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Let's Talk some Cross-Strait Politics

It’s been almost four months since Ma Ying-jeou has been sworn into office in Taiwan.  After the first few weeks of euphoria, there hasn’t been that much published about Taiwan in English sources – partly because of the Olympics, and partly because not much concrete has happened.

Recently, I was glad to find a short article in Reuters on the Taiwan front.  I have quoted parts of it below:

Taiwan’s new president has made a series of headline-catching goodwill gestures toward long-time political rival China but received no formal response as Beijing ponders its pivotal next move.

Beijing’s acceptance of President Ma Ying-jeou’s flurry of peace overtures after more than 50 years of hostilities would go a step further toward averting war in the western Pacific. A refusal to engage Taiwan could raise tensions.

China has already charted a long-term Taiwan strategy, with President Hu Jintao calling the shots, but it does not feel the time is right to announce its intentions, some analysts say.

“I don’t think the Chinese distrust Ma, but are still struggling over how to deal with a friendly, or at least not openly confrontational, government in Taipei,” said Ralph Cossa, president of Pacific Forum CSIS, a U.S. think tank.

Ma took office in May pledging to improve relations with Beijing. He quickly scrapped plans to develop a cruise missile that could hit China, scaled back defence spending and cut Taiwan’s confidential foreign affairs budget by 33 percent, officials and local media say.

In July, hundreds of Chinese tourists began visiting the once-forbidden island daily. Ma’s government also has accepted a pair of Chinese pandas offered years ago as a goodwill gift.

Taiwan-China ties are a “special” relationship rather than a “special state-to-state” one, Ma said publicly this month. The latter label enraged Beijing when then-president Lee used it in the 1990s, implying Taiwan was a separate country.

Detente should help Taiwan access a bigger slice of China’s giant economy, easing inflation and job market pressures at home.

Ma is also returning three years of goodwill gestures by China toward the island’s investors, farmers and tourism sector.

Beijing, content for decades to put off insisting that Taiwan unify with China, feels little urgency to put pressure on Ma.

Although some analysts say Hu does not let Chinese leaders debate Taiwan policy, senior Taiwan officials say conservative Chinese leaders distrustful of the island are still discussing strategy with more liberal colleagues who favour detente.

“Conflicts of opinion are normal in China, due to differing perspectives, but things are being decided step by step,” said Li Peng, assistant director of the Xiamen University Taiwan Research Institute in China.

But Hu wants to be remembered for signing a peace agreement with Taiwan, said Alexander Huang, a strategic studies professor at Tamkang University in Taipei. For Hu, the deal would be a historic step toward unification between the two sides under Beijing’s “one country two systems” formula.

“They need to give Ma something that he can use as a deliverable in his re-election campaign,” Huang said.

I was curious to gauge what Chinese – on the Mainland, abroad, and in Taiwan – feel about the situation.

My basic political stance is not a secret.  All Taiwanese are Chinese people – we share a common history and heritage that extends back thousands of years.  Chen Shui-bian is an idiotic buffoon – not only does he refute our common heritage, but his recklessness on the geopolitical stage also endangers the future of the Chinese people on both sides of the straight.

But having said that, I also recognize on behalf of Taiwanese people that Taiwan’s experience and the Mainland’s experience over the last 100 years has not been the same.

So given the fact that we are for now separate, what is the best way for Taiwan and Beijing to move forward?

Should Beijing accept nothing less than full efforts at reunification?  Should Beijing prod Taiwan to at least take some steps toward reunification?  Should Beijing accept Ma’s characterization of a “special” relationship at face value and work on practical things such as facilitating the exchange of people and ideas across the straight for now?

  1. September 19th, 2008 at 06:50 | #1

    China continues to get more powerful. In another 60 odd years (or less) I expect Taiwan to be part of China regardless of anything any politician does now – so much so that China should not worry too much about expending political capital on it, besides maintaining the one China policy itself.
    When the time comes random political posturing from decades ago will be long forgotten.

  2. Wukailong
    September 19th, 2008 at 07:11 | #2

    I think GNZ is basically right – the way China looks politically 60 years from now is going to be shaped by the forces of time rather than a deliberate set of policies and strategies.

    Perhaps in 60 years time, too, China as a whole works like Hongkong – with 50% of the government appointed by voting. 🙂

  3. RMBWhat
    September 19th, 2008 at 07:26 | #3

    Yeah, agreed. I think the possibility of real war is very slim.

  4. September 19th, 2008 at 08:10 | #4

    I think the answer is found in how you phrase your question:

    “Should Beijing accept nothing less than full efforts at reunification? Should Beijing prod Taiwan to at least take some steps toward reunification?”

    Taiwan cannot be convinced to be annexed by any other method but bullying (or prodding, as you put it). China has repeatedly rejected all compromise ideas put forward over the years such as an EU style merger, an East/West German style dialogue, a federalist Chinese Union, or any other proposal that would have been acceptable Taiwanese.

