Author: Chairman Rabbit Source: tuzhuxi (ID: chairman rabbit)
1? The Three Communiqu é s and other historical acts and documents
1. The first joint communique: Shanghai Communique of February 28, 1972
2. The second joint communique: The Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the United States on December 16, 1978
3. The White House of the United States suspended the Common Defense Treaty between the Republic of China and the United States of America (SAMDT)
4. Goldwater vs. Carter Case
5. Taiwan Relations Act (TRA for short) (1979)
Taiwan Issue and Sino US Relations (4) – Taiwan Relations Act (TRA)
6. The third joint communique: August 17 Communiqu é on August 7, 1982
1) The Historical Background of the August 17 Communique
The Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), passed on April 10, 1979, has completely changed the logic of the development of China US relations in the past few years, and its influence continues to this day.
It can be understood that before the introduction of TRA, China US relations were mainly dominated by the White House, namely, the President of the United States, the State Department, diplomatic advisers (from Kissinger to Brzezinski), etc. At that time, the White House mainly considered developing political and economic relations with Chinese Mainland, but seldom considered relations with the Taiwan authorities, and underestimated the strength of pro Taiwan forces in the United States. In the process, the United States Congress has been “left on the sidelines”, in a passive position. Carter abolished the China US Joint Defense Treaty (SAMDT) passed by the Senate of Congress that year, which caused great dissatisfaction among members of Congress (the mainstream of the U.S. Congress): they were determined to turn the situation around, whether through judicial or legislative means.
After the introduction of TRA, the United States Congress was able to reverse the situation. They not only re established the bilateral relationship between the United States and Taiwan, expressed that the United States could be loyal to its historical “allies”, and could take Taiwan as the starting point to reshape and dominate the general direction of its China policy. Any president can change the previous president’s diplomatic statement and re sign bilateral or multilateral agreements, but no one can change TRA – TRA is like Tang Monk marking a circle on the ground for Sun Wukong, and Sun Wukong can’t jump out. So far, the White House has been limited to “passivity”: they can only establish and explain their China policy under the framework of TRA.
For China, TRA is totally unacceptable: 1) it is a naked interference in China’s internal affairs and sovereignty; 2) It violates the fundamental basis of the normalization negotiations between China and the United States. According to the framework and content established by the TRA, China and the United States cannot establish diplomatic relations at all; 3) The TRA stipulates that the United States can and should sell “sufficient defensive weapons to Taiwan to enable it to maintain adequate self-defence capabilities” – this will undermine the military balance across the Taiwan Strait and affect China’s national reunification; 4) The introduction of TRA will cause long-term political harm to China US relations, and its impact is far greater than the US arms sales to Taiwan itself.
For TRA, the Chinese leaders are very angry, and they also bear a lot of political pressure. At that time, Deng Xiaoping attached great importance to promoting international relations by making use of personal relations between senior officials. He established a good relationship with Carter, but after the introduction of TRA, Carter was limited to passivity in the United States, which naturally affected his relationship with Chinese leaders.
But the next key to China US relations is the next President Reagan. Reagan announced his election in November 1979 and won the Republican primary in the first half of 1980. During the election period, Reagan said a lot about the issue with China, including advocating that Taiwan is a “country”, that the United States should resume diplomatic relations with Taiwan, and that it is committed to providing all help for Taiwan to defend against military threats from the mainland.
Reagan’s logic in the election: 1) He is a firm anti communist, and anti communist is his political platform and political foundation inside and outside the Republican Party. In history, he finally entered the annals of history because of the confrontation with the Soviet Union, the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War; 2) As a Republican candidate, he would criticize Carter’s foreign policy criticism and propose a different direction; 3) He is echoing the support of the US government and opposition to Taiwan and TRA.
After Reagan was elected President of the United States, he took the Soviet Union as the largest political opponent and the main goal of foreign policy. In this framework, he “found” China’s “strategic value” to the United States – China is the most important geopolitical partner of the United States to contain the Soviet Union. Accordingly, he “adjusted” his China policy during the election campaign and at the beginning of his term of office, and began to devote himself to developing relations with Chinese Mainland. However, this process also took time – more than a year and a half from Reagan’s taking office on January 20, 1981 to the signing of the August 17 Communiqu é between China and the United States on August 17, 1981. During this period, China US relations were in a state of deterioration and deadlock for most of the time, and the good atmosphere created by Deng Xiaoping during his first visit to the United States in 1979 disappeared for the most part.
