[lg policy] ONE CHINA “POLICY” VS “PRINCIPLE”: HOW LANGUAGE IS USED TO OBSCURE DISCUSSION ON China

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Mon Apr 22 12:54:33 EDT 2019


ONE CHINA “POLICY” VS “PRINCIPLE”: HOW LANGUAGE IS USED TO OBSCURE
DISCUSSION ON TAIWAN
[image: Milo Hsieh]MILO HSIEH <https://newbloommag.net/author/milo-hsieh/>
04/21/2019APRIL 2019 <https://newbloommag.net/category/timeline/april-2019/>
ENGLISH <https://newbloommag.net/category/languages/english/>POLITICS
<https://newbloommag.net/category/main/politics/>


by Milo Hsieh <https://newbloommag.net/author/milo-hsieh/>語言:
English <https://newbloommag.net/2019/04/21/one-china-policy-principle/>
Photo Credit: Tsai Ing-wen/Facebook

*TAIWAN’S POLITICALLY* ambiguous status has made it difficult for many to
hold discussions about it. For one, different narratives compete for
influence in serious discussions on Taiwan, especially between the
governments of Taiwan and China. While most of the time one’s choice of the
term makes little difference in the discussion on Taiwan, other times minor
differences—even just a single word—can have deep implications.
<https://newbloommag.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Minquan_Bridge2017_TAIWAN.jpg>PHOTO
CREDIT: TAIWANKENGO/WIKICOMMONS/CC

Given Taiwan and China’s high-context culture in communicating to one
another and to the rest of the world, often times one must be especially
careful with the precision of language. This guide seeks to list how
different terms are used to imply different meanings.
1. “Reunification” Versus “Unification”

*THE TERM* “reunification” is often used by China, particularly to reflect
upon its intentions toward Taiwan. While it may seem a shared term
historically used by both the Kuomintang and the Communist regime, the
difference primarily rests on the assumption on whether Taiwan is
historically a part of China.

“Reunification” suggests so. While for a majority of Taiwan’s post-war
history, “reunification” has been set as a goal of the KMT to take China
back and return to power, that goal laid on how the regime historically
considered itself the rightful representative of China. Until 1972, the
Republic of China, as opposed to the People’s Republic of China,
represented China in the United Nations Security Council. Today,
“reunification” continues to be used by China mostly, primarily to
legitimize its claim over Taiwan.

“Unification” somewhat pushes back on this assumption, since native
Taiwanese were disenfranchised before democratization efforts of 1990-6.
Under this assumption, efforts by China to take over Taiwan or its
intention to do so is efforts of “unification,” with an accusational hint
at PRC’s expansionist, imperialists tendencies. Different terms with the
same connotations such as “annexation” (吞併), are also often used by groups
with stronger sentiments for Taiwanese nationalism.

Objectively, Taiwan was ceded to Japan in 1895 after the defeat in the
Sino-Japanese war. Taiwan was a territory under the Qing dynasty and did
not enjoy much development or attention, nor did the Qing control all of
the island of Taiwan. Under Japanese colonial rule and the KMT
authoritarian regime, Taiwan developed from overseas territory to the
urbanized society it is today.
<https://newbloommag.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Chiang_Kai-shek_in_full_uniform.jpeg>CHIANG
KAI-SHEK. PHOTO CREDIT: HISTORICAL PHOTO

It is also important to know that this difference is exclusive to the
discussion in English since there is only one version of the Chinese term
“Tongyi” (統一). Some in English also prefer to use the term “annexation” as
a stronger term in order to push back against Chinese claims regarding
unification.
2. “One China Principle” versus “One China Policy”

*THE “ONE CHINA PRINCIPLE”* (一中原則) is advocated by China – that there is
only one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. “One China Policy” (一中政策),
however, is the formulation of solutions on Taiwan framed by the US and
governments around the world that do not officially recognize the ROC.

It is important to note that in the Three Communiqués as well as in the
Taiwan Relations Act that neither the One China “Principle” and “Policy”
were mentioned, though in all three communiqué state that the United States
“acknowledges” that there is only one China. Yet “acknowledge” is different
from “recognize.” While the former makes notice of the Chinese position in
an “I hear you” manner, the latter would suggest an acceptance of such a
position. The US has never “recognized” Taiwan as a part of China.

The use of the word “principle” thus has developed into other concepts on
Taiwan, such as the existence of a “red line.” But this “red line,” thought
to be a point of where PRC would be provoked to militarily invade Taiwan,
is often ambiguous and usually defined by China itself.

