Why not one China and one Taiwan?

Towards the end of February 1972, US President Richard Nixon visited Beijing, which marked the beginning of a dramatic shift in attitudes and policies that would affect the fate of the regime in question. Jimmy Carter ended the US diplomatic recognition of Taiwan as the Republic of China (ROC) in January 1979, changing those channels to the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

50 as thisM The anniversary pass, the highly acclaimed treaty, and the diplomatic laggardine did not explicitly address dissenting views on reality or the opposite of the Taiwanese approach. Beijing has continued its diplomatic offensive to isolate Taiwan. Lithuania was recently reprimanded by the Chinese leadership, insisting that Lithuania supports the “two China” concept.

More worrying is the fact that in recent months, Beijing has been flexing its military muscles, escalating tensions and giving the impression that an attack or strike could start at any moment. Indeed, many commentators believe that Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine, in many similar ways, would encourage Xi Jinping to direct an attack on Taiwan while the rest of the world would be confused.

Despite saber-rattling and diplomatic condemnation, Beijing’s demands for sovereignty over Taiwan are contradictory and inconsistent. The way Taiwan exists as a political entity, whether one identifies it as a state or not. It is noteworthy that Taipei not only engages in economic as well as political interactions with other parts of the world, it is also involved in many similar interactions with mainland China.

For its part, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) insists that Taiwan is an isolated province that must be reunited. Instead, the rest of the world has been informed that the Taiwan issue is a matter of internal reality and that Beijing will not stop any foreign interference in whatever happens between them.

But Beijing’s claim that relations with Taiwan are entirely internal is unreasonable and has lasted for at least 72 years. After the Kuomintang abandoned the mainland in 1949, Taiwan became a political entity under the Rubric of the Republic of China (ROC). For example, most of the international community is involved in economic and political relations with Taiwan, as the PRC does.

Even if one decides not to recognize Taiwan as a “state”, each independent country has everything it has, such as a separate political administration, legal system, legislature, currency and banking system, as well as its own defense forces and diplomatic corps.

Yet despite Taiwan’s real independence, the mainland Chinese government insists that other countries should not consider or recognize Taiwan as a separate sovereign entity.

One could argue why Taiwan could or should be reunited with the mainland, raising questions about the terms and conditions under which it did so. In all cases, it is artificial to imagine or insist that China and Taiwan must not coexist. Even if this situation is unsatisfactory or unacceptable for some actors, there is no denying that only one or the other needs to be present.

Of course, the rulers of Taipei and Beijing once bombed enough, declaring themselves mortal enemies, each claiming sovereignty over the other, and swearing to extinguish the other. But until recently, the Mainland’s navy and air force were not strong enough to “liberate” Taiwan. For its part, the “misguided province” has left no illusions about its ability to use force to reclaim the mainland.

Finally, this hostile conflict ended in 1978 when Beijing demanded that its goal shift from “liberation” to “peaceful reunion.” After the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the mainland in 1979, both sides acknowledged that there was only one China. However, the waiver of Beijing’s claim to Taiwan’s sovereignty only existed on paper, as it did not change the reality that Taiwan is a separate and distinct political entity, a matter recognized by Taiwan relations law that dictates U.S. policy in this regard.

And so it remains that there is an inconsistency about Taiwan that, although it exists as an independent entity, it does not recognize it as an independent country despite acting like every other nation-state. It turns out that Beijing readily acknowledges this fact in order to pass tariffs on exports and tourists from Taiwan, a formality usually only required for international visitors. It is also the case that the leaders concerned meet and an agreement is reached on legal cooperation and mutual investment. Meanwhile, there are many instances where the international community considers Taiwan a real state even in the absence of formal diplomatic relations. It seems that Beijing’s own move means that the Taiwan issue has never been a matter of internal concern.

By acknowledging that there were two Germans and two Koreas and now two Sudans, Beijing downplayed its own claim that unity is a guiding principle of the state. For example, claiming that unity constitutes a “core interest” is the emptiness of mainland rule.

Although Putin recently announced that Russians and Ukrainians are bound by history and blood, Beijing’s leadership is taking similar steps to bring Taiwan back to the fold of its misguided brethren. In either case, both sides are willing to kill any Ukrainian or Taiwanese who fails to heed their fraternal appeal.

Beijing should learn from Moscow’s stagnant blitzkrieg in Ukraine that it is not easy to invade another country’s homeland and behead the current government, despite the overwhelming advantages of advanced weapons and military personnel. This indicates, for example, that about three-quarters of Taiwan’s mainland forces are willing to fight the onslaught.

It turns out that maintaining stability is probably the best option for leadership on both sides of the Taiwan Strait. For his part, Deng Xiaoping proposed a “confederation” program with a reasonable resolution that would allow Taiwan to maintain all its structures by recognizing it as part of China. While this may seem like a good compromise for both sides, Taiwan has refused.

One way to maintain Taiwan’s stability is to reach a “no-conflict” agreement with the mainland. During the Soviet era, Ukraine and Belarus had separate seats in the UN, so Taiwan could join other nations as part of the Greater China Confederation.

Although Deng’s proposal may seem like a wise solution to the issue, there is considerable risk for Taiwan unless Beijing abandons its goal of expanding its dominance over Taiwan’s domestic or international affairs. Recent developments in Hong Kong say volume about the nature of these risks. As such, it is not surprising that the vast majority of Taiwanese reject the one-country, two-system proposal.

It is like noticing a compromise between Beijing and Moscow, leading to a joint declaration addressing international relations between China and Russia. The Chinese leadership has taken a brief stance on Russia’s aggressive move towards Ukraine. Beijing agrees that Russia has “legitimate security concerns” related to its neighbor.

It seems that the regimes follow a coherent, if contradictory, thread where the conquest of the empire is used as a historical justification for submitting modern territorial claims. In the light of Lenin’s hatred and disgust towards imperialism, he must be falling into his grave because the leaders of the countries of Marxist-Leninist descent reject the party line by pursuing nothing but imperialist expansion.

Christopher Lingle

Christopher Lingle

Christopher Lingle is a Visiting Senior Fellow at AIER, Visiting Professor of Economics at the Escuela de Negocios at the University of Guatemala’s Francisco Marroquin, a Research Scholar at the Center for Civil Society (New Delhi), Political and Economist. International Affairs (AIDIA – Kathmandu), International Senior Fellow of the Property Rights Institute (USA), Senior Fellow of the Center for Market Education (Malaysia), and Senior Visiting Fellow, Lawyer (Colombo, Sri Lanka).

He is interested in researching political economy and international economics, focusing on emerging market economies and public policy reforms in Eastern and Central Europe, East Asia, Latin America and South Africa.

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Dean Peng

Din Peng has worked as a foreign media correspondent in China. He is now working as a legal consultant.

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