However, during this year and a half, the leaders of the two countries conducted a lot of formal and informal negotiations and contacts, gradually understood the bottom line of each other’s demands, found space for possible agreement, and finally facilitated the signing of the August 17 Communiqu é.
The following is the consensus of the two countries, as well as their respective goals, aspirations and cards. It should be noted that at that time, many of the key information was asymmetric, mainly because the Chinese side’s appeal was clear and consistent. The US side has “bright lines” and “dark lines” at the same time, “on the table” and “under the table”, explicit goals and implicit goals, and always consciously uses information asymmetry and “strategic ambiguity” to gain a favorable position in negotiations (commonly known as “taking advantage”).
2) The basic consensus, cognition and common interests of China and the United States at that time
These basic consensus, understanding and common interests are the fundamental prerequisite for the two countries to return to the negotiating table and correctly handle the Taiwan issue.
It should be noted that the following Chinese side refers to the Chinese government/Chinese leaders; The United States only refers to the perspective of the President/White House/State Department and diplomatic advisers of the United States, and does not include the United States Congress and other political forces.
In the region and even in the world, the major geopolitical threats faced by China and the United States came from the Soviet Union;
China (mainland) is one of the most important potential partners of the United States in its global strategy of containing and confronting the Soviet Union; China US relations are also one of the most important bilateral relations in the region;
China (mainland) will become stronger militarily and economically, which will help the two countries achieve the strategy of containing the Soviet Union. The United States and China both recognize this point and have consensus on it;
The reform, opening up and economic development promoted by China (mainland) need the support of the United States in science, technology, economy and trade; The United States is also willing to develop economic and trade cooperation with Chinese Mainland and can benefit from it
In order to contain the Soviet Union, China and the United States will carry out military and military related scientific and technological cooperation, including the export of key technologies / products (including weapons) provided by the United States to Chinese Mainland and cooperative research and development. In the geopolitical environment of the early 1980s, the military strategic relationship between Chinese Mainland and the United States was far more important than that between the United States and Taiwan. (Note: This is completely different from today’s situation. At that time, the United States and Chinese Mainland also carried out military cooperation, so the worries of Chinese Mainland about the United States were dispelled to a certain extent);
The relationship between the United States and the Taiwan authorities is a pair of historical relations. There is a certain political and social basis in the United States. Therefore, the US policy towards Taiwan needs a gradual “exit” process, which is difficult to change overnight;
The Taiwan issue needs to be resolved by peaceful means, and it can also be resolved by peaceful means. At that time, the United States (at least the White House/State Department) and China were both confident in the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan Strait issue and believed that it was a historical trend. There was no particularly big difference on this, so they did not believe that the armed/military/security issue was a major issue. (In particular, from the perspective of the White House, if the Taiwan issue can be resolved peacefully, it will not be affected by the TRA.).
3) China’s principles, objectives, demands and cards
Again, the Chinese side has always been consistent in appearance and in truth. Over the years, China’s principles and aspirations have been consistent and unchanged.
The “US side” referred to below refers to the “US government” in a broad sense, and does not distinguish between the White House/executive branch and the Congress/legislature. A long-standing problem is that China’s political system is centralized. Leaders can represent the country in foreign negotiations, respect the results of negotiations, and mobilize the whole country to be bound by it; The political system of the United States is decentralized. The President/White House/State Department/Diplomatic Advisor has not been fully authorized to negotiate on behalf of the whole country. This asymmetry always exists, and it seems that it can never be solved.
