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Taiwan “has not been a part of China”: Mike Pompeo

on Thursday on a US radio interview with host Hugh Hewit, The United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said, ”Taiwan has not been a part of China. That was recognized with the work that the Reagan administration did to lay out the policies that the United States has adhered to now for three-and-a-half decades.” 

When he was asked about Beijing’s alleged plan to take Taiwan by force, Pompeo emphasized that the U.S. has recognized Taiwan as a separate entity from China for more than 35 years — since the Reagan administration. He said both the Democratic and Republican parties have held a similar stance on the topic and have agreed to defend Taiwan’s democracy.

Taiwan-China relations

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Taiwan has been governed independently from China since 1949, but Beijing views the island as part of its territory. Taiwan, officially known as the Republic of China (ROC), is an island off the southern coast of China that has been governed independently from mainland China since 1949. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) views the island as a province, while in Taiwan—a territory with its own democratically elected government that is home to twenty-three million people—political leaders have differing views on the island’s status and relations with the mainland. Beijing and Taipei sharply disagree on the island’s status.

The PRC asserts that there is only “one China” and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of it. Beijing says Taiwan is bound by an understanding reached in 1992 between representatives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the Kuomintang (KMT) political party then ruling Taiwan. Referred to as the 1992 Consensus, it states that there is only “one China” but allows for differing interpretations, by which both Beijing and Taipei agree that Taiwan belongs to China, while the two still disagree on which entity is China’s legitimate governing body.

The tacit agreement underlying the 1992 Consensus is that Taiwan will not seek independence. In 1979, the United States established formal diplomatic relations with Beijing by concluding a joint communiqué  stating that “the United States of America acknowledges the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China.” At that time, U.S. President Jimmy Carter terminated diplomatic relations with the ROC government in Taiwan.

But months after, the U.S. Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), affirming important unofficial ties with the island. The legislation allows for arms sales to Taiwan for self-defense and does not rule out the possibility of the United States defending Taiwan from a Chinese attack—a policy known as strategic ambiguity.

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The United States is bound by law to provide Taiwan with the means to defend itself, and officially only acknowledges the Chinese position that Taiwan is part of it, rather than explicitly recognizing China’s claims. After Pompeo’s statement in the interview, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, Taiwan was an inalienable part of China and Pompeo is damaging Sino-US tie.” We solemnly tell Pompeo and his ilk, that any behavior that undermines China’s core interests and interferes with China’s domestic affairs will be met with a resolute counterattack by China,” he further stated

Taiwan foreign ministry spokeswoman, Joanne Ou, thanked Pompeo for his support.” The Republic of China on Taiwan is a sovereign, independent country, and not part of the People’s Republic of China. This is a fact and the current situation,” she said.

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Arthur Stein

Arthur Stein

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