One-China principle reaffirmed widely across Pacific Island Countries

A bridge built by China Railway 14th Bureau Group Co in Fiji. Photo: Courtesy of the 14th Bureau of China Railway Construction Co

A bridge built by China Railway 14th Bureau Group Co in Fiji. Photo: Courtesy of the 14th Bureau of China Railway Construction Co

In recent weeks, several Pacific Island Countries (PICs) have strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the one-China principle through various diplomatic engagements and public declarations.

From Saturday to Tuesday, Fiji’s largest newspaper, the Fiji Sun, published a series of special editions to introduce and reaffirm the one-China principle. These included an article by Chinese Ambassador to Fiji Zhou Jian, titled “One China is Undeniable Truth,” emphasizing that the one-China principle is the foundation for healthy and stable China-Fiji relations.

The special edition also included commentaries from the Chinese media, highlighting that the island of Taiwan has always been an inseparable part of China, and reaffirming the international consensus established by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758.

On Tuesday, the Chinese Embassy in Papua New Guinea (PNG) noted that mainstream PNG media reports have also published special sections on the one-China principle. Chinese Ambassador to PNG Zeng Fanhua contributed an article titled “Strengthen Foundation of One-China Principle, Create Brighter Future for China-PNG Relations Together.”

The sections also featured statements from PNG Foreign Ministry Secretary Elias Wohengu and other figures reaffirming their support for the one-China principle. Wohengu stated that PNG firmly adheres to the one-China policy, recognizing the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as the sole legal government representing all of China and opposing “Taiwan independence,” according to the embassy.

On the same day that Taiwan’s regional leader delivered a speech on Monday, the Republic of Nauru issued a statement reiterating its adherence to the one-China principle.

“The resumption of diplomatic relations between the Republic of Nauru and the People’s Republic of China asserts the one-China principle and reunification of China. Nauru reiterates its firm support and adherence to the one-China principle, recognizing that there is but one China in the world, with the government of the PRC as the sole government representing the whole of China,” read the statement.

On Saturday, Chinese Ambassador to the Solomon Islands Cai Weiming met with recently elected Malaita Province Premier Elijah Asilaua, congratulating him on his victory and expressing China’s willingness to deepen cooperation with Malaita based on the one-China principle. Asilaua thanked China for its contributions to Malaita and the Solomon Islands’ economic and social development, reaffirming Malaita’s support for the central government’s one-China policy and the intention to enhance cooperation in infrastructure and agriculture, according to the embassy.

Newly elected Prime Minister of the Solomon Islands Jeremiah Manele noted in a recent interview with the Chinese media that the decision to establish diplomatic relations with China in September 2019 is considered the most significant choice made by the country since gaining independence over 45 years ago. Manele also reaffirmed the country’s commitment to the one-China principle, according to CGTN.

On Saturday, the Chinese Embassy in Tonga published an article titled “United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758 Brooks No Challenge and Misinterpretation.”

“For quite some time, the separatist forces of China’s Taiwan region and certain major countries have been deliberately distorting and challenging the one-China principle and United Nations General Assembly Resolution 2758, trumpeting the notion that Taiwan’s status is undetermined, and advocating support for Taiwan’s participation in the United Nations conferences and activities,” the article said.

These moves attempt to invent a whole set of false narratives to mislead international public opinion and trample on international law and basic norms governing international relations. “In view of this, it is more than necessary to comprehensively and systematically explain the origin and facts of Resolution 2758 to our Tongan friends, so as to set the record straight,” the article added.

On May 15, after the opening ceremony of Vanuatu’s mid-year parliamentary session, governmental leaders and officials accepted an invitation from Chinese Ambassador Li Minggang to visit the embassy.

Ambassador Li expressed appreciation for Vanuatu’s consistent adherence to the one-China principle since establishing diplomatic relations, and its support for China’s efforts toward peaceful reunification. “Currently, cross-Straits relations are complicated, with tensions in the Taiwan Straits rooted in the separatist agenda of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party authorities and external interference. Let us remain vigilant and committed to peace in the Taiwan Straits,” Li said.

