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The challenge in Taiwan

Ties between the two sides of the Taiwan strait are growing warmer and warmer. This should be no surprise, as its exactly what ROC president Ma Yingjiu promised in his campaign leading to a landslide victory earlier this year. With the arrival of mainland tourists in Taiwan representing another new milestone, we are clearly living through an inflection point in cross-strait relations.

But where will cross-strait relations go from here? That’s where the difference in opinion lies. One expat commentator in Taiwan offers this analysis (courtesy of A-gu’s blog):

Most KMT party members and supporters seem not to believe that China actually means any harm to Taiwan– and especially not now that there will be a unified KMT government. They believe that the anger of China and the rest of the world is directed solely at Chen Shui-bian and the DPP. They think that if Taiwan’s government can just behave, quietly cooperate with Beijing and give up the quest for de jure independence, that China will reciprocate by allowing Taiwan to indefinitely maintain the “status quo” of de facto independence.

So far, so good. I believe that to be an accurate statement on pan-Blue beliefs, and I also believe it’s an accurate statement of what most Chinese (certainly myself) firmly believe. However, he follows up with this:

People voted for Ma because they mistakenly believe he is capable of indefinitely prolonging the so-called “status quo” –which in reality has never been static.

The majority of voters are apparently naive enough to believe that they can keep all of their freedoms and civil rights, while simultaneously acceeding to a gradual accomodation of the PRC’s one-China ideology.

And that, in one cynical sentence, captures China’s challenge when it comes to Taiwan. Are the voters who’ve put their faith in the pan-Blue parties “naive” for trusting the PRC’s “one China ideology”? Are the Taiwanese destined to be disappointed; will they lose their freedoms and civil rights? Will the first Chinese democracy fail?

Some of these expats in Taiwan seem to have a much better crystal ball than I do; they speak with great certainty about a dark future for Taiwan. My best guess is completely different; I believe Taiwan, and China’s golden years are ahead of us. But I will candidly admit that this is a guess, and there is much work left to do. We only live in the present, and our actions, our children’s actions will all make a difference in determining where things go.

The Taiwanese people have voted to assume that the Chinese people have the wisdom to preserve and learn from the successful political system in Taiwan; they have voted with the hope that we can learn to live side by side, that we can bridge the political/economic/cultural gap that currently divide us. As a son-in-law of Taiwan (just like Jackie Chan!), I hope that we don’t fail to meet their high expectations.

I will just end with a hopeful quote from Lian Zhan, honorary chairman of Taiwan’s ruling party, the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) (连接):

If the type of visits by these mainland friends can be maintained permanently, they will eventually blossom flowers and bear fruit. Our efforts will make the world’s people proud of our generation of Chinese (zhongguo ren).

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  1. July 6th, 2008 at 13:20 | #1

    The problem for me personally is that China has, in my opinion, shown no flexibility or good will on the key issues that would allow Taiwan to seriously consider a closer political relationship. Every alluring idea to emerge, including an EU style merger, a East-West Germany model, and a North-South Korea model have all been roundly rejected over the last several years by both the Chinese government and mouthpieces (Xinhua editorials).

    Instead, China has not budged from a Hong-Kong style “One country, two systems” formula. The leadership has even expressedly rejected a “One country, three systems” idea. Taiwanese want to now and always be the sole masters of their political fate, and the only people with the authority to choose their leader, and this Bejing understands. But they just don’t care. They have shown absolutely no interest in compromising on this front.

    And that’s why I’m not so optimistic for Taiwan’s ability to maintain its de facto independence and democracy in the face of Chinese policy. And the best argument you generally get from Blue-supporters here, when they are remineded of Beijing’s long-term inflexibility, is “well, who knows what will happen in the future.” But if you ask me that’s no basis for conducting negotiations. “Well, they can say that now and lets hope they change their mind out of the kindness of their hearts some time in the future.” Governments rarely do …

  2. Netizen
    July 6th, 2008 at 13:27 | #2

    I think the expat’s analysis was based on imagination, rather than facts. The facts are that the Taiwanese voters were angered at Chen Shuibian’s and his family’s corruption, angered at DPP’s incompetence, and recognized Taiwan’s increasing margination without direct links with the Maindland.

    When someone says 7 million voters were naive and didn’t know what they were doing, the right thing to do is ignore him. How could one person impute millions of other people’s action exercised in a fair and free fashion. I’d go further than cynicism, maybe deliberate and wilful ignorance.

  3. July 6th, 2008 at 17:45 | #3

    Hallo!

    thanks for this very interesting blog.
    I agreed with Netizen. I believe people in Taiwan did not vote for KMT in order to rejoin the, what I define as CCC = Communist-Capitalist-China.
    The economical situation in Taiwan was deteriorating and the corruption scandal were increasing. Moreover, the DPP tried to polarized to much the country between people being Taiwanese and Chinese.
    Of course, someone, like for example business, who probably have strong relationship with the mainland, voted KMT under the hope to rejoin one day the mainland.

    In my opinion Taiwanese will never accept to join the political structure of country without democracy as the CCC is. The walk to the unification does not depend on Taiwan, but only on China (unless they decided to use the brutal force). If one day (but not early than 50 years), CCC will finally moves to a democratic concept of their internal politics, only that time Taiwanese can start to think about…
    Even this possibility sounds to me unrealistic, since it is equivalent to admit that the democracy of the KMT was better than the dictatorship of the Communist party of China.

    Many thanks again for this blog!
    Antonio

  4. Karma
    July 6th, 2008 at 19:11 | #4

    @Antonio Napoli

    In my opinion Taiwanese will never accept to join the political structure of country without democracy as the CCC is.

    Many people have mentioned democracy as a key stumble block to reunification …. but I really think this does not get to the core of the issue. Some politicians have used democracy has a superficial, politically expedient excuse, but the real issue dividing Taiwanese and Mainland Chinese is historical fear (arising from the Civil War and the events leading up to the Civil War) and a current gap in the socioeconomic development of Taiwan and Mainland China.

    Once that fear is dispelled (it will take time) and once Mainland China (as a whole, not just Shanghai or Beijing) show it can be stable and be on a sure-path to catch up and bypass Taiwan in terms of economic development, my Taiwanese compatriots will be rushing to rejoin the Motherland in no time… No doubt about it in my mind.

  5. Buxi
    July 6th, 2008 at 19:13 | #5

    @A-Gu,

    The problem for me personally is that China has, in my opinion, shown no flexibility or good will on the key issues that would allow Taiwan to seriously consider a closer political relationship.

    I can appreciate that. But by the same measure, Chen Shuibian’s administration has also shown no flexibility or good will on the key issues that would allow Beijing to seriously consider a more nuanced political relationship.

    Don’t get me wrong; you raise a very good point which I fully agree with: Taiwan doesn’t trust the PRC government enough to consider a closer political relationship (and vice versa). But my personal opinion is that this gap in perception and conflict just isn’t the right aspect to focus on.

    Mao Zedong could’ve walked across the border and conquered Hong Kong 50 years before its ultimate reunification in 1997. If even that generation of the Chinese leadership could put aside these issues and focus on domestic issues… why would anyone assume that this generation of leadership wouldn’t do the same?

    Ever since the Deng Xiaoping era (more than 20 years now), Beijing has made it clear that reunification isn’t a short-term goal, but rather a long-term mission. And that’s more true today than ever. Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao will retired from power at the 18th Party Congress, in 2012. Their legacy is not going to depend on Taiwan’s reunification… they will be judged on whether they can maintain China’s economic growth and ability to forward the reform process.

    I really think any sort of formulas being discussed today are largely meaningless. They’re things to talk about, theories that our children can consider… but the Taiwan issue doesn’t need to be solved today, tomorrow, or for another 2-3 decades.

  6. Buxi
    July 6th, 2008 at 19:17 | #6

    Even this possibility sounds to me unrealistic, since it is equivalent to admit that the democracy of the KMT was better than the dictatorship of the Communist party of China.

    I don’t see what’s so unrealistic about it. Anyone with a tiny bit of common sense, and most Chinese are over-flowing with this basic common sense, can see that Taiwan is far wealthier, far more developed politically and socially than mainland China. Of course it’s not really a direct comparison, because Taiwan’s situation post-WW2 is dramatically different from mainland China’s situation… but basically, I disagree that “face” or fear of “losing” to the KMT is going to keep Beijing from reforms.

    I think the majority of mainlanders, including those in the Communist Party, are envious of the most recent presidential elections in Taiwan. It suggests a new level of political stability and maturity that we hope to match, some day. I assert that there is zero support, no interest on the mainland for “liberating” Taiwan from its current system and putting in Communist rule.