    So for Taiwanese, unification is at worst a nightmare scenario of subjugation and a repeat of the Nationalist arrival and the White Terror that followed; or at best it is a dream in which China is “united” but Taiwan still gets to do what it wants — not for 50 years, but forever.

    If China can’t make the dream come true, they will either have to give up unification or Taiwan will face the nightmare scenario.

  5. JC
    September 19th, 2008 at 10:30 | #5

    I hope that there can be a proper solution that respects Taiwanese independence – i.e. the fact it controls its own affairs. Why would China really want to interfere with what happens there if there is some wider deal about the island’s identity/status?

    But A-gu is right. China will not get Taiwan to give up any of its freedoms willingly. What is in it for Taiwan? I hear vague ideas from Chinese about “compensation” but the island has 23 million people with developed world tastes. Even if China could afford to pay for that I think Chinese would put so much pressure on the government that would be impossible. Economic reconciliation will happen before a political solution, so the offer of greater trade wouldn’t compensate for political interference from Beijing. So China’s options are:

    1. give up on unification.
    2. change policy and accept a deal on paper to save face.
    3. invade Taiwan.

    Nothing else will work. Taiwanese enjoy their democracy regardless of what the Chinese media might say or imply, and giving Beijing power over Taiwan would make that democracy irrelevant. Besides thanks to the KMT it’s so difficult to change the Taiwanese constitution that it needs the support of all the different groups there.

    Wukailong, if there was a democratic deficit like that in China where special interest groups held the balance of power in a parliament, I think there’d be massive protests and possibly riots from the poor (of which there will always be) and lower-middle classes. China needs to go the whole way if it wants to hope for social harmony.

  6. Chorasmian
    September 19th, 2008 at 10:38 | #6

    Well, for me, I don’t like to interprate the cross straight issue by western concepts, like country, state, or whatever. I would rather treat current situation just the same as the periods when China was seperated into several dynasties ruled by different emperors, which is totally about half of her history. I don’t care who win this struggle, ROC or PRC. I am happy to be citizen of either of them.

    Perhaps only one thing is differnt to the empire days, war is unacceptable nowadays.

  7. September 19th, 2008 at 10:57 | #7

    It may feel good to avoid thinking of cross-strait relations in terms of borders/states, but the problem is that the conflict between China and Taiwan is strictly a territorial issue.

    Whether Taiwanese are Chinese people or not (culturally, linguistically, etc) is a debate that is really centered around the territorial issue. If the CCP wasn’t trying to lay claim to Taiwan, then saying “We’re all Chinese” would be good enough. There would be no cause for conflict or animosity. There would just be two Chinese states.

    But Beijing wouldn’t accept “Two Chinas” anymore than it would accept Taiwanese Independence.

  8. Chorasmian
    September 19th, 2008 at 11:14 | #8

    @A-gu

    I think the term “territorial issue” is oversimplified for Mainland/Taiwan issue.

  9. Netizen K
    September 19th, 2008 at 11:26 | #9

    I think the whole post starts from the Western viewpoint. The discussion is naturally astray. Taiwan needs the Mainland. Ma’s initiatives are to the benefits of Taiwan because it’s being marginalized because its anti-Mainland policy under Chen Shui-bian.

    Western anti-Chinese analysts of course are not happy and make noises of what Taiwan should do or shouldn’t do. Is Taiwan itself intelligent enough to see its future?

  10. Wukailong
    September 19th, 2008 at 12:40 | #10

    @Netizen K: Surely you mean the quoted article begins from the “Western viewpoint”, and not Allen’s post? (Don’t want to be nitpicking, but I’m not entirely sure)

  11. September 19th, 2008 at 12:50 | #11

    to me invasion would not even be on the cards (at least for a while) – I can’t see it ending in anything other than an unmitigated disaster for China, far worse than allowing Taiwan to pretend it has declared independence or whatever it might do in that regard (after-all what would that really mean?)

    Sure it would be stupid for the Taiwanese to make trouble like that, but surely it would also be a mistake to respond by causing a bloody war.

  12. JC
    September 19th, 2008 at 13:25 | #12

    Netizen K

    Taiwan needs China, but China also needs Taiwan – they are mutually dependent on each other.

    Ma hasn’t done anything that Chen didn’t propose – in fact they were his ideas (or his administration’s). But China didn’t want to agree to them because it didn’t want to offer his party a boost before the election.

    Actually it’s the Chinese who keep telling Taiwanese what they must and must not do – the Americans, Europeans, etc are much more permissive.

    GNZ, war would be a bad idea – but it’s usually a bad idea anywhere. So why does it happen? Because leaders get cocky and think they can crush the enemy easily. It’s possible in 5-10 years Chinese leaders may decide that the US wouldn’t dare interfere and that Taiwan would surrender within the first 30 minutes of an attack.

