By Raphael Oni
Recently the China’s Foreign Ministry warned that any change in the U.S.’s one-China policy will impair ties between Beijing and Washington. This now brings to mind the importance of the One China Policy. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said “upholding the ‘one China’ principle is the political basis for developing China-U.S. ties. If this basis is interfered with or damaged, then the healthy development of China-U.S. relations and bilateral cooperation in important areas is out of the question,” Why is there so much emphasis on One China Policy, someone might asked?
In the early 1980s, China’s State Leader Deng Xiaoping put forward the scientific concept known as “one country, two systems” in an effort to realize the peaceful reunification of China, and this indigenous design was first applied to solve the question of Hong Kong. According to Deng Xiaoping, “one country, two systems” means there is only one China and under this premise the mainland adheres to the socialist system while Hong Kong. Macau and Taiwan may retain their capitalist system over a long time to come.
“One country, two systems” is a basis state policy the Chinese government has adopted to realize the peaceful reunification of the country. This principle was what the Chinese authority used in solving the problem of Hong Kong and Macau, still awaiting Taiwan to follow suit. Through the diplomatic negotiations with the British government, mainland China assumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. Hong Kong was recovered on the 1st day of July 1997 from colonial rule of the British government and returned to the embrace of the motherland, and embarked on the broad road of common development with the mainland, as they complemented each other’s advantages.
Hong Kong’s return to the motherland turned “one country, two systems” from a scientific concept into vivid reality. The central government strictly adheres to the Basic Law of Hong Kong, earnestly performs its constitutional duties and stands firm in supporting the administration duties and stands firm in supporting the administration of the chief executive and the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) in accordance with the law. The previous capitalist system and way of life remain unchanged, and most laws continue to apply.
Like Hong Kong across the water, Macau has its own money, passports and legal system that are completely separate from China. The city even has its own snazzy flag. Apart from in foreign affairs, Macau mostly operates as an independent city state. Until 1999, Macau was one of Portugal’s last surviving colonies. It was first settled as a colony in 1557 and primarily used as a trading post. It was from Macau that Portuguese priests made their first journeys into Asia to convert locals to Christianity. This 500 year history under Portuguese rule has left a heritage of Lisbon inspired architecture and a distinct culture in the local Macanese.
The city was handed back to China in 1999 under the same ‘one country, two systems’ policy that saw Hong Kong gifted back to China in 1997. Under the agreement signed by Portugal and China, Macau is guaranteed its own monetary system, immigration controls and legal system.
Macau was administered by the Portuguese Empire and its inheritor states from the mid-16th century until late 1999, when it constituted the last remaining European colony in Asia. Portuguese traders first settled in Macau in the 1550s. In 1557, Macau was rented to Portugal from Ming China as a trading port. The Portuguese Empire administered the city under Chinese authority and sovereignty until 1887, when Macau, through a mutual agreement between the two countries, became a colony. Sovereignty over Macau was transferred back to China on 20 December 1999. The Joint Declaration on the Question of Macau and Macau Basic Law stipulate that Macau operate with a high degree of autonomy until at least 2049, fifty years after the transfer.
Under the policy of “one country, two systems”, the State Council of the People’s Republic of China is responsible for military defense and foreign affairs while Macau maintains its own legal system, public security force, monetary system, customs policy, and immigration policy. Macau participates in international organizations and events that do not require members to possess national sovereignty.
The “one country, two systems” policy enjoys growing popularity in Hong Kong and Macau, the system is supported wholeheartedly by the Hong Kong and Macau compatriots as well as people in all parts of China. It is also thought highly by the international community. The system is a new domain in which we constantly explore new possibilities and make new progress in world order. A comprehensive, correct understanding and implementation of the policy will provide the avenue in safeguarding China’s sovereignty, security and development interests, for maintaining long term prosperity and stability in China.
What is One China Policy?
The One-China policy refers to the policy or view that there is only one state called “China”, despite the existence of two governments that claim to be “China”. As a policy, this means that countries seeking diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC, Mainland China) must break official relations with the Republic of China (ROC, Taiwan) and vice versa.
The One China policy is also different from the “One China principle”, which is the principle that insists both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single “China”. A modified form of the “One China” principle known as the “1992 Consensus” is the current policy of the PRC government, and at times, the policy of the ROC government, depending on which major political party is in power. Under this “consensus”, both governments “agree” that there is only one sovereign state encompassing both mainland China and Taiwan, but disagree about which of the two governments is the legitimate government of this state. An analogous situation exists with West and East Germany in 1950-1970, North and South Korea until now.
