China, Taiwan and the US: One China or Two?

The Taiwan question has quickly become a major problem for President George Bush – as it has been for all other US presidents since the Chinese communist victory in 1949. But the ‘question’ mutates over time. The downing of the US spy plane and the sale of weapons to Taiwan are only the tip of the iceberg: there are much deeper issues.

The World Today Updated 26 October 2020 Published 1 June 2001 4 minute READ

Keith Suter

Director of Studies, International Law Association (Australian Branch)

Taiwan is one of Beijing’s most important issues. First, there has been a generational change on Taiwan and there is now a new way of looking at its relationship with China. After the communist victory in the 1946-9 Chinese civil war, the defeated Kuomintang (Nationalist) government fled to Taiwan (also called Formosa), an old Chinese province, and based itself at Taipei. For many years, the refugees from the mainland, who formed less than twenty percent of the population – now twenty-two million – kept power in their own hands. They claimed they were the true government of China and that one day they would return to govern Beijing.

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