    And if there was a war I don’t think you’d see Taiwan “make trouble like that”. Beijing would probably find a pretext to cite the “need” to launch military action, such as the Taipei government refusing unification talks on China’s terms.

  13. Netizen K
    September 19th, 2008 at 16:20 | #13

    Wukailong,
    You’re right. I only referred to the quoted article, not Allen’s post.

  14. Netizen K
    September 19th, 2008 at 16:23 | #14

    JC,

    Chen Shui-bian says one thing but does another. I’m sure you must know him now given his many lies and criminal activities being investigated only after he left power.

  15. JC
    September 19th, 2008 at 16:44 | #15

    “Chen Shui-bian says one thing but does another. I’m sure you must know him now given his many lies and criminal activities being investigated only after he left power.”

    The fact he’s being investigated doesn’t mean everything he said was a lie. It was in his best interest and that of the DPP to make the deal with China.

    If he and his government hadn’t meant to relax controls (which were brought in by the KMT I might add), why didn’t China say so? It did no such thing – it suddenly relaxed ties after Ma became president. Do you really think they could go from nothing to concluding a complex deal like that so fast? It wouldn’t be possible. Most of the ground-work had been sorted out before by Chen/his government.

  16. Charles Liu
    September 19th, 2008 at 17:09 | #16

    There might be another reason that Ma administration isn’t make the news in the West – the direction he is taking on the cross-straight issue isn’t controversial nor is it aligned with mainstream Western values making it worth promoting.

    If Ma is confrontational with China you bet it’s gonna get a lot of applause, simply because it fits the image of Taiwan (and China) our media wish to promote. Now is that what’s really good for Taiwan (and China)?

    Another news that’s been MIA from American media is the Ah-Bian clan’s network of money laundering. By scale it far outnumbers the Marcos scandal, but there’s not a peep…

  17. September 19th, 2008 at 17:46 | #17

    Lots of good perspectives being expressed. One of many things I am curious about from the mainland’s perspective is whether Beijing is really somewhat confused about how to deal with a “friendly” government in Taiwan. What is the fear of acting too fast? Do they consider KMT (e.g. Ma) a tactical partner or a strategic partner?

    Another thing I want to hear from Taiwan’s citizens is what is the real basis for wanting independence. To be honest, I am really at a loss – because even if I don’t want re-unification, I’d never forfeit my Chinese identity like the Green’s.

    My father in law is a die-hard green party member (we don’t speak politics, because we don’t want to get into fights), but the basis of his support is really based on emotions – especially on grievances toward the Nationalists for their hard-handed authoritarian rule. I don’t think he really thinks that being independent will make Taiwan have a better long-term future per se. Is there another basis for wanting independence besides emotions?

  18. CJ
    September 19th, 2008 at 18:12 | #18

    You’ve acknowledged that the two sides have been operating under 2 systems for a long time. There’s no point sacrificing Taiwanese interest or bending Taiwanese will to lean towards China. Years ago, a lot of Taiwanese identified themselves as Chinese but this has changed dramatically. It’s lazy to blame it all on Lee Deng-hui and Chen Shui bian. China has to think about what they have done to give Lee and Chen the ammunitions and turn Taiwanese against them. When you give people a choice and behave nicely, people are very likely to be on your side. But if you operate on the basis of fear and threat and give no choice, then people are more likely to turn away. Besides, China doesn’t value human lives or freedom, which also scare a lot of people away. While there are some people in Taiwan who are couldn’t care less about identity or dignity because of the economy, there are more who would rather just go independent. The potency of ‘historical ties’ arguments has long expired because when looking at world history, there are many countries who used to share the same history and language.

  19. September 19th, 2008 at 18:36 | #19

    @A-gu,

    If the CCP wasn’t trying to lay claim to Taiwan, then saying “We’re all Chinese” would be good enough. There would be no cause for conflict or animosity. There would just be two Chinese states.

    Good point. But my response would be: hell with what the CCP says. We (ROC) are a state as Chinese as they are – even if we are not so powerful on the geopolitical stage.

    That to me is much more acceptable than Chen’s vision – where we are not Chinese, but Taiwanese. What is Taiwanese? I might as well be Taipei-ese (where I grew up) or YuanLing-ese (where my dad grew up) or CaoTun-ese (where my mom grew up).

  20. September 19th, 2008 at 19:04 | #20

    @CJ ,

    The potency of ‘historical ties’ arguments has long expired because when looking at world history, there are many countries who used to share the same history and language.

    That is true…

    I guess for me, a big part about being Chinese (in the 21st century) is about finally standing up together as a people after years of being defeated by foreigners and internal turmoil, working to say to the world that we are finally back, and finally leading the way for the world again in the endeavors of technology, culture, economical activities, etc.

  21. Leo
    September 19th, 2008 at 19:10 | #21

    Just raise a question mark: who said the mainlanders want o mess with the internal affairs of Taiwan? Who said the mainlanders want to scale back the local democracy and personal freedoms of the Taiwanese? All these are the ungrounded suppositions and imaginations.