  7. July 6th, 2008 at 21:44 | #7

    Hallo,

    about what Karma wrote:

    are you so sure that for the people there the democracy is not important?
    My girlfriend is Taiwanese and in principle I do not have any problem to live in Taiwan (I’m Italian).
    But at least from my side, I’ll never accept to live under a dictatorship.
    Therefore at least for me it is a key-point, and not only for me, since also my girlfriend will never ask me to go back to Taiwan, if Taiwan is part of CCC.
    I prefer to live in a poor country where I can express my idea without being arrested, than to live in a rich country where I can be put in prison from a day to another just because of my political thoughts (I say that since Karma was stating that a wealth China, but still with a dictatorial political system, could sound reasonable to the Taiwanese).

    thanks for this very useful blog!
    Antonio

  8. Charles Liu
    July 7th, 2008 at 00:08 | #8

    There’s another playing in this – USA. I think it is entirely reasonable to see our government to continue meddle in the cross straight issue (we did park the 7th fleet there to induce a stalemate in China’s civil war.)

    America is not about to lose a pawn in her string of pearls to keep China checked in the Pacific Theater.

    I’ve only recently found out that prior to 9/11, China was supposed to be America’s “official enemy” and Pentagon had secretly sent message to Taiwan to promote declaration of independence in order to instigate conflict:

    http://public.cq.com/docs/hs/hsnews110-000002523531.html

    Why Donald Rumsfeld placed such importance in “Single/Pacific Theater” doctrine early on is plainly evident now.

  9. Charles Liu
    July 7th, 2008 at 00:22 | #9

    And remember the EP-3 spy plane incident? Why did US esclate recon mission esclate from weekly to daily and increasingly intrusive, trying to trigger China’s defensive signals that are usually off-line?

  10. pug_ster
    July 7th, 2008 at 01:14 | #10

    The wait I see it, China has social, political and economical problems that Taiwan has 30 years ago before the ‘economic miracle.’ China is probably facing the same king of growing pains and I there will be some time before China becomes more like Taiwan. Until then, It is unrealistic for China to merge with Taiwan.

  11. July 7th, 2008 at 01:17 | #11

    Antonio,

    I prefer to live in a poor country where I can express my idea without being arrested, than to live in a rich country where I can be put in prison from a day to another just because of my political thoughts (I say that since Karma was stating that a wealth China, but still with a dictatorial political system, could sound reasonable to the Taiwanese).

    I would suggest that prosperity and freedom of expression are at minimum loosely linked. I’m sure everybody here could easily rattle off a list of poor countries where a public debate on even simple issues could get you in prison or killed. It’s harder but not impossible to say the same about rich countries. And no country gives you absolute free reign in your political or religious expression. Which is a good thing.

    I’m in the camp of the slow pace of reform for the Mainland. I believe that as the prosperity of the population increases so will the population’s expectation to participate in the decision and policy making process. Organically, the people will demand some form of democratic process. Moreover, I believe that rushing the process is dangerous and counter-productive. Yet, at the same time, I believe that stagnation is as bad or worse than rushing. If the leadership can’t, or won’t, feel the pulse of the people, you can kiss “social harmony” goodbye.

    Taiwan is a working model of Chinese democracy. It may not be the model that the Mainland will follow but it will stand tall as something to measure what happens in the Mainland against. With better relations across the strait, I expect that Taiwan will be stronger. How many business opportunities are lost to Taiwan because of cross strait politics? Why should business opportunities in developments on the Mainland go to Western companies if Taiwanese capital can do the job?

    If this new phase in cross strait relations can result in more and better trade between both sides and the world, it will benefit greatly the democratization of the Mainland.

  12. ZT
    July 7th, 2008 at 01:54 | #12

    @pug_ster

    Your English is a little broken but I understand and agree with you. The only way the two factions can get together is if one or both of them moves toward the middle. The way things are progressing on the mainland it is likely China will be the mobile party. Democracy, generally, comes about from violent conflict. Once obtained, people are willing to die to preserve their freedom. Taiwan has almost 23 million people who have lived quite free for over 50 years. Even though the Taiwanese seem to be separated politically on the issue of re-unification, Democracy has become indigenously cultural for them.

    Obliterating a large number of them would draw many countries, not just the USA into the fray. I think the mainland government is willing to be patient as a result and you using the word “unrealistic” makes perfect sense to me.

  13. BMY
    July 7th, 2008 at 03:06 | #13

    From my observation, the DPP lost the election was mainly because their corruption and mismanagement of the economy rather than their policy towards mainland China. Ma’s personal popularity also plays part of it.

    As a mainlander Chinese, i agree A-Gu’s argument of CCP shown no flexibility in the past which often disappointed me or even angered me When they threated with using of force which actually pushed many Taiwanese people towards the opposite end. I never think to treat Taiwan as a province or HongKong would be accepted by Taiwanese people even when I was a high schooler 20 years ago. But I do see the current Chinese leadership shows more flexibilities than the previous generations which is a step forward.

    I don’t know which model would work and I don’t even think the EU model would work due to the gap of the socioeconomic cross the strait situation. Don’t many western European not happy with the flood of cheaper labor from the east are taking off their jobs. And they still fear of what would happen if Turkey joins EU.

    But on the other hand , A-Gu also need acknowledge the DPP has alway been lack of flexibilities as well. the extreme “逢中必反,逢共必反“ has resulted unhealthy hostile attitude,personally I think, hold by many Taiwanese people,especially in the south ,towards general mainland Chinese. we can see from previous thread.

    to be fair, for mainland China present days, I don’t understand there are still movies about the civil war before 1949 on and promote the good of communists and the bad of the “Kiang bandits ” . I always see the civil war as a tragedy involved by peasant soldiers from same families,villages, killing each other for the idealism most of them didn’t understand. It was a slaughtering tragedy has nothing to be excited about being put into a movie

    When the socioeconomic gap cross the striate is very minor like between Germany and France, then what’s the big deal of a name of reunification or not.

  14. July 7th, 2008 at 04:12 | #14

    I agree BMY – the DPP lost because of their own issues rather than KMT’s plank of improved cross-straits relations. So, our own debate here is a bit of putting the cart before the horse. Clearly the Taiwan vote can not be taken as any sort of test of the larger question of reunification. If the KMT fails to revitalize the economy, so will progress with the improved cross-straits relations falter. Thus, I’m hoping that the Mainland will let up on some of its demands for foreign interests not to deal with Taiwan, for example WHO.

    I also feel you don’t have to dig too deep on either side of the strait to find “unhealthy hostile attitudes.” I’ve read some not so flattering stereotypes of Taiwanese business people in Shanghai. This is another reason to call for patience.

  15. BMY
    July 7th, 2008 at 04:43 | #15

    you are right, MutantJedi. I know “flattering stereotypes of Taiwanese business people in Shanghai.” But I don’t think it is as strong as on the other side. of course it doesn’t make the stereotype right either.

  16. July 7th, 2008 at 06:55 | #16

    @BMY, Buxi:

    A quick note on DPP lack of flexibility: it was not only KMT supporters, but also A-bian who repeatedly brought up the idea of a German, Korean or European unification model. And each time it was rejected out of hand with little consideration or debate. So while I agree that the DPP would not compromise on his idea of what constitutes the status quo ( 一邊一國), he was open to future possibilities that involved political mergers as long as they first acknowledged that the Taiwanese people are the masters of Taiwan. And this is the DPP position: close economic ties are fine (notice how little they’ve complained about the charter flights, and Kaohsiung is hoping for more flights our way). But compromising on sovereignty is not an option for the party.

  17. July 7th, 2008 at 07:54 | #17

    cc, you have a whole blog to yourself now! But don’t you have another blog?

    And yes, we expats have a pretty good idea where things are moving, because we have broader connections than most Taiwanese or Chinese. Few Taiwanese discuss US policy regularly with US Taiwan watchers or the foreign media, for example, but a number of US expats here that comment regularly on Taiwan affairs do. I regularly attend seminars from US officials and influential non-officials, and receive transcripts and summaries of those events that I can’t attend in person. Few Taiwanese do anything like that and of course, the Chinese are absolutely clueless. Current US policy is to annex the island to China; Ma wants to annex the island to China, and of course, the price of annexation will be the hollowing out of the island’s democratic development and a rollback of its own identity. China absolutely hates Taiwan’s democracy, as does the KMT, and both have a vested interest in ensuring that it cannot bring a halt to the postwar drive to annex the island to China.

    So I think the next few years will be very interesting, no doubt depressing to those of us who love both democracy and Taiwan, but withal, interesting. How will the US Establishment finesse selling out the island? Will Taiwanese object to the slow leak of their civil rights and their sovereignty? Will the KMT split into factions, as it is threatening to now? Who is actually running the KMT? Can the pro-Taiwan forces ever recover? Interesting to us observers….

    Michael

  18. July 7th, 2008 at 08:01 | #18

    From my observation, the DPP lost the election was mainly because their corruption and mismanagement of the economy rather than their policy towards mainland China.

