Weaponisation of the One China Policy

by Team FNVA

Weaponisation of the One China Policy:

FNVA recently held a 2-day seminar at the India International Centre (IIC) titled as the “Weaponisation of the One China Policy” on the 1st and 2nd of August. The Seminars had a wide array of speakers representing the whole globe and made it clear to all, what the One China Policy is, how is it different from the One China Principle and how it has been Weaponised by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) for their own benefit in bolstering their claim over otherwise sovereign territories.


There are 181 countries that mention the One China Policy, this is China’s policy and countries are obligated to sign the One China Policy to pursue diplomatic relations with the PRC. On the question of whether India follows the One China Policy? It hasn’t followed the One China Policy since 2010.

The keynote address was given by Sikyong Penpa Tsering la from the Central Tibetan Administration highlighting that this very policy does not apply to Tibet. He presented proof of this by reading excerpts from the late Lodi Gyari Rinpoche’s book “The Dalai Lama’s Special Envoy: Memoirs of a Lifetime in Pursuit of a Reunited Tibet”.


The seminar had in total 5 chairs who shared and expounded their knowledge on this policy and 13 presentations that showcased the different narratives this policy has. All of which cleared the air when it comes to the Weaponisation of the One China Policy but certain issues still needs to be tackled as Bhuchung Tsering la stated “There is a certain narrative that we were all influenced and illusioned by this policy for a period of time, it is critical now to have a counter narrative on the One China Policy”.


Regarding the OCP there is a larger picture that is emerging not just about Tibet or Taiwan, the latter which was the catalyst of this Policy given the Chinese Civil War in 1945 to 49 and the subsequent dynamics evolving between the Kuomintang (KMT) and the Communist Party of China. Having said that, this policy has expanded to not just Taiwan, Tibet, Mongolia, East Turkestan but also even the South China Sea now. One Chinese journalist in the Global Times, Shen Shiwei mentioned that Hawaii belongs to China and a day prior to President Xi Jinping visiting Moscow in March this year, Beijing also renamed Vladivostok and other parts of Siberia. Illustrating potential One China areas emerging in addition to Southern Tibet that has already been mentioned since 2005 in the official Chinese documents relating to Arunachal Pradesh which is clearly states as being part of China.


In this context there is now a need for looking afresh on this issue of the One China Policy, there is a pushback that China would insist on acknowledging, supporting and penalize those countries which opposes the One China policy and this is where the title of this seminar is, the Weaponisation of the One China Policy comes into force.

The One China Policy


Weaponisation of the One China Policy are mainly in these key areas:

1. Diplomatic pressure:

This pressure is applied on countries which pass the One China policy. Ambassador Vijay Krant Karna from Nepal mentioned the kind of pressure that the Chinese embassies, Diplomatic Corps, Communist Party members and even the Foreign Ministry exerts on countries concerned in implementing the One China Policy.


There is also the three evils that the Chinese have insisted on and put up in the bilateral and multilateral formats like SEO – The Shanghai Cooperation Organization clearly defines these three evils: a. Separatism b. Extremism and c. Terrorism. These were also part of the National Intelligence Law and the National counter terrorism laws that were passed in 2015 and 2017 in China.


Diplomatic pressures also found space at Airlines, Air India used to have a policy that they can never fly to Taiwan as the official carrier. Now that Air India has been privatised, they fly to Taiwan. Likewise, this applied to other official Airlines and is estimated about a hundred Airlines were banned from going to Taiwan previously but since many of these have been privatized now they fly to Taiwan under the globalisation and WTO compliance measures. The issue of coercion is also applied to Western Brands like Nike and BMW and others, as they were coerced on the East Turkestan sanctions because they were Outsourcing cotton products for their models and their textiles. They were also put under pressure and penalized in terms of commercial contracts on this One China Policy.


The shutting down of Embassies or Consulates is another form of diplomatic pressure. France never had any position on the One China Policy but nevertheless sold La Fayette Class frigates to Taiwan recently and its selling of Fighter Jets 15 years ago led to the French Consulate in Guangzhou being shut down showing the extreme length at which Beijing undertakes. 


The Taipei Economic and Cultural Center (TECC) office in Dhaka has been shut down showcasing how they can go to the extent of putting pressure on the host country’s foreign policy. There is only one TECC (this office functions as the de fact embassy) now in India with it being the only one in rest of South Asia, indicating very clearly the pressure that the Chinese exerts as part of its One China Policy. Lithuania had upgraded its TECC Office into Taiwan Representative Office which consequently saw the whole of its Embassy being shut down in Beijing and the Ambassador then who is now the Ambassador to India, Ambassador Diana was declared a Persona non grata then. She had to flee to the airport in order to catch the flight to India. This is another example of the grave lengths to which Beijing charges on in cases where the country concerned violates the One China Policy. China encourages countries to desist from supporting Taiwan Independence or even Tibet Freedom. The latter of this has not been quite popular after the Strasbourg proposals but nevertheless is an issue as well. There are some countries which support Taiwan Independence and for these countries Beijing always has a political response in penalising these actors.


2. Paging Consensus in the United Nations:

Here the PRC utilises what they call the “Paging Consensus” whereby the U.N Charter, Non-interventionism and other forms of agencies have been put forward and manipulated. This is where China pushes their agenda through their Security Council membership – China had exercised VETO power 13 times till now with many of these actually being on the One China Policy, showcasing clearly how the Chinese would use the global power – the United Nations Security Council VETO power in order to shut down any violation of their One China Policy.


3. Economic Reprisals:

This third area of weaponization is Economic Reprisals with it being replicated through the tried and tested method of increasing Tariff. One clear known case was when His Holiness the Dalai Lama visited Ulaan Baatar in 2016 and it eventually saw the whole economic structure of Mongolia brought down on its knees by Beijing since they control 93 percent of Mongolia’s trade. They simply shut down the whole country by increasing tariffs here. This subsequently saw Mongolia never inviting the Dalai Lama again. Likewise South Korea, Russia and many other countries followed suit. Botswana has been under pressure from China and they did not provide the visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. South Africa underwent a similar predicament which led to Desmond Tutu criticising his own government for not providing a visa to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. There are cases like this where the restrictions can be exercised on the political and economic levels cutting down on investments, FDI’s, controlling tourism.


4. Controlling the Sea Lanes of Communications (SLOC’s):

Controlling the Sea Lanes of Communications especially in the South China Sea and Maritime areas are important because these are the lifelines for global trade and commerce. And this is where the One China Policy is also important as it affects and impacts Global Commerce.


5. Military Exercises:

Finally the weaponization of the One China Policy is reflected in terms of the military exercises that China conducts. We just saw after Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan, substantial military exercises were conducted and these were also synchronized actions with other elements of power.

In summary there is a whole set of activities that China is conducting in weaponising the One China Policy and FNVA will continue to bring such programmes in understanding China and the geostrategic region of Inner Asia, where India plays a crucial role in maintaining harmony.

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