    Some people might cite Hong Kong political situation as an example. Don’t forget some basic facts: China promised Taiwan quite different automomies than those of Hong Kong. The Basic Law is a deal between China and Britain, in which the Hong Kongers haven’t got a single say. And the forces of CCP have always been present in Hong Kong and involved in the local politics (as Hong Kong is just quite a small town by Chinese standards and most of its affairs are also relevant across its borders). The situation in Taiwan is completely different.

    I don’t know where come these presumptions:

    1. Unificaiton will destroy Taiwan’s democracy. (Why? Will Beijing handpick Taiwan’s leaders, write laws, interfere Taiwan’s economic policies? Beijing doesn’t even handpick Hong Kong politicians. Beijing is highly skeptical of Donals Tsang and his cabinet. Beijign is also not always on the right terms with Tung and his clan, who’s Tsang’s predecessor.Beijing does not write Hong Kong local laws. And Beijing and Hong Kong have rejected each other’s economic proposals on several occasions.)

    2. Unification will undermine the Taiwanese’ freedoms/human rights. (This does not even happen in Hong Kong.)

  22. cephaloless
    September 19th, 2008 at 19:36 | #22

    @Allen

    I can’t help but be reminded of how Germany started annexing german speaking territories left and right just before WW2.

    Other than that, I agree with you and CJ about the ‘historical ties’ argument. To add to that fallicy, what about the Inner Mongolians wanting to rejoin (along with the land they live on) their brethren in the nation of Mongolia or Korean Chinese with the rest of the Koreas.

  23. September 19th, 2008 at 20:00 | #23

    Leo,
    Seems to me, in the big scheme of things, that the situation in HK is either a nod to the might of the US and the EU, or an overture to Taiwan. Otherwise it makes no sense.

  24. Charles Liu
    September 19th, 2008 at 20:05 | #24

    Or ethnic Russian wanting Ossetia to be returned to Russia.

  25. September 19th, 2008 at 20:07 | #25

    @GNZ #23,

    What do you mean? Having autonomous regions within China doesn’t make sense? I know this now may touch on issues of Tibet, Xinjiang, whatever … but I am always curious, are the autonomous regions already in China created to facilitate re-unification, as a genuine manifestations of China multiculturalism, or simply as a result of the relative geopolitical weakness of China?

  26. cephaloless
    September 19th, 2008 at 20:21 | #26

    @Leo

    I don’t mean to be stirring things up, but there’s a reason for distrust/paranoia:
    1. ~1996 and ~2000 mainland China did a fair amount of saber rattling, that’s right, around the time of the presidential elections
    2. there has been a number of occasions when mainland China simply did not take care of taiwan with regards to WHO when it claims it represents taiwan in WHO (passing info late or not at all for disease control, food contamination, etc)

    quoting CJ from post #18
    “When you give people a choice and behave nicely, people are very likely to be on your side. But if you operate on the basis of fear and threat and give no choice, then people are more likely to turn away.”

  27. Leo
    September 19th, 2008 at 20:51 | #27

    cephaloless:

    1. 1996 is the year when Lee Teng-hui threw out his “Two-state Theory”. That was the true reason of the saber rattling, not the presidential election itself. His rivals in the election were more blunt sessionists, not vice verse.

    2. WHO has made very clear in its charter that it is an organization made up of “souvereign states”. If the Taiwan side is sincere that the both sides of the Strait belong to “one China” and “one state”, as Ma states now, then where is this bullshit about “applying a separate membership”. You either share one membership and change the charter of WHO. The interest of the Taiwanese, of course, should be represented in WHO, but in a proper way instead of an action which implies “Taiwan is a separate souvereign state”, which was not Taiwan’s position before 1996, and is not Taiwan’s position now!

  28. cephaloless
    September 19th, 2008 at 21:28 | #28

    @Leo

    Consider the perceptions:

    If I remember correctly, some of those missile tests turned fishing zone’s into missile ranges. I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t appreciate it if my neighbor started practicing his air rifle on my mailbox, even if it’s a cousin liked. This just seems malicious to me. Also, if you agree it was saber rattling, that was my whole point: PRC interferes with ROC’s internal politics. Can you imagine the US navy conducting an irregularly scheduled wargame off the coast of Hawaii if they prepare to vote on secession? (ya, I know, nothing to do with china/taiwan relationship, just saying how ridiculous it sounds)

    And that WHO bit just seems like “submit or no medicine for you.”

  29. September 19th, 2008 at 21:53 | #29

    @cephaloless, yes – I had forgotten to mention in #17 that the missile tests and the various failed attempts at joining variuos international organizations also elicit great emotions among my “Green” relatives …

    So from your perspective, what can the Mainland do to repair that now?

    In my discussion about Tibet in other threads, I had stated that if the DL is willing to address substantive issues in Tibet (e.g., cultural diversity, religious freedom, etc.) and give up his notions of Tibetan nationhood – the future for the DL would be bright.