Back to the topic, China’s appeal:
The basis for negotiations on normalization of US relations is the Shanghai Communique in 1972 and the Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations between China and the United States in 1978; The two communiques are the most authoritative texts defining China US relations and are binding
TRA violates the principles and spirit of the previous two communiques, which has played a role in disrupting and destroying the Sino US relations. The US should respect the previous two communiques and return to the spirit of the previous two communiques to handle Sino US relations and deal with Taiwan Strait issues
The United States has a historical relationship with Taiwan and needs to maintain certain economic, social, cultural and other informal relations. China can make concessions to this (which has been clearly stated in the second paragraph of the Sino US Diplomatic Bulletin), but the United States should not sell weapons to Taiwan, because the sale of weapons to Taiwan represents a major military and political relationship, while the United States only needs to sell weapons to Taiwan, It is a violation of the “one China” principle, a violation of China’s sovereignty and interference in China’s internal affairs. The Chinese side cannot make concessions on this issue
The United States needs to set a clear date for when to end arms sales to Taiwan
The United States cannot increase arms sales to Taiwan, but should reduce arms sales to Taiwan as soon as possible
The United States needs to unconditionally terminate its arms sales to Taiwan. Before the complete termination, the United States cannot bind its arms sales to Taiwan with the Chinese Mainland’s Taiwan policy, and cannot set conditions — that is, the United States cannot judge how many arms it needs to sell to Taiwan based on its attitude toward the mainland and its military capabilities and actions
China will not abandon the use of force to resolve the Taiwan issue. (From the perspective of the Chinese side, if the mainland explicitly renounces the use of force to recover Taiwan, it will be tantamount to binding its hands, reducing its options and weakening the bargaining chips. In this way, the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue will become impossible. The subtext here is that military deterrence itself is also a means to promote peaceful reunification. It should be noted that here, the Chinese and the United States are committed to “peaceful settlement” The understanding of is different. China focuses on the bottom line and the results: if it does not consume a single soldier and there is no civilian casualties, it is also a “peaceful settlement” (similar to the “peaceful liberation of Peiping”), while the understanding of the United States is the process: that is, there is no military intervention in the whole process, and the two sides agree to unify without any military intervention, it is a “peaceful settlement”)
Taiwan is a fundamental issue of principle for China; China will not give up the principle on the Taiwan issue because of “seeking from the United States” (for example, containing the Soviet Union, or meeting other military, scientific, technological, economic and trade demands, etc.)
China is ready to push Sino US relations back to the 1960s even if it downgrades or even breaks diplomatic ties with the United States because of the Taiwan issue
4) US principles, objectives, demands and cards
The “US side” here only refers to the members of the US administrative system, including President Reagan, Vice President Bush, Secretary of State Alexander Haig, Ambassador to China Arthur Hummel, First Party State Department, Ministry of Defense, officials of intelligence agencies, diplomatic advisers and staff, but does not include other political forces, such as members of both parties of the US Congress (Senate and House of Representatives), politicians and employees of other local governments, politicians in the opposition Interest groups, lobby groups, public opinion, etc.
“Uniting China to make the Soviet Union” and promoting “US China relations”: containing the Soviet Union is the biggest geopolitical goal of the Reagan Administration. On this issue, China can become an important strategic partner and ally of the United States. Therefore, we must stabilize, improve, promote and develop relations with Chinese Mainland
Eliminate the negative impact of TRA on China US relations and repair China US relations. The introduction of TRA has brought Sino US relations to a low ebb. The US side must provide a statement to the TRA and reach a new understanding with the Chinese government (for example, in the form of a new communique), so as to stabilize and develop China US relations. Congress is only responsible for legislation, and is only responsible for defining and restricting the President’s actions; The negative impact of TRA on China US relations can only be dispelled by the White House with its wisdom
From the very beginning, the restrictions of TRA and the consideration of the US Congress were taken into account: TRA has already been legislated and has become the absolute authority leading the China/Taiwan policy in the US. No matter what the President/White House’s political opinions are, there is nothing he can do about it. In this way, the White House can only “walk the tightrope” to find a path that can be agreed by all parties. In addition, drawing Carter’s lessons, from the very beginning, we should always consider whether the negotiations with China will conflict with TRA – “Finally, we should confidently explain in front of Congress and the public: ‘All agreements and statements we signed with China are strictly in line with the spirit of TRA, Emphasize the consensus with the Chinese side and provide what the Chinese side wants; The “hidden line” is a set of words for the US Congress (and Taiwan authorities), emphasizing consensus with the Congress and Taiwan authorities. The White House aims to expand its strategic objectives by “finding a source from both sides” and “surviving between cracks”
Due to the constraints of TRA, the US side (President/White House/State Department) cannot make commitments to China in the following matters, but can only try to adhere to these “bottom lines” in negotiations with China:
i. The United States cannot provide a fixed date for the cessation of arms sales to Taiwan, because the TRA requires that as long as Taiwan is “threatened” and “coerced” by the mainland, the President and Congress will study and provide military support such as arms sales;
ii. The United States cannot promise to unconditionally stop arms sales to Taiwan. On the contrary, arms sales must always establish a direct causal relationship with Chinese Mainland’s Taiwan Policy (whether it adopts a peaceful policy; whether it will pose a threat to Taiwan, etc.). This is also what TRA explicitly requires: the President and Congress will study the performance and quantity of military support to Taiwan based on the “threats” to Taiwan;
Iii. Even if the US side reduces its arms sales to Taiwan, it cannot make a clear commitment to the mainland to reduce the pace of arms sales. The same as above. According to tra, US arms sales to Taiwan are directly related to Chinese Mainland’s Taiwan policy.
