This article (On the Crime of the One-China-Doctrine) is a translation of a german blog-entry (deutsch): Über das Verbrechen der Ein-China-Doktrin
What is the „One-China-Doctrine“?
The „One-China-Doctrine“ refers to the claim of the communist People’s Republic of China to represent all Chinese. Due to this claim, the Democratic Republic of Taiwan is officially denied diplomatic recognition by many countries around the world. And Taiwan is not currently a member of the United Nations (UN).
UN membership for the Republic of Taiwan!
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Speculations about Causes
A distinction must be made at this point between the cause of the chinese communist demanding attitude and the cause of recognition of these demanding attitudes by other states. Both require an explanation.
The immediate cause of the claimed demand of the One-China-Doctrine is undoubtedly connected with the rise of the communist state of China. In simplistic terms, the Chinese Empire ended during major upheavals and unrest. And in a phase of partly civil war and partly agreements against external threats from the Japanese and Europeans. The Republic of China was proclaimed in 1912. In the further development first the Kuomintang established itself as a political melting pot and de facto unity party and later also as the driving force of an anti-communist military dictatorship. And as a counterpart the Communist Party under Mao Zedong established itself. They faced each other in open civil war, while many regional warring parties with their own interests were also active.
The Chinese Civil War ended in 1949 with the cessation of hostilities and the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China. At that time, the government-in-exile with the government troops under Chiang Kai-shek had withdrawn from the mainland to the island of Taiwan. No peace treaty was formally concluded between the civil war parties.
Development of Taiwan
Also the Kuomintang government on Taiwan, which officially called itself the Republic of China, initially pursued a claim of sole representation for all of China and maintained a declared state of war for decades. Elections in Taiwan have for a long time only elected seats in parliament for Taiwan, while the parliament was occupied by the Kuomintang (KMT) on the basis of the last free elections on the mainland.
It was not until the 1990s that the state was truly democratized. Taiwan abandoned the sole representation claim for China. Since then the Kuomintang is just a normal party, which can be elected alongside others. It also gave up the majority of the seats and handed over the government to the previous opposition. Meanwhile the presidency has also changed back and forth with the liberal Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which is more progressive in advocating the independence of the Republic of Mainland China, while the Kuomintang still tends to reject it and wants to preserve conservative chinese roots without, of course, subordinating itself to communist China.
The question of diplomatic representation
The first diplomatic representation was through the Republic of China (Taiwan). On the basis of UN Resolution 2758 of 1971 the representatives to the UN were exchanged at the initiative of the People’s Republic of China by their own representatives. Since then, due to the demanding claim of sole representation, it has not been accepted that any state in the world has diplomatic relations with both states. Most countries in the world currently maintain official diplomatic relations with the communist People’s Republic of China. And only a few with the Republic of Taiwan.
In fact the resolution is not entirely clear. It states that only the People’s Republic of China is the legitimate representative of „China“ in the United Nations. From the point of view of the People’s Republic, Tawain is regarded as part of „China“. But that is not clearly stated in the resolution. In order to improve the prospects for recognition of the taiwanese state, they refer to themself lately as „Republic of Taiwan“ instead of „Republic of China“.
The question of diplomatic representation: A failure of the UN
Indeed there can be no doubt, that the legitimacy of the People’s Republic of China can only apply to its own nationals, but on Taiwan an independent state is existing. At this point the absurdity of the One-China-Doctrine becomes apparent.
The Charter of the United Nations provides for the expulsion of a State only if that State has grossly violated the Charter (Charter of the United Nations, Part II, Article 6). This is not the case with Taiwan. According to the UN Charter (Part II, Article 4(1)), any peace-loving country may become a member of the UN. In addition to a decision by the General Assembly, however, in advance a recommendation for admission by the Security Council is foreseen. In the case of the Republic of Taiwan, there are no legitimate grounds to deny a recommendation. However, the communist People’s Republic of China is a permanent member of the Security Council and has a right of veto. So the One-China-Doctrine of the People’s Republic of China is the very only reason for denying membership to the UN to a sovereign state.
This must not be!
Taiwan’s efforts to join the UN
In 2008 the taiwanese government held a referendum on whether the Republic of China (Taiwan) should apply as „Taiwan“ for membership of the United Nations. This resulted in a majority of 94%. However, the referendum failed due to a lack of citizen participation. The People’s Republic therefore commented that there was probably no interest in independence after all. The real reason seems to me to be a different one. Namely the lack of support outside the country and the expected veto of the People’s Republic in the Security Council.
In many countries, there is actually a great deal of popular support for Taiwan’s request, but it is not supported by the governments. Actually the referendum was criticized by various governments that traditionally support Taiwan, including the US and European countries. The named reason for this was that unilateral declarations should not be made, i. e. consideration should be given to the position of the People’s Republic of China. People’s Republic of China, on the other hand, claimed, Taiwan’s actions would threaten stability in the region. If you ask, how this could be, it is obvious that this is an unconcealed and explicit threat from the communist People’s Republic of China.
