Photo: Frank Chang / Pixabay
By Kok Bayraq
China continues to overreact to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan with endless harsh statements, halted dialogue, and military maneuvers. Even the Chinese ambassador to New Zealand, Wang Xiaolong, accused the United States of violating its commitments, saying: “If a war is imposed on us, we will respond.”
The main issue is that China is unwilling or unable to accept the US’s ‘One China’ stance — a stance that has remained unchanged for decades.
“Taiwan has always been a part of China. The long-lost child will eventually return home,” said Chinese spokeswoman Hua Chunying last month, bizarrely citing the dozens of dumpling and noodle restaurants in Taipei.
China is acting like a possessive lover desperate for the return of a desired other who wants no part of the situation.
The process of building a country is similar to that of building a family. People with compatible personalities and values marry but divorce when they no longer see eye to eye or cannot live together anymore.
The US position on Taiwan as set out in the three joint communiqués with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and in the Taiwan Relations Act 1979, which pertains to the Republic of China (ROC), is based on similar logic. The US recognition of Taiwan as part of China and its condition of peaceful unification could be translated as follows: “Your love for Taiwan is natural, but any union must be with her consent.” The US has publicly emphasized this point for 50 years. China has been looking toward Taiwan for more than 70 years but has still not gained Taiwan’s consent to unite. Therefore, neighbors of ‘still single’ and isolated Taiwan, like the US, have the right to visit her. This is a display of humanity, not a violation of humanistic rules or regulations.
Until China understands that it is human nature not to want to be forced to do something and, the fact that the world is changing, it will continue to covet Taiwan and act violently, as we witnessed during Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan.
To peacefully unite with Taiwan, China must raise its political culture to the level of Taiwan’s. Doing this may not necessarily make Taiwan fall in love with China, but it may lessen Taiwan’s feelings of hatred toward the PRC. Secondly, China’s economic level should be kept above Taiwan’s. Finally, China should request unification with Taiwan from Taiwan, and Taiwan should take this request to the people through a referendum.
If Taiwan was peacefully returned to China and representatives from the US continued to visit Taiwan, without obtaining permission from Beijing, it would be no different from jumping the fence into someone’s backyard. It would simply be wrong. But as things stand now, US representatives visiting China is not a transgression. But even then, as a reality, it may not be as dangerous as playing with fire, especially if the visitor has a fire extinguisher at hand. The illogical statement, however harsh, does not solve the real human problem.
Any law or contract, no matter how seemingly significant, is meaningless and unenforceable if it has no logical basis. I believe the logic behind the three joint communiqués underpinning US-China relations is clear and powerful: forced ‘marriage’ is not allowed in the world’s ‘neighborhoods’. If this reality is ignored, statements are nothing more than useless scraps of paper.
History shows that the US has never wavered when it comes to its One China position, even during hostile phases of the relationship between it and China. In the Sino-American Mutual Defense Treaty (SAMDT) between the US and the ROC, the US defended the One China policy by calling the Kuomintang (the Chinese national government in Taiwan) the legitimate government of the whole of China; there was simply no recognition of CCP rule. In 1979, the US formally acknowledged that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China.” Some of the SAMDT’s content survives in the Taiwan Relations Act, such as the definition of “Taiwan” and an indirect promise by the US to provide Taiwan with military assistance in case of an invasion. In the Six Assurances, the US deliberately emphasizes that Taiwan should neither be encouraged to declare independence nor be forced to join China.
This shows that the US’s One China position was and is consistent, steady, and, more importantly, logical, ethical, and fair.
In short, any forced attempt by China at unification with Taiwan, regardless of US intervention, would never produce peace or produce China’s particular ideal of “One China.” The era of forced marriage is gone. Hua Chunying’s dream of the return of the long-lost child may never come true.