The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue(2000)

(February 2000)


  I. The Basis for One China, de Facto and de Jure

  II. The One-China Principle-the Basis and Prerequisite for Achieving Peaceful Reunification

  III. The Chinese Government-Staunch Champion for the One-China Principle

  IV. Several Questions Involving the One-China Principle in the Cross-Straits Relations

  V. Several Questions Involving Adherence to the One-China Principle in the International Community


  * This white paper is jointly issued by the Taiwan Affairs Office and the Information Office of the State Council.




  On October 1, 1949, the Chinese people won a great victory in the new democratic revolution and founded the People's Republic of China (PRC). The Kuomintang (KMT) ruling clique retreated from the mainland to entrench in China's Taiwan Province in confrontation with the Central Government with the support of foreign forces. This is the origin of the Taiwan issue.

  Settlement of the Taiwan issue and realization of the complete reunification of China embodies the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation. The Chinese government has worked persistently toward this goal in the past 50 years. From 1979, the Chinese government has striven for the peaceful reunification of China in the form of "one country, two systems" with the greatest sincerity and the utmost effort. Economic and cultural exchanges and people-to-people contacts between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits have made rapid progress since the end of 1987. Unfortunately, from the 1990s, Lee Teng-hui, the leader of the Taiwan authorities, has progressively betrayed the One-China Principle, striving to promote a separatist policy with "two Chinas" at the core, going so far as to openly describe the cross-Straits relations as "state to state relations, or at least special state to state relations." This action has seriously damaged the basis for peaceful reunification of the two sides, harmed the fundamental interests of the entire Chinese nation including the Taiwan compatriots, and jeopardized peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. The Chinese government has consistently adhered to the One-China Principle and resolutely opposed any attempt to separate Taiwan from China. The struggle between the Chinese government and the separatist forces headed by Lee Teng-hui finds its concentrated expression in the question of whether to persevere in the One-China Principle or to create "two Chinas" or "One-China, one Taiwan."

  In August 1993, we issued a white paper entitled The Taiwan Question and Reunification of China, which systematically expounds the fact concerning Taiwan as an inalienable part of China, the origin of the Taiwan issue and the Chinese government's basic principles and related policies regarding resolution of the Taiwan question. We deem it necessary here to further explain to the international community the Chinese government's position and policy on the One-China Principle.


I. The Basis for One China, de Facto and de Jure

  The One-China Principle has been evolved in the course of the Chinese people's just struggle to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and its basis, both de facto and de jure, is unshakable.

  Taiwan is an inalienable part of China. All the facts and laws about Taiwan prove that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. In April 1895, through a war of aggression against China, Japan forced the Qing government to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, and forcibly occupied Taiwan. In July 1937, Japan launched an all-out war of aggression against China. In December 1941, the Chinese government issued the Proclamation of China's Declaration of War Against Japan, announcing to the world that all treaties, agreements and contracts concerning Sino-Japanese relations, including the Treaty of Shimonoseki, had been abrogated, and that China would recover Taiwan. In December 1943, the Cairo Declaration was issued by the Chinese, U.S. and British governments, stipulating that Japan should return to China all the territories it had stolen from the Chinese, including Northeast China, Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago. The Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the United States and Britain in 1945 (later adhered to by the Soviet Union) stipulated that "The terms of the Cairo Declaration shall be carried out." In August of that year, Japan declared surrender and promised in its instrument of surrender that it would faithfully fulfil the obligations laid down in the Potsdam Proclamation. On October 25, 1945, the Chinese government recovered Taiwan and the Penghu Archipelago, resuming the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan.

  On October 1, 1949, the Central People's Government of the PRC was proclaimed, replacing the government of the Republic of China to become the only legal government of the whole of China and its sole legal representative in the international arena, thereby bringing the historical status of the Republic of China to an end. This is a replacement of the old regime by a new one in a situation where the main bodies of the same international laws have not changed and China's sovereignty and inherent territory have not changed therefrom, and so the government of the PRC naturally should fully enjoy and exercise China's sovereignty, including its sovereignty over Taiwan.

  Since the KMT ruling clique retreated to Taiwan, although its regime has continued to use the designations "Republic of China" and "government of the Republic of China," it has long since completely forfeited its right to exercise state sovereignty on behalf of China and, in reality, has always remained only a local authority in Chinese territory.