Seoule Simeon, speaker of the Vanuatu parliament, urged all members of parliament to remember the reality that there is only one China in the world, Taiwan is an inseparable part of China, and the government of the PRC is the only legal government representing the whole of China.

Prime Minister Charlot Salwai called on government ministers to maintain unity in adhering to the one-China principle and advancing the comprehensive strategic partnership between Vanuatu and China, according to the embassy’s report on WeChat.

Strategic significance of China-France relations is becoming increasingly prominent: Global Times editorial

60 years of friendship.Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived Sunday in Paris for a state visit to France as the first stop of his European trip. He received a grand welcome from the French side. At the same time, President Xi’s written speech upon arrival at Paris Orly airport, the signed article published in French media Le Figaro, and the China-France-EU trilateral meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen have continued to spark heated discussions in Western public opinion, highlighting the significance of this visit at the bilateral, European and global levels.

President Xi said in his signed article that during his visit to France, he brought with him three messages from China: China will work with France to carry forward the spirit that guided the establishment of their diplomatic ties, build on past achievements and open new vistas for China-France relations; China will open even wider to the world and deepen cooperation with France and other countries; China will strengthen communication and coordination with France to uphold world peace and stability. These three messages not only demonstrate China’s concept of development, security, and civilization in the new era, but also reflect the strategic, epoch-making and global nature of China-France relations in the context of a changing world order.

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France. Sixty years ago, the two countries broke through the icy barriers of the Cold War, bridged the gap between camps, and established ambassadorial-level diplomatic relations, “ripping a slit in an iron plate,” pushing the world toward dialogue and cooperation. Even today, admiration for the strategic vision and broad-mindedness of that generation of leaders remains a common sentiment from top to bottom in both China and France, demonstrating that the strategic direction of the relationship established at that time was correct and stood the test of time. President Xi’s emphasis of carrying forward the spirit that guided the establishment of diplomatic ties, namely the spirit of independence, mutual understanding, foresight, mutual benefit and win-win outcomes, shows that in the face of profound global transformations and uncertainties, it is hoped that the two countries can lead the world back to the right path of cooperation rather than confrontation, to win-win results rather than zero-sum.

We have noticed that from the conflict between Russia and Ukraine to trade disputes, some Western public opinions have previously listed a “to-do list” between China and France. China and France never avoided these issues. Over the past 60 years, the reason why China-France relations have consistently remained at the forefront of China’s relations with Western countries, pioneering many “firsts,” is not because they have not experienced ups and downs, but because they have always focused on the fundamental and long-term interests of both countries and peoples, jointly safeguarded world peace and stability, and promoted human development and progress.

Charles de Gaulle once said at a press conference after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and France, “France simply recognizes the world as it is.” He firmly believed in the long history of Chinese civilization and emphasized that global development cannot be without China. Today, as China deeply integrates into globalization, just as de Gaulle foresaw, it has a strong willingness and continues to contribute to global development. China’s expansion of high-level openness and deepening cooperation with other countries, including France, is not a forced choice, but a conclusion drawn from our own development experience and a natural result of our development needs. China offers opportunities rather than risks, and seeks cooperation rather than confrontation. As long as one can correctly grasp the main thread of comprehensively understanding China’s development, all problems will be technical and temporary.

France is an influential major power in the Western world, and its influence stems not only from its hard power but also from its longstanding tradition of independence and its unique perspective and vision. The stability and development of China-France relations will become a very prominent case in China’s relations with the West, helping other Western countries to understand China’s foreign policy and the principles China upholds when developing relations with countries of different systems and cultural backgrounds. The stability of China-France relations provides more impetus for China-Europe relations and also helps European countries to understand China in a rational, pragmatic, and objective manner and handle their relations with China accordingly.

France was the first Western power to establish diplomatic relations with China, and China-France relations have always carried the genes of influencing international relations and the world order from the very beginning. Just as President Xi said, “both China and France value independence as two major countries, and our interactions in the long course of history have released tremendous energy swaying the trajectory of the world.” Under the strategic guidance of the two leaders, we look forward to China and France embarking on a new journey for the next 60 years of bilateral relations, constantly making new achievements for global peace and stability as well as human development.

