OPINION | How Taiwan Issue Influencing the Common Interests of China and the U.S.

OPINION | How Taiwan Issue Influencing the Common Interests of China and the U.S.

By Hao Xie
Shanghai-Hongkong Development Institute, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

OPINION | How Taiwan Issue Influencing the Common Interests of China and the U.S.

The Taiwan issue is a historical problem which is left over by China’s civil war. Chinese government believes that the Taiwan issue is Chinese internal affair, so it cannot brook direct or indirect interference by any foreign forces. Both Cairo Declaration issued by China, the US and the United Kingdom in December 1943 and the Potsdam Proclamation signed by China, the US, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union in 1945 announced that all territories, including Taiwan, occupied by Japan before the end of the Second World War should be returned to China. On 25 October 1945, the Japanese government completed the returning of sovereignty of Taiwan to China. Thus, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China and it has been proven through history. However, political behavior of states is not always dominated by rationality. In many cases, the political behavior will be irrational due to national interests. This is one of important reasons why the Taiwan issue can be regarded as a barometer for Sino-US relations.

As the superpower in the world after the Cold War, the US seeks its national interests on a global scale, and Taiwan becomes an important American agent which is able to help the US to obtain strategic interests in the Asia-Pacific region. In the system of national interests, the status of various interests of countries is not immutable. At different periods of history, the core interests of different countries keep changing due to changes in international situations. The Taiwan issue is the core interest of China, and Chinese leaders believe that reunification of China is their historical mission. With constant enhancement of its comprehensive strength, China should widely participate in international affairs, actively integrate into the international community and develop friendly and cooperation relation with other countries in different fields. Thus, China is likely to continue to pur- sue its current external policy, marked by overall caution, pragmatism and an emphasis on a peaceful regional environment so as to permit China’s modernization program to succeed (Hieronymi, 2004) . The Sino-US relations can be seen as one of the most important bilateral relations in the world. If both sides intend to promote their relations, they should not challenge each other’s core interests. If the government of the US continues to challenge China’s core interests, especially about the Taiwan issue, and does not comply with the promise of one-China policy, the relationship between China and the US is bound to inevitably face setback.

Obviously, striving for the peaceful reunification of China accords with the interests of China, the US and other Asia-Pacific countries. Chinese people are reluctant to see the horrible situation where they have to fight their compatriots across the Taiwan Strait. In fact, leaders in Beijing undoubtedly will be preoccupied with daunting domestic problems and unwilling to see a tense cross-Strait situation, which would distract them from their domestic agenda (Cheng, 2005). Maintaining good surrounding environment and stable Sino-US relations is very important for the development and modernization of China. From Taiwan’s perspective, the war means a tremendous, absolute, comprehensive disaster which will destroy its painstaking efforts after the China’s Civil War ended in 1949. From the Asia-Pacific countries’ perspective, maintaining stability in the Taiwan Strait and maintain East Asia security is common aspiration of people in East Asian region. From the American view, the US and its allies will have to pay a high price for this possible war across the Taiwan Strait in the future. Therefore, the Sino-US relations will decide and contain the development of relationship between the US and Taiwan.

With the peaceful rise of China and the decrease of Taiwan’s international space, the common interests between China and the US will keep on increasing, but the common interest between the US and Taiwan will be made smaller than before. A divided Taiwan does not have enough special interest for the US if China can promote economic development and achieve democratization. Maintaining peace and stability in the Taiwan Straits aligns with the common interests of China and the US, so the American government should not send any wrong signal to the Taiwan independence force.

The current American policy toward China will continue for quite a long time if the Chinese government still adopts its open policy and promotes democracy. On the current international situation, this policy in some extent will be effective and will lead to peaceful and stable relations between the US and China. Thus, this policy is very pragmatic. The US should realize that so long as Beijing eschews the use of force and works peacefully to adapt to and shape the future international system, the most destabilizing consequences of growing Chinese power will be minimized (Swaine, 2000). Actually, both China and the US do not want to use military means to resolve the Taiwan issue. It should be noted that China and the US have common interest in many aspects but it does not mean that the US can challenge the core interest of China.

Since China and the US established the formal diplomatic relations in 1979, both Chinese leaders and the leaders of the US have been trying to use different ways to promote the Sino-US relations. Without doubt, they have already yielded fruitful results in various fields of cooperation which can lead to a better understanding of the Taiwan issue. In fact, in many fields they have reached consensus which is based on common strategies and interests. They are willing to promote world peace and development of the Asia-Pacific region and try to enhance economic cooperation and seek common development and prosperity.

Publication Details:

This article is an excerpt from a research paper titled The Impacts of the Taiwan Issue on Sino-US Relations Hao Xie, Shanghai-Hongkong Development Institute, Fudan University, Shanghai, China

Download The Paper - LINK

Copyright © 2014 by author and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.
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