Following the announcement of Taiwan’s election results on Saturday, in which the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) won a decisive victory, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has released a statement telling Taiwan to abandon any ideas it has of independence and promising to protect the territorial integrity of China.
Beijing’s statement, which came from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office and was reported by Deutsche Welle, says that China will “resolutely oppose any form of secessionist activities seeking ‘Taiwan independence.’ ” The statement continued by promising to safeguard the People’s Republic of China’s territory and its role as the recognized government of China.
“On major matters of principle including safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity, our will is rock-solid and our attitude is consistent.”
The Guardian also reported that Chinese media said Taiwan should abandon its independence “hallucination.” In a separate statement, China called the Taiwan issue an internal matter.
These words from Beijing are especially timely, given the Democratic Progressive Party’s landslide victory in the parliamentary elections and the election of the DPP’s leader, Tsai Ing-wen, to the presidency. As previously covered by the Inquisitr, these elections will soon give Taiwan its first female president. The DPP is an organization that considers Taiwan a sovereign country that should remain independent of the government that rules the mainland, and is much warier of dealing with China than the outgoing Kuomintang (KMT), which has ruled Taiwan for most of the past 70 years.
The KMT was trying to warm ties ever since the “1992 Consensus,” an implied agreement between the two states that there is only one China in the world, and both sides agree to interpret the meaning of that according their individual definitions. Tsai Ing-wen’s DPP, in contrast, deny the consensus exists entirely.
Currently, Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen, Matsu, and several smaller islands off the Chinese mainland make up the state known officially as the Republic of China (ROC), though widely known simply as “Taiwan.” The legal status of Taiwan has been a controversial issue since the end of World War II and the height of the Cold War.
The state known as the Republic of China has its origins in the early twentieth century, when it was established on January 1, 1912, as a result of the Xinhai Revolution against the Qing Dynasty, ending over two thousand years of imperial dynastic rule in China. Founded by the Kuomintang (KMT), the republic was intended to govern all of China, which at the time included the present-day territories of China, Taiwan, and Mongolia. However, its authority was challenged by warlordism, the Japanese invasion leading up to World War II, and finally the Chinese Civil War against the Communist Party of China (CPC).
A major split occurred between the KMT and the Communists in 1927, culminating in the KMT massacre of Chinese communists in Shanghai that year, and resulting in a nation-wide civil war. The Kuomintang Nationalists lost against the Communists in the Chinese Civil War by 1949, and the modern-day People’s Republic of China was declared on the mainland soon after by Mao Tse-tung. After their military loss and expulsion from mainland China, the Nationalist forces retreated to Taiwan and moved their capital to Taipei. The KMT-ruled Republic of China continued to claim legitimacy as the government of the entirety of China, while the People’s Republic of China continues to claim Taiwan as its sovereign territory.
Chiang Kai-shek, the leader of the KMT, established a one-party state and military autocracy that became a valuable Cold War ally for the West against China and the Soviet Union, and the long-dominant Kuomintang ruled the island with an iron fist for decades until Chiang’s death in 1975. The KMT has largely dominated Taiwanese politics until recent years, and support for the DPP has grown in popularity among native Taiwanese and young voters.
Most of the world’s governments eventually recognized the People’s Republic as the legitimate government of China. By 1971, even the United States supported the U.N. resolution giving the PRC the “China” seat in the General Assembly and the Security Council, effectively recognizing it as the only lawful representative of the Chinese people. The U.N. promptly expelled the Republic of China.
Since then, growing Sino-American cooperation and the unlikelihood of the ROC ever regaining the mainland have greatly diminished support for Taiwan’s claims. Although two Chinese governments continue to exist, most nations of the world have followed the “One-China Policy” of refusing to endorse or recognize Taiwan as an independent sovereign state. Countries seeking diplomatic relations with the PRC must break official relations with the ROC, and vice-versa. The PRC has maintained a consistent position that it will not deal with any leader or government that does not recognize the “One-China Policy.”
Clearly, the new government of Taiwan will pose new challenges for the Chinese government, and the future of cross-Strait relations seems uncertain.
[Photo by Ashley Pon/Getty Images]