  The formulation of the One-China Principle and its basic meaning. On the day of its founding, the Central People's Government of the PRC declared to governments of all countries in the world, "This government is the sole legal government representing the entire people of the People's Republic of China. It is ready to establish diplomatic relations with all foreign governments that are willing to abide by the principles of equality, mutual benefit and mutual respect for each other's territorial integrity and sovereignty." Shortly afterwards, the Central People's Government telegraphed the United Nations, announcing that the KMT authorities had "lost all basis, both de jure and de facto, to represent the Chinese people," and therefore had no right to represent China at all. One principle governing New China's establishment of diplomatic relations with a foreign country is that it recognizes the government of the PRC as the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China, severs or refrain from establishing diplomatic relations with the Taiwan authorities.

  These propositions of the Chinese government met with obstruction by the U.S. government. On January 5, 1950, the U.S. President Truman issued a statement, saying that the U.S. and other Allied countries recognized China's exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan Island in the four years since 1945. However, after the start of the Korean War in June 1950, to isolate and contain China the U.S. government not only sent troops to occupy Taiwan, but it also dished out such fallacies as "the status of Taiwan has yet to be determined" and later, step by step, lobbied for "dual recognition" among the international community in order to create "two Chinas." Natually, the Chinese government resolutely opposed this, insisting that there is only one-China in the world, Taiwan is a part of China and the government of the PRC is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. China has evolved the One-China Principle precisely in the course of the endeavor to develop normal diplomatic relations with other countries and the struggle to safeguard state sovereignty and territorial integrity. The above propositions constitute the basic meaning of the One-China Principle, the crucial point being to safeguard China's sovereignty and territorial integrity.

  During the 30 or 40 years after 1949, although the Taiwan authorities did not recognize the legitimate status of the government of the PRC as the representative of the whole of China, they did insist that Taiwan is a part of China and that there is only one China, and opposed "two Chinas" and "Taiwan independence." This shows that for a long time there has been a common understanding among the Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits on the fundamental question that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of Chinese territory. As far back as October 1958, when the People's Liberation Army (PLA) was engaged in the battle to bombard Jinmen, Chairman Mao Zedong declared to the Taiwan authorities, "There is only one China, not two, in the world. You agree with us on this point, as indicated in your leaders' proclamations." In January 1979, the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) issued a Message to Taiwan Compatriots, pointing out that "the Taiwan authorities have always stood firm on the one China position and opposed the independence of Taiwan. This is our common stand and our basis for cooperation."

  The Chinese government's solemn and reasonable stand for the One-China Principle has gained the understanding and support of more and more countries and international organizations, and the One-China Principle has been gradually accepted by the international community at large. In October 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted at its 26th session Resolution 2758, which expelled the representatives of the Taiwan authorities and restored the seat and all the lawful rights of the government of the PRC in the United Nations. In September 1972, China and Japan signed a Joint Statement, announcing establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries, and that Japan recognizes the government of the PRC as the only legitimate government of China, fully understands and respects the Chinese government's position that Taiwan is an inalienable part of the territory of the PRC, and promises to adhere to the position as prescribed in Article 8 of the Potsdam Proclamation. In December 1978, China and the U.S. issued a Joint Communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations, in which the U.S. "recognizes the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legal government of China" and "acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China." Up to now, 161 countries have established diplomatic relations with the PRC; they all acknowledge the One-China Principle and promise to handle their relations with Taiwan within the one-China framework.


II. The One-China Principle-the Basis and Prerequisite for Achieving Peaceful Reunification

  The One-China Principle is the foundation stone for the Chinese government's policy on Taiwan.  On Comrade Deng Xiaoping's initiative, the Chinese government has, since 1979, adopted the policy of peaceful reunification and gradually evolved the scientific concept of "one country, two systems." On this basis, China established the basic principle of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems." The key points of this basic principle and the relevant policies are: China will do its best to achieve peaceful reunification, but will not commit itself to rule out the use of force; will actively promote people-to-people contacts and economic and cultural exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits, and start direct trade, postal, air and shipping services as soon as possible; achieve reunification through peaceful negotiations and, on the premise of the One-China Principle, any matter can be negotiated. After reunification, the policy of "one country, two systems" will be practiced, with the main body of China (China mainland) continuing with its socialist system, and Taiwan maintaining its capitalist system for a long period of time to come. After reunification, Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy, and the Central Government will not send troops or administrative personnel to be stationed in Taiwan. Resolution of the Taiwan issue