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Ambassador Lei speaks on one-China principle

HIS Excellency Lei Kezhong, the Ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to the Kingdom of Lesotho says Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. The comments come in the context of Speaker of the United States House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The visit sparked tension between the US and China. Ambassador Lei recently spoke to the Lesotho Times (LT) deputy editor, Silence Charumbira on the matter. Below are the excerpts of the interview: 

LT: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has caused the tension in the Taiwan Strait. What is this all about? How did it all start? 

Lei: On 2 August 2022, US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a provocative visit to China’s Taiwan region in disregard of China’s strong opposition and serious warning. This is a serious violation of the one-China principle and the provisions in the three China-US joint communiques. It has a severe impact on the political foundation of China-US relations and infringes on China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. It gravely undermines peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and sends a very wrong signal to the separatist forces for “Taiwan independence”.

It is known to all that there is but one China in the world, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government representing the whole of China. This is at the core of the one-China principle and has become the consensus of the international community and a basic norm in international relations.

In October 1971, the 26th session of the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 2758, which decided to “restore all its rights to the People’s Republic of China and to recognise the representatives of its Government as the only legitimate representative of China to the United Nations, and to expel forthwith the representative of Chiang Kai-shek from the place which they unlawfully occupy at the United Nations and in all the organisations related to it.”

To date, 181 countries around the world, including the US, have established diplomatic relations with China on the basis of the one-China principle. Pelosi’s stunt proves to be another bankruptcy of US’s policy, diplomacy and reputation. It proves that the US is the biggest saboteur of cross-Strait peace and the biggest troublemaker for regional stability. It demonstrates the confrontational and dangerous nature of the US’s “Indo-Pacific Strategy” and its hypocrisy and double standard when it comes to international rules.

LT: How does China view the US’s sentiments that there is no change to its one-China policy and that Pelosi’s visit does not violate the one-China policy?

Lei: The one-China principle is the centerpiece of the three Sino-US joint communiques, and the premise and foundation for the establishment and development of diplomatic relations between China and the US. In 1979, the US made a clear commitment in the Sino-US Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations that “the United States of America recognises the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China” and “within this context, the people of the United States will maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan”.

When concluding whether the US policy toward Taiwan has changed or not, we need to look at not only what it says but more importantly what it does. For some time now, the US has gone out of its way to play “the Taiwan card” and contain China. It keeps distorting, fudging and hollowing out the one-China principle, stepping up official exchanges with Taiwan, supporting Taiwan in developing “asymmetric capabilities”, and spreading the idea that “Taiwan’s status is undetermined”, thus emboldening “Taiwan independence” separatist activities. The US has also put some unilateral stuff, including the “Taiwan Relations Act” and the “Six Assurances”, into its one-China policy. If these do not count as changing the US policy, then what are they?

The US Congress, as part of the US Government, is obliged to strictly follow the one-China policy of the US Government and not engage in any official interactions with China’s Taiwan region. Pelosi is the incumbent Speaker of the US House of Representatives and ranks second in the US presidential line of succession. Her visit to Taiwan, in whatever form, under whatever pretext and at whatever time during her tenure, is a serious violation of the one-China policy as committed by the US Government, marks a major political provocation upgrading the official interactions and substantive relations between the US and Taiwan, and signal connivance and support for “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. Upon arrival in Taiwan, Pelosi said very clearly in her statement that her visit is official. And on her way to Taiwan, her flight was escorted by the US navy. Any honest man can tell that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan has violated the one-China policy committed by the US itself.

LT: The US says it will not seek and does not want a crisis, and China should take full responsibility for the current escalation of tensions in the Taiwan Strait. What is your take on this?

Lei: Well done is better than well said. If the US really does not want a crisis, it should not interfere in the internal affairs of China, it should not allow House Speaker to visit Taiwan. As President Biden disclosed to the media before the visit, even “the (US) military thinks it’s not a good idea”. Now that Pelosi has made this serious provocation, China must respond to it and take counter measures. If China does not rectify the situation and respond with countermeasures, then what will become of the principle of non-interference in internal affairs? Will international law still count? How can peace in the region be safeguarded?

An injustice has a head, a debt has a master. It is the US side that made provocations, created the crisis, and keeps escalating the tense situation. The US should not be under the illusion that they can confound black and white. The facts and events that have led to cross-Strait tension are crystal clear, and fair-minded people can tell right from wrong. More than 170 countries and international organisations have reaffirmed their commitment to the one-China principle and expressed support for China in defending its sovereignty and territorial integrity. The rights and wrongs have been recognised.

