Explainer: Why is one-China principle universal, unconditional, indisputable?

Chinese authorities, including the Chinese Foreign Ministry, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People's Congress, the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, the Chinese Defense Ministry, and the Chinese Embassy in the United States have firmly opposed and condemned the recent meeting, on U.S. territory,  between Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen and United States House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the third-highest ranking official in the U.S. government.

This meeting is a grave mistake that elevates the official interactions and substantive relationship between the U.S. and China's Taiwan region, which blatantly violates the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiques, they said.

What is the one-China principle? Why is the applicability of the principle universal, unconditional, and indisputable? And what caused the Taiwan question? Here are some facts you need to know.

One-China principle universally recognized

The one-China principle is a universally recognized norm of international relations and a consensus accepted by the international community. It states that there is only one China in the world, and Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. The Government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.

It was made clear on the day of the founding of the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) on October 1, 1949, as it stated that for a country to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC, it must recognize the government of the PRC as the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China and sever or refrain from establishing diplomatic relations with Taiwan authorities.

As the principle gained popular support, in October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758, which expelled the representatives of the Taiwan authorities and restored the seat and all the lawful rights of the government of the PRC in the UN.

In September 1972, China and Japan announced the normalization of diplomatic relations. Japan fully understood and respected the Chinese government's position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the PRC's territory.

In December 1978, China and the United States issued the Joint Communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations, in which the U.S. "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 a part of China."

182 countries have established diplomatic relations with the PRC, and they all acknowledge the one-China principle.

Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times

The de facto basis for the one-China principle is unshakable. Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times.

Among others, references to this effect were found in Seaboard Geographic Gazetteer compiled in the year 230 by Shen Ying of the State of Wu during the period of the Three Kingdoms. This was the world's earliest written account of Taiwan.

Starting from the Song and Yuan dynasties (960-1368), the imperial central governments of China all set up administrative bodies to exercise jurisdiction over Penghu and Taiwan.

In 1624, Dutch colonialists invaded and occupied the southern part of Taiwan. In 1662, General Zheng Chenggong, hailed as a national hero, led an expedition and expelled them from the island.

Subsequently, the Qing court (1644-1911) gradually set up more administrative bodies in Taiwan. In 1684, a Taiwan prefecture administration was set up under the jurisdiction of Fujian Province. In 1885, Taiwan's status was upgraded and it became a province of China.

Japan's historical wrongdoings

In April 1895, through a war of aggression against China, Japan forced the Qing government to cede Taiwan.

During the Chinese People's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression (1931-1945), China's Communists called for the recovery of Taiwan.

In December 1941, the Chinese government issued a declaration of war against Japan and proclaimed that all treaties, conventions, agreements and contracts regarding relations between China and Japan had been abrogated and that China would recover Taiwan and the Penghu Islands.

In December 1943, the Cairo Declaration was issued by the Chinese, U.S. and British governments, stipulating that Japan should return to China all the territories it had stolen from the Chinese, including northeast China, Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago.

The Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the U.S. and Britain in 1945 (subsequently recognized by the Soviet Union) stipulated, "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." In September of the same year, Japan signed the instrument of surrender, in which it promised that it would faithfully fulfill the obligations laid down in the Potsdam Proclamation.

On October 25, 1945, the Chinese government recovered Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago, resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan.

Taiwan's status as part of China's territory

Succeeding the Republic of China (1912-1949), the PRC became the only legitimate government of the whole of China in October 1949. As a subject under international law, it enjoys and exercises China's full sovereignty, including its sovereignty over Taiwan.

Taiwan, which was returned to China de jure and de facto at the end of World War II, became a question only as an aftermath of the ensuing anti-popular civil war started by Kuomintang in the late 1940s, and more especially because of intervention by foreign forces.

As the Chinese leadership has said, the Taiwan question arose out of the weakness and chaos of the Chinese nation, and it will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality.

(Cover: An aerial view of Taipei, China's Taiwan region. /CFP)

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