China's Taiwan Policy Term Paper

Pages: 10 (3428 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 18  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: History - Asian

It included an intensive use of propaganda broadcasts, infiltration of agents, and mobilization of support from the overseas Chinese against the ROC. More importantly, the PRC conducted an effective diplomatic campaign to get admitted to the United Nations and to unseat Taiwan from the major world body. For some time, the United States prevented this from materializing by using the Korean War as an excuse and depicting China as an aggressive nation. China, too, got bogged down in its internal affairs and the pursuit of radical reforms such as the Cultural Revolution and a self-imposed isolation. Eventually, after the election of Richard Nixon as President of the United States, relations between China and the U.S. began to improve. China remained steadfast in its stand regarding Taiwan and the U.S. conceded by diluting its all-out support for ROC. President Nixon's withdrawal of the Seventh Fleet from Taiwan Straits and his declaration in July 1971 that he would visit Communist China the following year, were decisive signals that the U.S. was no longer opposed to China's admission to the United Nations at the expense of Taiwan. As a result, when the United Nations' General Assembly met in October 1971 to debate the question of China's admission to the UN, the result was a foregone conclusion. Previously, PRC had been successful in establishing diplomatic relations with France in 1964 and with Canada in 1970, but its admission to the UN in 1971 opened the floodgates of diplomatic relations with a number of countries.

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Having gained a major success in its diplomatic offensive by being recognized as the "sole legitimate government" of China, the PRC could now afford to go on a peace offensive. (Lee 3-5)

Peaceful Offensive:

Term Paper on China's Taiwan Policy China -- Assignment

China's Prime Minister, Zhou Enlai had indicated as early as 1955 at the Bandung Conference that his country was willing to take the "peaceful" option in "liberating" Taiwan. Mao also mentioned China's interest "in a third CCP-KMT alliance" during the Eighth Congress of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) in April 1957. The "peaceful" Chinese proposals did not make much headway with Taiwan though as China's other moves during the 1950s and the 1960s, such as its military offensive in the second Taiwan Strait crisis of 1958 and the internal upheavals of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, did not match its declared 'peaceful' intentions. Furthermore, Taiwan considered itself to be in a strong position as long as it enjoyed the support of the United States, and felt no real need for responding to China's "peaceful" overtures.

Only after the death of Mao Zedong in 1976, purging of the "Gang of Four" and the rehabilitation of Deng Xiaoping, did China resume its peace offensive on Taiwan. Significantly China now replaced the phrase peaceful "liberation" with peaceful "reunification" and Deng, while talking to a foreign correspondent in November 1978 conceded: "after a peaceful reunification of the country is achieved, Taiwan may still retain non-socialist economic and social systems." (Quoted by Lee 6) This was a big change from the hard-line stance of the Mao era when the number one aim of the Chinese Communist regime was to spread the revolution.

The "One Country-Two Systems" Policy

Since that time, China has pursued the "peaceful reunification" policy by putting forward the concept of "one country-two systems." In its "White Paper on Taiwan Issue," issued in January 2001, the PRC government asserted repeatedly that it is willing to take all necessary steps for the peaceful 'reunification' of China, as long as Taiwan agreed with the concept of "one China." It declared, "the Chinese Government remains firm in adhering to 'peaceful reunification' and 'one country, two systems;' ... And [was] doing its utmost to achieve the objective of peaceful reunification." However, China was extremely suspicious of the 'separatist' movement in Taiwan that was being actively promoted by its President Chen Shi-bian, so the official White Paper warned:

....if a grave turn of events occurs leading to the separation of Taiwan from China in any name, or if Taiwan is invaded ... Or if the Taiwan authorities refuse, sine die, the peaceful settlement of cross-Straits reunification ... then the Chinese Government will only be forced to adopt all drastic measures possible, including the use of force ... ("The One-China Principle and the Taiwan Issue.")