The United States is willing to provide some expressions that China would like to see, so as to ease China’s concerns about the United States’ arms sales to Taiwan. What the Reagan administration wanted to do was to make some statements and promise that the United States does not want to take the arms sales to Taiwan as a long-term policy, which will to some extent limit the performance and quantity of arms sales to Taiwan, gradually reduce the quantity of arms sales to Taiwan, and so on. At the same time, the United States will also take some specific actions, such as suspending the sale of fighter jets to Taiwan, and promoting military cooperation and technology export with Chinese Mainland to ease China’s concerns
The White House has figured out how to explain the communique or statement signed with China to the Congress. While the Chinese side was negotiating and preparing the text of the communique, the US side had already figured out the way out for itself:
i. From the very beginning, we have to bite the bullet inside (“the dark line”). The communique signed by the US and China is not a “treaty”, not legally binding, but a policy “statement” or “statement”. The White House, whether as a whole or as an individual, will always bite this point;
ii. The wording and wording of the text should be as vague as possible, and the use of concepts with legal connotation and association should be avoided;
III. on the issue of arms sales, all the statements made by the United States are conditional and depend on Chinese Mainland’s policies and actions towards Taiwan. We will see the specific wording of the August 17 Bulletin later;
Iv. According to TRA, the President needs to participate in the qualitative and quantitative judgment of military support to Taiwan. Gradually reduce the sales of arms to Taiwan, and think that the sales of arms to Taiwan can be solved for a long time. It can be explained that Reagan’s reasonable judgment based on the development of the situation in the Taiwan Strait at that time, the Congress at most criticized Reagan/White House’s judgment as inaccurate, but it cannot be said that the White House violated the TRA;
v. Internally, we should make clear the higher status of TRA, and express our loyalty to TRA from beginning to end, saying: I went to talk with China according to TRA. If the Congress thinks that I did not talk correctly and signed incorrectly, it is my fault! Finally, TRA shall prevail!
Vi. Convey the White House’s real Taiwan policy to the U.S. Congress and Taiwan authorities through other forms and channels. This is the “Six Guarantees”, which we will discuss later.
If the Shanghai Communiqu é and the Sino US Diplomatic Relations Establishment Communiqu é are relatively simple and simple, and the two sides focus on information symmetry and consensus, by the August 17 Communiqu é, the United States is full of routines.
5) Resolution of differences between China and the United States: consensus is far greater than differences, overlapping the involvement of high-level interpersonal relations
Looking back at China’s aspirations and goals, it will be found that China’s aspirations are clear and consistent, which have lasted from history to the present and spanned all the leaders. At the same time, it can also be seen that the part of China’s appeal that revolves around the US arms sales to Taiwan (i.e. Article 3), namely Article a, b, c, d, e, f), is beyond the principles and scope of TRA. The fact is that the President, Vice President, Secretary of State, Ambassadors and officials of all administrative departments of the United States who came to negotiate with China did not exceed the political and legal authorization of TRA. They can only find ways to meet China’s demands in the limited “authorization space”, and make full use of “strategic ambiguity” to make peace with both sides (the US Congress and the Chinese government).
It can be seen that there are many substantive differences between China and the United States. Therefore, during the eight months of negotiations in 1982, the Sino US negotiations continued to reach deadlock. Finally, the two sides used interpersonal relations to promote international relations: Deng Xiaoping and Reagan’s high-level involvement and private involvement solved technical problems that could not be solved at the negotiating table. In 1982, the leaders of the two countries believed that the consensus and common interests of China and the United States were important and overwhelming, and would develop more and more with time; As long as the bilateral relations are accelerated, the remaining differences are bound to disappear. The Taiwan issue may even be resolved peacefully within ten years. Instead of wasting time on the negotiation table for the US to sell arms to Taiwan, China and the US should speed up their military scientific and technological cooperation and jointly confront and contain the Soviet Union!
