The issue of Taiwan is the soft underbelly of China diplomatically speaking. The issue is taking greater prominence with the rise of china as a dominant global power and its rising assertiveness along with the reluctance of Taiwan to unite with China. A good understanding of the history of formation of Taiwan as it is intricately linked to Chinese Revolution and the recent issues with Taiwan is necessary from exam point of view.
Taiwan reunification with China ‘inevitable’, says Chinese President Xi Jinping
Placing it in syllabus
- History of the world will include events from 18th century such as industrial revolution, world wars, redrawal of national boundaries, colonization, decolonization, political philosophies like communism, capitalism, socialism etc.- their forms and effect on the society.
- Sun Yat-Sen and his 3 promises/principles
- Chiang kai-shek and koumintang
- Mao and Chinese form of communism
- Taiwan and the nationalist party rule
- One China Policy
Sun Yat-Sen and his 3 principles
Sun Yat-sen (1866 – 1925) was a Chinese revolutionary and politician. During the Late Qing era he fought to overthrow the Manchu Dynasty and establish a new, modern Chinese state. His political doctrines, most notably the Three Principles of the People, had a deep impact on the development of China in the 20th century. Sun Yat-sen is the founding father of the Republic of China (ROC) and the founder of the Kuomintang /Nationalist party (literally “China National People’s Party”), the oldest still active political party in the Chinese-speaking world. Sun was a uniting figure in post-Imperial China, and he remains unique among 20th-century Chinese politicians for being widely revered amongst the people from both sides of the Taiwan Strait.
Three Principles of the People, also called Three Great Principles were the ideological basis of the political program of the Chinese Nationalist leader Sun-Yat-sen (1866–1925), championing the principles of nationalism, democracy, and socialism.
- The first principle, minzu zhuyi, or “nationalism,” earlier had meant opposition to the Qing (Manchu) dynasty and to foreign imperialism; here Sun explained the phrase as denoting self-determination for the Chinese people as a whole and also for the minority groups within China.
- The second principle, minquan, or the “rights of the people,” sometimes translated as “democracy,” could be achieved, Sun explained, by allowing the Chinese people to control their own government through such devices as election, initiative, referendum, and recall.
- The last principle was minsheng, or “people’s livelihood,” which is often translated as “socialism.” This was the most vague of the three principles, but by it Sun seemed to have in mind the idea of equalization of land ownership through a just system of taxation.
Chiang kai-shek and koumintang
- Chinese military and political leader Chiang Kai-shek joined the Chinese Nationalist Party (known as the Kuomintang, or KMT) in 1918.
- Succeeding party founder Sun Yat-sen as KMT leader in 1925, he expelled Chinese communists from the party and led a successful unification of China. Despite a professed focus on reform, Chiang’s government concentrated on battling Communism within China as well as confronting Japanese aggression.
- When the Allies declared war on Japan in 1941, China took its place among the Big Four. Civil war broke out in 1946, ending in a victory by Mao Zedong’s Communist forces and the creation of the People’s Republic of China. From 1949 until his death, Chiang led the KMT government in exile in Taiwan, which many countries continued to recognize as China’s legitimate government.
- In 1946, a year after Japan’s surrender, civil war broke out in China between KMT and Communist forces. With the Communist victory in mainland China in 1949, Mao declared the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.
- Upon his defeat, Chiang fled with the remnants of his Nationalist government to Taiwan, which had been turned over to the Nationalist government after the defeat of Japan according to terms agreed upon in Cairo in 1943.
- Backed by American aid, Chiang launched Taiwan on the path of economic modernization, and in 1955 the United States signed an agreement guaranteeing Taiwan’s defense.
Mao and Communism
- Mao was a Chinese communist leader and founder of the People’s Republic of China.
- Mao was the son of a wealthy farmer in Shaoshan, Hunan. He had a Chinese nationalist and anti-imperialist outlook early in his life, and was particularly influenced by the events of the Xinhai Revolution of 1911 and May Fourth Movement of 1919.
