Back to Library Main Page


Article 1(2) of the Charter of the United Nations states: The purposes of the United Nations are: "To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples….."

* Importance: This article of the UN Charter provides the people of Taiwan with the legal basis for their right of self-determination. Their quest for self-determination is guaranteed by international treaties such as the UN Charter.


The San Francisco Peace Treaty was signed by 49 Allied Powers (including the US) and Japan on September 8, 1951. Article 2(b) of the treaty states that "Japan renounces all right, title and claim to [Taiwan]." The recipient of sovereignty over Taiwan was not mentioned, though. Neither the Communists in Beijing, nor the Nationalists in Taipei received control over Taiwan.

* Importance: Why did the treaty fail to mention the beneficiary?
Because at the time, the UK recognized the Communists in Beijing, while the US still recognized the Kuomintang in Taipei. The Allies did not want to offend Beijing or Taipei, and it was decided that the recipient of sovereignty should not be specified for the moment.

Since the PRC was established, it has not for a single day exercised any control over Taiwan. The people of Taiwan are the only ones who have the right to claim sovereignty over Taiwan.

* Importance: The San Francisco Peace Treaty provides the people of Taiwan with the legal basis for their right of self-determination.

First Shanghai Communiqué (February 28, 1972)

In 1972, the Cold War produced a rapprochement in Sino-American relations to counter the threat the USSR posed. In the Shanghai Communiqué, the US initiated a "One China Policy" despite the fact that Taiwan had never been part of China. The US declared: "The US acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China." Thus, the US abandoned Taiwan and its people to clear the path for establishing diplomatic relations with the PRICE. This resulted in Taiwan's complete diplomatic and political isolation.

The Communiqué disregarded longstanding US policy towards Taiwan. Just 10 months prior to the signing of the document, the State Department's had reiterated the US position that the international status of Taiwan remains open: "In our view, sovereignty over Taiwan and the Pescadores is an unsettled question subject to future international resolution."

The collapse of the USSR has removed the Soviet threat and rendered the old US strategy of the US playing the "China Card" obsolete.

* Importance: The Communiqué is merely a framework for Sino-American relations. It is a memo of mutual understanding and holds no legal binding power. Now that the Cold War is over and the USSR has ceased to exist, the US does not have to succumb to China anymore. A revision of the 1972 Communiqué should be called for to grant Taiwan the international status and recognition it deserves. The Taiwanese people should not have to suffer from isolation and abandonment any longer.

Second Shanghai Communiqué (Also US-CHINA DIPLOMATIC RELATIONS TREATY (January 1, 1979)

On January 1, 1979, the US and the PRC agreed to recognize each other and established diplomatic relations. Within this context, the US vowed to maintain "cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations" with the people of Taiwan. The US and the PRC reaffirmed: "The US acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China."

President Carter pledged: "We will continue to have an interest in the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue. I have paid special attention to ensuring that normalization of relations between our country and the PRC will not jeopardize the well being of the people of Taiwan."

* Importance: Through this treaty, the US vows to continue to seek a peaceful resolution of Taiwan's status. The treaty guarantees that -despite the fact that the US established diplomatic relations with the PRC- the people of Taiwan are not abandoned.


The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) was initiated by Congress and signed into law by President Carter. US-Taiwan diplomatic relations had been terminated three months earlier. The US Congress found it necessary to enact the TRA.

The TRA created the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) - a private corporation to handle "unofficial relations" between Taiwan and the US.

Important clauses in the TRA are: It is the policy of the US 1) to declare that peace and stability in the area are in the political, security and economic interests of the United States, and are matters of international concern; 2) to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means; 3) to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means ... a threat to the peace and security of the western Pacific area and of grave concern to the US; 4) to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character;

PRC leaders see the TRA as aimed at "preventing China's reunification" and have demanded its revocation.

* Importance: The US vows that the US decision to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means. The TRA played an important role in March 1996, when the US sent aircraft carriers to the Taiwan Strait in the midst of Chinese war games aimed at Taiwan.

Third Shanghai Communiqué (August 17, 1982)

In the Second Shanghai Communiqué, the provisions of the (first) Shanghai Communiqué were reiterated. It declared that the US recognizes the Government of the PRC as the sole legitimate government of China, and it acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China. During the conclusion of the Communiqué, the Chinese government restated that the Taiwan question is China's internal affair. The US stated that "it has no intention of pursuing a policy of "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan."

The question of US arms sales to Taiwan was not settled when US-PRC diplomatic relations were established. In this Communiqué, the US stated that "it intends to reduce gradually its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution."

* Importance: By means of this Communiqué, the US expresses its support for a peaceful solution of Taiwan’s status.

President Reagan's Six Assurances

Before President Reagan was going to sign the second communiqué with China in 1982, he sent then Assistant Secretary of State, John Holdridge to deliver six points (later so called "Six Assurances) to then President of Taiwan, Chiang Chin-ko.  The assurances are deemed by some that it contradicts the 1982 Communiqué.  Nevertheless, the six assurances are to assure the Taiwanese government with U.S. commitment to Taiwan's sovereignty and the rights to purchase advanced arms from the U.S.  Over the years, many scholars argue that the importance of the "Six Assurances" is underestimated and should be part of the official U.S. policy toward Taiwan and China, in addition to Taiwan Relations Act and three Communiqué. 

1994 Taiwan Policy Review

In 1994 Clinton administration undertook a review on U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

In the 1994 review, U.S. pledges to "actively support Taiwan's membership in international organizations accepting non-states as members, and look for ways have Taiwan's voice heard in organizations of states where Taiwan's membership is not possible".  It later  becomes a basis for U.S. Congress to support Taiwan's WHO bid.

Any question? Please email: or Call: (202)547-3686