    The first half of that might be true, for the electorate tends to punish the reform party more if it gets tarnished — after all, you expect the monumentally corrupt KMT to be corrupt! But the second half is rank nonsense. The DPP did not “mismanage” the economy. Rather, what happened is that growth has been strong, but incomes have been stagnant, income equality has been on the rise here since the early 1990s. The legislature dialed back infrastructure spending. punishing incomes in local areas, to hurt the DPP, and it refused to let the DPP govern, shutting down the Control Yuan, and starving other important organs of funds. Of course the Blue media constantly claimed that the economy was mismanaged, until everyone began to believe it — even though we grew 5.7% in 2007 and over 6% in the first half of the year. It was both funny and frustrating to hear otherwise intelligent people believe such nonsense.

    I think the reasons are more prosaic. The DPP ran a lackluster and often incompetent campaign, the Ma campaign did a very fine job. The money advantage helped tremendously, as did the KMT’s local networks, which are far more developed — the DPP has no local presence at all. Ma stayed on message and didn’t get flustered, and more importantly, the KMT remained unified — the elites who detested Ma so intensely remained silent and no cracks were exposed to the public. It was really a well-run campaign from any of several angles. And of course Ma is popular, and was supported by both Washington and Beijing. Lots of reasons, none of them simple.

    Michael

  19. July 7th, 2008 at 08:03 | #19

    I’ve only recently found out that prior to 9/11, China was supposed to be America’s “official enemy” and Pentagon had secretly sent message to Taiwan to promote declaration of independence in order to instigate conflict:

    LOL. Don’t believe everything you read. That was part of a internal domestic dispute in which side was trying to discredit the other.

    Michael

  20. hotpot
    July 7th, 2008 at 09:37 | #20

    @Charles Liu

    Hello Charles – still at it spreading your muck around?

  21. Netizen
    July 7th, 2008 at 10:39 | #21

    Michael Turton is a typical neocon. Ignore facts. Twist facts. Always their ideaological fantasies. Armchair warriro type. But send other people’s sons to fight their wars, like Iraq. He didn’t forgot mentioning his conections to this or that official and non-official. Very typical neocon.

  22. July 7th, 2008 at 13:20 | #22

    @Buxi – “Mao Zedong could’ve walked across the border and conquered Hong Kong 50 years before its ultimate reunification in 1997. ”

    Mao didn’t attempt to take HK for the same reason he was happy to have the US in Vietnam and to have the nationalists within artillery range on Jinmen and Mazu – it was a stick with which to beat the west, and there was always the possibility of nuclear retaliation resulting from such an action. This didn’t stop a mainland-backed terrorist campaign being conducted in HK during the 60’s, or numerous border incidents which resulted in shots being exchanged.

    As for the current leadership retiring in 2012 – we have seen that the leadership is not so easily removed as that. Deng Xiaoping’s power did not end in 1989, or even really in 1992, nor did Jiang Zemin’s power end in 2003.

    A-Gu is also quite correct in pointing out that much of what is being offered by Ma Yingjiu was previously turned down or ignored by the CCP when offered by Chen Shuibian, and the KMT’s reign in power is not going to last forever – it is quite likely that the DPP will be back in four or eight year’s time.

    @Michael Turton – I too do not understand why people insist on labelling the Taiwanese economy as ‘failing’ when it is out-performing many in Asia in GDP growth and unemployment terms, it seems this is the result of wishful thinking. However, I don’t think the KMT is going to split, or crash out of power, or do anything but loosen up relations with the mainland a bit – and there is nothing vastly wrong with this. Ma does represent a break with the ‘black gold’ politics of the bad old KMT, and this is to be welcomed. I have to say, it is funny to see the Taipei Times editorials of late, where the one-sided rhetoric has quite simply gone into over-drive when Ma hasn’t even been in power more than a few months.

    @Netizen – “typical neocon”, “Ignore facts”, “Armchair warrior” – these are lazy tropes, do you have an actual argument to make?

    @Mutantjedi – “I’ve read some not so flattering stereotypes of Taiwanese business people in Shanghai.” – Quite a few of which, it must be said, are generally true – and equally true of all expats in general.

  23. yo
    July 7th, 2008 at 14:21 | #23

    Michael,
    “Current US policy is to annex the island to China”

    There were others I question but this stuck out. What do you have to back up this claim?

  24. July 7th, 2008 at 14:56 | #24

    @Yo – Obviously it is the policy of the US that Taiwan is a province of China, I guess this is what Michael meant, but if it is then it is a really bad way of putting it. My view is that the USpositions itself so that it may maintain relations with China, allow the continuation of de facto independence, whilst not giving carte blanche to independence supporters.

  25. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:12 | #25

    As is the case for many other expats in Asia, Michael Turton’s not a neocon in general. (Most neocons don’t leave American shores; too busy enjoying their American century.) He most likely hates being associated to American neocons on just about every other issue.

    But on issues involving China and Taiwan, he does find himself inevitably lined up alongside neocon arguments. This isn’t coincidence. With all due respect to Michael, I’ll tell you my guess why this happens. Deep down inside, Michael has a deeply dogmatic view that the Communist Chinese can’t be trusted, not like his beloved (but naive and often easily misled) Taiwanese.

    To my eyes, the American neocon obsession with and hatred/mistrust of Communist China isn’t much different from their obsession/hatred/mistrust of “Islamo-fascists”. There exists a real political and philosophical gap here which can’t be ignored, but they’ve exaggerated into stark black/white, you win/we lose scenarios.

    Mao didn’t attempt to take HK for the same reason he was happy to have the US in Vietnam and to have the nationalists within artillery range on Jinmen and Mazu – it was a stick with which to beat the west, and there was always the possibility of nuclear retaliation resulting from such an action.

    ~scratches his head in confusion~

    FOARP, how does this make any logical sense to you? Do you really think the mainland wouldn’t have liked to conquer Jinmen? Why didn’t the mainland leave the nationalists Hainan island, as well? Why didn’t the mainland just let the UN march past the 38th parallel and take all of North Korea?

    Why would Mao “need” an independent Hong Kong in order to act as leverage? And why did that “need” end in the early ’80s?

    A-Gu is also quite correct in pointing out that much of what is being offered by Ma Yingjiu was previously turned down or ignored by the CCP when offered by Chen Shuibian, and the KMT’s reign in power is not going to last forever – it is quite likely that the DPP will be back in four or eight year’s time.

    You and A-gu are both wrong here. Michael Turton links to a FEER blog entry on his blog, which has it much more correct. There is a huge distinction between Ma Yingjiu and Chen Shuibian in their perspectives of both a shared identity, and the prospects of future unification.

    Both BMY and I agree that Beijing was too rigid and inflexible in the past in dealing with Taiwan, but I wouldn’t extend that to the Chen Shuibian era. I think Beijing woke up (after Chen Shuibian’s victory) and realized it needed to respect Taiwan’s bottom line and work out a mutually acceptable solution. BMY and I are talking about the ’90s, and the Li Denghui era.

    If we could go back to 1992-1996 and the explosion of outrage around Li Denghui’s visit to Cornell.. I don’t know all the details of the discussion before Li went to Cornell, but my impression is around that period, Beijing *could’ve* worked out a compromise not too different from what exists today with Ma. And that was a lost opportunity.

    But from about 2002+ on… I think Beijing has clearly held out the hand of cooperation on what I consider minimally acceptable terms from the Chinese perspective. Before we get into too many recriminations about “he said, she said”… remember that Beijing offered panda bears to Chen Shuibian, not just the KMT. You will never convince me that someone who brought up a legal justification for rejecting *panda bears* was interested in cooperation and improving relations.

  26. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:24 | #26

    @FOARP,

    @Yo – Obviously it is the policy of the US that Taiwan is a province of China, I guess this is what Michael meant, but if it is then it is a really bad way of putting it.

    That is really not US policy. The US-China Communiques don’t make a statement nearly as strong.

    US policy since 9/11, and especially the launch of the Iraq war, has been to work alongside Beijing to “maintain stability” and the status quo in the Taiwan strait. Now, there are many people in Taiwan who believe maintaining stability for a few decades is equivalent to a guarantee of reunification, because at current trends, Taiwan will never be able to escape the mainland’s gravity.

    I think this is what Michael means: by opposing Taiwanese independence today, the US is basically closing the door on this being a possibility at all. I agree with that prediction.

    Let me make another statement here too… even if things go according to plan, we’re talking about a 20-30 maybe 50 year process from today until the day reunification actually occurs. It’s basically inevitable that there will be conflicts between the two side during that period, a few occasional steps back. But I think the longer trend is obvious; two steps forward, one step back.

  27. Hemulen
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:41 | #27

    @Buxi

    But from about 2002+ on… I think Beijing has clearly held out the hand of cooperation on what I consider minimally acceptable terms from the Chinese perspective.

