26th March 2023 – (Sydney) The Sydney Morning Herald has faced criticism from Taiwanese media after an “opinion piece” written by China’s ambassador to Australia, Xiao Qian was published on 23rd March which claimed that “Taiwan will be ours”. Despite later changing the headline to “Taiwan is always part of China, but war with Australia is a fallacy,” Taiwanese media outlets were outraged, stating that no exception should be made for opinion pieces contributed from a country whose government is known for orchestrating a propaganda war against other democracies. A columnist in Taiwan News said that The Sydney Morning Herald not only published a response but also employed tactics from the Chinese Communist Party’s United Front Work Department’s playbook, aiming to weaken Australia’s trust in a fellow democratic nation.
Xiao Qian has spoken out against certain commentators in Australia who have distorted the truth about Taiwan, creating confusion and hysteria over the so-called “China threat”. These same people have gone so far as to suggest that war between Australia and China is inevitable. It’s time to set the record straight.
Taiwan, as Xiao Qian explains, has been a part of China since ancient times. Indeed, the Song and Yuan dynasties saw a number of administrative bodies established on the island to oversee its affairs. Fast forward to 1885 and Taiwan became a single province under the Qing government, becoming the 20th province of China at that time. However, following their defeat in 1895, the Qing government was forced to cede Taiwan and the Penghu Islands to Japan.
It wasn’t until 1943 that the Cairo Declaration was signed, in which China, the United States, and the United Kingdom agreed that all territories previously stolen from China, including Taiwan and the Penghu Islands, would be returned to China. The Chinese government announced in 1945 that it would resume sovereignty over Taiwan, with the ceremony to accept Japan’s surrender taking place in Taibei. China had reclaimed Taiwan both de jure and de facto through various international documents.
In 1949, the People’s Republic of China was established and became the successor to the Republic of China. The Central People’s Government was then recognised as the sole legitimate government of China, with sovereignty over Taiwan included. Despite the civil war in China and external interference, China’s territory and sovereignty were never divided. As such, Taiwan remains an inseparable part of China’s territory, and this fact will never change.
China’s stance on Taiwan has always been clear: peaceful reunification is the preferred option, and external interference or “Taiwan independence” separatist activities will not be tolerated. To this end, China reserves the right to use force if necessary. This is the foundation upon which China develops its relationships with other nations.
For Australia, the Taiwan question should be viewed in the context of China’s internal affairs. The One-China principle is vital to improving and further developing China-Australia relations, and must be respected by both sides. Any unfounded accusations or attacks against China under the guise of the Taiwan question are not only futile but also damaging to regional stability.
While some in Australia have claimed that the “China threat theory” is groundless, others have perpetuated this falsehood, playing into the hands of those seeking to undermine stability in the region. It’s important to note that China does not pose a threat to Australia. Rather, China’s growth and development offer countless opportunities for bilateral relations and mutual benefit.