A new shift?

Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
Friday, Aug 05, 2022

Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi recently arrived in Taipei, the capital of Taiwan, during her visit to Asia. This was the first visit to Taiwan by any top US official in the last 25 years. The schedule of the visit was kept secret by the US, but speculations were rife in the world media about her possible visit to the island.

Beijing has slammed the visit as ‘extremely dangerous, and ‘playing with fire’, terming it a serious violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Russia has also supported China’s position and described the US move as a provocation.

Tension in the region has reached its peak as China has summoned the US ambassador in Beijing to record its strong protest. Taiwan has alleged that Chinese warplanes have managed to enter its air defence identification zone. There are also reports of anti-war protests outside the hotel where Pelosi was staying in Taipei. Many protesters holding placards demanded her to go back.

Taiwan, which proclaims itself as the Republic of China, is one of the countries in the world that is not an official member of the United Nations. However, several countries, including the US, keep unofficial ties with the self-governed island.

China is considered a founding member of the United Nations with veto power and an important country on the world map, but at the diplomatic level, confusion regarding the legitimate status of China arose after World War II. For a long time, Taiwan occupied the official seat of China in the UN. However, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) presented its stance to the international community in clear words that the PRC would discontinue all kinds of diplomatic ties with all those countries that did not believe in One China and maintained bilateral relations with Taiwan as the Republic of China.

In simple words, One China means that there is only one China in the world, which is the People’s Republic of China with capital Beijing, and Taiwan is not a sovereign country but a part of China. Under the said policy, all official documents and media channels of Beijing are prohibited from mentioning the words the Republic of China (ROC) and the government of Taiwan. News reports use the word ‘Taiwanese authorities’ when talking about the island. The passports issued by the Republic of China are not accepted to enter China. However, special permits are issued for Taiwanese residents for business and other social purposes.

Gradually, the international community recognized the PRC as a legitimate representative of China and the Chinese. In 1972, Taiwan was removed from the list of member countries of the UN. This was the time when Pakistan was playing a significant role in bringing the PRC closer to the West and the modern world. At that time, our national flag carrier PIA was the only airline which connected China with the rest of the world. Pakistan’s serious efforts in bringing China and America closer are acknowledged by both countries even today.

There have been reports in the international media that Taiwan’s current leadership has also recognized One China and is more serious about branding itself as Taiwan, instead of the Republic of China. This is why Taiwanese authorities are no longer mentioning the words ‘ROC’ on new passports.

Keeping the outstanding patience shown by the Beijing regime towards Hong Kong and Macau in view, it once seemed that the Taiwan dispute would soon be resolved peacefully. However, recent developments indicate that new alignments are currently underway in the region. We need to demonstrate great care, caution and foresight on the foreign front in this regard.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He tweets @RVankwani