    The same I think applies to Taiwan. But is Taiwan willing to discuss with the Mainland substantive issues (e.g., open channel to WHO, comprehensive security agreements, etc.) and give up any notions of independence?

    I think this is the only way forward. To blame the past and threaten Beijing with independence or to resort to revisionist history about Taiwan’s Chinese heritage will lead only to suffering for the people of Taiwan…in my humble opinion.

  30. cephaloless
    September 19th, 2008 at 22:38 | #30

    I don’t know about repairing feelings but I’m of the opinion that the way forward is to turn de facto independence (ROC is definitely not under PRC control right now, well, pretty sure anyway) into de jure independence, be it PRC and ROC or PRC and something whose sovereign territory includes the current ROC controlled territory (that is, nothing on the mainland). I don’t care about one china or two china, it’s two nations of majority han chinese population. This is when real negotiations can begin.

    PRC doesn’t seems to want to admit there is a government with full control of that territory over there (and functioning as an independent nation). With de jure independence, the old ROC that claims PRC plus Mongolia and other territory lost long ago can finally be laid to rest. Then, as they say, its the same blood on both sides of the strait. Even if negotiations end with an economic alliance (kind of like what it is now or better), and perhaps later even closer relations as PRC prospers into a responsible modern nation that an independent taiwan actually wants to hang out with (as a commonwealth, protectorate, whatever). How different is that from the proposed one china two systems?

    As it is now, PRC is not looking forward to negotiating with a phantom government. (can you have a government worth negotiating with if it doesn’t have a nation?) The current ROC government, even if it can move forward with negotiations can do such laughable things as reintegrate Mongolia into PRC. Thats right, its meaningless.

    I say its more meaningful to just let it all go and have some faith. CCP doesn’t seem to have faith in anybody or anything though.

    Go ahead, laugh at my wildest dream. I don’t mind. Its my dream.

  31. September 19th, 2008 at 22:38 | #31

    JC,
    It isn’t just that, the build up to war has it’s own momentum – proud people get backed into corners and countries get committed to positions and people following orders follow orders that were supposed to only ever be deterants.

    I think it is reckless to wave around the threat of invasion.

  32. Netizen K
    September 19th, 2008 at 22:47 | #32

    I like an invasion of Taiwan, like Russia’s invading Georgia. A little war could do a lot of good.

  33. RMBWhat
    September 19th, 2008 at 23:30 | #33

    I like you to bomb this chick’s house for me…

    Hehe…

  34. Charles Liu
    September 19th, 2008 at 23:51 | #34

    I thought Lee was told by the Chinese government the missiles were blanks.

  35. Chops
    September 20th, 2008 at 02:32 | #35

    “Holders of Taiwan driver’s license will be eligible to apply for a Japanese license without taking a test, and vice versa, starting Oct. 1, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA), the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) and the Interchange Association (Japan) jointly announced yesterday.

    Following Australia, New Zealand and South Korea, Taiwan will be the 4th Asian-Pacific country to have full mutual recognition of driver’s license with Japan, said MOFA Deputy Minister Andrew Hsia at a news conference.”

    The measure will “greatly” facilitate exchanges between people from both countries and signifies that the substantial relations between Taiwan and Japan “have taken another step forward, Hsia said.

    “I believe that bilateral relations will be friendlier and interaction between people from both countries will be more frequent and closer”, said Hsia.

    http://www.chinapost.com.tw/taiwan/foreign%20affairs/2008/09/20/175469/Taiwan-Japan.htm

  36. TommyBahamas
    September 20th, 2008 at 03:23 | #36

    RMBWhat

    Taiwanese chicks on mopads like Vietnamese girls on bicycles are the loveliest…

  37. jack
    September 20th, 2008 at 04:55 | #37

    I predict China will retake Taiwan by force, albeit not in the near future.

    First let’s face it, Taiwan will not willingly rejoin PRC, whether China mainland is democratized or not. I can come up with two possible scenarios:

    Scenario A: China grows, to a point where it is essentially on a par with USA.As China flexes its muscles on a global reach, it will find itself restrained by Taiwan which cut China’s coastline defense into two parts. To gain access to Taiwan’s ports and airbases will be too much a temptation to resist.

    Scenario B: After decades of rapid growth, China stagnates but it has built up a state-of-the-art military force . Retaking Taiwan by force would become an viable option to divert attention and pressure from domestic problems and shore up CCP’s legitimacy.

    From a global perspective,as long as China still benefits from the present international order, it will not provoke a war across Taiwan strait. However when China feel it is hobbled by the pecking orders or become strong enough to dictate new rules, it will challenge the rules of the game. As far as Taiwan is concerned, it is only a collateral damage.

  38. RMBWhat
    September 20th, 2008 at 05:57 | #38

    http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=future+dogfights&emb=0&aq=0&oq=future+dog#

    An interesting what-if if this war happened in the future and America got involved.

