Zhenglimin, 12 December 2016
One must, whether an individual or a country, have principles when interacting with others. For China, the One China principle is one of the foremost preconditions for building formal ties with other countries.
The principle, which holds that there is only one China and Taiwan is an indispensable part of China, has once again been challenged by US President-elect Donald Trump in an impulsive manner.
During his interview with Fox News Sunday, Trump said, “I don’t know why we have to be bound by a one China policy, unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”
The inappropriate rhetoric came just days after Trump had a phone call with Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, breaking decades of US diplomatic policy.
China hopes to closely work with the upcoming US administration to build a new type of major country relations. However, benign interaction between the world’s two biggest economies can only be achieved on the basis of mutual respect and their political commitments, and the One China principle is one of them.
The One China principle is part of the consensus that Chinese government and successive US administrations have honored over past decades.
Since 1972, when Richard Nixon broke the ice and began to engage with China, the principle has been recognized by former US administrations and was included in three joint communiques issued by the two countries.
The three communiques constitute an important political legacy of former US presidents and have been applied by the US government to guide the development of China-US relations.
In the 1972 China-US Shanghai Communique, the US declared that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China.”
In the 17 August Communique issued in 1982, the United States reiterated that its government had no intention of “pursuing a policy of ‘two Chinas’ or ‘one China, one Taiwan.'”
A country must be responsible for its commitments to other countries, and despite the change of government, the new US administration should act in accordance with the current framework of China-US ties, rather than ignoring it in an impulsive and self-deceiving way.
Fortunately, the US side has clarified its stance. After the Trump-Tsai phone call, the White House National Security Council spokesman, in response, said that “we remain firmly committed to our one-China policy based on the three joint communiques.”
Taiwan is among the core and fundamental interests of China, a country that cherishes national sovereignty and territorial integrity just like any other.
No country is willing to bargain over core national interests, and China is no exception. China views the One China principle as a bottom line and there is no room for any compromise.
China can be a principal partner in cooperation with the new US administration, provided it respects China’s core interests. Differences can also be managed by the two sides in a constructive manner.
The world is watching Trump as he prepares to assume office. The new US administration needs to be rational and respectful, rather than impulsive.