Blackburn’s visit to Taiwan undermines one-China principle

The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, Taiwan, China, 22 May 2018. /CFP

The Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taipei, Taiwan, China, 22 May 2018. /CFP

Editor’s Note: Yin Sura holds a Masters in Statistics and Financial Engineering from PSL University and writes on geopolitical issues. Articles represent the views of the author and not necessarily CGTN.

US Senator Martha Blackburn visited Taiwan on August 25. She arrived after Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, Senator Edward Markey and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on Aug. 22, 14 and 2, respectively.

US lawmakers visiting Taiwan are sounding the alarm. Such high-level visits were rare before Donald Trump was president. In 2011, American Republican Peter Roscam visited the island, and in 2015, Mrs. Kramer, the British transport secretary, visited the island for trade exchanges. The “one China principle” line. Roscam even faces an ethics investigation by the U.S. Congressional Ethics Office, alleging that his travels were sponsored by Taiwanese authorities.

The positive attitude of Ma Ying-jeou, the former leader of China’s Taiwan region, is also a factor in his endorsement of the “1992 Consensus” and his support for good communication with the mainland. This is beneficial to both sides, and will also help cross-strait relations move forward on the right track.

But Washington’s policy shifted after Trump took over the White House. He normalized official contacts between U.S. officials and Taiwanese authorities. In addition, Tsai Ing-wen began to withdraw from the “1992 Consensus,” which established a sausage-cutting strategy to disrupt the status quo that exists between mainland China and Taiwan.

On March 16, 2018, President Trump also signed the Taiwan Travel Act. Senior U.S. officials can visit Taiwan and vice versa, Tsai Ing-wen holds unprecedented virtual meeting with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Kelly Craft, January 14, 2021.

The U.S. Congress has since stepped up its visit, along with several other Western legislatures. The enactment of the Taiwan Travel Act that followed spurred more visits from U.S. lawmakers, as well as lawmakers from Japan, Slovakia, Sweden, Lithuania, France and the European Union.


U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 16, 2019. /Xinhua

U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft speaks during a Security Council meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 16, 2019. /Xinhua

Visits by other legislators to national territories with limited or no recognition remain one-off events that are often overlooked.

On December 13, 2021, a US congressional delegation visited Somaliland for the first time in more than a decade. Nonetheless, the visits were politically significant, sparking a backlash from the offended countries. This comes as the European Parliament delegation canceled a trip to the Palestinian territories in May and its chairman, Manu Pineda, was denied entry to Israel, likely due to disputes over territorial claims in parts of Jerusalem.

Furthermore, even if parliamentary groups visit UN member states, this is controversial for some Western countries; it can cause uproar among their political classes. That’s what happened when French lawmakers met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, prompting then-French President Francois Hollande to condemn it. Likewise, when a group of French lawmakers visited the disputed region of Crimea in 2015, the French foreign ministry condemned the visit, saying it “violated international law”.

Therefore, we can speculate that since the legislators have not been condemned by Western governments every time they visit Taiwan, it means that they are opposed to abiding by the “one China principle” enshrined in the three joint communiqués and violate international law.

Despite assurances from Washington that nothing has changed in its one-China policy, they are actually testing the boundaries of the status quo. The high frequency of these visits, combined with extensive media coverage and increased US arms sales to the Taiwan authorities; all betray the spirit of the three joint communiqués.

The Biden administration does not seek to improve cross-strait relations, nor does it hope to promote peaceful reunification. The Taiwan independence forces and the United States will continue to do their best, and in their view, these visits are a form of official engagement that gives Taiwan more international space and legitimacy.

(If you would like to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinion@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions Discover the latest comments on the CGTN Opinion section on Twitter. )

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