Australia should be bridge, rather than Western spear tip into Asia: historian

China Australia Photo: CFP

China Australia. Photo: CFP

Editor’s Note:

In his recent visit to Australia, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China welcomes Australia, an ally of the US, also a partner of China, and more importantly, a sovereign nation, to make policies independently, based on its own fundamental interests. After Wang’s visit, the two countries saw positive signs in the healthy development of bilateral ties. Given the importance of the relations between China and Australia, Global Times reporters Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi (GT) conducted an exclusive interview with John Queripel (Queripel), an Australian historian and author, on bilateral relations, Australia’s foreign policy, how Australia views its role in Asia, as well as its relations with the US. 

GT: How do you assess the outcomes of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s visit to Australia? 

Queripel: Wang Yi’s visit, the most senior Chinese official to visit Australia in seven years, for the seventh Australia-China Foreign and Strategic Dialogue, was another important step in re-establishing China-Australia relations after a period in which, under the previous Australian government, they had sunk to great depths. 

The Albanese government has spoken of its desire to consolidate and normalize relations between the two countries, and this was a crucial step in achieving that.

Core to the visit was the economic relationship between the two countries. China makes up around one third of Australian exports and imports. The economic relationship ought to be complementary, as it has been in the past, but in recent years has stuttered. 

Both sides seem to have been pleased with the talks. Wang called for no hesitation, no yawing, and no backward steps in the bilateral relationship, stating that both sides should strive to make steady, good, and sustained progress as the course forward has been charted.

He expressed his hope that Australia would take measures to uphold the principles of the market economy and provide a non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese enterprises in Australia. Canberra screens foreign investment in key sectors for national security, including critical minerals, and has blocked some Chinese deals. He also highlighted the need for independence, likely a reference to China’s view that Australia’s foreign policy is dominated by its strategic alliance with the US.

His Australian counterpart, Penny Wong, stated that Australia desired a mature and productive relationship, though there is more to be done. Dialogue, she maintained, “enables us to manage our differences. We both know it does not eliminate them. Australia will always be Australia and China will always be China.”

GT: What’s the general response of the visit in Australian society? 

Queripel: Australian societal attitudes toward China are strongly shaped by the attitudes displayed by the nation’s politicians and media, which are often negative, sometimes virulently so. Polls, however, indicate a gradual warming of attitudes toward Australia’s major trading partner. This visit is likely to continue that warming.

The Australian business community has often found itself at strong odds with the political and media establishment. They are the ones, along with their employees, who suffer from any breakdown in that relationship. It appears that the ever-deepening thaw in relations under the previous government has been reversed, while there also is an increased questioning of the depth of Australian subservience to the US, particularly as represented by AUKUS. 

As increased numbers of Australians are now visiting China, and the Chinese are traveling to Australia; understandings and interactions are likely to warm as they increase. 

GT: There has been continuous opposition within Australia toward collaboration with China, particularly due to concerns about the so-called “China threat.” How do you perceive this sentiment? In the last two years, is there any reflection now in Australia about the previous policy on China?

Queripel: The so-called “China threat” is played everywhere in Australia. Even previously respectable media, including public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS, get caught up in it. It seems all pervasive. Its worst expression was the infamous “red alert” series, wherein it was argued, with all seriousness, that China was about to “invade” Australia any day now. Of course such inanity stands at total odds with the AUKUS idea of acquiring submarines 15-20 years down the track for the nation’s defense.

While the current government, though still intimately involved in US war planning, is hosing down the extremes of the “China threat” narrative, nearly all of the mainstream media is still enthralled by it. Members of the previous government, now in the opposition, remain rabidly anti-China. 

Sad to say, for many there has been little reflection on previous policy toward China. There are some hopeful signs though, with people in general seeing through the lies and duplicity, and gradually again warming toward China. Polls also indicate that the majority of Australians reject the government policy of total subservience to US foreign policy. 

