Two Chinas

Two Chinas

The term Two Chinas (traditional Chinese: 兩個中國; simplified Chinese: 两个中国; pinyin: liǎng gè Zhōngguó) currently refers to the two states with "China" in their titles: [ ]
* Republic of China (ROC), established in 1912, currently controlling Taiwan and some island groups nearby.
* People's Republic of China (PRC), established in 1949, currently controlling mainland China.


In 1912, Xuantong Emperor abdicated as a result of the Xinhai Revolution and the Republic of China was established by revolutionists led by Dr Sun Yat-sen. From 1912 to 1949, China was scarred by wars between warlords, WWII, Japanese invasion and the Chinese Civil War. As the Chinese Civil War ended in 1949, Communist Party of China took control of Mainland China and founded the People's Republic of China. The Government of the Republic of China retreated to Taiwan in the same year.

Though fighting continued for the next several years, by the time of the Korean War the lines of control were sharply drawn: the Communist-led People's Republic of China government in Beijing controlled most of mainland China, while the Kuomintang-led Republic of China government, now in Taipei, controlled the island of Taiwan, some surrounding islands, and a number of islands off the coast of Fujian. This stale-mate was enforced with the assistance of the United States government which began deterring an invasion of Taiwan after the start of the Korean War.

For many years, both governments contended to be the sole legitimate government of China. With the fighting largely over, the major battleground became the diplomatic. Before the 1970s, few foreign governments recognised the People's Republic of China. The first governments to recognise it as the government of China were Soviet bloc countries, members of the non-aligned movement, and the United Kingdom (1950). The catalyst to change came in 1971, when the United Nations General Assembly expelled representatives of the Chiang Kai-shek by refusing to recognise their accreditations as representatives of China. Recognition for the People's Republic of China soon followed from most other governments, including the United States. The Republic of China continued to compete with the People's Republic of China to be recognised as the legitimate government of China.

Since the 1990s, however, a rising movement of for formal recognition of Taiwanese independence has made the political status of Taiwan the dominant issue, replacing the debate about the legitimate government of China. One significant opinion in Taiwan is that the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China are both sovereign, thus forming "two Chinas", or "one China, one Taiwan". Former administration of Republic of China President Chen Shui-bian subscribes to this theory, and accordingly has largely abandoned the campaign for the Republic of China to be recognised as the sole legitimate government of China. Instead, it is campaigning for the Republic of China to join the United Nations as representative of its effective territory - Taiwan and nearby islands - only.

Current situation

The Republic of China (which administers Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China (which administers mainland China) do not officially recognise each other's sovereignty. The official position of the governments of both the Republic of China and the People's Republic of China remain that there is only one sovereign entity of China, and that each of them represents the legitimate government of all of China - including both Taiwan and the mainland - and the other is illegitimate. However, in recent years, the rhetoric of the two governments have diverged significantly on the issue of "two China"s or "one Taiwan, one China".

People's Republic of China

The Government of the People's Republic of China strongly opposes the practice of treating the Republic of China as an independent country. The mainland government has consistently opposed the notion of "two Chinas", instead maintaining that all of "China" is under a single, indivisible sovereignty. Under this principle, while the PRC has no "de facto" control over territory administered by the ROC, the PRC nevertheless maintains that the territories controlled by both the PRC and ROC are part of the same, indivisible sovereign entity "China". Furthermore, under the succession of states theory, the PRC maintains that it has succeeded the ROC as the government of "China", and thus the current ROC regime based in Taiwan is illegitimate and has been superseded.

Thus, for example, the PRC insists that in order for other countries to establish diplomatic relations with it, that country must end its formal diplomatic relations with the ROC and recognise the One China Policy. The PRC also uses its international influence to prohibit the ROC from entering international events such as the Olympic Games under its official name. Instead, the ROC was forced to adopt the name Chinese Taipei to enter such events since the 1980s. Furthermore, on press releases and other media, the PRC never refers to the ROC as such, instead referring to Taiwan as "China's Taiwan Province", and to the ROC government as "the Taiwan authority".

It should be noted, however, that the government of the PRC does not, as a matter of law, equate the PRC with China. For example, in the "Anti-Secession Law of the People's Republic of China" (2005), the PRC is referred to as "the State", which is distinct and separate from "China". Under that law, "the State", i.e. the PRC, is to seek reunification of "the Taiwan area" with the areas currently under the PRC's administration into a unified "China".

Republic of China

While the ROC still officially claims sovereignty over the mainland (as well as Mongolia and some other territories), it no longer actively pursues these claims, and has in recent years de-emphasised this official vision (without officially abandoning it), replacing it with un-official pronouncements along the lines of there being "two Chinas" or two separate entities of "Taiwan" and "China".

Several leaders of the ROC have used similar phrases, such as Lee Teng-hui's "Special state-to-state relations" in 1999. The former President of the Republic of China, Chen Shui-bian, also proposed the idea of "One Country on Each Side" in 2002. The emergence of the Taiwan independence movement has further complicated matters, with the PRC finding the notion of "Two Chinas" unpalatable, yet considering Taiwan independence an even worse alternative.

The Chen administration has taken steps to use Taiwan internationally in the name of preventing confusion over the "two Chinas". For example, some Taiwanese have had difficulty traveling with "Republic of China" passports as officials mistook them for citizens of the People's Republic of China, so "Taiwan" has been added to the Republic of China passports. [ [ Taipei Times - archives ] ]

On 2 September 2008 the ROC President Ma Jing-jeou was interviewed by the Mexico based newspaper Sol de Mexico and he was asked about his views on the subject of 'two Chinas' and if there is a solution for the sovereignty issues between the two. The ROC President replied that the relations are neither between two Chinas nor two states. It is a special relationship. Further, he stated that the sovereignty issues between the two cannot be resolved at present, but he quoted the '1992 Consensus', currently accepted by both sides, as a temporary measure until a solution becomes available. [cite news |title=Taiwan and China in 'special relations': Ma|publisher=China Post|date=2008-09-04|url=] The spokesman for the ROC Presidential Office Wang Yu-chi (zh-t|王郁琦) later clarified the President's statement and said that the relations are between two regions of one country, based on the ROC Constitutional position, the Statute Governing the Relations Between the Peoples of the Taiwan Area and Mainland Area and the '1992 Consensus'. [cite news |title=Presidential Office defends Ma|publisher=Taipei Times|date=2008-09-05|url=]

Other uses

Chinese history is rarely as neat as it is portrayed and it was rare indeed for one dynasty to end calmly and give way quickly and smoothly to a new one. Dynasties were often established before the overthrow of an existing regime, or continued for a time after they had been defeated.

As a result, there have been many periods when different regimes claimed to speak for all of China. For example, the southern Song Dynasty, the Jurchen Jin Dynasty, the Khitan Liao Dynasty, and the Tangut Western Xia all existed contemporaneously; likewise, the Manchu Qing China co-existed with Ming China from 1636 to 1644.

ee also

*Taiwan independence
*Chinese reunification
*One China
*Political status of Taiwan
*Chinese Political Parties
*Politics of the People's Republic of China
*Politics of the Republic of China
*Chinese government
*Legal status of Taiwan
*Time in China
*Exclusive Mandate
*Republic of Taiwan

References and footnotes

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