at splitting China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, opposes ‘Two Chinas’, ‘One China, One Taiwan’, or ‘One Country, Two Governments’, and opposes all attempts and actions that may lead to ‘Taiwan independence’.”
We know that the “Sino-US Joint Communiqué” signed on February 28, 1972, says: “The Chinese government firmly opposes any attempt to create ‘One China, One Taiwan’, ‘One China, Two Governments’, ‘Two Governments, Two Chinas’, ‘Taiwan independence’ and activities advocating ‘undermining Taiwan’s status’.” (2) Since then, the Chinese Communist Party has consistently declared that the Chinese government firmly opposes “Taiwan independence,” “Two Chinas,” “One China, One Taiwan” and “One Country, Two Governments.”
However, what was written in the 2000 White Paper was: The Chinese government “opposes so-called ‘Taiwan Independence’, ‘Two Chinas’, and ‘One China, One Taiwan’.”
In the 2000 White Paper, “One Country, Two Governments” was removed as an object of “opposition” by the Chinese government. In other words, since 2000, the Chinese Communist Party has only raised opposition to “Taiwan Independence,” “Two Chinas” and “One China, One Taiwan,” and no longer mentions opposition to “One Country, Two Governments.”
The CCP authorities no longer speaking of opposing “One Country, Two Governments” first appeared in Jiang Zemin’s speech on January 30, 1995: “Continue to Strive to Promote the Reunification of the Motherland,” in which he stated: “Resolutely oppose all ‘Taiwan independence’ and ‘Separatist words and deeds.’” It also talked about “opposing Taiwan’s so-called ‘expansion of international living space’” activities aimed at creating “Two Chinas” and “One China, One Taiwan.” (3) It contained no further mention of opposition to “One China, Two Governments.”
2. The CCP Shows Subtle Ambiguity
The latest statement of the Communist Party leaders – Xi Jinping’s speech at the January 2, 2019 40th Anniversary “Meeting of Taiwan Compatriots” – also vowed to “Resolutely defeat all kinds of manufacturing of ‘Two Chinas’, ‘One China, One Taiwan’ and the ‘Taiwan Independence’ Plot.” (4) But “One China, Two Governments” was still not mentioned.
As mentioned above, the CCP no longer opposes “One Country, Two Governments.” That does not mean that it accepts it, but it does not mean that it does not accept it. This means that the CCP has neither accepted nor refused “One Country, Two Governments,” but deliberately created a kind of subtle ambiguity. Many of the strange actions of the CCP are actually due to this subtle ambiguity.
There is another difference between the two White Papers which is worthy of analysis.
The 1993 White Paper said: “The Chinese government has always opposed the use of the German and North Korean models to resolve the Taiwan issue.” However, the 2000 White Paper only stated that “The Two Germanys model cannot be used to resolve the Taiwan issue.” That is, it still opposes the Two Germanys model, but states no further opposition to the Two Koreas model.
This modification looks puzzling. Because in the eyes of most people, the Two Germanys model and the Two Koreas model are of the same nature, and people always compared the two in the past. Then why in the 2000 White Paper did Beijing still oppose the Two Germanys model, but no longer opposes the Two Koreas model? Because the Two Germanys model is different from the Two Koreas model, the relationship between the Two Germanys is a relationship between two countries, and the relationship between the two Koreas is one country, two governments.
Let us first discuss the relationship between the two Germanys. The Two Germany relationship is two German countries, a two-state relationship, or as some say a two-state theory.
In May 1949, West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) promulgated its Basic Law, equivalent to a constitution as law during the transition period. One of the reasons why West Germany did not have a constitution at that time was that the German constitution should be formulated by all Germans. Since East Germans could not participate at that stage, the constitution could not be formulated at that stage so only a set of basic laws could be formulated. This shows clearly that West Germany considered East Germany part of Germany, that there is only one Germany, and both East Germany and West Germany belong to Germany. We might as well call this position the One Germany principle. This means that West Germany adheres to the One Germany principle.