    The signals have been contradictory though. Don’t forget the anti-secession law in 2005, which enshrined the rigid Mainland position and committed the PLA launch a war on Taiwan, if deemed necessary.

    Why would Mao “need” an independent Hong Kong in order to act as leverage? And why did that “need” end in the early ’80s?

    I don’t have the literature in front of me, but there is anecdotal evidence that support FOARP’s view. Also remember that the Portuguese government offered to return Macao in the late 60s, but Mao refused.

  28. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:46 | #28

    On economics, the term “opportunity cost” exists to describe the DPP administration.

    I concur that the economy under the DPP hasn’t been “that bad”… and why would it be? The first half of this decade was approaching the golden age in global economics. Low inflation, high growth, soaring asset prices… just about everyone (other than Japan) did pretty well.

    But really, governments should be evaluated on the basis of its policies, not factors outside its control. The DPP administration’s policies were politically motivated and acted as a buffer on potential Taiwanese growth. Keep in mind that in the first year of the CSB administration, both mainland China and Taiwan joined the WTO. The WTO represented a spike to the mainland economy, rearranging everything that existed before. There was a realistic thought that Taiwan could’ve competed to act as logistics or financial hug for “Greater China”. Not only did that not happen, Taiwan lagged just about every other East Asian Tiger, despite its advantages.

    I personally thought it was unrealistic and very dubious for Ma to promise a specific GDP growth target… but hey, unrealistic campaign promises, there’s a first. But I will say that I believe at the end of these four years, if we compare Taiwan’s GDP growth to Singapore, South Korea, and Hong Kong… it will be near the very top.

  29. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 15:55 | #29

    The signals have been contradictory though. Don’t forget the anti-secession law in 2005, which enshrined the rigid Mainland position and committed the PLA launch a war on Taiwan, if deemed necessary.

    I don’t think the ASL was contradictory at all. While the ASL did commit the PLA to launching a war, it also made it legally clear it would only be used as a matter of last resort when peaceful reunification was no longer an option. You can call the ASL harsh, but the terms are exactly consistent with what Beijing has repeated in every context in recent memory.

    I don’t have the literature in front of me, but there is anecdotal evidence that support FOARP’s view. Also remember that the Portuguese government offered to return Macao in the late 60s, but Mao refused.

    What is the anecdotal evidence of the former, and can you give a link to the Portuguese offer in the late 60s? And why did Mao refuse?

  30. Hemulen
    July 7th, 2008 at 16:45 | #30

    @Buxi

    The ASL is of course not contradictory, but it indicates that Beijing has not really changed its position, only softened some of its rhetorics. The unilateral threat to proclaim war on Taiwan – and possibly provoke a regional conflagration – remains.

    I think Li Zhishui mentioned Mao’s reluctance to change the status quo in relation to HK a couple of times. From what I know, given China’s isolation, it was vital that China keep a window to the West and maintained relations with the UK. Neither do I think that it was a deliberate scheme to let the KMT keep Quemoy and Matsu, but it was certainly convenient to have an external enemy nearby that was not too threatening.

    As for Macao, I think a formal offer was made when the Portuguese dictatorship feel in 1974, but it was turned down by the Chinese government given the political instability at the time.

    Gotta run. Anyway, the bottom line is that Mao was never as interested in reunification as Deng was, because he had already established a legacy. For Deng, who repudiated much of the Mao era, he had to find his own message and he made Chinese unity part of it.

  31. Charles Liu
    July 7th, 2008 at 16:47 | #31

    Michael, I don’t believe everything I read, esepcially blanket refutation that provides no citation.

    Buxi, just for the record, US law is also very “ridig” when it comes to asserting our own “territorial integrety”. Take US Code Title 25 Chapter 3 Subchapter 1, Section 72 for example:

    http://www4.law.cornell.edu/us­code/25/72.html

    Should be a good read for all you Tibetean Independence activists.

  32. Charles Liu
    July 7th, 2008 at 16:50 | #32

    opps, correct link for US code is here: http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/25/72.html

  33. Sino Federation
    July 7th, 2008 at 17:14 | #33

    Joint Declaration of the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Government of the People’s Republic of China on the Question of Hong Kong.

    “Hong Kong Island had already been ceded to the UK in perpetuity under the Treaty of Nanking in 1842.

    However, many commentaries pointed out that Britain was in an extremely weak negotiating position. Hong Kong was not militarily defensible and received most of its water and food supply from Guangdong province in mainland China. It was therefore considered economically infeasible to divide Hong Kong, with the UK retaining control for Hong Kong Island and Kowloon while returning the leased New Territories to the PRC in 1997, if no agreements could be reached by then.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-British_Joint_Declaration

  34. July 7th, 2008 at 17:40 | #34

    @Buxi –

    “Do you really think the mainland wouldn’t have liked to conquer Jinmen?”

    “The Jinmen garrison collapsed and we could have taken it as easily as crossing the street if we had launched a landing attack. But we could never know what was in Mao’s mind” (General Ye Fei, quoted in “Chinese Warfighting: The PLA experience since 1949”, in a chapter written by Dr. Xiaobing Li)

    “The advantage of this policy, Mao argued, was that the communists could maintain “contact” with the nationalists since the islands were so close to the mainland. Whenever necessary, they could shell the nationalists. Mao elaborated again on his noose strategy: whenever Beijing needed tension, it could pull the noose tighter, and whenever China wanted a respite, it could loosen the noose. Hanging these islands up there neither dead or alive could be employed as an effective measure for dealing with the Americans” (ibid.)

    I am sure you have also heard of Mao’s famous comment on Jinmen and Mazu being like a conductor’s baton with which he could direct the superpowers. It is true that the 1949 attack was in deadly earnest, but saying that there was a high level of gamesmanship in Mao’s approach to the 1954 crisis is hardly an outlandishly controversial statement – at least it isn’t outside of China. The difference between the 1954 crisis and the situation in 1949 is the re-appraisal that was sparked by the war in Korea, there is no exaggeration in saying that had the Korean war not happened the red flag would now be flying over Taiwan.

    China of course, did allow UN forces to advance north of the 38th parallel, the intervention of the ‘volunteer’ army only happened when UN forces were already at the Yalu. Two years passed from the point when the final communist offensive was broken and thrown back across the Imjin to the final signing of the ceasefire – many ascribe this stalemate to a desire on the part of Mao to maintain a theatre of action in which he could retaliate against American threats. Mao’s policy towards the war in Vietnam has also been described in similar terms – I don’t have the history books to hand but I know for sure that Jung Chang described it in those terms (if you will accept her word on it), but she wasn’t the only one.

    As for Chen Shuibian’s position, the actual concrete substance of what he offered was not what the mainland objected to – it was the packaging in which it came.

    I thought the Portuguese offer for an immediate transfer of sovereignty came shortly after the overthrow of the military government in 1974 at the same time as independence was granted to Angola and Mozambique, but was rejected by the Chinese government due to a lack of any kind of preparation for such a transfer. Certainly the withdrawl of the Portuguese military finished in 1975, and I remember the Macau museum did refer to it.

  35. July 7th, 2008 at 17:50 | #35

    As for the ASA, a law allowing use of military force against what is still officially a province in a state of rebellion over which the central government is most definitely ‘contradictory’. Either Beijing exercises sovereignty over it, in which case military action against rebellion is legal, or it doesn’t, in which case no law enacted by Beijing can make it so. Either Beijing the right to conduct miltary action against rebellion within its own borders, or it doesn’t – in which case it has been breaking the law by conducting military action against numerous movements. Either a state of peace already exists in the straits, in which case you have to ask when this state of peace began and whether Taiwan is still a province in rebellion or not, or a state of war still exists – in which case why would the CCP need permission.

  36. July 7th, 2008 at 17:56 | #36

    @Charles Liu – Anyone who has closely followed Chinese politics in the last few years knows that China’s anti-succession law has its counterparts in the west, what I would say is that the American law is part of the chain of events that led to their civil war – is this what you want? America herself was formed through an act of secession, even if many Americans do not see it that way – I doubt that simply pointing out that the US has a law against its own states seceeding is going to convince that many Americans that secession in general is wrong.

  37. yo
    July 7th, 2008 at 18:15 | #37

    @FOARP,
    “Obviously it is the policy of the US that Taiwan is a province of China…”
    Yeah, that’s more or less what I thought our policy was, “it’s part of China, but stick with the status quo”. That’s why Michael’s statement stuck out.

  38. July 7th, 2008 at 18:16 | #38

    @Charles – A law on the abrogation of Indian treaties? Are you sure that was the correct link?