On the one hand, China will not abandon its fundamental principles on the Taiwan issue because it wants to win over the United States and contain the Soviet Union;
On the one hand, although the Taiwan issue is a matter of principle, it is not a “big” issue in essence: because the Taiwan issue, in the final analysis, is a Sino American issue. As long as China US relations are good, the Taiwan issue will naturally be resolved. What China needs more is “reassurance” – the statement of the United States and its vision for China US relations.
This was the situation in 1982.
Many people in both China and the United States said that in 1982, China and the United States used high-level interpersonal relations to promote international relations. This is a positive statement: it means that the diplomacy between major countries and the establishment of stable private relations between leaders are also necessary, which is conducive to the stability of major country relations. But in fact, it should be noted that the general trend of China and the United States toward a better future was there, which was the historical trend at that time. be a trend which cannot be halted. The consensus and common interests of the two countries far outweigh their differences and contradictions. In such an environment, leaders’ intervention and assistance in communication have played a more accelerating role in pushing the boat along the river: everyone sincerely hopes to sign the communique agreement as soon as possible, so that bilateral relations can develop rapidly.
However, when the overall situation between China and the United States is not good, all differences around Taiwan will be amplified, and will lead to greater contradictions and conflicts. When we go back to the August 17 Communique, we will find many problems.
6) Text Analysis of August 17 Bulletin
The following is an analysis of the August 17 Communique from today’s perspective. The communique is not long, with nine paragraphs in total, so the full text in Chinese and English will be excerpted. The italicized part is my interpretation.
From the perspective of China, the August 17 Communiqu é, together with the Shanghai Communiqu é and the Sino US Communiqu é on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations, constitutes the “three Sino US joint communiqu é s” and is the cornerstone of Sino US relations. On Sino US relations, we have quoted three Sino US joint communiques.
Today, after restoring history, we know that the White House is “on the bright line” to stabilize relations with China because of the higher status of TRA, but there are actually “dark lines” behind it. It has made a lot of interpretations of the August 17 Communique, and also made a “six guarantees”. Therefore, it is necessary for us to re-examine the wording of the communique, especially the English part.
1? In the joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979 issued by the government of the people’s Republic of China and the government of the United States of America, the United States of America recognized the government of the people’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China and recognized China’s position that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of China. Within this scope, the two sides agreed that the American people will continue to maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. On this basis, China US relations have normalized. In the joint communique on the establishment of diplomatic relations on January 1, 1979 issued by the government of the people’s Republic of China and the government of the United States of America, the United States of America recognized the government of the people’s Republic of China as the only legitimate government of China and recognized China’s position that there is only one China and Taiwan is a part of China. Within this scope, the two sides agreed that the American people will continue to maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. On this basis, China US relations have normalized. In the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations on January 1, 1979, issued by the Government of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, the United States of America recognized the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China, and it acknowledged the Chinese position that there is but one China and Taiwan is part of China. Within that context, the two sides agreed that the people of the United States would continue to maintain cultural, commercial, and other unofficial relations with the people of Taiwan. On this basis, relationships between the United States and China were normalized
2? The issue of US arms sales to Taiwan has not been resolved in the process of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries through negotiations. The positions of the two sides are inconsistent, and China has stated that it will raise this issue again after normalization. Recognizing that this issue will seriously hinder the development of China US relations, the two sides further discussed this issue when Premier Zhao and President Reagan, Vice Premier Huang Hua and Foreign Minister Huang Hua met with Secretary of State Alexander Hague in October 1981 and after that. The question of United States arms sales to Taiwan was not settled in the course of negotiations between the two countries on establishing diplomatic relations. The two sides held differing positions, and the Chinese side stated that it would raise the issue again following normalization. Recognizing that this issue would seriously hamper the development of United States – China relations, they have held further discussions on it, during and since the meetings between President Ronald Reagan and Premier Zhao and between Secretary of State Alexander M. Haig, Jr. and Vice Premier and Foreign Minster Huang in October 1981
3? Mutual respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs are the fundamental principles guiding China US relations. These principles were confirmed in the Shanghai Communiqu é of February 28, 1972. The communiqu é on the establishment of diplomatic relations, which took effect on January 1, 1979, reaffirmed these principles. The two sides stressed that these principles are still principles guiding all aspects of bilateral relations. Respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs constitute the fundamental principles guiding United States China relations. These principles were confirmed in the Shanghai Communique of February 28, 1972 and reaffirmed in the Joint Communique on the Establishment Of Diplomatic Relations which came into effect on January 1, 1979. Both sides emphatically state that these principles continue to govern all aspects of their relations. (My note: This part aims to make it clear to the outside world that China and the United States have consensus on fundamental issues without essential differences. Relevant contents have appeared in the Shanghai Communique, but the August 17 Communique It is important for the United States to sell arms to Taiwan in the same text. In combination with the context, it can be understood that the United States does not want to interfere in China’s internal affairs or harm China’s sovereignty, but only to solve the problems left over by history against Taiwan.)
