International Relations
Online ISSN : 1883-9916
Print ISSN : 0454-2215
ISSN-L : 0454-2215
The Normalization of Sino-French Diplomatic Relations (1964) and the Formation of ‘One-China’ Principle: Negotiation over Breaking French Diplomatic Relations with ROC Government and Normalizing Relations as ‘the Sole Legitimate Government’
Madoka Fukuda
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2011 Volume 2011 Issue 163 Pages 163_139-153


This article examines the substance and modification of the “One-China” principle, which the government of the People's Republic of China (PRC) pursued in the mid 1960s. Under this principle, a country wishing to establish diplomatic relations with the PRC was required first to break off such relations with the Republic of China (ROC).
In 1964 the PRC established diplomatic relations with France. This was its first ambassadorial exchange with a Western government. The PRC, in the negotiations over the establishment of diplomatic relations, attempted to achieve some consensus with France on the matter of “One-China”. The PRC, nevertheless, had to abandon these attempts, even though it demanded fewer conditions of France than of the United States (US), Japan and other Western countries in the 1970s.
The PRC had demanded adherence to the “One-China” principle since 1949. France, however, refused to accept this condition. Nevertheless, the PRC established diplomatic relations with France before the latter broke off relations with the ROC. Subsequently, the PRC abandoned the same condition in negotiations with the African governments of the Republic of Congo, Central Africa, Dahomey and Mauritania.
After the negotiations with France, the PRC began to insist that the joint communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations should clearly state that “the Government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legal government of China”. However, France refused to insert these words into the communiqué. Afterwards, the PRC nevertheless insisted on putting such a statement into the joint communiqués or exchanges of notes on the establishment of diplomatic relations with the African countries mentioned above. This was done in order to set precedents for making countries accede to the “One-China” principle.
The “One-China” principle was, thus, gradually formed in the process of the negotiation and bargaining between the PRC and other governments. The PRC, based on its evaluation of the negotiations with France, decided not to adopt the same approach with other Western governments. Due to the influence of the US the PRC could not break through other Western governments' policies toward the PRC and the ROC. However, the leaders of the PRC strategically approached Western governments regarding the establishment of diplomatic relations. They could not make any careless concessions concerning the “One-China” principle, because each negotiation would influence future negotiations with the US, which were most important.

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© 2011 The Japan Association of International Relations
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