A May 3 article by the U.S. media, the Diplomat, shows the inconsistency of China’s position on Taiwan in the past and the present. While Mao Zedong initially considered Taiwan an independent country, the current stance from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime is the opposite.
China regime’s past position on Taiwan is described in the seminal study by Frank Hsiao, professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, and Lawrence Sullivan, professor at Adelphi University. The title of their report is “The Chinese Communist Party and the Status of Taiwan, 1928-1943.”
During this time, Chinese authorities consistently recognized Taiwan as a distinct nation. They also identified the “national liberation movement” in Japan-occupied Taiwan as the struggle of a “weak and small nationality.” This is different from the Chinese revolution with connotations of sovereignty.
Mao expressed most clearly the position in his 1937 interview with American journalist Edgar Snow.
Snow quoted Mao saying, “..we will extend then (the Koreans) our enthusiastic help in their struggle for independence. The same thing applies for Taiwan.”
The article from Diplomat said, “for a significant period in its early existence, the CCP, including Mao himself, considered Taiwanese a distinct nationality and advocated for Taiwan’s existence as an independent nation separate from China.”
This stance was then reiterated in subsequent years by Communist Party figures like Zhou Enlai.
However, such positions on Taiwan saw a 180-degree turn between 1942 and 1943.
After the Battle of Midway, the situation of World War II in the Pacific began to change. Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalists argued that Taiwan should be “returned” to the Republic of China at the end of the war. This position was then incorporated into the joint statement of the November 1943 Cairo Conference attended by President Franklin Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chiang Kai-shek. The statement is now well-known as the “Cairo Declaration.”
Based on that, the Chinese regime also revised its stance. It began to argue that Taiwan should be included in the mainland, which was later established as the People’s Republic of China in 1949. From now on, a new position has been formalized in China’s political direction, becoming the basis for the nation’s current intransigent policies.
The article ends with a reminder for Beijing’s leaders. They should consider the early stance and look for peaceful solutions rather than current controversial policies.