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Let's set the record straight on Taiwan

By Liu Xiaoming | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-06-24 09:09
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A citizen runs in front of the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, Taiwan, on Oct 1, 2019. 

The recent claim by a British politician that "China's hostility to Taiwan threatens global order", "potentially upending the global order that has given us peace and prosperity since 1945", is a distortion of historical facts and completely wrong. Let's get the facts straight.

First, Taiwan has been an inseparable part of China's territory since ancient times. The Chinese government set up administrative institutions in Taiwan as early as the 12th century.

After the First Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95, through which Japan sought to colonize China, the court of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was forced to sign the Treaty of Shimonoseki and ceded Taiwan to Japan. This was followed by persistent efforts of the Taiwan compatriots to fight Japanese colonialists until the victory of the Chinese people's War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression and World Anti-Fascist War brought Taiwan back to the motherland.

On Dec 1, 1943, China, the United States and the United Kingdom signed the Cairo Declaration, which stipulates that all the territories that Japan had stolen from the Chinese, including Taiwan, were to be returned to China.

While serving as Chinese ambassador to Egypt, I visited Mena House where the Cairo Declaration was signed to recall the historic event that defined the postwar international order. On July 26, 1945, China, the US and the UK signed the Potsdam Declaration, which reiterated that "the terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." On Aug 15, 1945, Japan surrendered and acknowledged the Potsdam Declaration, and Taiwan was returned to Chinese sovereignty. The current state of separation between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait is a result of the ensuing civil war in China and the interference of the US.

These historical facts clearly show that Taiwan is part of China. Failure to accept this is backpedaling and upending the global order that has ensured peace and prosperity since 1945.

Second, the one-China principle is the broad consensus of the international community. In October 1971, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758, restoring the seat and all lawful rights of the People's Republic of China at the UN. It has been an agreement of the international community that there is but one China in the world; Taiwan is part of China; and the government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China.

The one-China principle is the political foundation of the bilateral relationships between China and 180 countries that have diplomatic relations with China. In the Joint Communique on the Agreement on the Exchange of Ambassadors, a 1972 agreement between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the People's Republic of China, the UK explicitly pledged that it acknowledged "the position of the Chinese government that Taiwan is a province of the People's Republic of China" and recognized "the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China". This has since been the principle and position of successive UK administrations.

Third, China remains committed to the policy of peaceful reunification. Resolving the Taiwan question and realizing the reunification of the nation is the solemn and sacred mission of all Chinese people and is in the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation.

The basic policy of the Chinese government on addressing the Taiwan question is "peaceful reunification" and "one country, two systems". This policy serves the interests and future of the country and the nation, respects history as well as the reality on the ground, represents a down-to-earth approach, and accommodates the interests of all parties. We would like to make the utmost efforts with the utmost sincerity to achieve peaceful reunification. This is the established policy of the Chinese government.

That being said, safeguarding national unity and territorial integrity is the sacred right of every sovereign nation. This is a basic principle of international law. Every sovereign nation has the right to take all means it deems necessary to safeguard its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The decision of the Chinese government of not promising no use of force, but reserving all necessary options, is targeting external interference as well as "Taiwan independence" elements and their separatist activities, rather than Taiwan compatriots. The compatriots on both sides of the Taiwan Strait should pursue peace, safeguard peace and enjoy peace together.

The invasions by Western powers since the First Opium War, which began in 1840, inflicted poverty, weakness and suffering on the Chinese nation. Generations of Chinese have made heroic and persistent efforts in pursuit of national independence, liberation and reunification. That is why we especially cherish national independence and reunification and aspire for prosperity and security.

Peace is deeply cherished in Chinese culture. This determines that China is firmly committed to the path of peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. In the past 71 years since the founding of the People's Republic, China has never started a single war or conflict, nor occupied even the tiniest piece of land of other countries. China is the only country in the world that pledges in its Constitution that it "adheres to the path of peaceful development".

As an old Chinese saying goes, "From the mirror we learn about ourselves; from the past we learn about the future." To those who still cling to a Cold War mentality and ideological bias, and who attempt to use Taiwan to contain the development of China, I urge them to learn more about the history of modern China and the history of international relations, so as to get a complete picture of the history of the Taiwan question.

The essence of this question is about the battle against secession, against "Taiwan independence" and against "two Chinas". Taiwan must be and will be reunited with China. No one can block this process.

The author is China's ambassador to the UK.

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