Research studies

Crisis of international recognition and diplomatic representation in Taiwan

Researcher: Ahmed Mohamed Abd El-Monaem El-Sayed Ahmed Hassanien

Democratic Arab Center 


The status of Taiwan has been one of the most intricate issues in both international law and international relations arenas for the past decades. The Taiwan question is essentially an extension of the “two Chinas” problem, which creates a dilemma for international law in accommodating the de facto existence of Taiwan under the vague concept of the one-China policy. Taiwan’s government, known officially as the Republic of China (ROC), was widely recognized as the only legitimate Chinese government until the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 2758 in 1971. This resolution replaced the ROC with its communist rival, the People’s Republic China (PRC) in the UN. After the deprivation of the UN seat had left Taiwan in a global legal vacuum, foreign states and international organizations have employed creative legal concepts in order to salvage the situation. In addition, from an international relations perspective, the Taiwan Strait, one of the most likely conflict zones in the Asia-Pacific region, has been dubbed the “Balkan Peninsula of the East.” The ROC-PRC, or cross-strait, situation is further aggravated by Taiwan’s key geo-strategic location, which has caused sovereignty over the island to remain the most sensitive issue in China-United States relations.

The Taiwan question and the so-called one-China policy must be discussed

in tandem, given that they are closely intertwined in law and politics[1].

2- Research problem:

Research problem can be formulated in the form of a key question ramifications set of sub-questions are as follows

Why there is a Crisis of international recognition and diplomatic representation in Taiwan?

And stems from this main question a number of sub-questions are as follows:

1- How the crisis began?

2- How can we evaluate the surprise diplomatic that occurred?

3- What is the current situation of the United States?

1- Historical Background: The Origin of the Taiwan Question:

The Chinese-Taiwanese Conflict began in 1949, after the Chinese Communist Party, led by Mao Tse-Tung, overthrew the nationalist government of the Republic of China (ROC).  It was during this time that President Chiang Kai-sheck of the ROC and his political party, the Kuomintang (KMT), were forced to flee with soldiers and civilians loyal to them to the Chinese island of Taiwan and reestablish the Chinese nationalist government. In 1950, the Chinese Communist Party established the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and invaded Taiwan, to unify all of China under their rule. Their plan failed, when the United States sent naval forces and successfully defended Taiwan.

Since then, both countries have existed in a state of neither complete independence nor integration, of neither war nor peace.  Military hostilities and tensions between the two countries have risen at times, such as in August 1958, when the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) bombed the Taiwanese islands of Kinmen and Matsu and when China tested ballistic missiles off the coast of Taiwan in March 1996 (Lynn, 2005).  Relations have somewhat improved at other times, with China’s retreat from strict Communism and embracing of Western economic policies

(Lynn, 2005).  Regardless of these fluctuations in relations, Taiwan has developed a democratic government and stellar economy that is independent on the PRC, yet both countries have many mutual economic interests, with billions of dollars invested in each other’s businesses.

Despite the de-facto independence in Taiwan and a sustained cessation of violent hostilities between the two countries, the PRC has never given up on its dream of reuniting all of China under its rule. There has been a massive buildup of military forces on the Chinese side

of the Taiwan Strait. This has been especially true in recent years, following Beijing’s March[2]

2- Diplomatic Surprise: Richard M. Nixon’s Rhetoric on  China, 1July 15,1971

The dynamic changed occurred when President Richard Nixon took bold diplomatic initiative toward China by sending his national security advisor, Henry Kissinger, on secret visits to Beijing in July and October of L 971, before his own highly publicized visit in February 1972. This meeting resulted in the issuing of the first of three important communiques (the 1972 Shanghai Communique),” which China viewed as the building blocks for a better relationship

The process of normalizing relations with China continued smoothly under

Nixon. In May 1973, the United States and China opened their liaison offices in Beijing and Washington, DC, respectively. But Nixon could not complete the process because of the Watergate scandal, which forced him to resign the presidency on August 1,  1974. The new president, Gerald Ford, visited Beijing in December 1975 promising that he would complete the task should he be elected to the presidency in 1976. However, then-Governor Jimmy Carter defeated him in November.

