By Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi
The disputed “One China” policy advocated simultaneously by People’s Republic of China (PRC) and Republic of China (ROC) or Taiwan is a typical principle pronouncing territorial unity and integrity of mainland China with that of the islands of Taiwan though both Chinas are governed by different governments in Beijing and Taipei, respectively.
As both claim to be the true or real China and ask for due recognition by the international community, the resultant situation continues to remain quite unresolved and complex because that creates confusion among sovereign nations about the real status of China.
Added to the persisting confusion is coming into power of new President Donald Trump in the US who had all along been critical during his election campaign about China’s muscular foreign policy assertions and imperialist-militarist misadventures in Asia-Pacific, particularly Beijing’s military buildup in the South China Sea and a few prominent issues like imbalanced Sino-US ongoing trade relations and nuclear ambitions of North Korea.
Trump had then expressed his firm resolve to take a tougher approach against China after coming into power. Even around a month before he took over the reins of the US administration, Trump revealed that he might use the “One China” policy as a bargaining chip to pressurise Beijing to change its behaviour. "I don't know why we have to be bound by a ‘One China' policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade," Trump said in a December interview with “Fox News Sunday”.
After his election, Trump showed formal exchange of courtesy with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen by accepting her telephonic call thereby doing away with the long-standing protocol in America because the US President or President-elect had not talked with any of the leaders of Taiwan as long back as since 1979.
Obviously, China reacted in a most furious way because it considers Taiwan to be its breakaway region and the current policy was put in place under President Jimmy Carter’s regime so as to establish formal ties with China. Abandoning the policy would have been seen as a major challenge to Beijing, which sees the “One China” policy as the cornerstone of its relationship with the US, and the consequent media retort in China bluntly remarked that "Adhering to the 'One China' principle is the political bedrock for the development of US-China relations. If it is compromised or disrupted, the sound and steady growth of the bilateral relationship, as well as bilateral cooperation in major fields, would be out of question", and snubbed the US President in humiliating words like 'ignorant as a child' in matters of foreign policy.
This led to President Trump taking a flat U-turn over his stated resolve which is indeed a first major setback for his leadership as well as the US because the American President is considerd to be the most powerful person in the world.
Against this scenario, the obvious question is that does this episode confirm the already humming proposition among academics and experts of international relations that China is going to take over the US by 2050, as an inevitable course of development of history in the world.
Also why and with what authority is Beijing dictating to the first hyper-power and threatening the whole world despite being a closed society and a monolithic and authoritarian polity which is absolutely contradictory to the prevailing progressive and liberal-democratic world order.
That is why, almost every policy initiative of China gets subjected to deep mistrust by the international community and that justifies the reason about China’s recent “One Belt-One Road” policy initiative being viewed with grave suspicions all over the world. Now what will be the future of the existing balance of power in the multipolar world order, which appears to be subjected to severe strain?
(Dr. Sudhanshu Tripathi is Associate Professor of Political Science at M.D.P.G. College, Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. Comments and suggestions on this article can be sent to email@example.com)