How Trump Could Feasibly Move Away From the ‘One China’ Policy

How Trump Could Feasibly Move Away From the ‘One China’ Policy

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump told Fox News Sunday that the United States need not “be bound by a ‘one China’ policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Just a week after shocking the foreign policy establishment by accepting a congratulatory call from Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen, the remarks deepened fears that the new U.S. president will unravel the 37-year arrangement between Beijing and Washington. The ambiguous formulation, which allowed the United States and China to harbor different understandings of how Taiwan’s future would be determined, provided a mutually face-saving framework for the establishment of formal diplomatic relations. China hands in and out of government shudder at the thought that President Trump would even consider disrupting that delicate diplomatic modus vivendi.

Even those more favorably disposed toward Taiwan — particularly the Taiwanese themselves — express alarm that the democracy’s future could be treated by an American administration as a mere bargaining chip in a Sino-American grand bargain. For more than 20 years, U.S. policy has proclaimed Taiwan’s future to be an existential matter for the Taiwanese people to decide.

Before either set of critics lets its angst run too far ahead of reality, it is worth recognizing that the status quo is unsustainable. The people of Taiwan want and deserve greater international respect and participation, while China, in the name of “reunification,” increases its military threat to cut off the de facto independence and democratic achievements Taiwan already enjoys. America’s ambiguous policy sits precariously between the two inexorable forces.

To get Beijing’s attention and ease Taiwan’s (and our allies’) concerns, the declared starting point for any negotiation should be this: Any changes in America’s outmoded “one China policy” will be in the direction not of China’s even more outmoded “one China principle” but toward a new, more realistic policy of “one China, one Taiwan.”

Some important underlying principles should guide the negotiations that could lead to a new bilateral — or trilateral — deal.

First, Washington’s one China policy is not the same as Beijing’s one China principle.

Their respective positions were laid out in the 1972 Shanghai Communique signed by President Richard Nixon and Premier Zhou En-lai.  The one China principle Beijing declared is that Taiwan is part of China, period. Both Mao Zedong’s Communist dictatorship and Chiang Kai-shek’s anti-Communist dictatorship agreed on that, with each saying it should rule the one China.

The U.S. side said it would not challenge that shared position but did not state its own view on Taiwan’s eventual status, as long as it was determined peacefully. That is America’s one China policy.

Unfortunately, under Chinese pressure, many scholars, journalists, and even former public officials have tended to meld the Chinese concept with the American title — which has pleased Beijing and disadvantaged the United States and Taiwan.

Second, the one China policy was flawed from the beginning and has become even more untenable over time.

When Washington stated it was agnostic on Taiwan’s future and left it to the two tyrannies to work things out peacefully, it did so in a curious way, saying “all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Strait” agreed on the one China goal.  That implied that the Chinese and Taiwanese people had somehow been consulted on the matter — which, of course, they had not been.

Since then, Taiwan’s evolved democracy has provided ample opportunity to determine the people’s will, and they have made clear in overwhelmingly numbers that they have no desire to be incorporated into a “one Communist China.” So that premise of the Communique was and is non-existent. In 2000, President Bill Clinton made it an explicit part of America’s one China policy that Taiwan’s future “must be resolved peacefully and with the assent of the people of Taiwan.”

Starting with Nixon, every U.S. administration, including President Jimmy Carter’s when he established diplomatic relations with Beijing, has emphasized Washington’s intention and expectation that Taiwan’s future will be decided peacefully.

Unfortunately, Mao, and every Chinese leader since, has proclaimed a “right” to use force to bring Taiwan under Beijing’s rule. Read More:


In 2000 I held a news conference to point out the dangers of Red China believing that the America would not defend Taiwan.  That it could lead to war.  At the time Red China was threatening to attack Taiwan if they elected an “independence” candidate.  The Taiwanese did elect that candidate, and there was no war.

This best thing now is simple, Red China needs to recognize Taiwan is a separate country and visa versa.  There is Red China and there is Taiwan, acceptance of the obvious is the solution, instead of pretending entire countries do not exist.

Below is one of the newspaper articles about that news conference in 2000 which was attended by Hong Kong, Taiwan and US Chinese language newspapers.  Johnny Chung is seated next to me. He exposed that Bill Clinton received money from the Chinese military, in fact Chung was the courier of that money. That story was known as ChinaGate.



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