East Germany held a different principle. East Germany (German Democratic Republic) enacted a constitution from the very beginning. The first constitution of East Germany was promulgated in October 1949. It should be said that this constitution still insists on one Germany. Chapter 1 Article 1 of the constitution clearly stipulates: “Germany is an indivisible republic formed by the German states.” The “states” here obviously also include West Germany. In April 1968, East Germany promulgated a new constitution. In Chapter 1, Article 1 of the new constitution, the original “Germany is an indivisible republic formed by the German states” was removed, which was a sign of giving up on a united Germany. However, Article 1 of Chapter 1 of the new constitution says: “The German Democratic Republic is a socialist country of the German ethnic nationality people.” Because West Germany is also a German nation, it is equivalent to saying that West Germany is also part of Germany, so the new constitution still retains the principle of One Germany.
In September 1974, East Germany passed a constitutional amendment removing reference to the German nation, and changed Chapter 1 Article 1 to “The German Democratic Republic is a socialist country of workers and peasants.” This shows that East Germany abandoned the idea of identifying East Germany as part of a larger German state. In the revised East German constitution, there are no clear or implied words that East Germany and West Germany belong to one nation. This meant that East Germany abandoned the One Germany principle and established an independent East German national identity. We can call it East German independence. At this time, although West Germany still upheld the One Germany principle, East Germany had already abandoned it. After this, the relationship between East Germany and West Germany ceased to be one country and two governments, and became two Germanys, a relationship between two countries.
The differing relations between the Two Germanys and Two Koreas
Let us look at the relationship between the two Koreas.
At first glance, the relationship between South Korea and North Korea is a relationship between two countries – two Koreas. Is it not? South Korea and North Korea each have their official country name, each has its own land, people, government and military. Each has its own currency and border control. Both South Korea and North Korea can participate in relevant international organizations and international activities under their own flag. Both South Korea and North Korea are members of the United Nations and have established formal diplomatic relations with many countries. One hundred fifty countries (including China) recognize both South Korea and North Korea. In the Olympics, both South Korean and North Korean athletes compete separately. They play their own national anthem if they win medals and raise their own national flag. How are they not two independent countries?
But there are still differences.
Article 3 of the South Korean Constitution stipulates: “The territory of the Republic of Korea consists of the Korean Peninsula and its affiliated islands.” Note: This is the entire Korean Peninsula, not just the southern half of the Korean Peninsula.
Article 9 of the North Korean Constitution (2012) stipulates: “The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea [DPRK] shall strive to strengthen the people’s power in the northern half of the motherland, vigorously carry out the three major revolutions of ideology, technology, and culture, and realize the complete victory of socialism. In accordance with the principles of Juche [self-reliance], peaceful reunification, and national unity, we will achieve the reunification of the motherland through struggle.” This means that the whole country referred to by North Korea includes the southern half; and the actual territory it currently governs is limited to the northern half.
Here, when South and North Korea talk about their own territories, they are talking about the entire Korean peninsula. That is to say, they both include the half of the country under the actual jurisdiction of the other side. This shows that both South and North Korea insist that there is only one Korea instead of two. However, there are two governments in one Korea, both claiming to be the central government. This is One Country, Two Governments.
But at the same time, both parties recognize that their current actual jurisdiction is limited to their half of the country, and respect the other party’s actual jurisdiction over its half of the country. The above-quoted clause of the North Korean Constitution makes clear that at this stage North Korea’s actual jurisdiction is limited to the northern half of the peninsula. Both South and North Korea respect and recognize the reality of divided rule, allow each other to enter the United Nations and other international organizations, establish formal diplomatic relations with foreign countries, and demonstrate mutual desire for peaceful reunification in the future.
This is called “One Korea, Two Governments” (or One Country, Two Governments). If one day in the future South and North Korea (or one of them) no longer insists that there is only one Korea, and no longer claims sovereignty over the other side’s territory and does not say a word about future unification, then it should be called “Two Koreas” or a Two-State Theory.