4? The Chinese government reaffirms that the Taiwan issue is China’s internal affair. On January 1, 1979, China issued a letter to the Taiwan compatriots announcing the major policy of striving for the peaceful reunification of the motherland. The nine point policy put forward by China on September 30, 1981 is a further major effort to achieve a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question in accordance with this major policy. The Chinese Government reiterates that the question of Taiwan is China’s internal affair. The Message to Compatriots in Taiwan issued by China on January 1, 1979 promulgated a fundamental policy of striving for peaceful reunification of the motherland. The Nine-Point Proposal put forward by China on September 30, 1981 represented a further major effort under this fundamental policy to strive for a peaceful solution to the Taiwan question. (I note: This article aims to illustrate the vision and practical actions of the Chinese Mainland for the peaceful settlement of the Taiwan issue. For the Chinese side, the Chinese leaders at that time truly believed that the Taiwan issue could be solved peacefully within ten years (or within that generation), and held great optimism. This statement is also intended to show that the United States is unnecessary and should not sell arms to Taiwan: the complexity and uncertainty of the Taiwan Strait issue should not be increased)
5? The US government attaches great importance to its relations with China, and reiterates that it has no intention of violating China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, interfering in China’s internal affairs, or implementing the “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan” policy. The United States government understands and appreciates China’s policy of seeking a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question as stated in the letter of complaint to Taiwan compatriots issued by China on January 1, 1979 and the nine point policy proposed by China on September 30, 1981. The new situation on the Taiwan issue has also provided favorable conditions for resolving the differences between China and the United States on the issue of US arms sales to Taiwan. The United States Government attaches great importance to its relations with China, and reiterates that it has no intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or interfering in China’s internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of “two Chinas” or “one China, one Taiwan. ” The United States Government understands and appreciates the Chinese policy of striving for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question as indicated in China’s Message to Compatriots in Taiwan issued on January 1, 1979 and the Nine-Point Proposal put forward by China on September 30, 1981. The new situation which has emerged with regard to the Taiwan question also provides favorable conditions for the settlement of United States – China differences over United States arms sales to Taiwan. (Note: The US side now follows the previous two communiques, reiterating its “China policy”, and echoing the previous statement of the mainland’s policy and measures for peaceful reunification with Taiwan. For the US side, this statement can be consistent with the TRA framework: because the TRA is concerned about Taiwan’s military and political security, if Taiwan’s military, political, economic and social are “threatened” and “coerced” by the mainland The United States needs to provide military support to Taiwan. TRA expressed the hope that the Taiwan issue would be resolved by peaceful means, and believed that this was the “interest” of the United States. However, if the Taiwan issue is really resolved by peaceful means, the United States does not need to provide any military support to Taiwan: in fact, under the framework of the TRA, if the mainland and Taiwan move towards peaceful reunification, the cross-strait issue will have nothing to do with the United States. The White House certainly hopes to include this paragraph to prove that their policy of reducing arms sales to Taiwan is based on the mainland’s policy of peace with Taiwan, which is a reasonable and rational policy choice)
6? Taking into account the above statements of both sides, the United States government declares that it does not seek to implement a long-term policy of selling weapons to Taiwan. The performance and quantity of weapons it sells to Taiwan will not exceed the level of supply in recent years after the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the United States. It is prepared to gradually reduce its arms sales to Taiwan and lead to a final settlement after a period of time. In making such a statement, the United States recognized China’s consistent position on a thorough settlement of this issue. Having in mind the foregoing statements of both sides, the United States Government states thatit does not seekto carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan, that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms, the level of those supplied in recent years since the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and China, and thatit intends graduallyto reduce its sale of arms to Taiwan, leading,over a period of time, to afinal resolution. In so stating, the United StatesacknowledgesChina’s consistent position regarding the thorough settlement of this issue. (note to me: This article is the most important one in the communique. It is mainly the expression of the US position, so we can refer to the English version. Here, the US side first