  39. Buxi
    July 7th, 2008 at 18:54 | #39

    @FOARP,

    I think the Jinmen topic is a bit of a tangent. But in my experience, the most common (and believable) reason cited for letting Taiwan “retain” Jinmen had nothing to do with wanting a lever against the West. Mao realized an invasion of Taiwan at the time wasn’t practical as long as the US fleet was in the Taiwan Straits, not after Jiang and the US signed a mutual defense agreement in 1954.

    As you said, this allowed closer contact between the KMT/CCP side. More importantly, Jinmen (and Mazu) are legally part of Fujian province, and not Taiwan province. Conquering them without the ability of conquering Taiwan just adds weight to the possibility of independence for Taiwan.

    In the case of Macau, negotiations started immediately in 1974/1975, but mainland China wasn’t in a hurry. Mainland China was still firmly a Communist country with a centrally planned economy, how do you integrate a capitalist hub without actually destroying it? The “one country, two systems” program had to be designed. You (or someone) mentioned Deng Xiaoping needed “legacy”. I, uh, think he has left us plenty of legacy with his economic reforms and we have the billboards throughout China to prove it.

    And is this really proof of anything with Hong Kong or modern policy with Taiwan? My ultimate point in bringing up Hong Kong, if you remember, was that mainland China can be very patient when it comes to issues involving unification. There’s no rush in the present environment. The Taiwan issue does not to be resolved for decades.

    I doubt that simply pointing out that the US has a law against its own states seceeding is going to convince that many Americans that secession in general is wrong.

    I have never, ever been able to convince any American that the launching of the US Civil War was morally wrong. I hear there are still some in the deep South who believe otherwise, but they represent a small minority.

  40. July 7th, 2008 at 19:15 | #40

    @Buxi – The question was whether Mao was devious enough to prefer to have his enemies where he could attack them, the answer is in the affirmative – his comments about using the islands as a ‘noose’ demonstrate this. The decision not to use force against HK was part of this – but with Mao gone this was no longer the case.

    I said nothing about Deng’s legacy, it should be mentioned, though, that the ROC also used the SAR formula for the former British colony of Weihaiwei – “one country, two systems” was an extension of this. As for modern policy vis-a-vis Taiwan, I expect nothing big to happen any time soo, not least because re-unification on terms looser than those offered to Hong Kong would be sure to bring a negative response in the territory.

  41. Passing by
    July 8th, 2008 at 03:37 | #41

    Is Taiwan a freed nation?

    “according to the Treaty of Shimonoseki signed by Japan and the Qing court of China, Taiwan was ceded to Japan.

    Japan legally gave up its claim to Taiwan when the San Francisco Peace Treaty came into effect in 1952. Since then, some have claimed that Taiwan is a sovereign nation, while others claim that its status is uncertain.”

    http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2008/06/17/2003414923

  42. Karma
    July 8th, 2008 at 04:39 | #42

    @FOARP

    the KMT’s reign in power is not going to last forever – it is quite likely that the DPP will be back in four or eight year’s time.

    Not sure where you pulled that from. If you study history, you will see the DPP’s 2 victories in the past were accidental in many ways. The first – due to internal infighting within the KMT, the second – due to popular sympathies for a stray (orchestrated?) bullet.

    Anyways, Taiwanese politics is in flux. But if I have to place my money, I’d place my bet on DPP being a minority for the indefinite future. The cost to the Taiwanese of its irresponsible politics has been too high…

  43. Karma
    July 8th, 2008 at 04:41 | #43

    @Passing by

    I am sure you know – Taipetimes is not really considered first rate journalism. It’s a mouthpiece for certain political elements within Taiwan.

  44. July 8th, 2008 at 07:49 | #44

    @Karma – As has already been discussed Taiwan under the DPP has been far from a disaster. The DPP can at least claim to have put an end to the ‘black gold’ politics of the KMT, even if the KMT is still the world’s richest political party. The DPP can also claim to have helped loosen up the economy through the privitisation of national industries, as well as extending university attendence and giving a greater voice to ethnic minorities. They have also done much to de-throne the Chiang regime and bring the real history of events like the 2/28 incident into the light. GDP growth has continued to out perform many other Asian economies, and last year topped 5.5%.

    The main failures of the DPP were any lack of progress in bringing an end to the threat posed by mainland China or to get any closer to a diplomatic solution.

    As to Taiwan’s current status – attempting to argue that Taiwan should be regarded as abandoned territory is at best the equivalent of arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin and at worst just pure silliness.

  45. Formosa
    July 8th, 2008 at 15:39 | #45

    Tensions in the Far East could reach “Cold War levels” defence analysts warned, following evidence that China had developed a major nuclear submarine base.

    “Satellite photographs passed to The Daily Telegraph showed that the secret base at Sanya on Hainan island will house up to 20 of the latest 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic submarines that could be capable of firing anti-satellite missiles and nuclear-tipped cruise missiles.

    The construction showed that China was “ramping up its operational capability” and developing a “blue water navy” that would challenge the dominance of the US in the Pacific, said Alex Neill, head of the Asia Security Programme at the Royal United Services Institute.

    There are also concerns that Beijing has secretly developed a broad military strategy – including internet assaults and satellite strikes – that could allow it to take Taiwan with the US unable to respond.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/uselection2008/1920917/Chinese-nuclear-submarines-prompt-%27new-Cold-War%27-warning.html?service=print

  46. Buxi
    July 8th, 2008 at 16:39 | #46

    @FOARP,

    I don’t think Karma said the DPP’s 8 years was a disaster without any merit… I think the Taiwanese electorate has already rendered its judgment on that point.

    Karma’s point is that you can’t take for granted that the DPP will be back in power in 4-8, or even 40-80 years.. and he has a point. No, I’m not making assertions about the KMT will “end democracy”; the idea that democracy implies ruling parties have to rotate every X years seems ridiculous to me.

    But what about Japan? The LDP in Japan has been in power basically uninterrupted since 1955. If the KMT manages to act as a centrist party with strong grassroots branches, then why can’t it duplicate what the LDP has done?

  47. Buxi
    July 8th, 2008 at 16:41 | #47

    @Formosa,

    The PRC would be irresponsible to her citizens if it didn’t:

    a) have a “broad military strategy” that could allow it to take Taiwan with the US unable to respond.
    b) have a strong military presence in the South China Sea.

    The Cold War didn’t happen because both sides had weapons and strategies. The Cold War happened because both sides were ideologically opposed to the existence of the other. Hopefully, China and the rest of the world won’t reach that point.

  48. Karma
    July 8th, 2008 at 17:53 | #48

    @FOARP

    As has already been discussed Taiwan under the DPP has been far from a disaster.

    You may have read a little too much into what I said. All I said was the high cost suffered by Taiwanese in light of DPP’s irresponsible politics – which would what you referred to as “any lack of progress in bringing an end to the threat posed by mainland China or to get any closer to a diplomatic solution.”

    And as Buxi said in the above post, democracy probably means that DPP will always be a contender for power – but democracy means equally (and this is where I’d put my money) that KMT will stay in power indefinitely…

    I won’t argue with you on this (since as you mentioned, this is silly). But I hope we all stick around on this board to discuss/observe together these events in the coming years!

  49. July 8th, 2008 at 23:44 | #49

    @Buxi – Anyone who tries to set policy on only dealing with the KMT is shooting themselves in the foot – the CCP must negotiate with the ROC government whatever party is in power. Simply assuming that the DPP will never get back into power is foolish, similar predictions were made in Taiwan back in 2000 and have now been proved wrong. Neither the KMT nor the DPP can claim to be what we in the UK call ‘the natural party of government’ – both have substantial power-bases on which they may rely. Floating voters who have delivered power to Ma can take it away if he does not deliver on his promises – and may even do so even if he does.

    Japan’s example is not really useful here, the LDP claims support from broad swathes of Japanese society, whilst support for the KMT is based mainly in the north and in certain ethnic groups. The LDP has stayed in power by forming coalitions with smaller parties, but it is impossible for the KMT to create a coalition with any of the pan-green parties, and its pan-blue partners were mainly created as alternatives to the KMT. The LDP is also kept fresh through continuous internal struggle between various factions, but the KMT is incapable of accomodating such a struggle without fissuring into splinter parties – as history has shown.

    @Karma – The KMT does not have the staying power to stay in government ‘indefinitely’ – we have already seen two changes of government in 12 years of Taiwanese democracy – the form would suggest that we will see more. I would say that the most important take-home message from this is that the forces that created the DPP and give reason for its existence – the rectification of Taiwanese history and the need felt for an independent voice – have not disappeared and the DPP is not going to disappear.

  50. July 8th, 2008 at 23:53 | #50

    @Buxi –

    “The PRC would be irresponsible to her citizens if it didn’t:

    a) have a “broad military strategy” that could allow it to take Taiwan with the US unable to respond.