Beijing and Taipei sharply disagree on the island’s status. The PRC asserts that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of it. Beijing says Taiwan is bound by an understanding reached in 1992 between representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) political party then ruling Taiwan. Referred to as the 1992 Consensus, it states that there is only “one China,” but with differing interpretations, allowing both Beijing and Taipei to agree that Taiwan belongs to China, while the two still disagree on which is China’s legitimate governing body. The tacit agreement underlying the 1992 Consensus is that Taiwan will not seek independence. Taiwan’s KMT accepts the consensus as a starting point for future negotiations with the CCP. However, the island’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), has refused to reference the 1992 Consensus when speaking about cross-strait relations. Tsai has emphasized that she seeks to build trust with the mainland through various channels of communication to ensure stability in cross-strait relations. Other leading voices of the governing DPP have rejected the very existence of the consensus, leaving open the option of a future independent Taiwan.
United Nations Does Not Recognized Taiwan
Taiwan is not a member of the United Nations (UN) or its suborganizations, but it aspires to participate. China opposes this. It argues, correctly, that only sovereign states can enjoy membership in the UN; any state that manages to enter into the UN system as a full member in its own right is seen by the other member states as a fully-fledged independent country. China also claims Taiwan as part of its territory and denies that Taiwan is a sovereign state.
China is adamant about preventing recognition of Taiwan as a sovereign state and its membership in the UN system. So far China has been successful in this endeavor. Membership – the highest form of participation – in the United Nations is inextricably linked with the question of sovereignty. Both China and Taiwan are highly aware of this problem, therefore for both sides the question of UN membership and other forms of participation for Taiwan has never lost its sensitivity. However, over time the nature of the question has changed: from a fight about which government – the People’s Republic of China (PRC) with its seat in Beijing or the Republic of China (ROC) with its capital in Taipei – was the sole legitimate representative of China in the world, it has since the early 1990s evolved into consideration of whether the UN would not be able to accommodate both in some way.
While Taiwan, since the early 1990s, would favor such a solution, although not necessarily on the basis of full membership status, China adamantly refuses to move away from its position that Taiwan is part of China and thus cannot be represented on its own in the world’s most prestigious and important state-based international organization. China has the advantage in that it is a member of the United Nations, and is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council; it also enjoys increasing international clout outside the UN system.
The position of the PRC is that the ROC ceased to be a legitimate government upon the founding of the former on 1 October 1949 and that the PRC is the successor of the ROC as the sole legitimate government of China, with the right to rule Taiwan under the succession of states theory.
The position of PRC is that the ROC and PRC are two different factions in the Chinese Civil War, which never legally ended. Therefore the PRC claims that both factions belong to the same sovereign country—China. Since, as per the PRC, Taiwan’s sovereignty belongs to China, the PRC’s government and supporters believe that the secession of Taiwan should be agreed upon by the 1.3 billion Chinese citizens instead of just the 23 million ROC citizens who live in Taiwan. Furthermore, the position of PRC is that UN General Assembly Resolution 2758, which states “Recognizing that the representatives of the Government of the People’s Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China to the United Nations”, means that the PRC is recognized as having the sovereignty of all of China, including Taiwan (established by Cairo Declaration, Potsdam Proclamation and Japanese Instrument of Surrender). Therefore, the PRC believes that it is within their legal rights to extend its jurisdiction to Taiwan, by military means if at all necessary.
In addition, the position of PRC is that the ROC does not meet the fourth criterion of the Montevideo Convention, as it is recognized by only 20 UN member states and has been denied access to international organizations such as the UN. The PRC points out the fact that the Montevideo Convention was only signed by 19 states at the Seventh International Conference of American States. Thus the authority of the United Nations as well as UN Resolutions should supersede the Montevideo Convention.
It is clear that the PRC still maintains that “there is only one China in the world” and “Taiwan is an inalienable part of China”, however instead of “the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China”, the PRC now emphasizes that “both Taiwan and the mainland belong to one and the same China”[ Although the current position allows for flexibility in terms of defining that “one China”, any departure from the One-China policy is deemed unacceptable by the PRC government. The PRC government is unwilling to negotiate with the Republic of China government under any formulation other than One-China policy, although a more flexible definition of “one China” such as found in the 1992 consensus is possible under PRC policy. The PRC government considers the 1992 consensus a temporary measure to set aside sovereignty disputes and to enable talks.The PRC government considers perceived violations of its “One-China policy” or inconsistencies with it such as supplying the ROC with arms a violation of its rights to territorial integrity.
