The Myth of “One China”

  • Edward L. Dreyer


“There is only ‘One China,’ and Taiwan”—or Tibet, or Xinjiang, or some other territory—“has always been part of that China.”1 This at least is the official position of the government of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), repeated again and again by spokespersons who remain relentlessly on this message. The message is well suited to the PRC’s contemporary political needs, and it permits the PRC to deny the legitimacy of any aspirations to independence on the part of Tibetans, Uighurs, Mongols, or any other minority ethnic group. Since their territories have “always” been part of “China,” their histories are, in some sense, part of Chinese history, even if the peoples in question are not native speakers of Chinese and do not identify with the dominant Han nationality.2 If Taiwan has always been part of China, then surely the PRC government has the right to “reunify” the island with the mainland, even though the PRC has never exercised any authority over Taiwan. The “One China” doctrine thus underlies a powerful claim to Taiwan that is widely, if not universally, recognized by the international community.


Qing Dynasty Ming Dynasty Chinese History Yuan Dynasty Qing Government 
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    For the assertion that the kingdom of Bohai, a successor state to Koguryŏ/ Goguryeo, one of the Three Kingdoms (samguk) of pre-unification Korea, was “not an independent country but a local government under the control of the Tang dynasty” whose history is “inseparable from Chinese history,” see “Raiders of the Arc of History,” South China Morning Post, October 4, 2006. For differing Chinese and South Korean view on Koguryŏ itself, see Choe Sang-Hun, “Tussle Over a Vanished Kingdom,” International Herald Tribune, October 12, 2006.Google Scholar
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© Peter C. Y. Chow 2008

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  • Edward L. Dreyer

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