LT: The US has described China’s military exercise and crossing of the median line of the Taiwan Strait as an overreaction that has escalated the situation and threatened regional peace and stability. How do you see it?

Lei: First of all, I want to make it clear that there is no such thing as a median line in the Strait. A median line of a strait or a river is usually referred to the demarcation line between different countries. Taiwan is a province of China, it’s meaningless to have a median line between two regions of a country. Where is the median line? Who has drawn such a median line? Obviously, those who says there is a median line in the Strait is trying to confuse different concepts here.

The Chinese armed forces have the full right to conduct military exercises in waters off China’s Taiwan island. Our military exercises are open, transparent and professional. They are consistent with domestic and international law and practice. They are aimed at sending a warning to the perpetrators and punishing “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. On the contrary, it is the reckless move of the US side that seriously undermines China’s sovereignty and seriously jeopardises peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait.

LT: The US said that China unilaterally changed the status quo in the Taiwan Strait and was opposed to solving the Taiwan question in a non-peaceful way. What is your comment?

Lei: Taiwan is China’s Taiwan. No country is entitled to act like a judge on the Taiwan question. We strive for the prospect of peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and efforts, but we will not renounce the use of force and we reserve the option of taking all necessary measures.

The Taiwan question is the most important, most central and most sensitive matter in China-US relations. Right now, the Taiwan Strait is facing a new round of tension and serious challenges. The fundamental reason lies in the repeated efforts of the Taiwan authorities and the US side to change the status quo. The Taiwan authorities have kept seeking US support for their independence agenda, refused to recognise the 1992 Consensus that embodies the one-China principle, and promoted “de-sinicisation” in an attempt to realise “incremental independence”.

The US side, in an effort to use Taiwan to contain China, has continued to distort, obscure and hollow out the one-China principle, stepped up official interactions with Taiwan, supported Taiwan in developing “asymmetric capabilities”, and spread the idea that “the status of Taiwan is undetermined”, thus emboldening “Taiwan independence” separatist activities. In 2000, the US put its own so-called “Taiwan Relations Act” before the three China-US Joint Communiques. A couple of years ago, the US inserted the so-called “Six Assurances to Taiwan”, something it had long kept secret, into its formulation of the one-China policy. These were attempts to change the status quo and hollow out its one-China policy.

In the face of these moves, China cannot sit idly by and must make legitimate and necessary responses. China will always take resolute and forceful measures to uphold its sovereignty and territorial integrity. All the consequences arising therefrom must be borne by the US side and “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.

LT: How is China proposing the governance of Taiwan to be managed? Do you want Taiwan to have autonomy? What kind of government would you envisage? Would it be controlled by the central government in Beijing?

Lei: Peaceful reunification and One Country, Two Systems are our basic principles for resolving the Taiwan question and the best approach to realising national reunification. The One Country, Two Systems principle is an important institutional instrument created by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese government to enable peaceful reunification. It takes full account of Taiwan’s realities and is conducive to long-term stability in Taiwan after reunification.

After peaceful reunification, Taiwan may continue its current social system and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law. The two social systems will develop side by side for a long time to come. One Country is the precondition and foundation of Two Systems; Two Systems is subordinate to and derives from One Country; and the two are integrated under the one-China principle.

We will continue working with our compatriots in Taiwan to explore a Two Systems solution to the Taiwan question and increase our efforts towards peaceful reunification. In designing the specifics for implementing One Country, Two Systems, we will give full consideration to the realities in Taiwan and the views and proposals from all walks of life on both sides, and fully accommodate the interests and sentiments of our compatriots in Taiwan.

To realise peaceful reunification, we must acknowledge that the mainland and Taiwan have their own distinct social systems and ideologies. The One Country, Two Systems principle is the most inclusive solution to this problem. It is an approach that is grounded in democratic principles, demonstrates good will, seeks peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question, and delivers mutual benefit. The differences in social system are neither an obstacle to reunification nor a justification for secessionism. We firmly believe that our compatriots in Taiwan will develop a better understanding of the principle, and that the Two Systems solution to the Taiwan question will play its full role while compatriots on both sides work together towards peaceful reunification.