Commentary | Taiwan belongs to the Chinese people

Commentary | Taiwan belongs to the Chinese people

A few days ago Italian diplomacy made a gaffe - and I do not know whether it was a bona fide slander or a literal lack of style - by violating the rules of international law related to Resolution No. 2758 of 25 October 1971, which states that the General Assembly of the United Nations:

“Recognising that the representatives of the Government of the People's Republic of China are the only lawful representatives of China at the United Nations and that the People's Republic of China is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, 

Decides to restore all its rights to the People's Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its government as the only legitimate representatives of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representatives of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all organisations related to it.”

Italy sent official representatives of State institutions to the island, and what is even more severe is that Italy and Taiwan do not even have diplomatic relations.

The regrettable and shameful incident, however, gives us the opportunity to reflect on the fact that Taiwan belongs and has always belonged to the Chinese people from time immemorial. It was created as an entity in its own right following the escape to the island of the Guomindang (Nationalist Party) in 1945 after the defeat suffered in the civil war. An escape made under the protection of a foreign power that occupied a region of the Chinese State. If we go back to Italy’s past, the case of Taiwan is reminiscent of the attempts to make Sicily independent from Italy (1942-1951).

As to the Asian island, let us go back in time.

Taiwan has never been an independent country, but an integral part of China. Countless historical evidence and legal facts prove that Taiwan has always been an integral part of Chinese territory. Taiwan has belonged to China since ancient times. The Chinese were the first to develop Taiwan. 

Most of the ancestors of Taiwan's current residents immigrated from mainland China. The Linhai Tuizhi written in 230 AD during the Three Kingdoms period contains the first description of Taiwan. After the Song and Yuan dynasties, China’s central governments began to establish administrative agencies in Penghu and Taiwan to exercise jurisdiction. Although Taiwan experienced a brief imperialist colonial rule in history, it was actually ruled by the Chinese government for the vast majority of the time.

In July 1895, with the Treaty of Shimonoseki, the Qing government was forced to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, as a result of defeat in the Sino-Japanese War of 1895-1895. In 1941, in its Declaration of War against Japan, the Chinese government announced it would abrogate all unequal treaties with the Rising Sun and recover Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. In December 1943, the governments of China, the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland issued the Cairo Declaration, clearly stating that Japan had to return the stolen Chinese territories to China, including Northeast China, Taiwan and the Penghu Islands. 

In 1945 the Potsdam Declaration - signed by China, the United States of America and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which was later joined by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics - reaffirmed that “the terms of the Cairo Declaration” would “be implemented”. In September of the same year, Japan signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender and promised to loyally fulfil its obligations under the Potsdam Declaration. On 25 October, the Chinese government announced that it would restore the exercise of sovereignty over Taiwan and attended the ceremony to return Taiwan province to China in the capital Taipei. Therefore, China took Taiwan back both de iure and de facto.

The Taiwan issue is a legacy of the Chinese civil war. Shortly after the victory in the war against japan, civil war broke out in China between the Guomindang and the Communist Party. On 1 October 1949, the People's Republic of China was proclaimed. Some of the defeated Guomindang military and political personnel had fled to the island of Taiwan. After the outbreak of the Korean War, the government of the United States of America intervened in China’s internal affairs with armed force and signed the so-called Mutual Defence Treaty with the Taiwanese defectors, leading to a severe situation of long-term political clash and confrontation in the Taiwan Strait. This led to the emergence of the Taiwan affair.

The government of the People’s Republic of China enjoys and fully exercises sovereignty over Taiwan. It should be noted that the government of the People’s Republic of China was established in 1949, replacing the previous government of the Republic of China (established on 1 January 1912) as the sole lawful government representing all of China. It was a change of power without any territorial change, the subject of jus gentium, which those ruling here in Italy have currently forgotten and probably never studied, and certainly ignored.

