Introduction (U.S-China Tensions Over Taiwan):
In the wake of U.S. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s recent visit to Taiwan, China’s swift and furious response has triggered a heightened state of tension. China has initiated its largest-ever military drills around Taiwan, signaling a troubling escalation in their longstanding dispute.
Understanding the One-China Policy:
The One-China policy is a fundamental tenet of U.S-China relations, acknowledging Beijing’s position that there is only one China, with Taiwan as an integral part. For nations seeking diplomatic relations with Beijing, recognizing the One-China principle necessitates severing formal ties with Taiwan. However, Washington maintains a robust unofficial relationship with Taiwan, including arms sales to the island. It’s important to note that the One-China policy differs from the “One China principle,” which asserts that both Taiwan and mainland China are inalienable parts of a single “China.”
The roots of the One-China policy trace back to 1949, following the conclusion of the Chinese civil war. The defeated Nationalists, also known as the Kuomintang, retreated to Taiwan and established their government there, while the victorious Communists proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Initially, many nations, including the U.S., recognized Taiwan due to their reluctance to engage with Communist China. However, diplomatic dynamics shifted in the 1970s, with many countries choosing to establish relations with Beijing, thereby sidelining Taipei. Despite this, informal relations with Taiwan persist in the form of trade offices and cultural institutes, and the U.S. remains Taiwan’s crucial security ally.
Winners and Losers:
Undoubtedly, Beijing has benefited most from the One-China policy, effectively isolating Taiwan on the international stage. Most of the world, including the United Nations, does not recognize Taiwan as an independent country. This has compelled Taiwan to navigate complex naming protocols to participate in events like the Olympics and the World Trade Organization. Washington maintains unofficial ties with Taiwan through the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), further solidifying its role as Taiwan’s primary security ally.
Opposition to the One-China Policy:
The One-China principle faces resistance from proponents of the Taiwan independence movement, which seeks to establish the “Republic of Taiwan” and foster a distinct identity apart from China, known as “Taiwanization.” This has led to Taiwan’s diplomatic isolation, but it has managed to maintain robust economic and cultural ties with neighboring nations while leveraging its strong emotional connection with the U.S. to secure concessions.
U.S. Views on the ‘One China’ Policy:
Recent developments have seen the U.S. question the validity of the One-China policy. This contentious exchange has sparked speculation about the future of the U.S-China relationship, a pivotal global partnership in the early 21st century. The U.S. appears to believe that China has risen by exploiting the existing international order, leading some analysts to caution against the risk of a military confrontation. China, on the other hand, seems prepared to let its relationship with the U.S. deteriorate to demonstrate its unwavering stance on the Taiwan issue.
India has steadfastly declined to endorse the “one-China” policy since 2010. Until negotiations between the U.S. and China result in the emergence of a G2 power structure, India is likely to cautiously maintain this position. Simultaneously, India should work on strengthening its ties with major global powers, including the U.S., Russia, China, and Japan. A reciprocal one-India policy from China would be a critical factor for India to consider endorsing the one-China policy.
The U.S-China tensions over Taiwan remain a contentious issue with profound implications for both China and Taiwan. India’s position, as articulated by the late Sushma Swaraj in 2014, is clear: China must acknowledge a one-India policy before India will recognize a one-China policy. As the global debate over this issue continues, India’s diplomatic stance aligns with its national interests, ensuring a cautious and pragmatic approach to a complex geopolitical challenge.