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Why Trump Raising Doubts About ‘One-China’ Is a Big Deal

  • Policy has underpinned U.S. behavior on Taiwan for decades
  • One-China means different things to different governments
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Trump Ties 'One-China' Policy to Trade

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has upped the ante with Beijing by saying he’ll use the One-China policy as a bargaining chip to get a better trade deal. The policy -- the idea that China and Taiwan are part of the same country -- has guided U.S. behavior for decades. China’s Communist Party sees Taiwan as a province and its sovereignty as a core interest, so Trump’s comments sparked an immediate rebuke. Here’s how the policy came to be:

It is the product of an unresolved civil war between the Nationalists and the Communist Party, in which both claimed to be the rightful government for all of China, including Taiwan. The Nationalists never gave up that claim despite moving their Republic of China government to Taipei in 1949, and the idea is enshrined in the island’s constitution. The Communists have made "One China" a prerequisite for relations with Beijing. They’ve pledged to return to war to block Taiwan’s independence.