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The Ghost of Sino-Taiwan Tussle

Context

  • Nancy Pelosi, the top US lawmaker and second in line to the White House, arrived in Taiwan’s capital Taipei.
  • This visit took place despite Beijing’s warnings that such a trip would be disastrous for US-China relations and threats to stop the visit by force.

Relevance

GS Paper – 2: Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests, India and its Neighbourhood

Mains Question

What is the core conflict between China and Taiwan? What is China’s One China Policy? (250 Words)


Taiwan’s geographical location

  • Taiwan is located north of the Philippines and the South China Sea. It is located about 180 kilometres off China’s south-eastern coast. The Taiwan Strait separates it from the mainland.

Background

• The island first appears in Chinese records in AD239, when an emperor dispatched an expeditionary force to explore the area.

o Beijing uses this evidence to support its territorial claim.

• After a brief period as a Dutch colony (1624-1661), Taiwan was ruled by China’s Qing dynasty from 1683 to 1895.

• After Japan won the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing government was forced to cede Taiwan to Japan.

o Following World War II, Japan surrendered and relinquished territorial control.

Civil War

  • After Japan surrendered, the Chinese Nationalist Party (also known as the Kuomintang-KMT) began ruling Taiwan with the support of its allies, the United States and the United Kingdom.
  • Chiang Kai-shek was the party’s leader.
  • However, almost immediately after Japan’s surrender, the Chinese Civil War between the KMT and the Chinese Communist Party erupted (CPC).
  • In 1949, Chiang and the remnants of his Kuomintang government fled to Taiwan.

Taiwan-China Timeline (1949 onwards)

Disagreement and perplexity about Taiwan

  • China regards Taiwan as a separatist province that it intends to retake, using force if necessary.
    • In an effort to prevent international recognition of Taiwan as a country, China has repeatedly insisted that Taiwan be referred to as “Chinese Taipei.” • However, Taiwan’s leaders argue that Taiwan is a sovereign state. Taiwan continues to take part in international events and dialogues on its own.
    • It has its own constitution, democratically elected leaders, and an armed force of approximately 300,000 active troops.

Who acknowledges Taiwan?

  • The Republic of China (ROC) government of Chiang Kai-shek held China’s seat on the United Nations Security Council.
    • It was recognised as the sole Chinese government by many Western nations; however, in 1971, the UN switched diplomatic recognition to Beijing, and the ROC government was forced out.
  • Since then, the number of countries that have diplomatically recognised the ROC government has plummeted to around 15.
  • India has no formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan. It maintains commercial ties with Taiwan, as do most countries. Nancy Pelosi, the US House Speaker, arrived in Taiwan on an official visit. She is the highest-ranking American official to visit Taiwan in the last 25 years.

One China Policy is Under Fire:

  • This means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must sever ties with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan), and vice versa.
  • Taiwan’s existing diplomatic relationship, as well as its membership in intergovernmental organisations, call this policy into question:
    • In addition, Taiwan has full membership in 38 intergovernmental organisations and their subsidiary bodies, including the World Trade Organization, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, Asian Development Bank, and Central American Bank for Economic Integration.
  • Both sides amassed military hardware in the region o Prior to this visit, more than 20 Chinese military planes flew into Taiwan’s air defence zone.
    • A number of Chinese warships have also sailed near the unofficial border between China and Taiwan.
    • In contrast, four US warships, including the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, were positioned in waters east of Taiwan; however, the US Navy refers to this as routine deployments.

Chinese position on this visit

  • China has stated that this visit is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions of the three joint communiques between China and the United States.
  • According to China, this visit sends a dangerous signal to Taiwan’s separatist forces.
  • As a result, it seriously violates China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
  • The United States has reiterated that its policy toward Taiwan has not changed.
  • According to US officials, Pelosi is not the first American lawmaker, nor is her delegation the first US legislative delegation to visit Taipei.

India’s Position on the Subject:

  • Since 1949, India has adhered to the “One China” policy, which recognises Taiwan and Tibet as part of China.
  • However, India uses the policy to make a diplomatic point, namely that if India believes in “One China,” China should also believe in “One India.”
  • Despite the fact that India has stopped mentioning its support for the One China policy in joint statements and official documents since 2010, its engagement with Taiwan is still limited due to the framework of ties with China.
    • Although India and Taiwan do not have formal diplomatic relations, both countries have maintained representative offices in each other’s capitals that function as de facto embassies since 1995.

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October 2022
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