The Democratic Party platform of the United States dropped any reference to the U.S. policy of recognizing a single China in reference to unofficial American ally Taiwan.
The Democratic Party is committed to supporting the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act that states that the US would protect Taiwan from attacks by the Chinese, stated the party platform.
The platform then states that Democrats “will continue to support a peaceful resolution of cross-strait issues consistent with the wishes and best interests of the people of Taiwan.”
However, the 2016 platform explicitly supported the “One China” policy hammered out in the 1970s, when the U.S. dropped formal diplomatic recognition of Taiwan and shifted recognition to Beijing. The 2016 document said Democrats were “committed to a ‘One China’ policy.”
China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the platform change stating that it was “the most important and sensitive issue between China and the US.”
“The One China principle is the political foundation of China-U.S. relations and a common consensus of the international community,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
“We urge relevant sides to abide by the One China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqus, and prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related issues,” he added.
The mild criticism of the Democrats from the Chinese government, some analysts say, reflects Beijing’s interest in seeing Joe Biden defeat President Donald Trump in November’s US election.
US Vice President Mike Pence has charged China with meddling in the U.S. election and said that Beijing “wants a different president.”
Chinese state media also warned the Democratic platform’s omission will worsen U.S.-China ties. “The change of tone will likely further strain China-U.S. relations,” the Chinese Communist Party outlet Global Times states.
The Democratic platform also takes a tougher tone on China than in the past but also calls for more moderate policies than Trump has pursued. It calls China’s trade practices unfair and criticizes its currency manipulation and technology theft.
“Democrats’ approach to China will be guided by America’s national interests and the interests of our allies, and draw on the sources of American strength — the openness of our society, the dynamism of our economy, and the power of our alliances to shape and enforce international norms that reflect our values,” the document said.
“Undermining those strengths will not make us ‘tough on China.’ It would be a gift to the Chinese Communist Party,” the platform added.
Democrats argued that the threat from China is “not primarily” military, but are prepared to deter and respond to aggression.
“We will underscore our global commitment to freedom of navigation and resist the Chinese military’s intimidation in the South China Sea,” the document said.
China since 2012 has been building up disputed islands in the sea and in 2018 began deploying missiles and electronic warfare systems — in what U.S. officials say is a violation of a pledge made by President Xi Jinping not to militarize the islands.
The platform also states that a Democratic administration would support activists in Hong Kong with sanctions. It also condemned China’s placement of more than 1 million ethnic Uighurs and other minorities in “concentration camps.”
“Democrats will pursue this strategy without resorting to self-defeating, unilateral tariff wars or falling into the trap of a new Cold War,” the platform said. “Those mistakes would only serve to exaggerate China’s weight, over-militarize our policy, and hurt American workers.”