People are accusing the Chinese government of being aggressive and changing the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. Some advocate arming Taiwan against the so-called mainland "aggression." We wonder if they really know the history of the Taiwan question.
What is the status quo?
There is but one China and Taiwan has been an inalienable part of China since ancient times. Taiwan was once occupied by Japanese aggressors. The 1943 Cairo Declaration jointly issued by China, the U.S. and the U.K. stated clearly that all the territories Japan had stolen from China shall be restored to China. The 1945 Potsdam Proclamation reaffirmed those terms. In 1945, Taiwan returned to China de facto and de jure. On Oct. 1, 1949, the People's Republic of China succeeded the Republic of China headed by Chiang Kai-shek. China's sovereignty and inherent territories remained unchanged.
The political confrontation across the Taiwan Strait after 1949 was a continuation of the Chinese civil war. But both sides have maintained that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of China, and remained committed to realizing reunification, though they differed on how to do so. Although China has not yet achieved national reunification, the fact that the mainland and Taiwan belong to one and same China has never changed.
Who attempts to change the status quo?
Maintaining peace and stability and achieving peaceful reunification are the common aspirations of all Chinese. The Chinese government is firmly committed to promoting peaceful development of cross-strait relations, never wavered in the determination to pursue peaceful reunification and is the true guardian of the status quo across the strait.
Tension arose because the Democratic Progressive Party authorities in Taiwan, since coming to power, have refused to recognize the one-China principle and kept pushing forward "de-sinicization" and "incremental independence." They try every means to sever the historical, cultural and economic bonds with the mainland, suppress Taiwan people supporting reunification and provoke cross-strait confrontation. They have spared no efforts in soliciting U.S. support for their agenda, attempting to tie the U.S. to their separatist chariot. It is their policies pursuing "Taiwan independence" that have changed the status quo and threatened cross-strait peace and stability.
The U.S. government has continuously obscured and hollowed out the one-China principle, upgraded official contacts with Taiwan and arms sales to Taiwan, only emboldening Taiwan's provocative activities. Isn't this a support of Taiwan authorities' change of the status quo?
Just as the U.S. government would never agree to the splitting of the union during the American Civil War, the Chinese will never allow the separatist forces to split China. To oppose "Taiwan independence" is actually to oppose unilateral change to the status quo and uphold peace and stability across the strait. What would the U.S. think if an American state attempted to secede and China sold arms to that state?
How to maintain the status quo?
The U.S. has made solemn commitment to China on the Taiwan question. In the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, the U.S. "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 U.S. government does not challenge that position."
According to the 1978 Joint Communiqué establishing U.S.-China diplomatic relations, the U.S. "recognizes the Government of the P.R.C. as the sole legal Government of China" and "acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. Within this context, the people of the U.S. will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan."
Obviously, the one-China principle is the centerpiece of the relevant Sino-U.S. Joint Communiqués, and forms the bedrock of China-U.S. relations.
China resolutely safeguards the one-China principle and will do the utmost to pursue peaceful reunification. Thus it is a real defender of the status quo. The Chinese people won't fight against the compatriots, but will never allow "Taiwan independence."
The U.S. side reiterated that it does not support "Taiwan independence" and its one-China policy is unchanged. If the U.S. really wants to contribute to the stability across the strait, there should be a genuine adherence to the one-China principle and a true support to the Chinese efforts to promote the peaceful reunification. The most urgent thing is to firmly oppose "Taiwan independence" instead of emboldening the Taiwan separatist forces to go further along the dangerous track.
Zhao Jian is consul general of China in Chicago.