Qin Gang is the Chinese ambassador to the United States.
When China and the United States established diplomatic relations on Jan. 1, 1979, the United States recognized in the joint communique with China that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China. Four decades have passed since, and the United States has long been committed to not developing official relations with Taiwan.
By order of succession, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is the third-highest-ranking official in the U.S. government. Traveling in a military aircraft, Pelosi paid a high-profile “official visit to Taiwan” this week, as her office described it in her arrival statement, and was given full-protocol treatment by Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party authorities, who make no secret of pursuing independence in their party platform. Such a visit has openly broken America’s commitment not to develop official relations with Taiwan.
These are extremely irresponsible, provocative and dangerous moves.
The one-China principle is part of the postwar international order and has become a general international consensus. As a country that thinks of itself as a champion of the “rules-based international order,” the United States should naturally abide by the one-China principle.
In the past, the United States has violated and undermined the principle by adopting the Taiwan Relations Act and the “Six Assurances” to Taiwan. And it is doing so again now in a broader attempt to unilaterally change the status quo on Taiwan and alter the postwar international order.
Fifty years ago, Henry Kissinger, who was personally involved in the negotiations for the normalization of China-U.S. relations, witnessed how the Taiwan question was properly handled on the basis of the one-China principle. Recently, he noted, “the United States should not by subterfuge or by a gradual process develop something of a ‘two-China’ solution.”
People on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are Chinese. China will show the utmost sincerity and make the utmost efforts to achieve peaceful reunification, but China will not allow Taiwan to be divided from it in whatever form.
The current Taiwan authorities have rejected the facts and legal grounds that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and the same China, in a pursuit of independence with the help of the United States. Their tactics include trying to sever historical and cultural bonds with the mainland, erasing national identity and stoking confrontation. The United States, meanwhile, sees Taiwan as a means to contain China and has been hollowing out the one-China principle. In the past 18 months alone, the United States has made five rounds of arms sales to Taiwan.
President Biden has said many times that the United States will not change its one-China policy and does not support “Taiwan independence.” But for the “Taiwan independence” forces, Pelosi’s visit represents an exceptionally strong signal that “the U.S. is on Taiwan’s side.” This goes against the one-China principle, the three Sino-U.S. joint communiques and America’s own commitments. Moreover, the Pelosi visit will lead “Taiwan independence” forces further down a dangerous path, with peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait hanging in the balance.
Just think: If an American state were to secede from the United States and declare independence, and then some other nation provided weapons and political support for that state, would the U.S. government — or the American people — allow this to happen?
The Taiwan question is about China’s sovereignty and unity — not democracy. But it is true that Pelosi’s visit has aroused the indignation of the 1.4 billion Chinese people. If the United States truly takes democracy to heart, it should show respect for the call of the Chinese people, who constitute about one-fifth of the world population.
With both covid--19 and the Ukraine conflict growing into protracted crises, it is high time for China and the United States to strengthen cooperation and work with other countries to find solutions. Instead, some politicians choose to damage China’s core interests, either to seek the limelight or to cement their political legacy. Their actions will only erode China-U.S. relations and subject our peoples and militaries to peril.
Taiwan is one of the very few issues that might take China and the United States to conflict. Extra caution and a sense of responsibility are indispensable when it comes to Taiwan.