Hence, although China's main concern at the time was (and still remains the declaration of independence by Taiwan) and the most likely scenario in which China is likely to take direct military action, it had also declared or implied at other times that it would not hesitate in taking the extreme step of direct military action if:

1. Taiwan makes a military alliance with a foreign power

2. There is internal turmoil in Taiwan

3. Taiwan develops or gains Weapons of Mass Destruction

4. Taiwan refuses to negotiate indefinitely on the basis of "one China."

Subtle Softening of China's Stance:

There has been a subtle softening of the Chinese government's stance on the issue since that time and particularly in the last two years since President Hu Jintao took office. Political analysts have noted a strategic shift in China's Taiwan policy from "timetable for reunification" to "opposing secessionism as top priority."

"Opposition to secessionism" to the Chinese means the maintenance of the status quo and to prevent secessionist forces in Taiwan from proclaiming "de jure independence." ("Policy adjusted to meet changes") This adjustment in China's Taiwan Policy is in line with current international thinking, particularly that of countries like the United States, that does not support Taiwan's secession but is not enthusiastic about reunification efforts by China either. President Hu Jintao has also declared that "the rise of China and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation depend on development first and reunification second" (Quoted in "Policy adjusted ... ") which is a marked departure from the mainland's previous departure from the previous insistence on urgency for reunification. This, by no means, implies that China has abandoned its ultimate objective of "reunification" of China; it just means that the Chinese leadership is prepared to take a more long-term view of the issue.

Taiwan's Position

Until about 1990, the ROC government in Taiwan had (like China) also repeatedly asserted its belief in one-China. Of course, Chiang Kai-Shek and his successors had a slightly different concept of "One China" than the Communist government on the mainland. They had asserted that the ROC was the legitimate Chinese government that would one day take over the rest of China, while the PRC's concept of "one-China" meant that PRC was the one and only legitimate government. With the election of Lee Teng-hui as the President of ROC in 1996, things started to change. Lee was a supporter of "Taiwanization" that had its roots in the home rule groups founded during the Japanese era and secretly encouraged the independence movement in Taiwan despite being a member of KMT. (Yu, 351)

The election of Chen Shu-bian as President in 2000 further consolidated the Taiwanization movement. Although Chen has had to tone down his rhetoric about Taiwanese independence due to vehement opposition from China and the danger of military action by it, he has sent mixed signals on the issue. In order to keep his options open about Taiwan's independence and also to remain below the "threshold" of war with the mainland, Chen has followed a clever policy on Taiwan's political status by asserting that Taiwan is already an independent, sovereign nation named the Republic of China, and thereby implying that a declaration of independence is unnecessary as Taiwan is already independent.

How is the Taiwan issue likely to affect China's future role in the world affairs?

Already a major global economic power with a rapidly growing economy, China is likely to play an increasingly important role in world affairs in the current century. The Taiwan issue, though, has the potential of exploding into a key roadblock in China's future development particularly if it is not handled with care. China has consistently declared that it is prepared to take military action, though as a last resort, to implement its one-China policy vis-a-vis Taiwan. If such a worst-case scenario comes about, it could trigger a super-power conflict in the region since the United States is committed to come to the aid of Taiwan in case of military intervention by China as per the terms of the Taiwan Relations Act.

Japan could also be drawn into such a conflict where U.S. troops are stationed. On the other hand, China's international stature as a responsible power would be greatly enhanced if it continues to exercise patience and lets the status quo in Taiwan continue. Since it takes two to tangle, Taiwan must also show responsibility and not provoke China into "crossing the threshold."


The "Taiwan affair" is one of the few unresolved political issues in the world that have the potential of exploding into a serious global crisis. It has existed ever since the Chinese Communists defeated the Nationalists in the decades-long Chinese Civil War in 1949… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "China's Taiwan Policy" Term Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

China's Taiwan Policy.  (2005, April 25).  Retrieved September 25, 2020, from

MLA Format

"China's Taiwan Policy."  25 April 2005.  Web.  25 September 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"China's Taiwan Policy."  April 25, 2005.  Accessed September 25, 2020.