Sovereignty and territory are intrinsic to China. Territory has never changed and Taiwan's status as part of Chinese territory remains unchanged. It is obvious that the government of the People’s Republic of China fully enjoys and exercises sovereignty over its national territory, including Taiwan. 

As mentioned above, UN General Assembly Resolution No. 2758 completely resolved the issue of China's representation in the United Nations.

The 26th session of the UN General Assembly on October 25, 1971 adopted Resolution No. 2758 by an overwhelming majority (including Italy, although “Italy’s current rulers” do not know it). As mentioned above, the Resolution restored all rights to the People’s Republic of China. The Resolution still reaffirms that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only legitimate government representing all of China, including Taiwan, both nationally and internationally. It is clear that China has only one seat at the UN and there is not an issue of “two Chinas” or of “one China, one Taiwan”.

The legal opinions of the Legal Affairs Department of the UN Secretariat on all Taiwan issues clearly state that “Taiwan, as a province of China, has no independent status”. It can therefore be said that the Resolution has completely resolved the issue of who represents China internationally, both politically and legally.

Resolution No. 2758 provides the legal basis for the UN system and agencies to properly manage Taiwan-related issues. It embodies the authority of international law and becomes the fundamental rule by which all UN Member States must abide. Taiwan has no basis, reason or right to participate in the United Nations and other international organisations in which only sovereign States can participate. In practice, the UN system and agencies use the denomination “Taiwan, Province of China” to refer to Taiwan.

The “One China” principle has a clear meaning: there is only one China in the world; Taiwan is part of China and the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only lawful government representing all of China. Furthermore, countries that have diplomatic relations with China cannot have any official exchanges with Taiwan (they should remember this in the Italian government).

The One China principle represents the general consensus of the international community. The One China principle is a recognised fundamental rule in international relations and is also the political basis for China to establish and develop diplomatic relations with other countries in the world. As many as 183 countries in the world out of 192 in the UN, including the United States of America, have currently established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China based on the One China principle.

In conclusion, the historical and legal facts whereby Taiwan is part of China cannot be called into question. Taiwan's status has never changed as Taiwan has never been an independent country but a part of China. The so-called claim that China “invaded” Taiwan is ridiculous and not even worth being refuted. The Taiwan issue is a legacy of the Chinese civil war. It is China's internal affair and does not tolerate any external interference.

Resolution No. 2758 has resolved the issue of who will represent the whole of China, i.e. the government of the People’s Republic of China is the only lawful government to represent the whole of China, including Taiwan, to the United Nations and the world. The Resolution made it clear that there is only one China in the world. Taiwan is part of China and is a non-sovereign entity. 

The Resolution has reaffirmed the principle of One China. Over the past half-century and more since the Resolution's adoption, the United Nations’ Secretaries-General and their spokespersons have clearly stated, in their comments on Taiwan, that the United Nations is guided by UNGA Resolution No. 2758 and committed to the One China Principle. The official legal opinions of the UN Secretariat's Office of Legal Affairs have made it clear that Taiwan is “an integral part” of China and that “the United Nations regards ‘Taiwan’ as a province of China with no separate status.” This clearly shows that the One China principle is not only a prevailing international consensus, but also a fundamental rule in international relations.

Those who oppose this principle turn the wheel of history back and challenge not only the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the People’ Republic of China, but also the justice and conscience of the world community and the post-World War II international order. This is absurd and extremely dangerous.

Professor Giancarlo Elia Valori is a world-renowned Italian economist and international relations expert, who serves as the President of the International Studies and Geopolitics Foundation, International World Group, Global Strategic Business In 1995, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem dedicated the Giancarlo Elia Valori chair of Peace and Regional Cooperation. Prof. Valori also holds chairs for Peace Studies at Yeshiva University in New York and at Peking University in China. Among his many honors from countries and institutions around the world, Prof. Valori is an Honorable of the Academy of Science at the Institute of France, Knight Grand Cross, Knight of Labor of the Italian Republic, Honorary Professor at the Peking University.

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