  39. RMBWhat
    September 20th, 2008 at 06:01 | #39

    Before you go Chinese will destroy America’s eyes (the sats) just finish watching the above. They address it.

  40. Wukailong
    September 20th, 2008 at 06:26 | #40

    @jack: “Scenario B: After decades of rapid growth, China stagnates but it has built up a state-of-the-art military force . Retaking Taiwan by force would become an viable option to divert attention and pressure from domestic problems and shore up CCP’s legitimacy.”

    I think this sounds quite possible, though somehow, I still don’t think it will come to war. One of the reasons for this is that the legitimacy of the CCP will not be as bound up with the status of Taiwan as it has been. When the country gets richer, nationalism as a whole get less important. (Pardon me if this sounds naïve, but I seriously do believe it)

    @Leo: “WHO has made very clear in its charter that it is an organization made up of “souvereign states”. If the Taiwan side is sincere that the both sides of the Strait belong to “one China” and “one state”, as Ma states now, then where is this bullshit about “applying a separate membership”.”

    That “bullshit” will be viable as long as the handling of SARS is in fresh memory, and the different areas can all partake in the Olympic games. I don’t think this situation will stay forever, but if I were Taiwanese, I would worry.

  41. Jerry
    September 20th, 2008 at 06:50 | #41

    Some comments:

    Having lived here in Taipei for 10 months now, I am still learning about Taiwan and China. Some of my comments here are about the bigger picture and not cross-strait relations.

    #1, 2, @GNZ, @WKL. You talk about 60 years. IMHO, unless we do something about the West’s and East’s environmental devastation of vast areas on this planet, our ecosystem won’t last another 60 years. In 1961, we were only using 50% (ecological footprint) of the Earth’s biocapacity. By 2003, we are now using 125% of the biocapacity; that is 25% overshoot. And the overshoot continues to grow. Who is the we in the picture above: all of us on this planet. Who are the most egregious offenders: USA, EU, China and Japan. (I posted earlier out at http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/09/04/chinas-hazy-future/ #24).

    Furthermore, the environmental devastation primarily occurs in areas which have the greatest biocapacity potential.

    I think we need to start coming together to solve global problems. Or the cross-strait problem will be solved for us.

    #6, @Chorasmian. I don’t trust authoritarian power or government; I don’t trust the ruling elites. Whether it is China or the Bush administration. Or the socialized bailout of US financial institutions in which the ruling elites are trying to force the American taxpayers to bail out their sorry butts. Or the CCP calling the shots in my life. Nonetheless, give me democracy any day; at least I have a chance.

    #12, @JC. I agree with you. Jews need each other. Why shouldn’t the Chinese need each other? Hell, the Americans need the Chinese and the Chinese need the Americans. We are living on the same planet. Maybe someday well will understand the benefits of cooperation. War is a very bad idea. I will not get into who is better between Ma and Chen. Talk is cheap.

    #15, @JC. IMHO, the DPP investigations of KMT while Chen was in office were political. I believe the KMT investigations of DPP with Ma as president are political. What else is new? As far as who gets credit for better relations with China, I could care less. The important thing is that relations are improving. Both China and Taiwan have to keep working at this.

    #17, @Allen. I have a similar situation (similar to the one with your Green father-in-law) with my father who is a die-hard Israel Firster. He has even suggested nuking the Arabs and Palestinians. Unlike you, I throw it nicely back in his face until he agrees that we should stop talking about it; but then again he is my father. I do agree that Chiang Jieshi was a murderous thug. I also think Mao Zedong was a murderous thug. So what are we going do about it? Live in the past? Hold grudges? Kill to avenge killings? Harbor hatred and bitterness? Not smart.

    #19, @Allen. I agree that most of the people here are Chinese; I guess there are indigenous Taiwanese who do not have a Chinese ancestry (don’t know). Chen’s vision of “Taiwanese, not Chinese” was a political move on his part. Nonetheless, if a person here wants to regard themselves as Taiwanese and not Chinese, be my guest. It won’t change my opinion. And if it makes them happy, so be it.

    Jews are Jews no matter where they live. I am Russian American Jewish. I know Israeli Jews, Yemeni Jews, German Jews, Polish Jews, Persian Jews, French Jews, American Jews with roots in many countries. We are all Jews. That is all I know. The bond is very important.

    #21, @Leo. I don’t think that the Chinese are being philanthropic or benevolent towards HK. I agree with GNZ. The economic might of US and EU are a factor in their behavior towards HK.

    #40, @WKL. I am with your comment back to Jack. Furthermore, neither of his scenarios takes into account foreign trade. Foreign trade, if not an absolute stopper, is a deterrent. But, looking at how stupid the Bush administration is and was in regards to their wars, this is questionable.

