Despite the provocative visit of the retiring US House speaker, Mrs. Nancy Pelosi to the Taiwan region of the People’s Republic of China in July, obviously designed to obfuscate the status of the region,
African representatives to the recent coordinator’s meeting on the implementation of the Follow-up Actions of the 8th ministerial conference of the forum on China – Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) unanimously stood shoulder to shoulder with Beijing in mutually offering “unwavering support to each other in upholding territorial integrity, security and development interests”.
The African representatives reaffirmed that “there is but one China in the world, and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of china”.
Without any ambiguity, what so ever, the African side restated its commitment to the One China principle and its support for China’s national re-unification and China’s effort to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity. The clear position of Africa in support of One China principle aligns with the global consensus, expressed in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 of October 25, 1971, which recognised the government of China as the sole legitimate representative of China, with Taiwan as inalienable part of China’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.
Recently in the face of the provocative visit of the U.S House speaker to Taiwan, the United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Antonio Guteeres, describe the UN iconic resolution as “the orientation we have in everything we do”.
In a recent white paper released by the government of the People’s Republic of China on the Taiwan question, it states “Resolution 2758 is a political document encapsulating the One China principle whose legal authority leaves no room for doubt and has been acknowledged worldwide and that “the One-China principle represents the universal consensus of the international community, and “is consistent with the basic norms of international relations”
African countries have diligently aligned with the universal consensus by integrating its support for One China principle in the mainstream of their respective national foreign policies. And for African countries this is not just a political expediency, but a fundamental policy commitment.
The Taiwan question is actually a leftover of China’s modern history. From 1949 to 1971, the United States and other western powers helped the rump of the General Chiang Kai Shek (KMT) who had fled from the mainland to Taiwan Island to stake a claim of the leadership and representation of China at the United Nations.
General Chiang and his KMT has ruled China as a single party dictatorship supported mainly by the U.S and who in total disregard to the patriotic call of all the Chinese people for an inclusive and coalition government precipitated a civil war in which it lost to Communist Party of China, leading a united democratic front.
Despite this historical hiatus further made worse by the interruption of the United States, the two sides of the Taiwan straits (mainland and Island) found a common ground in the 1992 consensus which restated and the articulated the obvious; the fervent wish of all the Chinese people for complete national re-unification.
The recently released white paper acknowledge the historical background stating that “a result of the Civil war in China and the late 1940s and the interference of external forces, the two sides of the Taiwan straits have fallen into a state of political confrontation and it however noted that the sovereignty and territory of China have never been divided and will never be divided and Taiwan’s status as part of China’s territory has never changed and will never be allowed to changed.
In recognizing that the “Taiwan question arose as a result of weakness and chaos in our nation” the white paper reaffirmed the Chinese government, commitment that the “question will be resolved as national rejuvenation becomes a reality”
As a theme in China national question, Taiwan is universally recognized as China’s internal affairs, and except as a strategy to contain and undermine China’s peaceful development, the United States quite clearly recognised in all the foundational documents of the establishment of bilateral relation between the two countries. In making the common cause, with the small separatist clique in Taiwan, fractions of the U.S political establishment have manufactured a political card out of the China’s Taiwan question. However, just as the world found a common cause in condemning the recent Taiwan card played by Washington with the farcical visit of the U.S House speaker’s visit to the region, Africa’s response has been a very clear and unambiguous affirmation of her unwavering support for the One China principle.
Even as a Taiwan question arose entirely out of the modern Chinese history Beijing has demonstrated enormous sensitivities to some certain historical curves and bends, and has proposed the iconic principle of “One Country, Two Systems” whose content states that “after peaceful reunification, Taiwan may continue its current social systems and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law”.
While the “two social systems will develop side by side for a long time to come, One county is the pre-condition and foundation of the two systems .This principle not only embodies the Chinese creative spirit to resolve her own internal problems and but provides elaborate political space to accommodate differences not only in political views but in the more complex stretch of social systems within the over-reaching dynamic of their common home land.
In the white paper, the Chinese government expressed her utmost resolve “to work with the greatest sincerity and exert our utmost efforts to achieve peaceful re-unification. But we will not renounce the use of force”.
However, in this context, China will not attack, invade or conquer Taiwan as no country in the world would attack, invade or conquer part of itself. Rather Beijing maintained that it would “only be forced to take drastic measures to respond to the provocation of separatist elements or external forces, should they ever cross our red lines”.
And the red line is any brazen attempt by the small clique of ambitious separatists in Taiwan to declare “Taiwan independence” or external forces colluding with separatist elements to do such.
In such extreme circumstances, no one would be in doubt where Africa will stand along with other members of the United Nations.
Onunaiju is research director of the Abuja based Think Tank.