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Op-Ed: We need to get the definition of Taiwan right

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    16:07, May 03, 2018

Night View of Taipei 101 (File photo by Xinhua)

Recently, a number of foreign companies operating in China have come under fire for challenging the sovereignty and territorial integrity of China. In January, China asked Marriot International to shut down its websites and apps after it listed Tibet, Taiwan, and other Chinese territories as separate countries. Afterward, Delta Air Lines found itself in hot water for listing Taiwan and Tibet as countries on its website. More recently, United Airlines and American Airlines were reportedly requested by China’s aviation authority to stop listing Taiwan as a country on their websites.

Though some have been quick to label the requests for correction as “threats,” China has the right to protect its core interests. The claim that valid legal requests are part of an “increasingly coercive campaign” to pressure foreign companies is false and misleading. Foreign companies that come to China are required to abide by China’s laws and regulations.

The more worrying issue is that some foreign companies and individuals fail to understand the sensitivity of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity issues and in some cases are pushing an anti-China agenda.

At least part of the problem seems traceable to prejudices against China and an inadequate understanding of the One China principle and the Taiwan issue. Look up the word “Taiwan,” for instance, and you will discover that some of the world’s most authoritative reference sources define Taiwan as a separate nation.

While some reference sources such as Merriam-Webster and The American Heritage Dictionary get it right, defining Taiwan as “an island of China,” others paint a different picture, and one with far-reaching consequences. Oxford Dictionaries, Google Translate, and Apple’s Siri, for instance, all define Taiwan as an "island country" off the coast of China.

The above is not meant to be an exhaustive list, but rather highlight an inadequate understanding of the One China principle and the Taiwan issue. According to a Chinese government white paper of the same title, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China, and all the facts and laws about Taiwan prove that Taiwan is an inalienable part of Chinese territory. Those facts are:

April 1895: Japan forced the Qing government to sign the unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, and forcibly occupied Taiwan.

July 1937: Japan waged all-out war against China.

December 1943: At the Cairo Conference, the United States, China, and Great Britain declared that all the territories Japan had stolen from the Chinese (including Taiwan) would be restored to China.

July 1945: The Potsdam Proclamation called for the unconditional surrender of Japan. In August, Japan officially surrendered and promised in its Instrument of Surrender that it would effectuate the terms of surrender.

October 1945: Taiwan and the Penghu archipelago were restored to China.

October 1949: The founding of the People’s Republic of China replaced the government of the Republic of China to become the only legitimate government of the Chinese people.

Since then, Taiwan and the Chinese mainland have been in a state of temporary division, but this has not changed the fact that there is only one China, and the vast majority of the world agrees that there is only one China and Taiwan is an inseparable part of it.

In October 1971, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758: “Restoration of the lawful rights of the People’s Republic of China in the United Nations.” In it, the Assembly decided to transfer China’s seat in the United Nations to the government of the People’s Republic of China and recognized the representatives of its government as “the only legitimate representatives of China.”

In the 1979 US-PRC Joint Communiqué, the United States recognized the government of the People’s Republic of China as “the sole legal government of China” and acknowledged that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.

And on Tuesday, the Dominican Republic followed recognized that there is “only one China” and that the government of the People’s Republic of China is the “sole legal government” representing all of China. That was followed by Panama’s decision last year to establish diplomatic ties with China.

It is ridiculous to claim that Beijing is “threatening” companies around the world—when in fact it is China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity that is being threatened by ignorance and nefarious political agendas. It is time to get the definition of Taiwan right.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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