Perspectives
Index

 

About 
perspectives

Perspectives
on education 

Perspectives 
on housing 

Perspectives
on foreign
policy

The Role of 
Public Diplomacy
in the Evolution of
United States–China
Relations,
1972 through 2002

I.  The Getting-to-
Know-You Years, 
1972 through 1979

II.  1980 through 2000:
The Years of Explosive
Growth in Travel,
 Investment, Commerce, 
and Cross-Cultural
Study and
Language Training

III.  Todays United States
China Interdependence:
Lessons Learned and Their
Application to the Current
United States
Islam Divide

 

One China or Two?

 

 


 


Perspectives on Foreign Policy

 China 
 

 

 One China or Two?  page 3 of 6

 

        Over the course of the last four centuries, Taiwan has been transformed from a neglected backwater and unsettled frontier into a prosperous modern democracy of 23 million people. During this time, control over the island has passed through the hands of a succession of masters: indigenous tribes, Dutch colonizers, Han Chinese pioneers, Manchu dynasty officials, Japanese imperialists, and the Nationalist Chinese. Within this history there are several factors and historical truths that continue to influence cross-strait relations today and are likely to shape them in the future:

        First, Taiwan is situated on China’s strategic periphery at the very point where international trade routes crisscross East Asia. The Taiwan Strait–as narrow as 90 miles in some places--is the only geophysical feature separating Taiwan and the Chinese mainland.

        Second, the vast majority of the people on Taiwan are Han Chinese whose ancestors arrived on Taiwan at different times over the past four centuries and who therefore share many ancestral, historic, cultural, and linguistic ties with those across the strait.

        Third, because of the geographical proximity and cultural affinity between China and Taiwan, economic exchanges have been both unavoidable and beneficial.

        Fourth, because Taiwan and the mainland were united for less than five years in the twentieth century (between 1945 and 1949) and because the PRC has never ruled Taiwan, distinct political, economic, and social systems have developed on each side.

        Fifth, the long separation has also produced on either side of the strait different values, perspectives, visions, and even identities.  

        And sixth, cross-strait relations are not only dynamic but also fluid and malleable. Taiwan’s relationship to the Chinese mainland has changed a number of times in the past and certainly is currently not static. There would seem to be no question that it will change in the future—we hope for the better.

        Now let’s look at some of the current positive developments in the relationship.  First, let me cite a few statistics. In addition to exchanging millions of phone calls and letters with people on the mainland, Taiwan residents, over the last sixteen years, have made nearly 27 million trips there, including more than 3 million trips in 2002. During those trips they have spent roughly $30 billion (U.S. dollars). And with Taiwan’s gradual relaxation of its policy regarding mainlanders' visits, people from the mainland have made more than 800,000 trips to Taiwan in the last few years.  These exchanges have led to new bonds, such as 150,000 cross-strait marriages and hundreds of thousands of people from Taiwan now living on the mainland.

Continue to page 4.