Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South, Southeastern, and Central Asia

China/taiwan: Evolution of the "One China" Policy-Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei *

Academic journal article Current Politics and Economics of South, Southeastern, and Central Asia

China/taiwan: Evolution of the "One China" Policy-Key Statements from Washington, Beijing, and Taipei *

Article excerpt


Congressional Concerns

Paying particular attention to congressional influence on policy, this CRS Report discusses the U.S. -one China" policy concerning Taiwan since the United States (under the Nixon Administration) began in 1971 to reach understandings with the People's Republic of China (PRC) government, which has insisted on its -one China" principle.

Based on open sources and interviews, this report also reviews comprehensively the evolution of the -one China" issue, as it has been articulated in key statements by Washington, Beijing, and Taipei.

In the 1990s, Congress pushed for changes in policy toward Taiwan. Questions about the -one China" policy arose again after Lee Teng-hui, President of Taiwan (formally called the Republic of China (ROC)), characterized cross-strait relations as -special state-to-state ties" on July 9, 1999. Beijing responded vehemently with calls for Lee to retract the perceived deviation from the -one China" position and reiterated long-standing threats to use force if necessary to prevent a declaration of independence by Taiwan. The PRC also questioned U.S. commitment to -one China" and expressed opposition to any U.S. military intervention.

The Clinton Administration responded that Lee's statement was not helpful and reaffirmed the -one China" policy.1

Some questioned whether U.S. law, the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), P.L. 96-8, requires U.S. defense of Taiwan against an attack from the People's Liberation Army (PLA), China's military.

Senator Jesse Helms, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, at a July 21, 1999 hearing, said that Lee -created an opportunity to break free from the anachronistic, Beijing-inspired one- China policy which has imprisoned U.S. policy toward China and Taiwan for years."

Representative Benjamin Gilman, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, wrote in a September 7, 1999 letter to Clinton that it is a -common misperception" that we conceded officially that Beijing is the capital of the -one China" that includes Taiwan.

He wrote, -under no circumstances should the United States move toward Beijing's version of ?one China'."2

Since 2001, U.S. policymakers have tended to stress continuity in maintaining the -one China" policy. During the George W. Bush Administration, leaders of the House and Senate stressed support for Taiwan as a democracy, rather than its independent status. Moreover, Members voiced concerns about cross-strait tension arising from actions taken by both Beijing and Taipei.

Senator Richard Lugar, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, wrote in May 2001 that -for many years, successive U.S. administrations have affirmed that there is one China and that the people on Taiwan and the people of China should work out a plan for peaceful unification." He also referred to a debate on the nature of the U.S. obligation to -defend democracy in Taiwan" and to prevent a -forceful military unification of Taiwan and China."3 Representative Henry Hyde, Chairman of the International Relations Committee, spoke in Beijing in December 2002 and dismissed notions that U.S. support for Taiwan is geared toward containing or dividing China. He said that -the bedrock of the very strong support for Taiwan in the U.S. Congress" is the shared experience as democracies. Moreover, Hyde highlighted Taiwan's significance as a model of a -Chinese democracy" that proved democracy is compatible with Chinese culture.4

As a focal point in the House for attention on Taiwan, an initial number of 85 Members formed a bipartisan Taiwan Caucus on April 9, 2002, with Representatives Robert Wexler, Steve Chabot, Sherrod Brown, and Dana Rohrabacher as co-chairs. Later, 10 Senators were original members of another Taiwan Caucus formed on September 17, 2003, with Senators George Allen and Tim Johnson as co-chairs. At two events at the Heritage Foundation in 2003 and 2004, Representatives Robert Andrews and Steve Chabot spoke critically of the -one China" policy. …

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