    In general, yes we need to find ways to cooperate. It is not going to be easy. It takes political will and a lot of hard work and trust. War always seems to be the “sword of Damocles” which hangs over our collective heads. If we can’t find ways to cooperate, then I think we should rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic until we make the earth uninhabitable for us humans and a number of other species. Then the collapse of our ecosystems will solve all of our problems for us.

  42. Jerry
    September 20th, 2008 at 06:57 | #42

    Errata

    #12, @JC. Should read as:

    #12, @JC. I agree with you. Jews need each other. Why shouldn’t the Chinese need each other? Hell, the Americans need the Chinese and the Chinese need the Americans. We are living on the same planet. Maybe someday (dele well) we will understand the benefits of cooperation. War is a very bad idea. I will not get into who is better between Ma and Chen. Talk is cheap.

  43. WiseOldMan
    September 20th, 2008 at 08:38 | #43

    The China-Taiwan situation, IMHO is not a simple matter of “territories” as it is the same with many of the autonomous regions such as Tibet. I believe in the modern age, war for land is meaningless unless it carries a political advantage. In the modern age the most important thing for the survival of nations is resources and trade routes. It is often very simple for politicians to hide behind the facade of Democracy and Liberalism when they announce war. Iraq is a good example of trying to overthrow a dictator and liberate the Iraqis, however you can see the amount of suffering the Iraqis people are going through after the liberation. Many Iraqis are not happy with the US occupation. So what is the real motive behind Iraq? Most people know that it is due to the Oil resources that USA committed itself to the Liberation. Iran has WMD and a dictator, but so far USA has not committed itself for liberating that country.

    Taiwan is situated on a strategic location, where the seas surrounding it’s territory is vital for Chinese trade routes. North of Taiwan is Japan, and so from Japan to Taiwan the sea is in an area that can jeopardise Chinese trade routes. Taiwan is on very friendly terms with the U.S, and U.S has many battleships in that area on the pretext of protecting Taiwan from Chinese hostilities.

    Tibet also has a wealth of minerals (was reported on a site but sorry can’t remember the link) and as the DL is on very friendly terms with the U.S, China also fears that giving it Independence would mean jeapardising the resources it may have.

    When it comes to the war for resources US and China aren’t all that different no matter what their government is. I agree with Jerry in that the most important direction that the countries should be heading is towards preserving the limited resources we have on Earth. Sixty years may seem long to us who are bound to return to the earth in the not so distant future, but our next generation doesn’t have the luxury of fixing our faults in such a short time.

    As with anything political I may have over simplified the situation.

  44. TommyBahamas
    September 20th, 2008 at 08:51 | #44

    As with anything political I may have over simplified the situation…

    Something most of us are guilty of…Simply because we are not…non of us were / are given the bare facts without commentary, or censorship. Non, nobody in the greatest majority are privy to the truth, and that’s how the elites have us fooled for millenium. I am with Jerry: Do NOT effing trust the ruling elites, whatever make and brand their political camouflage maybe.

  45. Leo
    September 20th, 2008 at 11:34 | #45

    Jerry:

    Beijing’s handling of HK is not based on philanthropic thoughts does not mean Beijing has to submit to US or EU or whatever external forces to appear so “good” in their eyes. Beijing needs a free port just like Ming and Qing needed a Macao. Beijing is little interested in HK’s day-to-day affairs just like Ming and Qing would not give a damn on what was going on in Macao. That’s just so simple.

  46. Leo
    September 20th, 2008 at 11:41 | #46

    WuKailong:

    The WHO-SARS fiasco was a drama staged by Taiwan officials themselves. Beijing had made it very clear that so long it did not involve membership Beijing would not interfere. It was Taiwan authorities using this moment of emergency to push their own agendas. WHO officials were willing to go to Taiwan without any preconditions. It was Taipei that set the huddles.

  47. Jerry
    September 20th, 2008 at 13:08 | #47

    #45, @Leo

    Good point, Leo. The port is very important to China. I could have worded it a little better. US and EU are major trading partners. It would seem to me that economic partnerships would be a factor in any decisions in HK. I don’t believe that factor/impact is so big as to require China to submit to the US or EU.

    The world is more global than it has ever been. Economic trading partners are part of a global community. Community impacts decisions we make in life, whether in our local neighborhood or globally. The global economic community may be one of the reasons war is diminishing as a solution. I think the US, Georgia, Turkey, Russia, Israel and other countries are better understanding the economic repercussions of war. I think that economic partnerships helped cool down the situation between Thailand and Cambodia. Too much to lose for a small gain.

    I really don’t know much about the impact of China on the government of HK. Nonetheless, I could easily imagine that the Chinese government does not want to disrupt the HK economy and trading center. HK is also a “world city”.

  48. Janice
    September 20th, 2008 at 14:58 | #48

    Interesting and thoughtful discussion. My question would be for Allen: when you say in #17 that

    “being Chinese (in the 21st century) is about finally standing up together as a people after years of being defeated by foreigners and internal turmoil, working to say to the world that we are finally back, and finally leading the way for the world again in the endeavors of technology, culture, economical activities, etc.”

