Taiwan’s foreign ministry today announced that it has terminated diplomatic relations with the Republic of Panama, after the Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela announced the decision to recognize the People’s Republic of China in a televised address. Panamanian vice-president and foreign minister and Chinese foreign minister formalized the relationship in Beijing shortly before the address.
The great obfuscation of one-China published by The Economist is an excellent, though introductory, read on the Taiwan-China-U.S. relations. Some key points from the article:
China itself does not actually have a one-China policy. It has what it calls a one-China principle, which is that there is only one China, with its government in Beijing.
America does not accept the one-China principle. Instead it has the one-China policy, which acknowledges that China has such a principle—not quite the same thing. America does not recognise Chinese sovereignty over Taiwan, nor does it recognise Taiwan as an independent state.
In Taiwan itself the one-China formula has an even stranger history. It is rooted in the fiction that the island’s first president, Chiang Kai-shek, who fled there in 1949 after losing a civil war to Mao Zedong’s communists, would one day recapture the whole of China.
Among [the proportion of] people [on the island] between 20 and 30, 85% say they are Taiwanese.
The simple and natural solution is to admit there are two Chinas.
A more detailed analysis on the historical progression of “one China”: The “one China” of the U.S. is not the same as the “one China” of China (in Chinese).
As we now enter the very uncertain period in Sino-American-Taiwanese relations, I found these two gems of interview of American officials from the Association for Diplomatic Studies and Training, detailing the moments when ROC was first notified of the de-recognition in 1979, as well as how the American Institute in Taiwan, the de facto American embassy in Taiwan, came about. They are a bit long, but both are fascinating reads.
The U.S. De-recognizes Taiwan in Favor of Communist China — January 1, 1979, interview of Neal Donnelly, then Public Affairs Officer in Taiwan.
A cable came in late at night, I’m not sure if it was 9:30 or 10:00 at night — something like that — saying that Carter was going to announce the normalization of China and the de-recognition of Taiwan. Mark immediately got a hold of Unger at the Christmas party at I think about 11:00 pm and then Unger started the wheels in motion to contact Chiang Ching-kuo who was the President of the country.
Now you don’t just go to the President of the country’s house and ring the bell and talk to him, so it took a while to go through the several people that they had to and then they got Chiang Ching-kuo at, I think, slightly after two o’clock in the morning. Unger told him that we were de-recognizing Taiwan.
Taiwan’s foreign ministry today announced that it has terminated diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of São Tomé and Príncipe, after the west African island nation severed relations earlier today. São Tomé and Príncipe reportedly demanded an incredibly high financial aid package, and decided to switch its recognition to Beijing after being turned down by Taipei.
São Tomé and Príncipe first established diplomatic relations with Taiwan in May 1997, when then-president Miguel Trovoada ended his country’s relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and recognized the ROC (Taiwan) instead. PRC established a trade mission in São Tomé in 2013, and bilateral trade has increased significantly since then. The current prime minister of São Tomé and Príncipe, Patrice Émery Trovoada, is the son of Miguel Trovoada.
Taiwan is now left with 21 diplomatic allies in the world.
By now, most international media around the world have reported and analyzed the meaning behind the phone call between U.S. President-elect and President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan for a full week. Most of the Washington foreign policy establishment had their hands up in the air, criticizing Trump’s move as a major diplomatic blunder, attributed to his lack of understanding of U.S. foreign policy. At the same time, China’s response has tuned up from the mild reaction from Chinese foreign minister to the Communist party papers calling for nuclear arms preparations. The New Yorker suggested that President Tsai probably took a risk making the call.
As Michael J. Cole wrote in his article in The Diplomat:
In the week since the call, the hundreds of articles written about and interviews given on the subject worldwide have largely focused on the mechanics of the call . . . [L]ittle effort was made to analyze why Taiwan’s first female president, in office since May 20 and brought to power in January via democratic instruments, was willing to place a call . . . Even less was said, with a few notable exceptions, about reactions in Taiwan, particularly its 23 million citizens, who far too often in the rare instances of international attention are denied, by omission rather than design, a voice of their own, as if all of them were little more than insentient subjects to the implacable waves of history or the dictates of decisionmakers in Washington and Beijing.
During a press conference of China’s Taiwan Affairs Office on 25 June 2016, spokesman An Fengshan said cross-strait contact mechanisms had been suspended starting from May 20 [the date of President Tsai’s inauguration], due to Taiwan’s inability to confirm the “1992 Consensus”.
Relationship between Taiwan and China are not handled by the two sides’ respective foreign ministries, as China considers matters related Taiwan as domestic affairs (as they try so very hard to remind the world every time other countries say or do something related to Taiwan), and Taiwan’s current constitution has yet to be modified to allow its government to consider mainland China as a separate country. Instead, China, under its State Council, has a Taiwan Affairs Office 國務院臺灣事務辦公室, while Taiwan, under its Executive Yuan, has a Mainland Affairs Council 行政院大陸委員會. However, even though both ministry-level offices have been established since 1991, official meetings between the two ministers did not happen until February 2014. Continue reading “China confirms cutting off contact with Taiwan liaison body”