    The people of Taiwan rely on their own duly elected government to defend them against aggression – the CCP has no duty of care towards them – it’s aid in their defence is not welcome, the sooner PRC commentators and policy makers realise this the better. A defence that starts with an air-sea-land invasion will not be welcomed by the Taiwanese people.

  51. Otto Kerner
    July 8th, 2008 at 23:56 | #51

    I have never, ever been able to convince any American that the launching of the US Civil War was morally wrong. I hear there are still some in the deep South who believe otherwise, but they represent a small minority.

    Americans typically believe that our Civil War was moral (on the federal government’s side) because it freed the slaves. If you speak to people intelligent enough to separate the two issues conceptually, you should find a variety of opinions about the morality of a war to “preserve the Union”, including the opinion that it’s a terrible idea. Heck, I discovered that my own father holds that opinion, and he tends to believe what the history books tell him.

    Now, I would go further and say that it’s sufficiently clear that Lincoln was quite willing to accept slavery as long as the country remained united under his rule. Therefore, the actual motivation for the war was to preserve the Union, and, yes, that is morally very wrong, even though it ended up having positive results for some people.

  52. Buxi
    July 9th, 2008 at 00:08 | #52

    @Otto,

    Now, I would go further and say that it’s sufficiently clear that Lincoln was quite willing to accept slavery as long as the country remained united under his rule. Therefore, the actual motivation for the war was to preserve the Union, and, yes, that is morally very wrong, even though it ended up having positive results for some people.

    Crystal, crystal clear that Abraham Lincoln launched a war on the principles of nationalism, with no concern for slavery. I really shouldn’t suggest “all” Americans are morally unclear on this point; having diverse political opinions isn’t something you have to worry about with Americans.

    But at the end of the day, not many Americans seem to be bothered by this moral concern, even though Lincoln’s “rabid nationalism” led to the greatest death toll in American history (before and after). Something we can learn from in this discussion about Taiwan. 😉

    @FOARP,

    @50, confused by your comment here.

    @49,

    You have an overly rosy interpretation of the DPP. How many chairmen of the DPP are no longer even members of the party? The DPP showed little tolerance for the New Tide and cross-strait moderate factions during the Chen Shui-bian administration. That’s probably changed now, but really, who notices…

    As far as the KMT goes, it’s only the DPP that insists the KMT “only” has support in the north and amongst “certain ethnic groups”. Look at the legislative map; the KMT has just won seats in just about every corner of Taiwan. I don’t think anyone (and perhaps A-Gu or Michael Turton can confirm this) denies that the KMT has deep grass-roots organizing capability in every corner of Taiwan, including the deep south.

    I’m not making any predictions about the KMT actually following in the LDP footsteps; I’m only trying to counter those who insist the KMT can’t possibly copy the LDP’s record.

  53. Karma
    July 9th, 2008 at 00:09 | #53

    FOARP:

    The people of Taiwan rely on their own duly elected government to defend them against aggression – the CCP has no duty of care towards them – it’s aid in their defence is not welcome, the sooner PRC commentators and policy makers realise this the better. A defence that starts with an air-sea-land invasion will not be welcomed by the Taiwanese people.

    I will ignore the sense I seem to get from you that you are lecturing us in the name of the people of Taiwan – which, if it’s your intent, I (as a native of Taiwan) find condescending and disingenuous.

    But you still raise an interesting issue – should the people of Taiwan welcome PRC actions if a sector of Taiwan (say DPP) should capture the gov’t and declare independence.

    Hypothetically speaking, if that would happen, Taiwan would for sure be plunged into an internal civil war. Some would fight in the name of independence, some would fight to quash it. And should that happen – I don’t see how China can afford to stand idly by.

    China has been through many wars. No Chinese want another civil war in Taiwan. But if a civil war were to break out, I don’t see how any Chinese central gov’t can afford to abandon the people of Taiwan yet again (e.g. the same way the Ching gov’t was forced to abandon Taiwan to Japan over a century ago).

  54. July 9th, 2008 at 04:01 | #54

    The KMT does a very good job at the local network in all parts of the country. It does so through its connections with important rural organizations like the Farmers and Fishermen Association, construction and the gravel industry.

    If you look at the local results for the township chiefs elections, you’ll see the KMT winning the largest share (46.46) and non-partisans outperforming the DPP 28% to 24%.

    http://210.69.23.140/cec/..%5Cmenu_mainC.asp?titlec=%B2%C4%2015%20%A9%A1%20%B6m%C2%ED(%BF%A4%C1%D2%A5%AB)%AA%F8%BF%EF%C1%7C&pass1=H200500000000000aaa%20%20&pdf=H200500

    http://www.google.com.tw/url?sa=t&ct=res&cd=1&url=http%3A%2F%2F210.69.23.140%2FExcel%2Fchart48.xls&ei=1jZ0SLeID4nysgLKlbGPDQ&usg=AFQjCNELqP1fIRIwR7KXdAd7M7KrFKsuIA&sig2=__2PtVzG_wy2D7X3W_dBOw

    But getting the votes of such broad swaths of people with very different interests is also part of the reason the KMT does a very poor job controlling their legislators, who need to make a name for themselves on certain issues to keep the constituents aware of them. It’s one of the causes of KMT under-the-table factionalism.

  55. July 9th, 2008 at 04:09 | #56

    Just want to clarify though; local elections are not related at all to national elections, either on issues or the way candidates maintain popularity.

  56. July 9th, 2008 at 14:20 | #57

    @Karma – I do not think there is anything ‘condescending and disengenuous’ about saying that the people of Taiwan do not want to have their island invaded by the PLA. You might welcome one, but anyone even slightly familiar with Taiwan knows that the vast majority of people there would not. Talk of civil war in Taiwan is simply bizarre.

    @Buxi – Making preparations to invade Taiwan is not part of the PRC government’s duty towards its citizens, and the money spent doing so is wasted. I did not say that the KMT ‘only’ has support in the north, but that its main base of support is there. The KMT failed to capture Kaosiung this this year despite having almost everything going for it – so it is clear where the DPP’s stronghold is.

    Do you really think that the KMT is capable of becoming a perpaetual government in the fashion of the LDP? All things are possible, but this is exceptionally unlikely. You might as well speculate at the Democrat party in the US will become an American version of the LDP. The KMT and the DPP represent opposite and equal sides of the political discourse in Taiwan in the same way that Labour and the Conservatives do in the UK, or the Democrats and the Republicans do in the US, and neither is simply going to go away as they will always have something to offer.

  57. Buxi
    July 9th, 2008 at 15:37 | #58

    @FOARP,

    @Buxi – Making preparations to invade Taiwan is not part of the PRC government’s duty towards its citizens, and the money spent doing so is wasted.

    Did you have an argument to follow this up with…? Or are you just “representing us” in deciding what our government’s duty is? I happen to think if the PRC government is unable to preserve China’s interests in Taiwan, it doesn’t deserve to be our government.

    As far as whether the KMT could become a perpetual government… I think it depends on how it handles power. So far, Ma has put in a pretty moderate/centrist government focused on economic issues. Fundamentally, I think east Asian Confucian-inspired societies are unlikely to oppose for the sake of opposing, have a similar view of government: it should be big, should support big-business, should also provide a healthy social safety net… If you look at South Korea/Taiwan, the biggest political divide is on foreign policy issues. And in Taiwan, if the KMT and Beijing do their jobs well, that won’t be an issue for the next few decades.

  58. July 9th, 2008 at 15:50 | #59

    @Buxi – So in what way is the PRC government ‘representing China’s interests’ by threatening an island which it doesn’t control with invasion? You see, here is where the whole “let’s be friends” bus stops and I get off – only when China finds a way of ‘preserving its interests’ that does not involve preparing to launch a shock-and-awe campaign of invasion and subjugation against a democratic society it will stop being an enemy of democracy. Foreign policy will continue to be an issue in Taiwan for exactly this reason – and just as in Korea where ‘sunshine diplomacy’ has given way to a more hard-line stance under Lee Myung-bak, so the current thaw may not be permanent

  59. Sino Federation
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:08 | #60

    Wedding bell blues in Taiwan

    “… an increasing number of Taiwanese men traveling to China for tourism, business or marriage. The demand for mainland wives is also booming due to a gender imbalance in Taiwan and a growing preference among Taiwanese women to stay single.

    While some Taiwanese men look for wives in Southeast Asian countries, the majority prefer Chinese women due to similarities in culture and language.

    But China’s brides pose challenges for Taiwan, a small island with a population of 23 million still considered by China to be part of its territory.

    The influx of large numbers of mainlanders makes some people in the Taiwanese government and certain social sectors uncomfortable, partly because over time the mainland spouses could change Taiwanese people’s views about mainland China and play an important role in drawing the island closer to China, as some analysts view it.

    While mainland migrants will not likely make a big difference in the March presidential election, the potential political impact of large numbers of mainland spouses – many of whom at least initially accept Beijing’s view that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China – is cause for concern for some people in Taiwan.”