Of course, the CCP just stopped mentioning opposition to the Two Koreas model. This does not mean accepting Two Koreas, but it does not mean not accepting Two Koreas. This means that it leaves possible space for accepting a Two Korea model, otherwise Beijing would simply say that “The Two Koreas model cannot be used to resolve the Taiwan issue.” We know that the Two Koreas model is “One Country, Two Governments.”
4. Why does the CCP no longer oppose “One China, Two Governments”?
Then why does the Chinese Communist Party no longer oppose “One China, Two Governments,” and why do they no longer oppose the Two Koreas model? Because the situation has changed. Since the signing of the first joint communiqué between China and the United States in 1972, tremendous changes have taken place on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, and cross-strait relations have also undergone tremendous changes.
Earlier, the governments on both sides of the strait were highly hostile, and each viewed each other as a pseudo-government, and there was no economic, trade or personnel exchanges between the two sides. Later, the hostility of the governments on both sides of the strait gradually faded, and there were more and more exchanges of economic, trade, and personnel between the two sides. With the development of cross-strait personnel, economic, and cultural exchanges, various problems have arisen. In order to resolve these problems, the two sides of the Taiwan Strait have signed more than 20 agreements, involving personnel exchanges, investment and trade, joint crime fighting and mutual legal assistance.（5）
Ordinarily, signing these legally significant agreements should of course be made by the governments on both sides of the strait. However, once the signature of the government of the People’s Republic of China and the signature of the government of the Republic of China are listed in the same legal text, it means that the government of the People’s Republic of China is not the only legal government representing the whole of China. That also means that both parties have accepted “One China, Two Governments.” Since the mainland authorities are unwilling to accept “One China, Two Governments,” – they must sign these agreements with Taiwan – the two sides have each launched a non-governmental organization. The mainland’s is The Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits (ARATS) and Taiwan’s is the Straits Exchange Foundation (SEF). ARATS and SEF were authorized by their respective governments, so they signed this series of agreements.
Both the Mainland’s Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits [ARATS] and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation [SEF] are unusual “white-glove organizations.” White gloves are used to hide the wearer’s hands, so that the world does not know whose hands are inside. However, everyone knows whose hands are in the white gloves of ARATS and SEF. The white gloves are transparent. However, since everyone knows whose hands they are, isn’t wearing gloves unnecessary? This reveals the position of the government of the People’s Republic of China on the issue of cross-strait relations. The government of the People’s Republic of China has not recognized the existence of the government of the Republic of China, but it at least acknowledged the existence of the government of the Republic of China. If the governments on both sides of the strait sign the agreement, it means that the two sides have recognized the other’s existence, and that the two sides have accepted “One China, Two Governments.” Now that the Mainland's ARATS and Taiwan’s Straits Exchange Foundation have come forward to sign the agreement, and no one in the world does not know which governments hands are in the white gloves, it means that the two sides have recognized the other’s existence and have accepted “One China, Two Governments.” This is why the Chinese Communist Party no longer opposes “One China and Two Governments,” because it has already acknowledged “One China, Two Governments,” it just has not formally accepted it.
在今天，美國若本著“一中兩府”的原則和台灣建交，對中華人民共和國政府和中華民國政府實行雙重承認，既是基於美國的國家利益和立國理念，也是基於形勢的 改變，基於兩岸關係的改變，基於中共當局自己在兩岸關係問題上的改變，基於中共當局自己在一個中國原則的內涵的改變（不再反對“一中兩府”了）。如果美國 和台灣建交，中共是沒有任何理由抗議的，因為是你中共改變在先，是兩岸關係改變在先，美國只不過是根據這些改變而做出相應的改變而已。
Today, if the United States establishes diplomatic relations with Taiwan based on the principle of “One China, Two Governments,” and implements dual recognition of the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of the Republic of China, it will be based on the United States’ national interests, the concept of nation-building, and on the basis of changes in the situation. The change in relations is based on the CCP’s own changes in cross-strait relations, and the CCP’s own changes in the content of the One-China principle (no longer opposing “One China, Two Governments”). If the United States and Taiwan establish diplomatic relations, the CCP will have no reason to protest, because it was the CCP that changed its handling of cross-strait relations first. The United States is just making corresponding changes based on this reality.
