Origin of the Taiwan question and why China cannot brook external interference – By Charles Onunaiju

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Origin of the Taiwan question and why China cannot brook external interference – By Charles Onunaiju

The whirlwind visit of the U.S House speaker, 82 year-old Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan despite  protestations from Beijing have raised fresh concerns about how the world’s most important bilateral relations between the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America is managed. In the maniacal visit, the United States undermined the foundations of its diplomatic relations with China, explicitly stated in the originating document of the Shanghai communiqué to the effect the that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is unequivocally, an integral part of China.

However, if the Nancy Pelosi’s visit was meant to test  the will of the 1.4 billion Chinese, both Washington and the small clique of separatists in Taiwan got more than they actually bargained for. From the time of the hurried departure of Ms Pelosi, Beijing made good it’s warnings that “those who play with fire will perish by it” and the fire really got on the way. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army’s live-fire military exercises in six exclusion zones encircling Taiwan Island is an unmistakable signal to “Taiwan Independence Separatists should they dare to cross  the original red line of declaring “Taiwan’s Independence”. In addition to live fire military exercises, the Chinese mainland have suspended imports from more than 100 food exporters in Taiwan and discontinued the sending of natural sands to Taiwan.

Just as playing the Taiwan card has become a key menu in U.S politics, especially when crucial elections beckons, it is important to clarify the origin of the Taiwan question and how it has evolved as a political game among  U.S politicians.

Having earlier been an administrative unit under the jurisdiction of Fujian province, Taiwan was made a province by the Qing dynasty after the Sino-French war of 1885 and Liu Mingchuan was appointed its first governor. Mr. Liu was known to have built railways, opened mines, set up power grids and ship yards established enterprises and started modern schools in Taiwan. However, under the terms of the Treaty of Shimonoseki (1895) which ended the first Sino-Japanese war, Taiwan and its subsidiary Islands, including the Penghu Islands were ceded to Japan. The Cairo declaration released on the 1st of December, 1943 and agreed by China, Britain and U.S clearly stipulated that all China’s territories, including Taiwan and its subsidiary Islands were to be returned to China. In addition, the Potsdam proclamation, prelude to the end of second war and Japan’s surrender unequivocally committed to the terms of Cairo declaration and on August 15th 1945 Taiwan was liberated from Japan’s rule and the central government under the regime  of General Chiang Kai Shek restored the administrative agencies in Taiwan and the then China’s defense minister, Chen Cheng was appointed governor of the Taiwan province.

What gave rise to the contemporary Taiwan question began in 1949 when the Chinese civil war was drawing to a close and a group of military and political officials of the Kuomintang or Nationalist party dictatorship retreated to Taiwan after losing the war to a broad united front under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, CPC. As the war in Korea broke out in 1950, the U.S seventh fleet entered Taiwan to prevent the People’s Liberation Army from liberating Taiwan under the new government in Beijing. By  December 1954, U.S signed Mutual Defense Treaty with the rump of the previous KMT regime that escaped to Taiwan, thereby putting the island under the U.S protection. Interestingly from 1949 – 1970, Taiwan, under the tutelage of the U.S and other countries occupied the seat in the United Nations General Assembly that belonged to China. However on October 25, 1971 the 26th General Assembly of the U-N passed Resolution No. 2758 with an overwhelming majority, restoring all the legitimate rights of the People’s Republic of China in the UN and expelling Taiwan from the UN and all its affiliated organizations. And from 1993 to 2008 all proposals advanced by the Taiwan authorities to return to the UN were rejected by the General Assembly of the United Nations in complete affirmation of the One China principle.

From the history of ancient times to the turbulence of wars, International declarations and proclamations, International legal instruments treaties and resolutions, Taiwan is territorially and ethnically Chinese. For a fact in his recently released biography of Xi Jinping, China’s current leader, Professor Alfred Chan noted that almost 80% of the present Taiwan population have Fujian ancestry. Fujian Province in South East China is where Xi Jinping served in different capacities for 17 years and cut his teeth as efficient leader, who is a goal getter and practical problem solver.

Despite the broad range of historical facts, which has never been disputed  by KMT regime and its heirs, as the Taiwan regime considered itself the representative of the Chinese and even, General Chang Kai Shek nursed the illusion of a coup that would return him as the maximum ruler of China. The idea of a “separate Taiwan” or “two countries” across the Taiwan straits is relatively new and the entire invention of the clique of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which came to office in 2000 following the brash acrimony within the formerly ruling KMT, and it fits or suits U.S politicians who saw through it as a political gimmick to rattle or even contain China.

These historical facts of a common homeland found a convergence in the landmark 1992 consensus in which both sides of the Taiwan straits agreed on the “One China” principle as foundation for further negotiations for a complete re-unification. The political ramification of the 1992 consensus was agreement by the two sides on a roadmap to achieve reunification. To this effect, Beijing has demonstrated acute sensitivity to both the historical and contemporary realities of the Taiwan issue as its own national question.

Recognizing the historical fact under which the Chinese people of the two divides of the straits have lived under different social systems and unique political exposures, Beijing creatively designed the “One Country, two systems”, to enable both people to maintain their different ways of life in the context of their common homeland.

On the 1st of January 1979, China’s top legislature and it’s State supreme organ, the National People’s Congress issued the message to the “compatriots in Taiwan” outlining fundamental policy of peaceful reunification and appealing for negotiations to end military confrontations across the straits and for direct links in mail, transport and trade as well as economic and cultural exchanges. In the same month in 1979, during his visit to the U.S, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping said that, “we no longer, use the expression, ‘liberating Taiwan’ ”. As long as Taiwan returns to China, we will respect the reality and current social system there.

But because the “Taiwan Card” has become a convenient currency in America politics, as the vain visit of Ms Pelosi has shown, the Taiwan question and its unification continue to drag as hotspot issue. Former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt in his book on China was plainly factual when he wrote that “The problem of Taiwan originates in America.

The Chinese people are definitely willing to reach an agreement on Taiwan but America is against it. The Chinese people would even allow Taiwan to have its own army through, they don’t say this explicitly, I think they really would if it were to be made a condition of Taiwan becoming a nominal part of China; they would go further than, they did on the Hong Kong issue”.

The flexibility of the China’s leadership to engage the Taiwan question and ultimately realize the will and wishes of all Chinese across the straits is an important contribution to peace and collective security in the world.  Despite that the United States committed itself explicitly to one China policy as cornerstone of its bilateral relations with China, it allows itself the cynical comfort of what is called “strategic ambiguity”, to meddle in China’s internal affairs, playing the “Taiwan Card”. But the fact of Universal consensus of “one China principle” and its exemplary practice by nearly all the countries in the world and mainstreamed to the annals of the United Nations simply means that the U.S is not only isolated in its duplicity on the Taiwan question but undermines its own credibility as a major power invested with responsibility for major global problem solving.

Hyping “China’s possible invasion of Taiwan is absolutely a false flag as no country invades its own territory, but Beijing has not hidden the fact that it will not shy away from using military force to bring the separatists forces in Taiwan to their senses and deter whatever external forces that cajoles and nudges them on.

And this is a rational response to any threats to sovereignty and territorial integrity of any state in the world.

Mr. Onunaiju, is a research director of an Abuja based think -tank.

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