“One China Policy vs One China Principle”

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“One China Policy vs One China Principle”

The One China Principle (adhered to by Beijing) provides that: “There is only One China and Taiwan is part of China.” Conversely, the One China Policy (adhered to by -for instance- the US) provides that: “the U.S. acknowledges that China has made certain claims over Taiwan, but that the U.S. does not recognize Chinese claim of sovereignty over Taiwan. The U.S. only ACKNOWLEDGES China’s claims.”

On February 9, 2017, President Donald J. Trump pledged to uphold “our One China policy.”

It means that the United States only recognizes one legitimate government of China at a time. Prior to January 1, 1979, the United States recognized the “Republic of China” as the government of China. After 1979, the U.S. recognized the “People’s Republic of China” as the government of China.

Perhaps the most imaginative articulation of “our One China” is in formal testimony to the U.S. Congress by then-Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs James Kelly on April 21, 2004.

One member of Congress asked: “Can the evolution of full-fledged democracy on Taiwan and the clear emergence of a sense of Taiwanese identity meld with the principle of One China, or are they in stark contrast with each other?”

Secretary Kelly responded:

“… In my testimony, I made the point “our One China,” and I didn’t really define it, and I’m not sure I very easily could define it.”

“But I can tell you what it is not.”

“It is not the One China policy or the One China principle that Beijing suggests, and it may not be the definition that some would have in Taiwan…”