Is Taiwan a part of China? The importance of names, and the biggest backer

The question “Is Taiwan a part of China?” is one that has been asked by many, myself included. Politically, this seems correct – as the ROC, Taiwan indeed is a part of China. However, after living in both places, I have found that the two cultures are the same, yet drastically different at the same time.

There is no answer – the “definitive” answer is still in the gray. 

What happened?

At the Asian Table Tennis Championships on April 11, 2017, Taiwan was addressed by the CCT (China Central Television, run by the state itself) as “中國台北” (or Zhongguo Taipei), instead of “中華台北” (or Zhonghua Taipei). 

Why is this significant? Because 中華 (Zhonghua) is used to refer to a Chinese nation, whereas 中國 is referred as the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Taiwan, on the other hand, refers to itself as the ROC.

This has sparked heavy criticism in Taiwan,  with it being called an “unilateral act of dwarfing” from PRC. However, China dismisses this, saying that they have always referred to Taiwan under the One-China policy.

Why the sudden provocation?

This may have to do with the election of the Beijing critic Tsai Ing-wen as the President of the ROC, replacing the Beijing friendly Ma Ying-jeou. Ever since Tsai Ing-wen’s inauguration, Taiwan repeatedly refuses to acknowledge the 1992 Consensus between China and Taiwan, which stresses the One-China policy.

Other instances in which Taiwan was put under the pressure of the One-China policy:

The United Nations.

In 1971, the United Nations forced Taiwan (at the time already officially the ROC), saying that the PRC was the only lawful representative of China in the UN.

However, at the time, the status quo was different for Taiwan. Taiwan was indeed offered a spot on the UN as their own individual nation, but Chiang Kai-shek refused. Why? Because that would be a fatal blow. Chiang Kai-shek’s intention was never to stay in Taiwan; Taiwan was only a temporary rendezvous point for CKS to gather his forces, and reclaim China for the KMT party. By taking the spot in the UN, the KMT would then lose their claim to China as attacking would mean breaking international law. On top of that, the KMT would be officially recognizing communist China as a legitimate entity, sealing China’s fate and their own as well.

Then again, the General Assembly further refused to have two Chinas as separate entites. Even if CKS did accept the offer, it may not have gone through.

The Olympics.

The Olympics has repeatedly refused to let Taiwan compete under the name ROC, and this led to Taiwan boycotting the Olympics in 1976 and 1980. Finally, Taiwan accepted the compromise of the name “Chinese Taipei” in 1981, competing in its first Olympics in 1984.

America.

Donald J. Trump seemed to have accidentally sparked the start of a political crisis with China when Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen called him to congratulate him on his win in the election, in which they both noted the close economic, political, and security ties between Taiwan and America.

This immediately caused an outrage in China, who dismissed the call as “just a small trick” from Taiwan.

The United States seemed to be stumbling on a fine line with China and Taiwan, further suggesting that the US should not abide by the One China unless it secured concessions from Beijing in trade.

However, at the end of the day, after the phone call between President Trump and President Xi, it is still celebrated as the return to the traditional One-China framework. Many of the mainland Chinese see Taiwan as the last chess piece in order to win the game of chess and politics, and with America now backing China with unequivocal commitment, their chances seem stronger than ever.

Why do people accept the One-China policy?

My take on this event:

I agree that the One-China policy is politically correct; Taiwan never intended to be a separate nation up until now, so it is only logical that it is a part of China. However, in this new age, new ideas and reforms have arisen. Now, it is just a matter of which side pushes the hardest before the delicate balance breaks.

China is powerful – no questions asked. With the second largest GDP in the world, one of the top four military spenders, and a huge influence on the economy, China is able to make almost everyone bend to its will – except America.

With the election of Donald J. Trump now as America’s president, new reforms, ideals, and beliefs have now swept around as well. Trump’s mission and campaign can be broken down into two simple parts: to make America great again, and to put America first.

From day one when Trump announced his plan to run for Presidency, controversy, sparks of indignation, and a slight wisp of admiration has followed his path through America. A man with no filter, Trump has been accused of having his ego be so large that it takes up all the breathing air in a room, but the opposite is true: His ego is, in actuality, so small that it’s unable to stop fiddling with the trigger of the gun. From every accusation to every debate between candidates in the running, Trump will find a reason to start a war – with Hillary, Megyn Kelly, Muslims and refugees, or even Pope Francis. 

But in my opinion, one thing is clear: he is determined to put America first. With a hint of reckless abandon, Trump will do what it takes to make America great again, even if it means modifying the list of friends and allies.

America walked a fine line with China when Trump accepted a phone call from Tsai Ing-wen, but he now has China in the palm of his hand: Better trade, or the one-China policy is dead to America (just like the Paris climate change agreement).

 

Will China be able to win this game of chess? Or will an outside wind be able to knock their pieces down?

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