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JB15Ad01.html

    Classic Sun Tzu – Win without fighting
    The future population of Taiwan may swing towards pro-reunification.

  60. July 9th, 2008 at 16:13 | #61

    @Sino Federation – Going by that logic, unification between Taiwan and Vietnam cannot be far off . . .

  61. July 9th, 2008 at 16:45 | #62

    FOARP, I’m pretty sure Karma considers an “invasion” into Taiwan from China to be an internal matter, thus a “civil war”. I don’t think he’s talking about the KMT and the DPP going at in the mountains of Taiwan.

    While I understand Buxi’s statement, “I happen to think if the PRC government is unable to preserve China’s interests in Taiwan, it doesn’t deserve to be our government,” with the first missile from China across the strait to Taiwan so goes any support I have for the government of China. Posturing? Sure. Both sides can strike a pose that makes them feel buff. But, by any name, invasion or civil war, there is no net gain in military action. It would only be for stupid nationalistic pride that friends of mine might get killed.

    Frankly (and naively), let Taiwan be whatever it wants to be. I fully expect that when the conditions are right, unification will happen. The stronger Taiwan is, the better for China as a whole nation.

  62. Buxi
    July 9th, 2008 at 16:58 | #63

    I think it is naive to insist that “pacifism” should be the primary objective for any government. None of you can tell me that in all situations mainland China must remain peaceful.

    You’re assuming a scenario including an open Taiwanese society that still freely and overwhelmingly demands independence. That’s a difficult scenario, and I hope that the Chinese as a people have the wisdom to figure out a peaceful solution.

    But there are other scenarios. What if there’s a violent purge in Taiwan against “Chinese” sympathizers and Chinese culture? What if there’s a military coup led by a Japanese-funded/trained Taiwanese independence group? What if a new generation of anti-China neocons come to power in the United States, and using the type of methods we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, look to use Taiwan as a forward military base against China? What if “democracy” in Taiwan becomes as perverted as what we see in Zimbabwe today?

    None of these are outrageous. And if the PRC government expects any support from me, they will make sure they have the capability and strategy to prevent these scenarios for unilateral independence that I personally wouldn’t accept.

  63. Buxi
    July 9th, 2008 at 17:10 | #64

    By the way, interesting article: Taiwan declares peace on China

    You can’t trust the Chinese. I don’t care if you’re talking about those communists on the mainland or the other guys on Taiwan; they just won’t follow the war-games script that our weapons hawks had counted on. Their mutual passion runs not to matters of tired politics but rather on the lust of venture capitalists. To the Chinese, irrespective of past allegiances, the prospect of war has come to be viewed as counterproductive, and they now have the confidence to show it.

    No longer pretending to be enemies, where they engaged in angry rhetoric while doing much business together on the side, a public love affair has broken out across the Straits of Formosa. On Friday, scheduled direct flights began between the mainland and its breakaway island for the first time in 60 years, and the invasion of tourists clicking their cameras was on.


    For years now, the Chinese on both sides of the strait have been acting as if they are members of one nation, with the descendants of those who fled the mainland with Chiang Kai-shek building mansions in their old villages and increasingly preferring that their offspring study in China rather than at American schools. Thus it was not surprising when the leader of the old nationalist Kuomintang Party, which won the recent Taiwan election, quickly went to the mainland to pledge the dawn of a new era. Gone is the prime excuse for a major U.S. military presence in the Pacific, now that the Taiwanese have made their separate peace. What good are our fancy military weapons to people preoccupied with a consumer revolution? The concern over mainland missiles landing on Taiwan has been replaced with a fear that some country cousins from the mainland might be given to spitting on the sidewalks. Those fears were assuaged when over the weekend tourists from both sides conducted themselves with proper comportment while shopping ’til they dropped.

    The only adversary that interested China, according to the Pentagon report, was Taiwan, and as recent events have indicated, that game is over.

  64. Karma
    July 9th, 2008 at 17:30 | #65

    FOARP, I’m pretty sure Karma considers an “invasion” into Taiwan from China to be an internal matter, thus a “civil war”. I don’t think he’s talking about the KMT and the DPP going at in the mountains of Taiwan.

    @MutantJedi – While I don’t see that today, I see that potentially – depending on the situation. Due to the potentially perverted political process, DPP could be in a position to commit to acts that are irresponsible and that are offensive to a large segment of the Taiwanese society. While there may not be actual fires fired initially, there would be a paralysis of gov’t, constitutional crisis, mass violent protests – all the ingredients that can lead to internal civil wars (within Taiwan)…

  65. July 9th, 2008 at 18:00 | #66

    Oh sure Buxi, muddy the waters with non-outrageous possibilities. 🙂

    Each scenario presents its own challenges to the security and prosperity of the Taiwanese people. And each scenario requires other not-so-good conditions to already exist. Why would Japan shoot itself in the foot with an adventure in Taiwan? Things would have to get really bad for Japan to pull away from the Chinese market. We’d be looking at a very different world in the Pacific.

    I’m more worried about anti-China neocons, or whatevers, in the States. They would have no problems using Taiwan as you described. A weak China would be disastrous to world peace. The posturing is not without purpose. If it has kept the American hawks from turning Taiwan into an Iraq, then it has done a good thing.

    If your arguments about democracy and prosperity hold water, then, as long as the people don’t become as impoverished as they are in Zimbabwe, we don’t have to worry about Zimbabwe style “democracy” in Taiwan. So, let’s hope that the Mainland government can do its bit to ensure that Taiwan continues to flourish.

    Bottom line, the best interest of both sides of the strait is better relations. If the Japanese can be better accepted over time, certainly Mainlanders can be too. Even if it takes 20 or more years, the whole of China will be better inclusive of Taiwan, I believe.

  66. July 9th, 2008 at 18:58 | #67

    @Buxi –

    “But there are other scenarios. What if there’s a violent purge in Taiwan against “Chinese” sympathizers and Chinese culture? What if there’s a military coup led by a Japanese-funded/trained Taiwanese independence group? What if a new generation of anti-China neocons come to power in the United States, and using the type of methods we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan, look to use Taiwan as a forward military base against China? What if “democracy” in Taiwan becomes as perverted as what we see in Zimbabwe today?”

    Are you seriously suggesting that these are real possibilities which are worth spending billions of dollars on a military build-up on the other side of the strait to deter? We are leaving reality behind here.

  67. July 9th, 2008 at 20:12 | #68

    Karma, is that scenario a realistic one? I don’t mean that question in a disrespectful way.

    I had a better feeling about the Taiwan democratic process than one that would readily decay into that. But I don’t live in Taiwan so I know even less than if I did live there. On my visit to southern Taiwan in Feb, the small town Taiwanese (mostly the only Mandarin spoken was with me, my friend’s Dad only spoke Taiwanese) family I spent 春节 with more interested in better economic conditions than DPP rhetoric or criticizing the Mainland, even though there were the tainted food and toy issues in the news.

    It does come down to economics, doesn’t it. If the economy sours badly, you can expect more division, even to the degree you mentioned. So, I’m watching this new phase of good relations with interest. If it is productive, to both sides of the straits, then the dark possibilities mentioned by Buxi and you become more remote, right?

  68. Karma
    July 9th, 2008 at 20:25 | #69

    @MutantJedi

    If it is productive, to both sides of the straits, then the dark possibilities mentioned by Buxi and you become more remote, right?

    Sure – that’s the hope. But some people (take my father-in-law as an example) are just staunch DPP/pan green. They have a strong victimhood mentality that Taiwanese have been raped by foreigners – including the Japanese and the mainlanders. For them, they rather seek independence than have a good livelihood.

    If these forces hijack the political process (this is how I describe the DPP led gov’t of the last 8 years), a lot of us are going to be very upset – to the point of having a civil war…

  69. Buxi
    July 10th, 2008 at 06:27 | #70

    @FOARP,

    Are you seriously suggesting that these are real possibilities which are worth spending billions of dollars on a military build-up on the other side of the strait to deter? We are leaving reality behind here.

    Yes, I’m seriously suggesting that these are real possibilities worth spending billions of dollars on a military build-up to deter. Why does any country, including the United Kingdom, need a military at all? What are the real possibilities of any of the UK’s neighbors launching a conventional invasion? (Doubly true for Canada.)

    China’s defense spending is very appropriate for her strategic situation.

  70. July 10th, 2008 at 10:42 | #71

    @Buxi – Britain is not emplacing hundreds of long range ballistic missiles opposite Ireland just in case IRA terrorists backed by US neocons decide to seize power there, Canada is not concentrating her armed forces near the border in a legally-sanctioned attempt to reunify North America should peaceful negotiations fail. China’s buld-up in the straits is clearly aimed at intimidating any democratic process that might lead to independence (as meaningless as it would be anyway – all it would result in now is a change of name) – the Anti-Secession Law made this plain. What happens when China’s double-digit year-on-year spending increases on its armed forces reaches the point where an armed invasion of Taiwan may be conducted with assured success is anyone’s guess.

