Located to the southeast of the Chinese mainland opposite Fujian Province, the island province of Taiwan is flanked by the Pacific Ocean to the east and the Taiwan Straits to the west. Covering an area of 36,000 square kilometers, Taiwan comprises China's largest island, Taiwan Island, and more than 80 other smaller neighboring islands and islets, the largest of which is the Penghu Islands. Taiwan was called Yizhou and Liuqiu in ancient times. Taiwan's early development by the Chinese people has been recorded in many historical books and documents. The Chinese governments through the past ages set up administrative organizations to exercise its jurisdiction over Taiwan. Traditional Chinese culture has been continuously passed on during the development of Taiwanese society, even during the 50 years of Japanese occupation. After the Chinese people won the War of Resistance against Japan in 1945, the Chinese Government restored the administrative organs of Taiwan Province. On the eve of the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, the Kuomintang authorities retreated to Taiwan from the mainland. In 1950 the Korean War broke out and the United States dispatched its Seventh Fleet to invade Taiwan and occupy the Taiwan Straits. In 1954, the government of the United States and the Taiwan authorities signed a "Mutual Defence Treaty," bringing about the separation of Taiwan from the mainland.
The Government of the People's Republic of China has made unremitting efforts towards solving the question of Taiwan and realizing the reunification of the country. In February 1972, President Richard M.Nixon of the United States visited China and the two sides issued the Shanghai Communique. On January 1, 1979 the United States joined in establishing diplomatic relations with China, declaring formal recognition of the government of the People's Republic of China as the sole legitimate government of China and, at the same time, announcing the cessation of "diplomatic relations" with the Taiwan authorities, the termination of the "Mutual Defence Treaty" and the withdrawal of all its military personnel from Taiwan. Under such historical conditions, taking the whole nation's interests and future into consideration, the Chinese Government put forward a policy of "peaceful reunification, and one country, two systems," based on the principles of respecting history and present realities, seeking truth from facts and giving consideration to interests of each party. The basic points of this policy are as follows:
(1) One China. There is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and the seat of the Central Government is in Beijing. (2) Two systems will coexist. Under the precondition of one China, the socialist system in mainland China and the capitalist system in Taiwan will coexist and develop simultaneously. (3) A high degree of autonomy. After the country is reunited, Taiwan will enjoy a high degree of autonomy as a special administrative region. (4) Peaceful negotiations. The country should be reunited by peaceful means, through contacts and negotiations.
Since the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress' publication on New Year's Day, 1979 of the Appeal to Compatriots in Taiwan declaring the policy for the peaceful reunification of the motherland, the long-standing posture of confrontation and mutual isolation which had characterized relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits has changed, becoming more relaxed. Exchanges of friendly visits across the Taiwan Straits have been increasing year after year, including bilateral exchanges in the fields of science and technology, academics, literature, sports and journalism. Economic and trade cooperation has also maintained a momentum characterized by rapid development. Since 1992, the mainland's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits and Taiwan's Foundation for Exchange Across the Taiwan Straits have engaged in routine contacts and discussions on questions arising from the relationship between the mainland and Taiwan. Working channels for non-governmental contacts have already been established. The "Wang (Daohan)-Gu (Zhenfu) talks" held in Singapore in April 1993 between the leaders of these two organizations signaled an historically important step forward in the development of relations across the straits; in 1994 heads of the two organizations, Tang Shubei and Jiao Renhe, held talks in Beijing and in Taibei, achieving results satisfactory to all Chinese on both sides of the Taiwan Straits.
On January 30, 1995, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and President of China Jiang Zemin delivered an important speech entitled "Continuing to Strive Toward the Reunification of China." In his speech Jiang Zemin put forward eight propositions on the development of relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits and the peaceful reunification of China on the current stage:
1. Adhering to the principle of one China is the basis and prerequisite for peaceful reunification. China's sovereignty and territorial integrity must never be allowed to suffer division. We must resolutely oppose any statement and action for creating "the independence of Taiwan"; and we must also resolutely oppose the propositions to "split the country and rule under separate regimes," "two Chinas over a certain period of time," etc., which are contrary to the principle of one China.
2. We do not have objections to the development of nongovernmental economic and cultural ties between Taiwan and other countries. According to the principle of one China and the characters of international organizations concerned, Taiwan has joined the Asian Development Bank, the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation Forum and other international economical organizations in the name of "Chinese Taibei." However, we oppose Taiwan's activities in "expanding its living space internationally," aimed at creating "two Chinas" or "one China, one Taiwan." All patriotic compatriots in Taiwan and other people of insight understand that instead of solving problems, such activities can only help the forces working for the "independence of Taiwan," and undermine the progress of peaceful reunification. Only after peaceful reunification is accomplished can our Taiwan compatriots and other Chinese truly and fully share the international dignity and honor attained by our great motherland.