emphasizes that the expression of both sides is actually the expression of Chinese Mainland’s intention to peacefully resolve the Taiwan issue in Articles 4 and 5, which is taken as the premise of the US arms sales policy to Taiwan. Then it goes on to say that the US side “does not seek to carry out” in the long run The policy of arms sales to Taiwan. This item is very welcome by the Chinese side, but the American version is actually vague. In a popular translation, they mean, “We in the United States do not intend to always sell weapons to Taiwan. As long as you do not threaten Taiwan and do not use force to solve the Taiwan issue, we can also do not sell weapons in the long run.” So, “Ball “Still in Chinese Mainland, the long-term policy of the United States is conditional. Second, and China welcomes it, the United States will impose a limit on arms sales to Taiwan, which will not exceed the level of the past few years. This is a judgment of the Reagan Administration: they believe that Sino US relations will continue to improve, and the United States may sell more weapons and technology to Chinese Mainland than to Taiwan. Based on the stability of the situation in the Taiwan Strait and the general situation of the cold war, Congress I should not question too much. If the situation changes, it can be adjusted at any time. The Reagan Administration sincerely does not believe that this communique has short-term and long-term binding force in the United States. These are used to appease the Chinese. Third, the United States is prepared to gradually reduce arms sales to Taiwan. The expression here is “it intents gradually….” Students familiar with legal expression should know that the expression “intents” is very weak, just an intention, and also weaker than “will” in the degree of will. It is non binding. As for what is “gradually” or “a period of time” – there is no definition at all. These expressions lack substance in legal wording, but are only diplomatic wording. The White House had already thought: when they were dragged to the Congress for a hearing to explain this clause, they said, “We just wrote it casually. You see, this statement is very empty and meaningless.” Fourth, “final solution”, what is the final solution?? The intention of the US side is very clear. Because of the existence of TRA, they could not meet the Chinese demand for the US to terminate the arms sales to Taiwan, so they had to write a “final solution” in vague terms. “Final settlement” is a notorious vague statement. The Nazi body used “final solution” to destroy European Jews. Article 5: The US side “acknowledged” the position that China hopes to solve the issue of arms sales to Taiwan. We have made a detailed analysis of this article in this series of Sino US Diplomatic Communiques. In the English legal/diplomatic context understood by the US, “acknowledge” means “know” – I know your position – don’t misunderstand. I have no attitude towards your position, I just know where your position is. This is ACKNOWLEDGE. Here, there is text asymmetry between Chinese and English, and we tend to exaggerate the American side’s approval of our position. In short, this entire Article 6 is the essence of the US side’s playing with words and making “strategic ambiguity”: it can please both China and the US Congress. When the overall situation of China and the United States is good, it can be understood that these words are not easy, they are really “walking the tightrope”, and a little consensus has been established between them. When the overall situation of China and the United States is not good, they will think that there are many routines!)
7? In order to finally solve the historical legacy of the US arms sales to Taiwan over a period of time, the governments of the two countries will make every effort to take measures and create conditions for a thorough solution to this problem. In order to bring about, over a period of time, a final settlement of the question of United States arms sales to Taiwan, which is an issue rooted in history, the two Governments will make every effort to adopt measures and create conditions conducive to the thorough settlement of this issue. (My note: This is also a polite expression, expressing a good original intention and vision. I believe it is the real idea of the negotiators of the two countries at that time. This is indeed the historical trend at that time.)
8? The development of China US relations is not only in the interests of the two peoples, but also conducive to world peace and stability. The two sides are determined to strengthen ties in economy, culture, education, science and technology and other fields based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit, and make joint major efforts to continue to develop relations between the Chinese and American governments and people. The development of United States – China relations is not only in the interests of the two peoples but also conducive to peace and stability in the world. The two sides are determined, on the principle of equality and mutual benefit, to strengthen their ties in the economic, cultural, educational, scientific, technological and other fields and make strong, joint efforts for the continued development of relations between the Governments and peoples of the United States and China. (My note: This article further demonstrates the consensus of both sides and the vision of developing bilateral relations. These are important factors that help bridge the differences between the United States and the Chinese government over the issue of arms sales to Taiwan.)
