Taiwan status: One China policy still holds

Gibson Nyikadzino

Herald Correspondent

 The latest manifestation of US bad and provocative behaviour towards China is seen in the recent “Taiwan-US working level meeting on international organisation issues” held in Taipei.

The US behaviour can be likened to a truculent child holding a finger an inch away from a sibling moments after a parent warned them not to touch each other. In such cases, where discipline has to be instilled, parents know such behaviour is part of growing up, experiencing all kinds of different behaviours and disciplinary problems.

It has not been anyone’s anticipation that a country considered the most powerful nation in the world would continue doing the same thing, yet that is exactly what the US does. 

It did so in Eastern Europe after promising not to move one inch east, that there would be no NATO expansion and yet it did the opposite. It is doing so in the South China Sea, gathering, or at least attempting to gather, supporters around it to bully and goad China. 

It is doing so in Tibet with more visits by leaders promising support for an independence movement that the spiritual leader of the people they want to support has clearly said he does not want.

And they continue to do it in Taiwan. Both Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and President Joe Biden have reiterated their stance that the one China policy has not changed.

They assure the world that they have been consistent for decades and they do not seek independence for Taiwan. But evidence shows that this is a lie, their policy has changed.

Then US president Richard Nixon said it first in February 1972 in the Shanghai communiqué, when both sides agreed to a normalisation of relations, a reduction of military conflict, that neither should seek hegemony and that neither will enter agreements or understandings with the other, directed at other states. 

Experts may argue what subsequent documents say, or how they are interpreted, but it is hard to deny when Nixon signed a document which said: “The government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China; Taiwan is a province of China which has long been returned to the motherland; the liberation of Taiwan is China’s internal affair in which no other country has the right to interfere; and all US forces and military personnel must be withdrawn from Taiwan.”

On December 15, 1978, then US leader Jimmy Carter made a now famous speech announcing recognition of the government of the People’s Republic of China “as the sole legal government of China”.

Carter went on to say the two parties, the US and China “reaffirm the principles agreed on by the two sides in the Shanghai communiqué of 1972” by Nixon. Wide interpretations have been made on the wording of “the government of the United States acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China, and that Taiwan is part of China.” 

He went on to say, “recognising the People’s Republic of China that it is the single government of China” was a fact.

In August 1982, Carter’s successor, Ronald Reagan, did the same in a joint communiqué, promising to reduce arms sales to Taiwan. Once again, the opening preamble stated that “the United States of America recognised the government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China, and it acknowledged the Chinese position that there is, but one China and Taiwan is part of China” 

These statements are difficult to challenge and hard to argue away!

Therefore, when Secretary of State Blinken or President Biden say, “our decades old policy has not changed” they are being untruthful, for their sentiments are not borne out of a mistake or an interpretation, but outright lies!

“Salami slicing” is a term that has been used to describe what the US has been doing to China in relation to Taiwan. They have approached each red line in the same way that the truculent kid approaches their sibling, close enough to say I am not doing anything wrong, but clearly doing something that will annoy the other.  

The meeting last week in Taipei was not the first of such meetings, another one was held in October 2022 as well. The 2022 meeting consisted of consultations in Washington on expanding Taiwan’s participation at the United Nations and in other international fora.

The two sides discussed assisting Taiwan to meaningfully participate in the United Nations system and other international organisations.

The recent visit was even more of an insult, not to China, but to the legacy of three former presidents of the US, because contrary to their own agreement of non-interference in the internal affairs of China, two deputy secretaries of State visited Taiwan.

According to the US State Department and Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the two countries held a working-level meeting in Taipei on June 21 to exchange views on Taiwan’s substantive participation in international organisations. 

The US State Department explained that the discussion focused on “expanding Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the UN system and other international forums”. 

The US, which has on three occasions formally and publicly agreed there is but one China and Taiwan is part of it, would now like the province of Taiwan to have a larger say in matters of international affairs.

They would like the province of Taiwan to have the military capacity to defend itself from its own recognised government, which they agreed is in Beijing, and yet they continuously assert that their policies on China have not changed. 

In an act of global, and some might say, childish disobedience, the US has written a law in their own country called the Taiwan Relations Act to subvert agreements made by the United Nations through Resolution 2758, agreements three of their own Presidents committed to in 1972, 1979 and 1982.

Taiwan is part of China, the US has agreed to this several times, the reunification of Taiwan is an internal matter for China. The US agreed to this too and yet, it still attempts to interpret the wording of those agreements in contradiction to the spirit in which they were entered. 

Children can be disciplined, they usually grow out of their defiant years and become good citizens as they age, but it seems one country is having a lot of trouble, showing the same degree of immaturity!

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