3. It has been our consistent stand to hold negotiations with Taiwan authorities on the peaceful reunification of the motherland. Representatives of all political parties and groups from both sides of the Taiwan Straits can be invited to participate in the negotiations for peaceful reunification. I said in my report at the 14th National Congress of the Communist Party of China held in October 1992, "On the premise that there is only one China, we are prepared to talk with the Taiwan authorities about any matter, including the form that official negotiations should take, a form that would be acceptable to both sides." By "on the premise that there is only one China, we are prepared to talk with the Taiwan authorities about any matter," we mean, naturally, that all matters of concern to the Taiwan authorities are included. We have proposed time and again that negotiations should be held on officially ending the state of hostility between the two sides and accomplishing peaceful reunification step by step. Here again I solemnly propose that such negotiations be held. I suggest that, as a first step, negotiations should be held and an agreement reached on officially ending the state of hostility between the two sides under the principle that there is only one China. On this basis, the two sides may bear responsibilities together, maintain China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as plan the future development of the relations between the two sides separated by the strait. As regards the name, place and form of these political talks, a solution acceptable to both sides can certainly be found so long as consultations on an equal footing can be held at an early date.
4. We shall try our best to achieve the peaceful reunification of China since Chinese should not fight Chinese. We do not promise not to use force. If used, force will not be directed against our compatriots in Taiwan, but against the foreign forces who intervene in China's reunification and go in for "the independence of Taiwan." We are fully confident that our compatriots in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao and those residing overseas would understand our principled position.
5. Challenged with world economic development in the 21st century, we shall spare no effect to develop economic exchange and cooperation between the two sides separated by the Taiwan Straits so that both sides enjoy a flourishing economy and the whole Chinese nation benefits. We maintain that political disagreement should not impede economic cooperation between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits. We shall continue, for an extended period, to implement a policy of encouraging Taiwanese investment on the mainland and carry out the Law of the People's Republic of China on Protecting Investments by Taiwan Compatriots. In any circumstances, we shall protect all legitimate rights and interests of Taiwanese investors in a down-to-earth way and continually encourage exchange and contacts across the Taiwan Straits which promote mutual understanding. Since the direct links for postal, air and shipping services and trade between the two sides are the objective requirements for their economic development and contacts in various fields, and since they are in the interests of the people on both sides, it is absolutely necessary to adopt practical measures to speed up the establishment of such direct links. Efforts should be made to promote negotiations on certain specific issues between the two sides. We are in favor of conducting this kind of negotiations on the basis of reciprocity and mutual benefit and signing nongovernmental agreements on the protection of the rights and interests of industrialists and business people from Taiwan.
6. The splendid culture of 5,000 years created by the sons and daughters of all ethnic groups of China has become ties keeping the entire Chinese people close at heart and constitutes an important basis for the peaceful reunification of the motherland. People on both sides should jointly inherit and carry forward the fine traditions of the culture.
7. The 21 million Taiwan people, whether born there or in other provinces, are Chinese and our own flesh and blood. The lifestyles of our Taiwan compatriots and their desire to be masters of their own country should be fully respected. All their legitimate rights and interests must be protected. All relevant departments in our Party and government, including agencies stationed abroad, must improve their relations with our Taiwan compatriots, listen to their views and requests, show concern for and take care of their interests and do everything they can to help solve their problems. We hope that Taiwan Island enjoys social stability, economic growth and affluence. We also hope that all political parties in Taiwan will adopt a sensible, forward-looking and constructive attitude and promote the expansion of relations between the two sides. We welcome all political parties and personages from different walks of life in Taiwan exchange opinions with us on the relations between the two sides and on peaceful reunification. Their visits to the mainland are also welcome. All personages from various circles who have contributed to the reunification of China will go down in history for their deeds.
8. We welcome leaders of Taiwan to visit the mainland in their proper status. We also are ready to accept invitations to visit Taiwan. We may discuss state affairs or exchange opinions on certain issues first. Even a simple visit to the side will be useful. The affairs of Chinese people should be handled by us, something that does not take an international occasion to accomplish. People on both sides of the Taiwan Straits eagerly look forward to meeting each other and being able to freely exchange visits.
The above eight propositions fully embody the consistency and continuance of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese Government on the issue of Taiwan; they embody their determination and sincerity to develop the relations across the strait and promote the reunification of the motherland. These suggestions have been warmly welcomed by the Chinese people at home and abroad and aroused great attention from the international community. The historical course of reunifying the motherland is irreversible, and the continuously developing relation between the two sides of the Taiwan Straits is in accordance with the general trend and the will of the people. On July 1, 1997 the Chinese Government resumed the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong. When the Chinese Government resumes the exercise of sovereignty over Macao on December 20, 1999, the solution to the Taiwan question and the historical mission of realizing the reunification of China will emerge, for the Chinese people, as an even more outstandingly important issue than ever before. At that time the Chinese people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits should unite in common efforts toward the reunification of China.