one country, two systems


one country, two systems
(yiguo, liangzhi)
Political policy
Since the PRC was established, it has sought to unify China by extending its sovereignty over Taiwan and other islands governed by the Republic of China (ROC). To allay anxieties that unification would subject Taiwan to rule imposed by the CCP-led government of the mainland, the PRC proposed that after Taiwan is united with the ‘motherland’ as one country (yi guo), two systems (liang zhio) of governance and economics would coexist: the PRC’s and Taiwan’s. The PRC professes no interest in determining how Taiwan is administered after unification so long as it and other islands governed by the ROC do not exist as a separate state. The PRC’s ‘one China’ principle asserts that there is only one Chinese state, that Taiwan is a part of it, and that the sole legal government of China is that of the PRC.
By 1949, the CCP had wrested control of the mainland territories of China from the ROC government after years of civil war. The ROC leadership took refuge on Taiwan where it claimed to be the legitimate government of China, denounced the PRC as illegitimate, and vowed to unify China. Until 1979, the United States recognized the ROC claims. Then, the USA established diplomatic relations with the PRC, severing official and military ties to the ROC that had deterred the PRC from attacking Taiwan. In 1981, following this transition, the PRC expected the ROC to be sufficiently vulnerable that it would agree to negotiate about unification. Ye Jianying announced that the PRC would grant Taiwan a ‘high degree of autonomy’, permit it to maintain its own armed forces and regulate its ‘local affairs’ while maintaining its socio-economic system, as well as ‘economic and cultural relations with foreign countries’ (Ye 1981). This formula, which Deng Xiaoping characterized in 1982 as ‘one country, two systems’, was adapted by the PRC when it asserted control over Hong Kong in 1997 and Macao in 1999. The PRC has reiterated this formula repeatedly in efforts to entice Taiwan’s population to unify.
The ROC has not been willing to renounce all claims of sovereignty. In 1991, the ROC acknowledged it was no longer the government of China. By that time, the authoritarianism of the ROC had given way to democracy, and there was no popular will to compete with the PRC for sovereignty over the mainland. The ROC also affirmed that the PRC legitimately governs the mainland, but insisted the ROC retains sovereignty over Taiwan. Although it has not officially forsaken the goal of unification, the ROC has rejected the ‘one country, two systems’ approach because it is unwilling to be subsumed by the PRC. Taiwan’s populace is divided. Some seek unification, most are sceptical about the merits of the ‘one country, two systems’ formula, and some advocate that Taiwan, not the ROC, be designated a sovereign state forever autonomous of China.
Ye,Jianying (30 September 1981). Taiwan’s Return to Motherland and Peaceful Reunification. Available at http://www.china.org.cn/english/7945.htm
http://taiwansecurity.org [a compendium of official documents, press coverage and analysis of relations between the PRC and ROC].
ALAN M.WACHMAN

Encyclopedia of contemporary Chinese culture. . 2011.

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