Government Agencies Unclear About What ‘One China Policy’ Is: Scholar

Australia may need to educate those within its own government what the ‘One China policy’ is when it comes to relations with Taiwan, argued a senior lecturer.
Government Agencies Unclear About What ‘One China Policy’ Is: Scholar
This photo taken on Aug. 11, 2022, shows Taiwanese flags on a street lane as tourists walk past in Taiwan's Kinmen islands. (Sam Yeh/AFP via Getty Images)

Australia may need to educate employees within its own government about what the “One China policy” is when it comes to relations with Taiwan.

“What exactly is your One China policy?” Roger Lee Huang, a senior lecturer at Macquarie University, asked at a Dialogue titled “The Prospect of Taiwan-Australia Relations” at the University of Technology Sydney on Nov. 10.

Australia follows the United States’ strategic ambiguity policy when it comes to Taiwan, where leadership will neither confirm nor deny whether the country will come to Taiwan’s military aid if the self-governed island is attacked, despite Beijing’s increasing military actions in the Taiwan Strait.

Under the One China policy, the Australian government also does not recognise Taiwan as a country but retains unofficial ties through the promotion of trade and cultural interests.

Mr. Huang cited his own experience in Canberra a few weeks ago.

“[The government] was told, basically, AFP (Australia Federal Police) doesn’t really know how to handle, how to connect with our police liaison officer in Canberra, because they don’t really understand about what the One China policy is,” he told the audience. “They don’t really know what they can do and not do, so it gets all these complications”

The lecturer in terrorism studies and political violence further noted that the problem does not just lie at the federal level, but also at the domestic level in local councils.

He gave an example that happened a few years ago at Rockhampton Council in Queensland.

“There were a couple of little elementary kids doing some nice little painting onto sculptures. That thing had an image of the Republic of China [Taiwan] flag, and because the Chinese, I believe it was a council general, was going to visit that exhibition, they painted over children’s artwork,” he said.

“And of course, people protested. And the council’s response was, ‘Oh, we’re actually following the Australian Government’s policy,’ which is inaccurate. There is no policy to say children can’t draw a flag of the Republic of China.

“So it’s at the very essence of Australia, mainstream circle Australia as well, to actually understand what is the one-China policy.”

Roger Lee Huang, senior lecturer at Macquarie University (Credit to Roger Lee Huang)
Roger Lee Huang, senior lecturer at Macquarie University (Credit to Roger Lee Huang)

While discussions about a potential war are currently making waves, Mr. Huang advocated more talking about peacebuilding.

“I don’t want to undermine the possibility ... of course, I think we’re closest than we ever are with potential conflict,” he said. “Talk more about peace ... That’s one of the things we can do.”

Former PM Urges Review of One China Policy

This comes as former Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged the Labor government to review Australia’s long-standing one-China policy.

During his visit to Taiwan on Oct. 10, the National Day of the Republic of China (ROC), Mr. Morrison urged the federal government to modernise the One China framework. He argued that the current arrangement was inadequate to protect the status quo against an increasingly assertive and authoritarian communist regime under Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

Following Mr. Morrison’s visit to Taiwan, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese landed in Shanghai on Nov. 4, making him the first Australian leader to visit China since 2016.

Assistant Foreign Affairs Minister Tim Watts said it was not possible to reset the bilateral relationship to what it was back in 2016, and Mr. Albanese’s visit was more about stabilising it. The Opposition warned that Australia needed to be clear-eyed when dealing with the communist regime, citing its human rights record.

“We now have the benefit of understanding exactly what the Chinese government has done in Xinjiang to the Uyghur people. We’ve now seen what they’ve done in Hong Kong. We know what they’ve threatened to do against the people of Taiwan,” Opposition spokesman for Home Affairs James Paterson told Sky News on Nov. 5.

“If we were to ignore that in the pursuit of a reset, that would be fundamentally damaging to our interests.”

Representative Douglas Hsu, the ambassador of ROC to Australia who also spoke at the Dialogue, called for more bilateral cooperation in areas like trade, technology, and education.

“People wake up and realise that Taiwan provides 90 percent of the most advanced semiconductors for the global market, and it is very important to have tight stay in this supply chain,” he said.

Representative Douglas Hsu (M), the ambassador of Taiwan to Australia spoke at the Dialogue in University of Technology Sydney on Nov. 10, 2023. (Cindy Li/The Epoch Times)
Representative Douglas Hsu (M), the ambassador of Taiwan to Australia spoke at the Dialogue in University of Technology Sydney on Nov. 10, 2023. (Cindy Li/The Epoch Times)

“If any peace and stability in that region is being disrupted, you can cause problems to the entire world.”

Mr. Hsu further pointed to Australia’s active role in the AUKUS alliance, which implies that Australia will “become more active in engaging with these regional activities.”

“If Australia needs to play a more active role in this region, and Taiwan being one of the important stakeholders in the region, it is definitely practical and necessary for Taiwan and Australia to have some kind of conversation discussion about this—a shared vision, shared strategy, or share analysis about the original scope distribution,” he said.

“I’m going to keep on reminding my counterpart that it is important to have this conversation between Taiwan and Australia.”

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