Addressing the China-Taiwan Divide
Taiwan, officially the Republic of China (ROC), has been governed independently from mainland China, officially the People’s Republic of China (PRC), since 1949. However, both governments believe that they are the legitimate government of Taiwan, resulting in tensions as Taiwan continually moves to become an independent sovereign state. Note that the People’s Republic of China is also known as Mainland China as it is separated from Taiwan by the Taiwan Strait.
In 1992, the governments of each party at the time came to an agreement known as the 1992 Consensus. However, the content of this consensus is not not agreed upon by the two parties. The Chinese government’s interpretation of this agreement is that the two sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to China in unification. Taiwan’s take on this agreement is dependent on the political party in power; the two main political parties in Taiwan are the Kuomintang (KMT) party and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). The DPP has never endorsed the 1992 Consensus and, although the KMT has historically called for unification with Beijing, recent election losses may lead to a change in this stance.
Beijing firmly supports the “One China” principle and aims to incorporate Taiwan in a similar “one country, two systems” fashion as Hong Kong. This would allow Taiwan to maintain its current economic and political situation but is not favoured by the Taiwanese public, particularly in the wake of Beijing’s recent crack-downs on freedoms in Hong Kong.
In 2016, tensions between China and Taiwan began to escalate after the election of Taiwan’s current president, Tsai In-wen. Unlike her KMT predecessor, President Ing-wen supports Taiwan’s independence from mainland China. In response to President Tsai’s refusal to accept the 1992 Consensus, Beijing has implemented numerous new policies against the current Taiwanese administration, including tourism restriction and cessation of a cross-strait communication mechanism with the main Taiwan liaison office.
For many years, China has conducted incremental military provocations below the threshold of armed conflict with the aim to intimidate and curtail Taiwan’s military force. Recently, the largest daily incursion of Chinese military aircrafts flew into Taiwan’s self-declared Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ); although this did not violate Taiwanese sovereign airspace or international law, it was seen as a show of strength by the People’s Liberation Army. Notably, Taiwan is backed by United States military presence in the region.
As the Security Council, it is your job to de-escalate the rising tensions and find a solution to the growing threats of military action on both sides. Ensure that you address the ambiguity of Taiwan’s status and how a war between China and Taiwan would affect other members of the international community.
Other Aspects to Consider:
Taiwanese-American relationship and the potential for war.
For China, recognition of the 1992 Consensus and “One China Principle” is mandatory for restoring official contact with Taiwan. Clarification on the contents is necessary.
The status of Taiwan is currently ambiguous (i.e. province, sovereign state etc.)
Strong economic ties currently exist between Taiwan and China.
References and Resources for Further Research: