A Unified China: One Country and Two Systems

By: Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentarios By a wide margin, Taiwan’s current President Ma Ying-jeou was reelected this month. For what has happened in Taiwan over the past five years this should come as no shock. Under President Ma, Taiwan and China have drawn closer to each other economically, culturally, and also in business connections. Ma Ying-jeou, a mainlander Chinese (note: those Chinese who came after 1945 are called “mainlanders” while those Chinese who came before 1945 are called “Taiwanese”), and a member of the Nationalist Party of China, completely changed the policy of his predecessor Chen Sui-bian whose policy was more one of confrontation with China. Interestingly enough, Ma’s policies have actually stabilized relations between the two.

I should provide a little background of the situation between China and Taiwan. From 1945 to 1949, China was undergoing a bloody civil war. The civil war was between the Republic of China government under the Nationalist Party of China and the rebel Communist Party of China. The Communists won, and the Nationalists fled to Taiwan where they set up a rival government. For over 40 years China and Taiwan had no relations—very much like the conflict between North Korea and South Korea today. But as of 1990 this began to change. Over the last 20 years, tens of thousands of Taiwanese have gone to live in China while a growing number of Chinese from China have gone to live in Taiwan. And with these person-to-person links have come major business ties that have intertwined the two economies. This has been influencing Taiwan’s elections since 2000. Before, Taiwan had been seeking a form of “independence” and “sovereignty” by trying to get recognition from the rest of the world as the “Republic of China.” But this seems to have totally failed, and President Ma has actually dropped any attempts of Taiwan becoming a “sovereign state.” What President Ma seems to be going for is a type of confederation with China, a kind of “one country and two systems” approach.

The Chinese government had proposed this type of approach a generation ago with Hong Kong and Taiwan. When Great Britain and China signed an agreement returning Hong Kong to China, the Chinese government had agreed to let Hong Kong keep its capitalist system for at least 50 years. Hence the concept “one country and two systems.” I believe that many Taiwanese are beginning to feel this may be the only way for Taiwan since the West, and particularly the United States, seems to be abandoning Taiwan. The fears that America is indeed abandoning Taiwan came true when U.S. President Barack Obama did not provide the weaponry that Taiwan’s government had asked for, but rather up-dated equipment of old versions of Taiwan’s already existing arsenal.

This would be like simply putting in new equipment into an old car that is barely running. Most Taiwanese got the idea—their destiny seems to be with China and China’s growing economy. If the concept of “one country and two systems” may not make the Taiwanese entirely happy, they do not see anything else as a realistic alternative. The problem of Taiwan may be being resolved by the fact that Taiwan may simply accept a fait accompli—being under China’s administration without being under China’s control. Since Taiwan has virtually no diplomatic relations with anyone (except for 23 countries—all of them in Africa and Latin America), and China’s economy is the biggest in Asia, it will only be a matter of time that the Taiwan question will be settled in China’s favor.

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