President Carter announced that the United States would accord full diplomatic recognition to China on January 1,  1979, thereby abrogating the U.S.-Taiwan Mutual Defense Agreement, including removal of U.S. forces from Taiwan and de-recognition of the government of the Republic of China on Taiwan-all in keeping with China’s prenormalization of relations demands. (Despite the high• level visits by Nixon and Ford, Carter’s recognition of the People’s Republic of China came as a complete surprise to Taiwan’s government. Taiwanese President Chiang Ching-kuo was, in fact, awakened in the middle of the night with the news only hours before the official announcement was made in America.)

The January 1,  1979, joint communique on the establishment of formal diplomatic relations states

The United States of America recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal government of China. Within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan

The United States of America and the People’s  Republic of China reaffirm the principles agreed on by the two sides in the Shanghai Communique [negotiated between Nixon and Mao] and emphasizes once again that

The Government of the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one china and Taiwan is part of china[3]

Taiwan’s Response to Shifting U.S. Policy

Taipei,  perpetually  wary of che smallest suggestion  of an American  softening coward Beijing, nevertheless contented icself with  a framework for Taipei-Washingcon  interac- tion chac did not adjusc co trends in the Un iced States. The leaders of Chiang  Kai-shek’s Guomindang party on Taiwan chrough che 1950s and early 1960s absorbed themselves in domestic political reorganizacion and economic rescrucruring, which American advis- ers had ardently encouraged and  their own experience showed co be essential. Chiang sustained a strong,  if less active, hold on policies and  remained the deciding voice on government  policies. Although corrupt  and  incompetent officials were purged  and fac- tionalism  suppressed,  chis meant,  noc greacer democracy,  bur scronger control  by the Chiangs-Chiang Kai-shek  and his son Chiang  Ching-kuo. Taiwan nonetheless pros- pered, with programs of land reform, infrastructure development, and industrialization rhar were more farsighted and better implemented than chose on che mainland, all as- sisced by American funding-US. Nonmilitary aid averaged $100 million a year from co 1965.14 1950

However, innovation did not extend co foreign and security policy. The views of Chiang Kai-shek and his inner core of advisers remained fixed on Cold War struggles and civil war fru.scracions. Officials responsible for external affairs focused their accencion on old battles:  incernarional recognition for Taipei and the isolation and destruction of Beijing. They increasingly feared chat rhe United  Scares, which had been unreliable in the past, mighc abandon  chem, compel  chem to adopt  dangerously conciliatory  policies, or mis- calculate its own approach,  leading co collapse or surrender. Chiang, however, believed chat the United Scaces had no alternative co backing him.

During rhe 1950s and inro the early l 960s, the efforts of the China lobby appeared so successful char there seemed no need for a change in scracegy or tactics. This amorphous and informal coalicion of U.S.  Officials, members of Congress, businessmen, publishers, journalises, scholars, church officials, missionaries, and representarives from Taiwan kepc aid flowing, the People’s Republicout of the UN,   and diplomatic relations berween Taipei and Washington in place. Friction did arise during boch che Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations over Chiang’s decerminacion co arrack che People’s Republic and force[4].

America’s  China policy since 1972 when the United States,  under Richard Nixon, and  the  PRC signed the  Shanghai Com­ munique. This agreement, which an­ nounced the opening of diplomatic ties be­ tween the People’s Republic and the United States, included declarations that “libera­ tion of Taiwan is China’s internal affair and that”

 “the United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China.” No formal changes in US policy towards Taiwan oc­ curred until 1979, when President Carter formally broke diplomatic relations with Taiwan and abrogated the mutual defense treaty.  At that time, Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which stipulated that Taiwan could enjoy all diplomatic benefits except  maintaining formal embassies and related Taiwan’s “peace and stability” to the political, security, and economic interest of the United States. The Act pointedly left open the option of selling arms to Taiwan to ensure its self-defense capability.[5]

