Is Taiwan part of China? In 2010, Storr said yes. Today the answer is not clear.

Is Taiwan part of China?  In 2010, Storr said yes.  Today the answer is not clear.

News Analysis: What does Norway's “One China Policy” actually mean? This issue may become important if China and the United States go to war over Taiwan.

Earlier this year, Foreign Minister Espen Barth Eide was the subject of a diplomatic prank.

It happened in Beijing, where Eddie made a 24-hour stopover before heading on an also short flight to Shanghai. While in the Chinese capital, he was able to meet Wang Yi. Wang is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China.

– We want to thank the Norwegian people for their sincere support for the one-China principle, Wang told Eide in his opening speech, which Aftenposten was able to listen to.

Why was this a joke?

Hang in there, because this is a little complicated.

Eddie didn't intervene

The One China principle is China's idea that Taiwan is part of China – even though the island has in principle been autonomous since 1949 and was never part of the People's Republic of China.

Norway does not recognize Taiwan as a country, but Norwegian authorities do not officially believe that Taiwan's population of 24 million is also part of China. This question has been hanging in the air for 75 years. This gray area is known as the one-China policy.

When Wang Yi thanked Norway, it was thanking something that Norway had not actually done.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi put Espen Barth Eide in a difficult position when the two met in Beijing last February.

Espen Barth Eide did not contradict his Chinese colleague at the time – that would constitute a violation of diplomatic etiquette – but then said that he was told later in the meeting that Norway was committed to the one-China policy. So it's not a principle.

Maybe Wang Yi knew what he was doing. This kind of prank is part of the game. But it is also easy to see how he could justify his claim that Norway believes Taiwan is part of China.

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Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Sture has already said so.

He refuses to answer

He did so as Foreign Minister in 2010. In A Written answer In response to a question in Parliament, he said this:

“Norway recognizes the People’s Republic of China, of which Taiwan is a part under international law.”

Does Støre still believe in this today? What part of international law does it refer to, if so? It is not clear.

For direct questions on this topic, the Prime Minister's Office (SMK) refers to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOF).

Norway today has a relatively good relationship with China.  At the end of May, Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Sture received Shi Taifeng, a member of the Chinese Politburo, in Oslo.

What does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs say? When repeatedly asked about this matter, the ministry only referred to the one-China policy. How does the Ministry of Foreign Affairs determine this policy?

“This means that we avoid actions that are or could be considered as state recognition,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Raghild Halland-Siemenstad responded via email.

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– But does Norway believe that Taiwan is part of China?

– We have nothing to add, Simenstad answers.

It may have been a coincidence in the work that Storr wrote in 2010 that Norway believes Taiwan is part of China. But neither SMK nor UD wants to correct this mistake in this case. As long as they don't, Wang Yi can continue to say that Norway is toeing Beijing's line.

Why is all this important?

An expert fears a major war

Because the United States and China may end up in a major war over Taiwan.

Professor Odd Arne Westad of Yale University, one of the world's leading experts on geopolitical affairs, fears that war will break out quickly because the United States and China do not think enough about how dangerous it is.

– China has the idea that it can control Taiwan so quickly that the United States does not have time to intervene. I don't have any faith in that. “I cannot imagine any circumstance in which the United States would not intervene against a Chinese attack,” he tells Aftenposten.

Westad will pay a short visit to Oslo this week. He believes that the war over Taiwan will be prolonged, and that it will destroy large parts of East Asia.

I did not congratulate

In any potential war, the United States expects support from allied countries such as Norway.

At the present time, it is not clear what Norway believes about the Taiwan issue, because the authorities do not want to give a clear definition of what they mean by the concept of the one-China policy. The fine line corresponds to the document The Norwegian authorities signed in Beijing in 2016, where Norway promised to avoid actions that might harm bilateral relations with China.

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– The agreement with China is humiliating for Norway

Norway's policy towards China aims to be close to that of the European Union. This was stated, among other things, in the government program adopted in Heyerdahl in 2021. But the Norwegian authorities are more cautious on the Taiwan issue than many other Europeans.

Taiwan's new president, William Lai Ching-te, visited a military camp outside the city of Hualien in late May.  Experts fear an attack from China.

For example: Representatives from nine European countries, including Sweden, were present when William Lai Cheng-te was sworn in as Taiwan's new president on May 20.

Norway did not send anyone – and did not congratulate the new president either.

On the other hand, so did the foreign ministers of countries such as the USA, India, Japan and Great Britain – as well as smaller European countries such as Lithuania and the Czech Republic.

From Norway he sent the Venstre leader Gori Melby, who had also recently done so Proposed in Storting Norway is strengthening relations with Taiwan, which is a congratulatory message. But the government remained silent.

– Since Norway does not recognize Taiwan as an independent state, it is also not appropriate to offer congratulations regarding the presidential elections, Semmenstad wrote at the Foreign Ministry.

But Norway congratulated Muhammad Mustafa as the Palestinians' new prime minister in March – two months before Norway recognized Palestine as a state.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs did not respond to a question about what, if any, is the difference in principle between these two cases.

Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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