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Questions and Answers Concerning the Taiwan Question (4):What political commitments have the United States and the European Union made on the Taiwan question?
2022-08-19 18:30

The Taiwan question involves China’s core interests. Both the United States and the European Union (EU) have made solemn political commitments to China on the one-China principle. 

I. United States

The Taiwan question is the most important and most sensitive issue at the very heart of China-US relations. In history, the Taiwan question was once the biggest obstacle in the normalization of China-US relations. That’s because China firmly adheres to the one-China principle and makes no compromise or concession on the Taiwan question. In 1971, the US affirmed to China the new principles that it would follow with regard to the Taiwan question. They include, the US would acknowledge that there is only one China in the world and Taiwan is a part of China; the US would not repeat the phrase that the status of Taiwan is undetermined; the US had not supported, and would not support movements for “Taiwan independence”. President Nixon reaffirmed these principles to Premier Zhou Enlai during his visit to China in 1972. That was how the Shanghai Communiqué came into being.

The US side explicitly declared in the Shanghai Communiqué released in 1972 that “the United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position.”The above-mentioned commitments made by the US started the process toward normalization of China-US relations.

In the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China released in 1978, the US “recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China” and “acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China”.

In the August 17 Joint Communiqué of 1982 released by China and the US, the US side made it clear that“the United States of America recognized 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.” Also in that communiqué, the US “reiterates that it has no intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or interfering in China’s internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan’.” The US side also states that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, and that it intends to reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution.

It is based on those three Joint Communiqués that China-US  relations have generally achieved stable development in the past 40-plus years. However, in 2000, the US unilaterally adopted the so-called“Taiwan Relations Act”and put it before the three China-US Joint Communiqués in its policy statement. In recent years, the US has openly inserted the secretly formulated“Six Assurances”into its characterization of the one-China policy. This is a serious violation of the three China-US Joint Communiqués. It seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It seriously violates the basic norm in international relations of non-interference in other countries’ internal affairs and the doctrine of estoppel under international law. In essence, it place US domestic law above international obligations and is illegal and invalid. 

II. European Union

The one-China principle serves as the political foundation of China-EU relations. At the very beginning when China and the EU established diplomatic relations, the European side has made open and clear commitment on the Taiwan question.

Sir Christopher Soames, then vice-president of the European Economic Community (EEC) visited China in 1975. It was during this visit that China and the EEC agreed to establish official relations. After consultation between the two sides, Xinhua News Agency reported Soames’s unilateral speech on the Taiwan question at a press conference in Beijing. Sir Soames stated that “all the Member States of the Community recognized the government of China and had taken positions with regard to the Taiwan question acceptable to the People’s Republic”. He also confirmed that “according to these positions, the Community does not entertain any official relations with Taiwan or have any agreements with it”. Such are binding legal obligations of the EU and its member states. 

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