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A Preliminary Analysis of Mainland China's "One China Strategy" 3. Mainland China's Definition of "One China"

  • Date:1997-02-28

Reviewing Mainland China's policy toward Taiwan over the past four decades, it can be seen that annexing Taiwan, Penghu (the Pescadores), Kinmen and Matsu has remained the ultimate goal of Mainland China. For example, Zhou Enlai told the National People's Congress (NPC) in July 1955, "When conditions permit we hope to liberate Taiwan by peaceful means." However, "peaceful" was not Zhou's point, but "liberate" was his real point of emphasis. In January 1979, Mainland China published a "Letter to Taiwan People" in the name of the NPC Standing Committee, marking a turning point in its Taiwan policy -- discarding the slogan to "liberate Taiwan," and unveiling a peaceful united-front tactic by presenting the "one China" policy as its central strategy. On September 30, 1981, NPC Chairman Ye Jianying, speaking to the Xinhua News Agency, further expounded on the "Guidelines on making Taiwan return to the motherland in a peaceful unification" (commonly known as Ye's nine-point proposal). Subsequently, Mainland China began to regard itself as the central government and Taiwan as a "special administrative region." On June 26, 1983, in his talk with Professor Winston Li-yu Yang on unification, Deng Xiaoping rejected outright the concept of affording Taiwan full autonomy. Deng said, "Full autonomy is equal to 'two Chinas,' not one China. The systems could be different, but only the People's Republic of China represents China in the world." He added, "After unification, the Taiwan special administrative region can have its own independent character." Deng's position is very clear: only the "People's Republic of China" can represent China in the world; it would be the central government, and Taiwan a "special administrative region" under the Chinese communist government. Later, on February 22, 1984, Deng told a visiting delegation from Georgetown University: "After unification, China may adopt 'one China, two systems.'" And that was the occasion when the slogan "one country, two systems" was thus introduced. Since the adoption of Deng's "one country, two systems" strategy, Mainland China officials have taken great pains in making clear what they mean by "one China" at international meetings and gatherings. For example, Mainland China Premier Li Peng, while partaking in an October 24, 1995 meeting to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Taiwan's retrocession, said: "There is only one China in the world; Taiwan is part of China; and the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China." In the mindset of Mainland Chinese authorities, the Republic of China no longer exists, and the government of the People's Republic of China ought to be recognized as the sole legitimate Chinese government by all, including the Taiwan area. Indeed, Mainland China has been promoting strongly such "one China" rhetoric in the world, categorically denying the existence of the ROC and expecting all international organizations and nations having diplomatic ties with it to accept its "one China" definition. Over the past few years, this position taken by Mainland China has been reiterated by its president, top leaders, and officials of its Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on various domestic and international occasions. Moreover, since June last year (1995), documents on Taiwan policy circulated by mainland officials have also clearly indicated what they mean by "one China." In a word, Mainland China's version of "one China" is nothing more than a pseudo-claim of its jurisdiction over Taiwan, Penghu (the Pescadores), Kinmen and Matsu.