Go TO Content

Promoting Cross-Strait Relations : The Conscious Efforts of the Republic of China Government 1. The Development of Relations Across the Taiwan Strait

  • Date:1996-07-29

Founded in 1912, the Republic of China (ROC) has been in continuous existence for eighty-five years, although the areas under its effective rule have changed from time to time. In 1949, when the Chinese Communists occupied mainland China, the ROC government transferred to Taiwan and China was divided and ruled separately along the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. Looking back on the cross-Strait relations over the past forty-seven years and their development from fierce antagonism to the opening of exchanges, it is possible to divide the period roughly into three phases: 1. The years 1949 to 1978 were a period of military confrontation and conflict. There were two important battles: the Battle of Kuningtou (1954) and the "August 23" bombardment of Kinmen (1958), as well as a number of sporadic military clashes. Although direct military conflicts decreased in frequency over the three decades, the antagonism between the two sides remained conspicuous and intense. 2. The period 1979 to 1987 was one of confrontation and no mutual contacts. The ROC was in a difficult situation owing to Washington's establishment of diplomatic relations with Beijing, while Beijing launched an intensive united front campaign through a series of proposals, such as the "Letter to Taiwan Compatriots, " "Ye Jianying's Nine Points, " and "Peaceful Unification under One Country, Two Systems." Since these proposals were all based on the assumption that Beijing was the "center" and the ROC was a " local authority," we were naturally unable to accept them. During this period, the ROC government stepped up the pace of political democratization and economic liberalization in Taiwan while at the same time calling for "unification under the Three Principles of the People." The government also implemented a "three nos" policy (no contacts, no negotiations, and no compromise) to neutralize Beijing's united front offensive. 3. In November 1987, against a background of increasing political and social democratization in Taiwan and rapid change in the situation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait, the ROC government resolutely decided to allow its citizens to visit their families in mainland China, ending four decades of mutual isolation and initiating a period of people-to-people exchanges across the Taiwan Strait. Although these exchanges have grown increasingly frequent over the past eight years, their foundation is sti ll not strong. Since June 1995, on account of President Lee Teng-hui's private visit to Cornell University, his alma mater, Beijing has been falsely accusing us of trying to create "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan," or to achieve "Taiwan independence," and has launched an irrational campaign of verbal attacks and armed intimidation, bringing cross-Strait relations to a low ebb.