GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
Go back to 1945. Winston Churchill, the successful UK World War II Leader, suffers a decisive defeat in the UK General Election of 1945. Angry + rejected, imagine that he flees to the Isle of Wight with a few followers + valuable antiques/paintings secretly removed from the Tate/Wallace Collection + the Tower of London. His first action is to unfurl the Union Jack Flag in Shanklin + set about gaining recognition from the US, the Allies and the United Nations as the sole representative of the UK. Shanklin, not London, is now the capital of the UK.
Not quite a one-for-one with Chiang Kaishek + Taiwan in 1949 but close. Taiwan represented China at the UN and at all world events, thereby marginalising Beijing. But the Isle of Wight has always been part of the sovereign UK just as Taiwan has always been part of the sovereign China.
This gave rise to “Two China’s” which continued to 1971 when President Nixon recognised the principle of One China, with a single capital city of Beijing. The concept of Taiwan as an independent sovereign state – separate + apart from the People’s Republic of China – was dead in the water.
Now that concept is being revived by the action of Lithuania in allowing Taipei to establish a representative office in Vilnius. Taipei is seeking again to present itself to the world as a separate country as it did when it sought, unsuccessfully, to join the WTO.
For Beijing, Taipei is unfinished business. It remains a province of China and one day it will return to China – preferably by gradual re-integration but possibly by force. Beijing has always been inflexible whenever there are challenges to its territorial integrity – whether it is Xinjiang, Tibet, India, Hong Kong or South China Sea islands and reefs. Taipei is no different and that is why the Lithuania Initiative will be strongly resisted by Beijing.