Taiwan is state competing for recognition with the People’s Republic of China as the government of China since 1949. The Republic of China controls the island of Taiwan and associated islands, Quemoy, Matsu, the Pratas and parts of the Spratly Islands, and has not renounced claims over its annexed territories on the mainland. The Republic of China is recognised by 20 UN member states and the Holy See as of 21 December 2016. The territory of the Republic of China is claimed in whole by the People’s Republic of China. The Republic of China participates in international organizations under a variety of pseudonyms, most commonly “Chinese Taipei” and in the WTO it has full membership. The Republic of China was a founding member of the UN and enjoyed membership from 1945 to 1971, with veto power in the Security Council.
China was one of the charter members of the United Nations and is one of five permanent members of its Security Council. It has used its veto the least of any of the permanent members.One of the victorious Allies of the Second World War (locally known as the Second Sino-Japanese War), the Republic of China (ROC) joined the UN at its founding in 1945. The subsequent resumption of the Chinese Civil War led to the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949. Nearly all of mainland China was soon under its control and the ROC fled to the island of Taiwan. The One-China Policy advocated by both governments precluded dual representation but, amid the Cold and Korean Wars, the United States and its allies opposed the replacement of the ROC at the United Nations, although they were persuaded to pressure the government of the ROC to accept international recognition of Mongolia’s independence in 1961. The United Kingdom, France, and other American allies individually shifted their recognitions of China to the PRC and Albania brought annual votes to replace the ROC with the PRC, but these were defeated since—after General Assembly Resolution 1668—a change in recognition required a two-thirds vote
People’s Republic of China in the UN (1971–Date)
The People’s Republic of China (PRC), commonly called China today, was admitted into the UN in 1971 on the 21st time of voting on its application. The PRC was admitted into the UN on a vote of 76 in favor, 35 opposed, and 17 abstentions
Since the early 1980s, and particularly since 1989, by means of vigorous monitoring and the strict maintenance of standards, United Nations human rights organizations have encouraged China to move away from its insistence on the principle of noninterference, to take part in resolutions critical of human rights conditions in other nations, and to accept the applicability to itself of human rights norms and UN procedures.
On human rights issues, the PRC has been increasingly influential by the bargaining of its robust Macroeconomics growth for the domestic social equality. In 1995, they won 43 percent of the votes in the General Assembly; by 2006 they won 82 percent.
Nigeria Support One China Policy
The Federal Government of Nigeria has taken a right step in the right direction by correcting the diplomatic blunder that exist for a long time, henceforth Nigeria will no longer recognize Taiwan as a country but rather pledged support for One China. The Minister of Foreign Affairs, His Excellency Geoffrey Onyeama, stated this while answering questions from newsmen after a joint news conference with the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs in Abuja recently.
The Nigerian government reaffirmed its commitment to One-China policy, saying Nigeria will stay committed to the long-standing friendship and cooperation with China. Speaking at a joint press conference in Abuja with visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Nigeria’s Foreign Affairs Minister Geoffrey Onyeama said Nigeria would do everything to realize the One-China Policy as well as any effort that would promote the peace and well-being of the People’s Republic of China.
A joint statement issued after the press conference noted the One-China policy is at the core of strategic partnership between the two countries.”The government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes that there is only one China in the world, that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory,” the statement said, adding the governments of China and Nigeria have mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Onyeama said Nigeria had withdrawn all diplomatic relations with Taiwan as a country, adding that Taiwanese office in Abuja would be shut down and be relocated to Lagos. You will recall that the Taiwanese office in Abuja in the past has enjoyed diplomatic privileges accorded to sovereign countries. In his words, “Taiwan will stop enjoying any privileges because it is not a country that is recognised under international law and under the position we have taken internationally we recognize the People’s Republic of China”. Furthermore the Minister says, “Taiwan will not have any diplomatic representation in Nigeria and also the officer have to move to Lagos to the extent that they function as a trade mission with a skeletal staff. Chinese Government does not oppose trading with Taiwan, as long there is no formal contact with the Government that will suggest recognition of Taiwan as sovereign country,”
When asked if Nigeria was pressurized to take the stand on One China, The Minister said that Nigeria was not pressurized to take the decision, noting that the development is in a bit of putting the records straight and to correct the past anomaly on the side of Nigeria.
Onyeama stated that the country took the decision to remove any iota of doubt in the mind of the Chinese people that Nigeria is indeed a true friend of China. He said on the issue of building trust, the international community had embraced one China and China is a member of the United Nations and we don’t want to leave any doubt on the issue.
“China is one of the countries that have been in full support of reforms in the UN that would see Africa having two seats at the UN Security Council, as such deserved to be supported in her unification drive of One China, said Onyeama. He said Nigeria as a nation would do everything to realise the One China Policy as well as any effort that would promote the peace and well being of the People’s Republic of China.