3- Continuity and change in diplomatic relations between the two countries

Since the communist revolution in China, the government, which ruled in China escaped to Taiwan, an island was part of China, is located near the Chinese coast, the United States initially did not recognize China’s government-communist ruling in China itself, and recognized the government of Taiwan as the representative of China, even Nixon came and went to the People’s Communist in China itself  this diplomatically, and landed a certain principle is still governs US policy toward China so far,

It is they follow the one-China policy, meaning that there is one country that claims China, it will be exchanged diplomatic recognition to the Government

Communist China, and Taiwan for the United States announced it would announce the withdrawal of its recognition of them

But the Americans did not say their word about the final sovereignty over Taiwan, sovereignty over Taiwan is being negotiated in secret between the People’s Government of China in Beijing and the Taiwan government

Consequently, this so-called one-China policy, recognizing the communist government in Beijing, and the withdrawal of recognition from the Taiwan government But at the same time not to recognize any form of sovereignty over Taiwan, and leave it to negotiate this matter between Taiwan

China, the United States rejects China’s annexation of Taiwan by force, which angers China.

China considers Taiwan a part of it and it has had sovereignty over them, but because of the US position on China was not seeking to annex Taiwan by force, because the annexation of Taiwan by force will affect the diplomatic relations between China and the United States.[6]


Some Americans ask the idea of ​​one China and two administrations, or one China, two systems

In other words, Taiwan joins China remains waged by Chinese sovereignty but with preserving the nature of the regime in Taiwan

It is a system with multiple political and democratic elections, China was a communist economic system, Taiwan was a capitalist economic system, both countries now become a capitalist system, it becomes Taiwan is part of Chinese sovereignty, but reserves its system and this

What happened with the Hon Kong, which was part of China, then underwent the British occupation, where Britain had been chartered for a period of 100 years, and this contract is over 5 or 6 years ago,

But it was part of the negotiation between Britain and China that Hon Kong maintains a political nature

Located, and applied the idea of ​​one country, two departments

The United States want to apply the same idea in Taiwan[7]


1- Winberg Chai, the Taiwan Factor in U.S.-China Relations: an Interpretation, Asian Affairs, Vol. 29, No. 3 (fall, 2002)

Stable URL:

Accessed: 30-04-2015 11:57 UTC

2- Lee J. Hunkovic, The Chinese-Taiwanese Conflict Possible Futures of a Confrontation between China, Taiwan and the United States of America

3- – Winberg Chai, Missile Envy: New Tensions in China-U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Asian Affairs, Vol. 34,  No. 1 (Spring, 2007)

Stable URL:

Accessed: 30-04-2015 11:57  UTC

4- Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, Taiwan Expendable? Nixon and Kissinger Go to China, the Journal of American History, Vol. 92, and No. 1 (Jun. 2005)

Stable URL:

Accessed: 29-04-2015 15:53  UTC

5- Wilson Hago, U.S/.Taiwan Relations: A Year of Ambivalence, Harvard International Review, Vol. 4, No.7 (MAY-JUNE 1982)

Stable URL:

Accessed: 30-04-2015 12:10  UTC

6-  Dr. Mohamed Kamal, US-China relations: the issue of Taiwan, a lecture Submitted to the students of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, 10/03/2015

1- Winberg Chai, The  Taiwan Factor in U.S.-China Relations: An  Interpretation, Asian  Affairs, Vol. 29,  No. 3 (Fall,  2002),  pp. 131-133            1

2-Lee J. Hunkovic, The Chinese-Taiwanese Conflict

Possible Futures of a Confrontation between China, Taiwan and the United States of America, pp. 1-3

3- Winberg Chai, Missile Envy: New  Tensions in China-U.S.-Taiwan Relations, Asian  Affairs, Vol. 34,  No. 1 (Spring, 2007), pp. 40-41

4- Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, Taiwan Expendable? Nixon and  Kissinger Go to China, The  Journal of American History, Vol. 92,  No. 1 (Jun., 2005),  pp 114-115

5-  Wilson Hago, U.S/.Taiwan Relations: A Year  of Ambivalence,Harvard International  Review, Vol. 4, No.7 (MAY-JUNE 1982),  p. 40

6- Dr. Mohamed Kamal, US-China relations: the issue of Taiwan, a lecture Submitted to the students of the Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, 10/03/2015

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