The Joint Communiqué of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China (Shanghai Communiqué) signed in 1972, together with the Joint Communiqué on the Establishment of Diplomatic Relations published at the end of 1978, and the Aug. 17 Communiqué published in 1982, laid the foundation for relations between the two countries. Although the breadth, depth and the richness of China-U.S. relations have had global influence exceeding anything either side could have predicted 45 years ago, along with China’s current rapid development, relations between the two countries continue to remain very stable.
Despite China and the U.S. having different interpretations of the communiqués, they did establish a framework for dealing with Taiwan that was acceptable to both countries. To the U.S., this type of arrangement called for the U.S. to pursue a Chinese policy that did not support “two Chinas,” “one China, one Taiwan,” or “Taiwan Independence,” policies that did not develop diplomatic relations with Taiwan, that did not include signing a security protocol with Taiwan, or that did not support Taiwan participating in international organizations that consist only of sovereign nations.
The most important contribution of the Three Joint Communiqués was to provide the U.S. with stable support and a position that China could trust. Although there were some fluctuations in China-U.S. relations, the fundamental basis of U.S. policy toward China is defined in the Three Joint Communiqués. To the Chinese or other people on either side of the Taiwan Strait, the U.S. policy has not changed, which is beneficial for the stable development of cross-strait relations and provides significant help for stabilizing relations between China and the United States. To China and the U.S., the principles set forth in the Three Joint Communiqués help prevent a serious crisis in the Taiwan Strait. Former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell stated that Taiwan lacked sovereignty. Former President Barack Obama reaffirmed his respect for China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity during a visit to China in 2009.
In a recent conversation with Chairman Xi Jinping, President Donald Trump emphasized his full understanding of the utmost importance of the U.S. government’s pursuing a One China policy. The U.S. government has insisted on pursuing a One China policy. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has also promised that the U.S. has not changed its position on the One China policy. These are all moves welcome to the people. However, if the U.S. government wavers on these issues, it will damage the stability of the U.S. foreign policy. For the time being, reaffirming the pursuit of the spirit and principles of the foundational stipulations of the Three Joint Communiqués is especially important for both the U.S. and China.