  71. Buxi
    July 10th, 2008 at 18:31 | #72

    I thought I had linked this editorial yesterday… it’s getting wide distribution, now on The Nation:

    http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080721/scheer

    You can’t trust the Chinese. I don’t care if you’re talking about those communists on the mainland or the other guys on Taiwan; they just won’t follow the war-games script that our weapons hawks had counted on. Their mutual passion runs not to matters of tired politics but rather on the lust of venture capitalists. To the Chinese, irrespective of past allegiances, the prospect of war has come to be viewed as counterproductive, and they now have the confidence to show it.

    For years now, the Chinese on both sides of the strait have been acting as if they are members of one nation, with the descendants of those who fled the mainland with Chiang Kai-shek building mansions in their old villages and increasingly preferring that their offspring study in China rather than at American schools. Thus, it was not surprising when the leader of the old nationalist Kuomintang Party, which won the recent Taiwan election, quickly went to the mainland to pledge the dawn of a new era. Gone is the prime excuse for a major US military presence in the Pacific, now that the Taiwanese have made their separate peace. What good are our fancy military weapons to people preoccupied with a consumer revolution? The concern over mainland missiles landing on Taiwan has been replaced with a fear that some country cousins from the mainland might be given to spitting on the sidewalks. Those fears were assuaged when tourists from both sides over the weekend conducted themselves with proper comportment while shopping till they dropped.

  72. July 10th, 2008 at 21:47 | #73

    @Buxi – Do you agree with the stance taken in this editorial? Do you think that the PLA should stand down its missiles opposite Taiwan because ‘the Taiwanese have made their separate peace’? Do you think that we should see a halt in the 10%+ spending increases on the armed forces because the Taiwanese ‘won’t follow the war-games script that [the west’s] weapons hawks had counted on’? Or do you think there was more behind the crisis in the straits than this editorialist thinks?

  73. Buxi
    July 10th, 2008 at 21:55 | #74

    @FOARP,

    I don’t know how I can make this more clear, but there’s two different issues here:

    – policy,
    – capability.

    As a matter of policy, Beijing should absolutely “stand down”. It should avoid provocative military action; it should stop the battle for foreign allies. It should cooperate with the Taiwan military in reducing risk of accidental clashes. It should even retarget its missiles.

    As a matter of capability, however, absolutely mainland China should not turn swords into plowshares. All of the scenarios previously mentioned remain as realistic as ever. China should maintain its defense spending at about 3% of GDP.

  74. John
    July 11th, 2008 at 16:46 | #75

    I think some of you are getting the issue confused. Many Taiwanese voted for the KMT NOT beause they like the KMT or their polices. They voted for the KMT because they don’t like the DPP. It’s like in the US. I will vote for Obama, NOT BECAUSE I like him, but because I hate McCain and I don’t want him to win. I may not believe in Obama’s policies but at least McCain doesn’t win. Get the idea?

    The question changes when you ask the population of Taiwan this question. If China didn’t threaten Taiwan and told Taiwan they can determine their own future without threat of attack, how many people in Taiwan would want independence? Keep in mind this scenario would never happen, but IF it did happen, I’m willing to say at least 80% would want independence. Surprised? The only reason why MOST of the population wants the “status quo” is because they don’t want missiles flying into Taipei. If that threat somehow just “disappeared” they would declare independence right away!

  75. Karma
    July 11th, 2008 at 19:29 | #76

    @John

    If that threat somehow just “disappeared” they would declare independence right away!

    I respectfully disagree. A lot of us in Taiwan are proud to be Chinese and want to see a powerful, unified homeland. Sure we will disagree about how to get there. But we won’t irrationally disregard our historical, cultural, and political identity for short-term political expediency.

  76. July 11th, 2008 at 20:56 | #77

    @John – I can think of polls in which 70%+ of the respondents said they considered themselves either ‘Taiwanese’ or ‘Chinese and Taiwanese’, but I can’t think of any in which 80%+ favoured independence. Otherwise I’ll agree that without the threat of invasion Taiwanese politics would take a natural shape allowing decision making and discussion much more reasonable than the one that currently exists. What the CCP fears is that such a process would end in independence, and the generations of Chinese who have been taught that Taiwan is an ‘indisputable part of the Chinese 祖国’ would hang them from the highest tree.

  77. weiji2001
    July 12th, 2008 at 15:33 | #78

    Netizen Says: “Michael Turton is a typical neocon”

    ROTFLOL!!!

    Michael Turton is a neocon?

    This just goes to prove Michael’s point that many Taiwanese don’t know shit about US politics!

  78. Terry Chen
    October 3rd, 2011 at 10:05 | #79

    There has never really been a “Taiwan” issue. This whole independence rubbish was instigated by the US. As western influence around the world continues to wane and China continue to rise to the status of the superpower, the issues regarding taiwan, tibet, and all other sovereignty issues will start to dampen.

    History has shown us time and time again that when a country become’s stong, rich, and powerful, it’s people will support it more and more.

    Much of this independence issue was caused by disdain towards the Chinese “farmers” by the taiwanese. They just couldn’t accept the fact that they were of the same nationality as these “beggars”. The whole democracy dictatorship human rights rubbish really has very little to do with the whole issue.

  79. zack
    October 3rd, 2011 at 12:24 | #80

    i honestly think Beijing should reintroduce traditional characters to increase cohesion between taiwan and the mainland; most of the differences between taiwanese and mainlanders are contrived and over-exaggerated by the likes of the DPP.

  80. October 3rd, 2011 at 17:17 | #81

    @Terry Chen
    Very well said!

    History has shown us time and time again that when a country become’s stong, rich, and powerful, it’s people will support it more and more.

    It’s called human nature.

  81. wwww1234
    October 3rd, 2011 at 18:49 | #82

    @zack
    “i honestly think Beijing should reintroduce traditional characters to increase cohesion”

    I have been told by more than a few chinese linguists, that there is not a single “simplified chinese” word that has not existed in ancient text one way or the other.

  82. October 3rd, 2011 at 19:33 | #83

    You guys should find this letter written by Cai Ying Wen funny. It contained 19 “simplified character”. In the end it is all politics.

    http://www.stnn.cc/hk_taiwan/200906/t20090611_1043539.html

  83. zack
    October 3rd, 2011 at 20:30 | #84

    @wwww1234
    well i have no problem with simplifised characters in script and as shorthand-eventually all students tend to write in either interchangably as befits them, but i’d much prefer to see traditional characters in official script or diplomatic statements, in much the same way characters for numerals are written differently when banking in certain chinese speaking countries.

    why? aesthetically pleasing to the eye; for instance i think the traditional form for dragon ‘long’ should be reinstated:龍.
    looks more like a pictogram of a dragon compared to the simplified version

  84. Rhan
    October 3rd, 2011 at 20:37 | #85

    My generation Malaysian know both traditional and simplified, my kids know only simplified. Would simplified really helps in today technology or because we used to it? Just curious, if there is computer in earlier 20th century, would Chinese still keen on simplified?

    Zack, i though the so called traditional is actually a simplified of the previous version of 甲骨文、籀文、金文稱大篆、小篆,至隸書、草書、楷書 🙂

  85. raventhorn2000
    October 4th, 2011 at 05:45 | #86

    @Ray

    That is quite funny. Which kind of illustrates the reason why the CCP adopted the simplified Chinese in the first place: to make it easier for uneducated people to learn to write. (But apparently, it doesn’t help some people all that much, since Cai wrote several wrong characters in her letter any ways).

    @Rhan

    Rhan, you have a good point, Chinese language was always changing with the times. Hell, there are now new Chinese words that didn’t even exist decades ago, because of new technologies and cultural phenoms. I have no problem with people to choose to use either. Eventually, society will decide which form is better in use for the mainstream. And some will preserve the tradition somehow.

  86. October 5th, 2011 at 09:04 | #87

    @raventhorn2000
    Well, even the so-called traditional text is simplified in a certain extend. The character 吃, 才 are simplified version. If you have older dictionary or older edition of Chinese Bible you can find the very hard to write traditional form. Nowadays, most Taiwanese when doing hand writing usually write 台灣 instead of 臺灣.

    @Rhan
    I actually grow up learning the traditional character and the zhuyin pronunciation system. Politics aside I actually believe all Chinese should learn traditional character later in life so that when you visit those old monuments or musuem one won’t be caught by surprise. However, the pinyin system is superior and much easier to learn and master.

  87. JJ
    October 7th, 2011 at 01:41 | #88

    I also agree the traditional characters look so much prettier. The simplified versions look they they’re going to tip over 🙂

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