GT: From your perspective, is there anything that the current Australian government can learn from former prime minister Paul Keating’s China policy?

Queripel: Under the then prime minister Gough Whitlam, Australia established diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China half century ago. Relations deepened through each subsequent government change in Australia, due to both nations understanding their inter-dependence, and how that benefited both. Both sides of Australian politics understood this. Around 2015, feeling under threat due to China’s rise, US policy turned against China. That was associated with former US president Obama’s “pivot to the Indo-Pacific,” something which obviously drew in Australia. From around 2017 intense “Sinophobia” was unleashed in Australia. 

Former prime minister Paul Keating has been excoriating in his criticism of it. For that he has worn much opprobrium, but of course he is right. Of former prime ministers, Keating is the only one contributing in a clear-sighted, level-headed manner to the debate. 

Current Australian Foreign Minister, Penny Wong, believes the attitude of Australia needs to be one where “we seek to cooperate with China where we can, disagree where we must, and engage in our national interest…It’s Australia’s view that a stable bilateral relationship would enable both countries to pursue respective national interests, if we navigate our differences wisely.” Such an attitude sounds prescient.

GT: This year, 50 prominent figures in Australia released a joint statement, calling on the Albanian government to assume a “constructive middle-power” role in alleviating tensions between Australia’s largest trading partner, China, and its closest ally, the US. Do you believe Australia can effectively fulfill this role?

Queripel: Australia needs to play this role. Former Singaporean diplomat and now international relations scholar Kishore Mahbubani has cast the choices for Australia thus: “Australia’s strategic dilemma in the 21st century is simple: It can choose to be a bridge between East and West in the Asian Century — or the tip of the spear projecting Western power into Asia.” 

Too often Australia, hamstrung by its colonial history, has acted as a white outpost in Asia. AUKUS is the latest manifestation of this, and it has a bad look in Asia, being made without any consultation with Australia’s Asian neighbors.

If Australia can accept its geographical location as part of Asia, and bring with that its allied status for some 80 years with the US, it can play a very important part in alleviating tensions between the superpowers. 

GT: How do you think Australia should navigate its relationship with China while also balancing its alliances with other countries, such as the US?

Queripel: The world does not, indeed should not be seen in either or, us or them dualities. Indeed, faced with the common problem of climate change, which is presenting itself as an existential threat, it is imperative that nations of the world take a much more co-operative approach. 

It is the West which has thought of itself as being separate to others, “carrying the white man’s burden,” needing to bring its “values’ to the world.” That was its reason for building its colonial power, though in reality this provided a good cover for economic exploitation. This type of “exceptionalism” still informs US policy today. 

China, on the other hand doesn’t think in this manner. China is exhibiting a much more co-operative style in international relations. 

Australia ought to leverage its close relationship with the US to encourage them to move beyond an aggressive hegemonic world view, to one built on cooperation. That will call Australia first of all, to commit itself to such a path. Currently it is far too closely allied to the US, something from which it has gained nothing. 

It is time for Australia to step back from backing one side, and instead use its close connections with both China and the US to act as an honest broker. It can choose to be a “bridge” rather than a Western “spear tip” into Asia. That will be to Australia’s great advantage as Asia increasingly becomes the economic hub of the world. 

GT: What role do you see Australia playing in promoting regional stability and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly in relation to China?

Queripel: Currently, far from playing a stabilizing role, Australia is playing a role of destabilizing the region. Australia needs to change its own practices as well as pressing the US to stop playing a game of brinkmanship in the Asia-Pacific region, with its warships sailing provocatively close to China. Brinkmanship is always dangerous, especially when nations are nuclear armed. 

Asia is committed to peace. The ASEAN is a great sign of cooperation between nations, with sometimes very different ideologies and forms of government. Marked by a special summit in Melbourne, Australia has just celebrated 50 years of dialogue partnership with the ASEAN. In that period Asia has been the great success story in dealing with conflict.

There is a role for Australia in promoting regional stability and cooperation in the Asia-Pacific. For it to do that, however, will mean a radical reorientation of the current policy, and for it to advocate with its ally, the US to change its policy.