China: China And Taiwan

Last Updated: 11 September 2008
Article by Eduardo Morgan Jr.

This past January 12, Taiwan held its parliamentary elections. In said elections, President Chen Shui Bian's Democratic Progressive Party, which advocates the independence of Taiwan and its participation as an independent State in the United Nations, suffered a catastrophic electoral defeat at the hands of the Kuomintang (KMT), which is the party that supports a "One China" policy. The KMT won 81 seats out of the 113 seats in Parliament, against only 27 seats for the President's party. So embarrassing was the defeat that President Chen Shui Bian was left with no option but to accept responsibility for such an electoral rout and resign from the leadership of the party.

The result of the elections clearly demonstrates that the people of Taiwan do not want the independence advocated by President Chen. On the contrary, they wish to further tighten the bonds with mainland China to the point of reaching a total reunification, within the framework of the offer made by the People's Republic of China of "one China and two systems," similar to what occurred with Hong Kong a little over ten years ago.

The Taiwanese will be able to keep the free market economy and democratic systems they adopted many years ago, which is looked upon favorably by the United States.

The recovery of Taiwan is the final link in the long struggle of the Chinese people to complete the unification of the territories that were taken from them and occupied by the colonial powers, which obtained great advantages and enormous profits during the XIX century and at the beginning of the XX century. Hong Kong reintegrated itself into Chinese sovereignty in 1997 and Macao did the same in 1999.

Torn from China by Japan in 1895, Taiwan returned to China in 1945, at the conclusion of the Second World War. In 1949, the defeated government of Chiang Kai-shek – the Kuomintang - took refuge in the island along with its army and established its new capital in Taipei, always under the premise that it represented the whole of China. The Cold War determined that the United States would become Chiang Kai-shek's protector, and the power of the American naval forces safeguarded Chiang from an eventual invasion by the legitimate Chinese Government. Additionally, Chiang used his influence in the United Nations to further the fiction that the Government in Taipei represented all of China, thus keeping the People's Republic from occupying its rightful place in the world organization. However, on October 25, 1971, by decision of the General Assembly, Taiwan was expelled from the U.N. and China occupied the place that legally belonged to it. Without leaving Taiwan unprotected, the United States established diplomatic relations with China, officially recognized the principle of "One China," limited its relations with Taiwan to simple commercial relations and since then has advocated a peaceful reunification.

It is difficult to conceive that in the 58 years that have passed since that first day of October, 1949, when Mao Zedong, victorious in the civil war, proclaimed the rebirth of his country, which had been impoverished and disarticulated by more than a century of hardship, internal decomposition, occupations and vile foreign exploitation – the Opium Wars come to mind - China has finally been rebuilt on the basis of its millennial culture and the spiritual strength of its people, in order to once again shine as a great Nation, to the benefit of the Chinese people and all humankind. It is hard to believe, we repeat, that Mao's prophecy is today's reality and that China has been reborn as one of the most important and influential countries in the planet. China is, as of today, the world power that not only preaches respect for the sovereignty of all countries, but also practices what it preaches through an absolutely non-interventionist policy and commercial relations framed within the principle of mutual respect, without trying to take advantage of its great wealth and enormous economic power to exploit weaker countries.

The January elections marked the beginning of the countdown towards the peaceful reincorporation of Taiwan and anticipate the moment when the world will join the Chinese people and their government to celebrate the occasion. Within this inexorable process, Panama must not become a mere spectator and, on the contrary, is obligated for historical reasons to contribute to just such a peaceful reincorporation. Let us remember that, of all the countries in the Americas, we were the last to obtain our full independence when the Torrijos- Carter Treaties eliminated the American enclave located in the center of our territory and the military bases that not only offended our dignity but also asphyxiated our country. China contributed to this process with its active participation in the historic meeting of the U.N. Security Council in Panama City in 1973 when, through its representative, Huang Hua, it publicly manifested its support to the Panamanian government's position. The United States was forced to veto the resolution that condemned its presence in Panama, which prompted our then Foreign Relations Minister, Juan Antonio Tack, to summarize in one historic phrase the feeling that prevailed in the room: "The United States vetoed the draft resolution in support of the Panamanian cause, but the entire world vetoed the United States."

In light of all of the above, it becomes difficult to comprehend why the sons of Omar Torrijos and Gabriel Lewis, who were two of the most important persons involved in the negotiation and subsequent ratification of the treaties that completed our independence and who climbed the last step of the generational struggle, have not yet taken advantage of their positions as the ones currently entrusted with Panamanian diplomacy, to recognize the one and true China and, instead, allow Panama to still form part of the ever-shrinking group of underdeveloped countries that, for purely pecuniary interests, still cling to the historical and legal anachronism of recognizing the Island of Taiwan as the true representative of more than one billion Chinese people.

It is still time to rectify this situation and the moment is now, when the people of Taiwan have sent the world such a clear signal.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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