In short – the difference in the two is that while a “principle” would be
an unchangeable and inflexible core interest, a “policy” is one that can
adapt and change to adjust to ever-changing cross-strait relations.
3. The “Mainland” Versus “China”

*SIMILAR TO THE* first point, the two terms “Mainland” and “China” are used
by groups with different interests. While the “mainland” (大陸) is used both
historically and in modern time by the KMT, the term assumes Taiwan to be
an inherent part of China. A version, “the inner land” (內地), is also used
colloquially primarily by China.

For many unwilling to discuss under this assumption, the term “China” is
used to suggest that Taiwan is by its own a separate and independent entity
from China. “Communist China” (中共) is used to refer to the CCP regime and
often used by the ROC military to suggests a continuity in the hostility
between the PLA and ROC military. “Cina” (支那), an archaic term used in the
past, is also periodically used as a colloquial and derogatory term to
refer to China and the Chinese people.
<https://newbloommag.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/Tiananmen_Mao.jpg>PORTRAIT
OF MAO ZEDONG IN TIANANMEN SQUARE. PHOTO CREDIT: POCO A POCO/WIKICOMMONS/CC

“Chinese mainland” (中國大陸), as a term used in the Chinese discussions, is
often more commonly used as a midway point between the two, denoting the
de-facto separation between the government of China and Taiwan. “The side
across the strait” (對岸) is used similarly in this context to directly refer
to China without making an explicit political statement in Taiwan.
4. The Difference Between the “Republic of China” and “Taiwan”

*THE EXISTENCE* of the institutions of the ROC has become an increasingly
significant political issue since democratization. While on paper the ROC
constitution still claims all of China, the reality is that the ROC is
unlikely to ever act on the claim.

One could think of the ROC and Taiwan as two separate entities. The
difference is that while the *people* and diverse identity groups of Taiwan
make up the Taiwan nation and the identity of “the Taiwanese,” the
*institutions* of ROC is its current instrument of governance. In the
language of international relations language, the ROC is a *state*, and
Taiwan is a *nation*. Together, they would make up the Westphalian concept
of a “nation-state.”

In Taiwan, there is an on-going discussion over whether Taiwan as a
de-facto independent entity should shed the ROC institutions. Those
associated with the Pan-green camp usually keep a distance from the use of
the ROC and work towards its reformation and abolition, though once in
elected office many, including President Tsai, maintain careful use of ROC
state institutions.

Those  Taiwan’s continued de-facto independence but may not call for
outright independence typically maintain that the ROC institutions must be
preserved and that the ROC itself is an independent nation. The military
also makes more references to the defense of ROC rather than Taiwan.

Throughout the past years, international recognition of the ROC recognition
has declined. Taiwan only has a handful of allies recognizing it as ROC,
with unofficial relations more prevalent. The relations between the US and
Taiwan, as maintained through the American Institute in Taiwan and the
Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office, is one nominally
maintained between the US and Taiwan rather than the ROC.
<https://newbloommag.net/wp-content/uploads/2019/04/56935124_10155751467536065_5204948012777865216_o-1.jpg>PHOTO
CREDIT: PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE/FACEBOOK

To the United States, the ROC ceased to be recognized as a nation-state
after January 1st, 1979, with the Taiwan Relations Act later governing this
relationship starting on April 10th of the same year. Interestingly, while
the UN expelled ROC representatives in 1972, UN resolution 2758 merely
referred to them as the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek, and not of
Taiwan or the ROC.
Conclusion

*THOUGH THE* use of language is easily confusing, it’s important to know
which side advocates what form of language. China commonly uses
“reunification” of the Taiwan “province” as accordance with the “One China
Principle,” yet the US does not have a cohesive use with the exception of
the “One China Policy” Notably, experts and officials working on Taiwan in
Washington, DC uses different versions, depending on one’s background and
experience, and this does not preclude instances in which Washington is
itself confused about its vocabulary.

Nevertheless, it is important to note pick a term that relates to one’s
position. To discuss Taiwan’s effort in maintaining its sovereignty,
democracy, and de-facto independence from China using China’s version of
terms is to defer to China’s narrative and assumptions.

At the end of the day, the obscurity of some of these nuances and the
necessity to understand the long, complex, and ambiguous situation of the
US-Taiwan-China trilateral dynamic perhaps is a side effect of the
“strategic ambiguity” doctrine adopted by the US. It remains a question
whether this ambiguity will change as the Taiwan Relations Act passes its
40 year anniversary earlier this month.

-- 
=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+=+

 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com
http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/~haroldfs/

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