9? In order to ensure the healthy development of China US relations, maintain world peace and oppose aggression and expansion, the two governments reaffirmed the principles agreed upon by both sides in the Shanghai Communiqu é and the Communiqu é on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations. The two sides will maintain contact and conduct appropriate consultations on bilateral and international issues of common concern. In order to bring about the healthy development of United States – China relations, maintain world peace and oppose aggression and expansion, the two Governments reaffirm the principles agreed on by the two sides in the Shanghai Communique and the Joint Communique on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations. The two sides will maintain contact and hold appropriate consultations on bilateral and international issues of common interest. (My note: Who are the aggressors and expansionists? It is naturally the Soviet Union, but it has not been named. This article aims to declare the friendly relationship between the two sides: although there is no alliance, it is still a close bilateral relationship that is constantly on the way to better relations.)
7) The Significance of the August 17 Communique
The August 17 Communiqu é aims to resolve one of the most sensitive disputes between China and the United States: the issue of US arms sales to Taiwan. It can be seen from the text that the differences between China and the United States stemmed from TRA’s participation in the election in April 1979 and Reagan’s participation in the election at the end of 1979, and the signing of the communique in 1982 went through countless twists and turns. The two sides did not shy away from their differences, but they also held the utmost sincerity. It is true that the United States left some “back doors” for itself in order to seek domestic “political protection” (for the TRA), but the overall situation was positive and optimistic – after all, in 1982, from the perspective of the Reagan Administration, the focus was on the Soviet Union. The overall situation was that China US relations were good, which was where the interests of the United States lay, and was part of the overall political correctness. Given the political environment at that time, few people would question the direction of the development of China US relations.
For the Chinese side, the August 17 Communiqu é has responded positively to the issue of US arms sales to Taiwan, and has provided a very positive direction for this issue. It is an important continuation, supplement and development of the Shanghai Communiqu é and the Sino US Communiqu é on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations. The Chinese government regards these three communiques as the fundamental basic documents of China US relations, and has risen to the most classic status. American politics is complex, chaotic, uncertain, contradictory and conflicting. In order to advance history, the Chinese government has made a choice, ignoring and ignoring other noises from the United States, and has always adhered to the three joint communiques signed with the three presidents of the United States. These three communiques provide reassurance and ballast for China US relations. In particular, the August 17 Communiqu é has injected stability into cross-strait relations. Foreign capital dares to invest in Taiwan and also in the mainland. At the same time, Taiwan also dares to invest in the mainland, because people believe in the geopolitical stability of the Taiwan Strait.
From the very beginning, the Chinese government recognized the three communiques as binding international treaties, and the United States is obligated to abide by these treaties regardless of the domestic political situation. As long as we deviate from these three communiques, the United States is treacherous and divorced from the fundamental principles of establishing diplomatic relations between China and the United States.
In fact, since the adoption of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA) on April 10, 1979, China US relations have been completely changed: Congress has been able to pass the TRA, pass the Taiwan issue, and influence and control subsequent US presidents’ policies towards China – no one can break away from the framework and system set by the TRA.
In the domestic law and politics of the United States, TRA is the holy book, and its status is far higher than the diplomatic treaties signed, diplomatic statements issued and diplomatic statements made by all administrative departments/White House/President/State Department officials. When later generations found some principled conflicts between the August 17 Communique and the TRA, American legal and diplomatic experts would say without hesitation that, of course, the TRA would prevail.
American presidents and diplomats from Reagan onwards were busy saying to Congress how they adhered to TRA.
From the moment of signing the TRA, the negotiations between the Chinese and American governments have been difficult to carry out.
The contribution of the August 17 Communique probably only covered up the fundamental differences between China and the United States at that particular time.
A great change that happens once in a century. Today, the environment has changed, and the United States is no longer “united China to make Soviet Union” – the triangular relationship between China and the United States has undergone a qualitative change. The international environment faced by the “Taiwan issue” has also undergone fundamental changes:
In 1982, no matter what happened to the Taiwan issue, it would not affect the improvement of China US relations;
In 2022, the Taiwan issue can at any time become the trigger for the further deterioration of the already troubled Sino US relations.
This year (2022) marks the 40th anniversary of the signing of the August 17 Communique. No matter in China or the United States, there are few media reports. In today’s environment, people are probably reluctant to mention this communique. Whenever the Chinese side or the US side mentions this communique, they will accuse the other side of “violating the spirit of the communique”. It is really becoming a “historical document”.
This paper aims to restore the historical background of the drafting of the August 17 Communique for the reference of history lovers.
(To be continued. Other historical texts such as “Six Guarantees” will be discussed below)