- He later adopted Marxism–Leninism while working at Peking University, and became a founding member of the Communist Party of China (CPC), leading the Autumn Harvest Uprising in 1927.
- During the Chinese Civil War between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the CPC, Mao helped to found the Chinese Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army, led the Jiangxi Soviet‘s radical land policies, and ultimately became head of the CPC during the Long March.
- Although the CPC temporarily allied with the KMT under the United Front during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945), China’s civil war resumed after Japan’s surrender and in 1945 Mao’s forces defeated the Nationalist government, which withdrew to Taiwan.
- On October 1, 1949, Mao proclaimed the foundation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), a single party state controlled by the CPC. In the following years he solidified his control through land reforms and through a psychological victory in the Korean war, as well as through campaigns against landlords, people he termed “counter-revolutionaries”, and other perceived enemies of the state.
- In 1957 he launched a campaign known as the Great Leap Forward that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from agrarian to industrial. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in the history and the deaths of 20–45 million people between 1958 and 1962.
- In 1966, Mao initiated the Cultural Revolution, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements in Chinese society which lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle, widespread destruction of cultural artifacts, and an unprecedented elevation of Mao’s cult of personality. The program is now officially regarded as a “severe setback” for the PRC.
Taiwan and the nationalist party rule
- In 1949–50, following the victories of the Chinese communists on the mainland, a stream of Nationalist troops, government officials, and other refugees estimated at some two million persons, led by Chiang, poured into Taiwan; a branch of the Nationalist Party that was opposed to Chiang’s policies and aligned itself with the CCP still exists on the mainland.
- Taiwan became the effective territory, apart from a number of small islands off the mainland China coast, of the Republic of China (ROC). The Nationalists for many years constituted the only real political force, holding virtually all legislative, executive, and judicial posts.
- Before the 1970s, the Republic of China was still recognized by many countries and the United Nations as the sole legitimate government of “China”, which claimed sovereignty over both mainland China and Taiwan. The Republic of China had been a founding member of the United Nations and was one of the five permanent members of the Security Council until 1971, when they were expelled from the UN and China’s representation was replaced by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) via UN General Assembly Resolution 2758.
- From then the issue of reunification of Taiwan with china has continued and is leading to the policies like “One China Policy”
One China policy
- “One China policy” is a policy saying that there is only one country of China, despite the fact that there are two governments, the People’s Republic of China (China) and the Republic of China (Taiwan), with the official name of China.
- Under this principle both the governments of ROC and PROC contest for the legitimacy to control over the sovereign and united china.
- The Kuomintang proclaimed a modified form of the “One China” principle known as the “1992 Consensus”. Under this “consensus”, both governments “agree” that there is only one single sovereign state encompassing both mainland China and Taiwan, but disagree about which of the two governments is the legitimate government of this state.
- Since the 1990s, however, a rising movement for formal recognition of Taiwanese independence has made the political status of Taiwan the dominant issue, replacing the debate about the legitimate government of China. A view in Taiwan is that the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China are both sovereign, thus forming “two Chinas”, or “one China, one Taiwan”.
- Taiwan considers itself a sovereign state, with its own currency, political and judicial systems, but has never declared formal independence from the mainland. Relations have been strained for the past two years since the election of President Tsai Ing-wen, who has refused to acknowledge Beijing’s stance that the island is part of “one China”.
- To accommodate differences in Taiwan’s political system and civil society, China has proposed adopting the “one country, two systems” policy, which was implemented in Hong Kong after the British handed the city back to China in 1997.
- But the human rights and civil liberties record in the states of Hong Kong and Macau is leading the Taiwanese to resist the “One China policy” or its alternative of “One Country, Two systems”. And they are claiming Independence from china on the basis of Right to self-determination.
- Beijing has adopted a multi-pronged approach to diminish Taiwan’s presence on the international stage in recent years, including blocking it from global forums and poaching its dwindling number of official diplomatic allies. China has also successfully pressured global firms to list Taiwan as part of China on their company websites.