What is wrong about the One-China-Doctrine?
So why let the People’s Republic of China go along with its One-China-Doctrine? – Although violence cannot create justice, the reason seems to be the size of the territory and the military and economic power of the People’s Republic of China compared to Taiwan. However, if a street robber forcibly enriches himself on a pedestrian because he can, he has no right to do so, but commits a criminal offence. – The One-China-Doctrine of the People’s Republic of China is nothing but a crime against the people living in Taiwan.
The One-China-Doctrine is Imperialism
Of course, imperialism has different forms. The imperialism of the People’s Republic of China is therefore its own, which can be compared with others, but not equated.
The People’s Republic of China claims all territories it considers culturally or historically chinese. That is why it claims the island of Taiwan, why it gained foreign domination over the city of Hong Kong, why it occupied Tibet. That is why it oppresses minorities such as the Uighurs with measures of genocide and cultural genocide. But of course it also oppresses and monitors its own population. Basically we see threat, occupation, usurpation and tyranny.
No state simply has a claim to the areas of its greatest extent in history. If the dominant thinking of the People’s Republic were to be applied to Europe, a very strange picture would emerge. This way Germany would have to insist on the 1937 borders, Spain, France, and Britain on their vast colonial territories, including all of the American territories, and Italy, as the successor of the Roman Empire, on most of Europe, as well as other areas bordering the Mediterranean in the Middle East and North Africa. Turkey on the territory of the Ottoman Empire and Greece to the dominion of Alexander the Great, which extended from Greece to Egypt and to India and the Himalayas. – That would be completely absurd. – Political entities arise and disappear and borders shift. Times are changing.
China has never had such experiences. China has never realized that people are more important than the borders of any political area. Because even when borders have shifted, the same people have often lived there. A state can always only serve the people, not the other way around. A state that only always wants to rule over people is an absurd and meaningless construct.
Chinese identity? – The relationship between state and ethnicity
What does the idea of a state have to do with culture, identity and sense of belonging? – A short definition of „state“ helps to clarify this: A state is an organisation which organises the coexistence of people.
Some will now say that in a state there is only one ethnicity, one culture, and only one identity and one sense of belonging. But this is wrong. In contrary, a state may extend over several ethnic groups, and many countries do. Similarly, ethnic groups can also be found in different countries, and this is often the case, too. China itself has always been a multi-ethnic state. At the mausoleum of the first Chinese emperor Qin Shi Huang Di you can see this in the variety of terracotta sculptures. Although most of the inhabitants are Han Chinese, the People’s Republic itself today recognizes 56 ethnic groups in its territory.
In fact chinese empires have always strived for a homogenization of the population, their manners and customs. If you take a closer look at the group of Han Chinese, you will also find different cultures here, which sometimes show themselves in dialects.
Chinese identity? – The relationship between man and culture
Culture is a complex term. It is never something fixed, but something always changing. A person never belongs to just one culture. He is not just a citizen of a state or a member of a culture or an ethnic group. As a human being, everyone can reflect on very different traditions, manners and customs. Depending on whether a person sees himself in one or the other role, e. g. as a father, son, worker, athlete, member of a religious community, a club, etc. , he also follows different traditions, manners and customs. These may be consistent with each other or even contradictory. The list of different roles is expandable. Whether one follows certain customs and practices, and sees one’s personal identity shaped by them, is also the result of free choice.
You may not be able to choose your partaking to an ethnic group, but you can choose whether or how it creates identity. Many people can also trace their origins to several ethnic groups. But no human being is determined solely by his ethnicity. No one should be restricted in their freedoms simply because they belong to an ethnic group. Belonging is coincidence and determines people only to a small extent. To view a person only in context of an ethnic group is pure racism. Just as we are part of an ethnic group, we are also inhabitants of a city, a district, a region, a country, a state, a continent or part of the world’s population. All affiliations can partly or only temporarily determine our identity more or less.
To be a part of and to be different
It is fundamentally in the nature of every human being to feel that he belongs somewhere and at the same time to want to separate himself from others. Both sides belong to the formation of personality. We want to belong to groups of other people and we want to separate ourselves individually from others. Everyone also wants to be perceived as something special and strives for recognition. That’s a fact. If you are not special as a football player, then you may start playing chess or go or knitting particularly beautiful sweaters.
Chinese identity? – Identity between coercion and purpose
Some changes make sense. For example if units of measurement are standardized and measured in meters instead of in units based on personal body measures, this is an improvement. Such changes may also be supported by the state. Other changes in manners are the result of advances in technology. Nowadays you don’t send a mounted messenger, you send an e-mail. This is how customs and cultures change.
The People’s Republic of China has, in the past, a period now known as the „Cultural Revolution“, tried to cause changes through bloody violence, state coercion and brutal terror, and this way a re-education of people, i. e. of their attitudes and behaviour. Such an attempt is doomed to failure from the outset. It doesn’t work that way. One may achieve external effects in observable behavior under coercion, but these do not involve internal approval, but on the contrary generate rejection. Even the People’s Republic of China called the Cultural Revolution after the death of Mao Zedong a crime.
