Two of China’s most sensitive political and diplomatic issues revolve around the small self-ruled island of Taiwan and the mountainous region of Tibet in China’s remote west. These issues were brought forth yet again Tuesday as China’s anxiety heightened over the revelation that the leaders of both regions are set to make visits to the United States. In a reaction to this growing concern, China made a public statement, warning the U.S. to uphold its promises to not support any separatist activities.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said both issues involved the “one China” policy, the diplomatic understanding that there is but one China – referring to the point that both Taiwan and Tibet are part of China. The Chinese government insists that foreign governments recognize this principle.
“I can responsibly tell you that on this issue the U.S. government has made solemn promises, which is to uphold a one China policy,” Lu told a daily news briefing.
According to Lu, the U.S. has said it opposes Taiwan independence.
He continued, “We demand the U.S. government earnestly stands by its promises, conscientiously handle the relevant issue in accordance with the one China principle and not give any space to any individual or behavior which tries to create two Chinas, one China one Taiwan, or to split China.”
Taiwan is a delicate subject for China, especially since the island recently saw the transition over to a new independence-leaning and pro-democracy presidency – of whom China has made clear its disapproval.
Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen, who beat the former ruling Nationalist Party (KMT) by a landslide in January and who, representing the Democratic Progressive Party, assumed office last month.
Any trip abroad by leaders of the island is tricky, as past visits have angered China; it is seen as exerting sovereignty in the eyes of Beijing, the government said.
Despite the pressure it creates, Tsai plans on traveling to two of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies, Panama and Paraguay, from June 24 to July 2. On route to Panama for the expansion ceremony of the Panama Canal, president Tsai will make a transfer in Miami, and have another layover in Los Angeles on her return home, Taiwan Deputy foreign minister Javier Ching-shan Hou announced on Tuesday.
Hou did not, however, disclose any details as to who president Tsai will meet in the U.S.
On the matter of Tibet, Lu claims the United States has also declared it recognizes that Tibet is “an inseparable part of China.”
Like Taiwan, the Dalai Lama is a subject of contention for Beijing. In its eyes, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet is a dangerous separatist who poses considerable threat to the great People’s Republic of China. Yes, China – the most populous country on earth – believes that the Dalai Lama, a spiritual and peaceful figure who was forced to flee to India by the Chinese, is “dangerous”.
This is what Lu said: “The 14th Dalai Lama often puts up the facade of religion to peddle internationally his political position of splitting China.”
“We demand no country or government give him any space for such activities and should certainly not do anything the 1.3 billion people of China would resolutely oppose.”
Reuters asked the Dalai Lama Monday if he will meet president Obama during his three-day visit, to which he replied: “it is not finalized, but some friends say he may meet me.”
China’s panic over the Dalai Lama is futile, however. He simply says he wants honest and legitimate autonomy for Tibet and the Tibetan people, rather than complete independence, as China so fears.