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Questions and Answers Concerning the Taiwan Question (2):What is the one-China principle? What is the basis of the one-China principle?
2022-08-15 15:35

The one-China principle has a clear and unambiguous meaning, i.e. there is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.

The de facto basis for the one-China principle is unshakable. Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times. The earliest references to this effect dates back to the year 230. From the 12th century onwards, the imperial central governments of China all set up administrative bodies to exercise jurisdiction over Penghu and Taiwan. In 1885, the Qing court upgraded Taiwan’s status and made Taiwan a full province, when it then became the 20th province of China. In 1895, the Qing government, defeated in the First Sino-Japanese War, was forced to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan. After the Chinese people's victory in the war against Japanese aggression, China recovered Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan in October 1945. The fact that Taiwan was returned to China is a part of the post-WWII world order. Since 1949, although the mainland and Taiwan are yet to be reunified, Taiwan’s status as part of China’s territory has never changed.

The de jure basis for the one-China principle is unshakable. In 1943, the Cairo Declaration was issued by the Chinese, US and British governments, stipulating that Japan should return to China all the territories it had stolen from China, including Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. The Potsdam Proclamation was signed by China, the United States and the United Kingdom in 1945, and subsequently recognized by the Soviet Union. It reiterated: "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." In the same year, Japan signed the instrument of surrender, in which it promised that it would faithfully fulfill the obligations laid down in the Potsdam Proclamation. The Cairo Declaration, the Potsdam Proclamation and a series of other international documents confirm the historical fact that Taiwan belongs to China, and also clearly indicate that there is no dispute in the international community over China's territorial sovereignty over Taiwan.

On October 1, 1949, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was founded, becoming the successor to the Republic of China (1912-1949), and the Central People’s Government became the only legitimate government of the whole of China. The new government replaced the previous KMT regime in a situation where China, as a subject under international law, did not change and China’s sovereignty and inherent territory did not change. As a natural result, the government of the PRC should enjoy and exercise China's full sovereignty, which includes its sovereignty over Taiwan.

At its 26th session in October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758, which undertook “to restore all its rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognize the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organizations related to it”. This resolution settled once and for all the political, legal and procedural issues of China’s representation in the UN, and it covered the whole country, including Taiwan. It also spelled out that China has one single seat in the UN, so there is no such thing as “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan”. This resolution has confirmed the one-China principle.

The one-China principle is the universal consensus of the international community. To date, 181 countries including most European countries, have established diplomatic relations with China on the basis of the one-China principle. Recently, more than 170 countries have openly reaffirmed their commitment to the one-China principle, and the UN Secretary-General has stated that the UN will continue to adhere to General Assembly Resolution 2758. These positions have once again proved and strengthened the consensus of the one-China principle among the international community.

The applicability of the one-China principle is universal, unconditional and indisputable. All countries having diplomatic relations with China and all member states of the UN should unconditionally adhere to the one-China principle and follow the guidance of UNGA Resolution 2758. Any attempt to unilaterally add preconditions and provisos to the one-China principle, to distort, fudge and hollow out the one-China principle is illegal, null and void.

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