The One-China policy refers to the policy and viewpoint that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that both claim to be “China”. As a political policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China must break official relations with the Republic of China and vice versa. Therefore, all countries that recognize the Republic of China recognize the ROC as the sole legitimate representative of all of China, and not just the island of Taiwan.
Consequentially, all states that want to have official relations with the People’s Republic of China must recognize the PRC as the legitimate representative of Taiwan. The One China policy can also be referred to as the “One China” principle which has a deep cultural viewpoint that insists Taiwan and mainland China are both inalienable parts of a single “China”. This is one viewpoint that both governments can seem to agree on and currently both the PRC and ROC governments hold respective policies supporting the One China Principle; however, they both disagree about which of the two governments is the legitimate government of the state.
The People’s Republic of China which is the government of mainland China has extremely strong political opinion and stance on Taiwan. In fact in the Preamble of their Constitution they quote: “Taiwan is part of the sacred territory of the People’s Republic of China. It is the lofty duty of the entire Chinese people, including our compatriots in Taiwan, to accomplish the great task of reunifying the motherland.” The PRC officially never refers to the “ROC government”, and seldom ever to the “government of Taiwan.”
Instead, the PRC media and officials refer to them as the Taiwan authorities. The PRC does not accept or stamp Republic of China passports. Instead, a Taiwan resident visiting Mainland China, Hong Kong or Macau must use a Taiwan Compatriot Entry Permit. Independence for Taiwan is not an option; however, in Article 5 of the PRC Constitution states: “To reunify the country through peaceful means best serves the fundamental interests of the compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Straits. The state shall do its utmost with maximum sincerity to achieve a peaceful reunification. After the country is reunified peacefully, Taiwan may practice systems different from those on the mainland and enjoy a high degree of autonomy.”
This viewpoint is interesting because the PRC is even willing to allow Taiwan to have “different systems” just as long as they are allegiant to the PRC. On the other side of this issue, the One-China principle faces opposition from the movement for Taiwan independence, which pushes to establish Republic of Taiwan and cultivate a separate identity apart from China. This influence of having an official separate state has long been present ever since the founding of the ROC. When the Communist Party of China expelled the Chinese Nationalists (Kuomintang) from mainland China to the island of Taiwan at the end of the Chinese Civil War, the Chinese Nationalist government (ROC) continued to claim legitimacy as the government of all of China.
The Kuomintang (KMT) continued to support this view until Taiwanese born activists gained political power and started to promote Taiwanese independence. These Taiwanese born independents wanted to accept the fact that both governments are separate and should officially except the truth of the matter.
They believe that independence happened back in 1949, but both parties still culturally hurt over the issue were to prideful to accept the separation. Under former President Lee Teng-hui representing the Taiwanese nationalists, additional articles were appended to the ROC constitution in 1991 so that it applied effectively only to the Taiwan Area prior to national unification, which put extreme tension between both governments. However, the current ROC of the KMT party President Ma Ying-Jeou has reestablished diplomatic and economic ties with mainland China and does not support or push for an independent Taiwanese government and continues the viewpoint of the de facto government in place.
To make the diplomatic situation even more complicated the United States is double-dipping the One- China policy by officially recognizing the PRC as the government of China, but having a Taiwan Relations Act to negotiate trade independently with Taiwan. This Relations Act strains US-PRC relations the most because the US sells weapons to Taiwan through this Act. Taiwan gladly receives and buys these weapons claiming that this ensures the ROC’s presence and position against any possible PRC intervention or forceful occupation of Taiwan. Their claims to the weapons are only for defensive purposes and for deterrence and they strive for a peaceful bi-partisan policy agreement.
I agree with the Taiwanese current stance on de facto government; however, I believe that the Taiwanese government should make serious diplomatic strives toward unification by encouraging the PRC to liberalize and continue to develop their democracy. Taiwan will be an important factor in the development of the PRC if not this issue may break out into a military conflict which no side wants but is highly prepared to do.