The end of World War II brought the people of the former Japanese colony of Formosa no peace. Unlike all other colonial peoples who gained independence after the war, the US’ “one China” policy trapped them, in the words of the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, in “political purgatory.” The policy also trapped the US in fear of a war with China.
It started in 1943, when the US in the Cairo Declaration promised Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) that “Formosa shall be restored to the Republic of China [ROC] after the war.”
In 1972, the US in the Shanghai Communique acknowledged to Mao Zedong (毛澤東) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) that “Taiwan is a province of China.”
This “one China” narrative is based on an untruth. China is prepared to go to war to defend this untruth. The truth is that China never owned Formosa.
For a century, the West was led to believe that Formosa, Tibet and Xinjiang have been parts of China, ignoring that Chinese, who wore the Manchu pigtail as a symbol of subjugation for 264 years, could not have owned these Manchu acquisitions.
The Manchu treated all the people, including Chinese, as equals. China’s territorial over-reach explains the anti-China sentiment in these territories.
The US foreign policy establishment was in denial that the “one China” policy ended in 2005, when the KMT and the CCP ended the Chinese Civil War in Beijing, and again in Singapore in 2015. The exiled KMT on Taiwan practically surrendered to the CCP without involving Formosa.
The reason: Since 1996, Formosa has been self-ruled, ending the KMT’s one-party rule that began in 1945. The public elected independence-promoting, local-born Lee Teng-hui (李登輝), Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) and Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) as presidents. They all reject the “one China” policy.
Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) realized that neither the KMT, nor the US, could deliver Formosa to the CCP. He took the matter in his own hands, calling Formosa: “Taiwan, China,” as China has done to Tibet, Xinjiang and the South China Sea.
Xi demands that the rest of the world, including the US, capitulate to its “one China” principle.
As Tsai resists, he has heightened the “united front” assault, exploiting the election process by spreading disinformation and “one family” propaganda through pro-Beijing media groups to people who are still mired in a post-Chiang Stockholm syndrome.
With the KMT on Beijing’s side, he took city by city, county by county, making mayors and county commissioners his proxies, bypassing Tsai’s government in Taipei.
The KMT mayor in Kaohsiung, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜), became the party’s nominee for next month’s presidential election. Han’s unruly supporters are reminiscent of China’s Red Guard of the 1960s.
In short, Xi has implemented a Hong Kong-style “one country, two systems” formula to the localities. It is only time before he takes Formosa by default, undermining the US’ Taiwan Relation Act (TRA).
Not many Americans know that the US is defending the TRA, which was enacted in 1979 for arms sales to Taiwan.
China in 2005 enacted its “Anti-Secession” Law after the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) took control of Formosa. It criminalizes the Taiwan independence movement as a justification to use force against Formosa.
The US foreign policy establishment’s desire to meet Xi halfway only because the global center of gravity has shifted to China undermines the countermeasures against China, such as new legislation friendly to Formosa, arms sales and US-Taiwan exchanges. These are mere improvisations. The US needs a game changer.