However, the Chinese Communist Party still uses coercive measures when it comes to minorities in the claimed territory, such as the Uyghurs. These coercive measures are as much a crime as the Cultural Revolution was. Even if it is euphemistically called re-education. Whether applied to minorities or on the desired road to communist world domination. They are at least cultural genocide. All human beings have the right to physical integrity, self-determination and a life free from fear.
Chinese identity? – No justification for a One-China-Doctrine
It follows from the preceding paragraphs that there is no direct or compelling link between ethnic groups, cultures and states and their territorial boundaries.
It also follows that a chinese ethnicity, a chinese culture, a sense of belonging does not justify a One-China-Doctrine. Even if one identifies oneself as „Chinese“, this self-determination is not absolute and there are many other determinations to one’s identity. However, no part of this identity can give rise to any right of a state to subjugation.
For the people: End of the one-party dictatorship and the One-China-Doctrine!
In spite of all the errors and false prognoses in marxian theory, Karl Marx seems to have been concerned with improving the living conditions of people in his day. In practice, however, all communist states have failed to do so. Partly this happened because there was already in theory a contempt for formal guarantees of freedoms, partly also because the term „dictatorship of the proletariat“ was overinterpreted. Above all the historical materialism of communism has always been an ideologic-metaphysical error.
It could be said, that the People’s Republic of China itself is currently not complying with UN Resolution 2758 of 1971, because it does not represent „the Chinese“, but the chinese Communist Party only patronizes the citizens of the People’s Republic. As evidence of this you can take the events of 3rd and 4th of June 1989 on the Square at the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing, but also in other places also known as the Tian’anmen Massacre. At that time, peaceful protests of the population were stopped militarily and sometimes by force by the communist state.
It may be a long march, and it would be a big leap if the People’s Republic of China were to break new ground. The departure from established positions does not mean a loss of face. But on the contrary, without a reversal the policy of the communist government is despicable.
What could be done better in the People’s Republic?
- The chinese Communist Party could face its citizens in a true multiparty system with free elections.
- This includes putting an end to the surveillance of people, including their own citizens.
- Guarantee of free access to information and opinions.
- Guarantee of all „formal“ freeedoms, like e.g. the freedom of speech.
- Citizens could truly become involved and responsibilities regionalised on a subsidiary basis in the sense of a federal state.
- They could not only give more independence to their own citizens in general,
- but put an end to the genocide of minorities such as the Uyghurs and grant greater autonomy to the regions concerned.
- Free entrepreneurship presupposes free citizens. If a government already controls the consumption of toilet paper by ordinary citizens in public toilets, then surely there are no free companies independent of the state, but it is merely a mimicry to advance state interests. This must end.
- The inhabitants of Hong Kong also have the right to self-determination. I am very critical of the handover to the People’s Republic, because it wasn’t self-determined. Perhaps the affiliation of Hong Kong to the Republic of Taiwan would also have been conceivable. Greater real autonomy is therefore a minimum demand for Hong Kong. The same goes for Macao.
- They could end the occupation of Tibet.
- It is a very easy step for the People’s Republic to first abandon the criminal One-China-Doctrine. And to recognize the independence of the Republic of Taiwan. There is nothing to lose.
If anyone stands in the way of the development of the People’s Republic of China, it is only the chinese Communist Party and its erroneous communist ideology. There is no end to history and no world communism. People are much better off in liberal democracies. No matter if, among other things, they should define themselves as „chinese“.
Conclusion on the One-China-Doctrine: Recognizing the Obvious!
The obvious must be spoken out – and this truth must be acknowledged. I can’t help but say it to everyone’s face:
It is for sure that the citizens of Taiwan are unwilling to live in a communist state. They have the right to shape their own destiny. In fact everyone can see that on Taiwan exists an independent, sovereign state. So there is really no need for an explicit declaration of independence – it is obvious.
I have shown in the preceding paragraphs, that there is no legitimate claim by the People’s Republic of China, to deny the people of Taiwan their rights. No claim can be derived from a definition such as ethnicity, previous territorial extent, history, culture or sense of identity. If the chinese Communist Party represents anyone, it is primarily itself. And apart from that, perhaps the people of the People’s Republic, but no one else.
Moreover the People’s Republic must not take things, that do not belong to them, just because they can. Just because you have the power to do something or take something, you don’t have the right to do it. That would just be a criminal highway robbery. Besides, the People’s Republic must not threaten anyone! I condemn any threat and aggression, especially on the basis of imaginary and non-legitimate claims. Everyone has the right to a life free from fear.
The One-China-Doctrine is criminal and nonsensical. We must not turn a blind eye to this because of the threat of violence. Or on account of volatile economic interests.
I recognise the right of the people on Taiwan to self-determination.
I recognize the independence of the Republic of Taiwan.
Recommendation for further reading on this blog:
About the measurement of the strength of a nation and false pride