5. Beijing can recognize both the government of North Korea and the government of South Korea, so why can’t Washington recognize both the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of the Republic of China?
On the mainland, official experts on cross-strait issues have long expressed the idea of “One China, Two Governments.”
On April 1, 2005, Wang Jianmin, a researcher from the Taiwan Institute of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, had a conversation with netizens on the Powerful Country Forum website. There were two questions and answers as follows:
Netizen Huang Hefei: “Honored guest Wang Jianmin, the mainland and Taiwan belong to the same China, can it be understood that the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of China belong to the same China?”
Wang Jianmin: “This question has been raised to a high level, and has the power of observation. It can be understood this way from many angles.”
Netizen Old Gray Cat asked: “Why didn’t we discuss Lee Teng-hui’s proposal of One China, Two Governments with Taiwan? Isn’t its premise also ‘One China’?
Wang Jianmin replied: “Your observation is good, many mainland scholars have also put forward this point of view. It is just that we have a process of understanding the Taiwan issue. In the past, the requirements may have been higher. I feel that I have many regrets. But history cannot be repeated. We hope that we will seize this historical opportunity.”
In addition, in June 2011, Professor Chu Shulong of the Institute of International Strategy and Development of Tsinghua University in Beijing published an article with the Brookings Institution in the United States, clearly proposing the concept of “one China and two central governments,” hoping to form a cross-strait political structure and find a new way out. Chu Shulong said that the inability to face up to the fact that there are two equal governments on both sides of the strait makes it impossible to normalize cross-strait relations. To maintain long-term normal and stable development of cross-strait relations, both sides must recognize that each other is a legitimate government under the One China principle.
Wang Jianmin’s answer indicates that since “One China, Two Governments” is founded on the premise of One China, it does not violate the One China principle. “The PRC is willing to consult with the ROC on the basis of equality under the framework of One China,” the leader declared. “One China, Two Governments” should thus be an option. Chu Shulong further pointed out that in order to normalize cross-strait relations, “One China, Two Governments” should be recognized. Although Chu Shulong’s opinion is not mainstream, and does not represent the CCP’s official position, it does not exceed the ambiguity of Beijing’s official position, and helps us understand the implication of this ambiguity and the CCP’s position.
Coming back to the cross-strait issue, One Country, Two Governments means One China, Two Governments. If Taiwan maintains the status quo — including the legal status quo of the current constitutional system — the United States maintaining diplomatic relations with the mainland and at the same time formally establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan – dual recognition – it is still One China, Two Governments and does not violate the one-China principle. Therefore, the Chinese Communist Party can say nothing. Since Beijing can recognize both North Korea and South Korea, why can’t Washington recognize the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of the Republic of China?
1. Taiwan Issue White Paper: url：http://www.gwytb.gov.cn/zt/baipishu/
2. Joint Communique of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China (1972).
3. Jiang Zemin’s Important Speech on “Continue Striving to Promote the Completion of the Great Cause of National Reunification” (January 1995). url: http://www.zhongguotongcuhui.org.cn/zt/dibajie/10_hwtch/10_hwtchzl/201211/t20121107_3356537.html
4. 習近平：為實現民族偉大復興 推進祖國和平統一而共同奮鬥——在《告台灣同胞書》發表40週年紀念會上的講話。2019年1月2日。連結：http://www.xinhuanet.com/politics/2019-01/02/c_1123937757.htm
4. Xi Jinping: Work together to achieve glorious national rejuvenation and promote the peaceful reunification of the motherland — a speech at the 40th anniversary of the publication of the “Message to Compatriots on Taiwan.” January 2, 2019.
5. Cross-Strait agreement. Mainland Affairs Commission.
Chu Shulong article published by the Brookings Institution of the United States, clearly stating that “One China has Two Central Governments.” Voice of America.