    How are you distinguishing that from what you characterize as the “emotional” basis of the pro-Taiwanese identity faction, “especially on grievances toward the Nationalists for their hard-handed authoritarian rule.” Isn’t your vision of Chinese-ness coming just as much out of an emotion-based desire to vindicate perceived historical grievances?

    If wanting “a better future for Taiwan” (however that is to be defined) is the more appropriate basis for making this judgment, then let’s try to imagine what TW would look like now had it been administered as a part of China all along. Knowing what we do about how the island was viewed by the Chinese in 1895, is there any reason to believe that, but for the Treaty of Shimonoseki, Taiwan today would be anything more than a mere peripheral backwater and military outpost — the way Okinawa is to Japan, or Hawaii is to the U.S.? What incentive would the central authority have had to invest in its infrastructure or economic development over the last century, other than perhaps to sustain a tourism industry? Meanwhile all of the island’s most valuable natural resource, and its most talented sons and daughters, would’ve been sucked into the black hole that is the mainland, leaving nothing but naval bases, beach resorts, and twittering birds.

    Contrast that (admittedly hypothetical) scenario with the bustling, dynamic, pluralistic reality that is Taiwan today. I’d say TW has done all right on its own in terms of taking its rank in the world as a leader in economics, technology, and culture (okay, maybe not so much culture), and it has accomplished this largely by absorbing the influence of other non-China power such as Japan and the U.S. If you want to persist in seeing the island’s inhabitants as essentially “Chinese,” I suppose there is ample, though not entirely unambiguous, ethnographic justification for that position, but it hardly follows that political unification is the only possible outcome, as others have pointed out. As we move toward economic and political integration, that siphoning phenomenon I described above, which is already happening, will inevitably accelerate. Capital gets sucked in and never comes back out; large chunks of the entrepreneurial class start by commuting across the strait and end up putting their kids in school there; the technical know-how in agriculture, in semiconductors, painstakingly developed over decades, is handed over to mainland managers until Taiwan’s technological edge is completely eroded.

    So all of the geopolitical considerations aside, in my opinion it is a bit disingenuous to argue that it is in the best interest of the people of Taiwan to take its place within the great Chinese nation. In the end you are simply making a value judgment about which emotional attachment, yours or your father-in-law’s, has more inherent validity.

  49. September 20th, 2008 at 16:45 | #49

    @Janice #48,

    Very nice post. Yes – my sense of “Chineseness” is probably just as emotionally based as my father-in-law’s sense of “Taiwaness” – heck the TGIE’s sense of “Tibetaness.” This leads us to the question what is nationalism, what is Chinese nationalism, and what does it mean to be Chinese…

    We had a good post on What does it mean to be Chinese a few months ago.

    I like to think my sense of Chinese is not just a political result of Sun Yat-Sen – or the “propaganda” I received from the KMT when I grew up in Taiwan – or even the “historical shame” I read in text book that the Chinese people endured over the last 100-200 years .

    My sense of Chineseness is also defined by a sense of appreciation for the Chinese heritage, and a sense of optimism, redemption, and energy that I share with Chinese people everywhere in the world for a brighter future.

    I did not mean to argue from a position of righteousness when I refer to people like my father-in-law (or Chen or Lee). I am just trying to assert my vision and my emotions regarding the future of Taiwan – as a son of Taiwan – and of China.

  50. Daniel
    September 20th, 2008 at 18:37 | #50

    I have a friend and several aquantinces who have pretty “die-hard” Taiwan is independent mentalities. One of them went as far as being frivolent in being known as Taiwanese not Chinese (even though he is involved in many activities and surrounds himself with many who call themselves Chinese).

    In a sense, I don’t see much issue with people wanting to be a different nationality (in the country-state sense) with similar cultural-semi-ethnicity background with other places. I mean, there are several Arab states, there are large Diaspora of many ethnic groups around the world, French Canadians are still Canadians, etc.

    However, the weird thing for me, (for an ABC that is with very little connection with Mainland and Taiwan) is the many Taiwanese I met who see themselves as Chinese and actually want to be a part of Greater China. How is a little vague but they seem to want this actuality and stated people with their opinions are a large portion of the population. Some of them appear to express similar sentiments with Allen and some seem to be drawned to how much benefits it could possibly have over status quo.

    I don’t have much opinion but as an American, for one this is none of our business , two, I am very certain that whatever defense agreement the US has with Taiwan will be mostly empty words;at the most they might provide weapons and a short-list of mercenaries but not at there expense, and there is very very little chance of going all out war at the straits. That is, if I was a politician, that is what I would be privately thinking.

  51. September 20th, 2008 at 21:44 | #51

    Jerry,
    I see a tension between your distrust of authority and power and your desire for states to get together and make drastic change where there will be winners and losers and free-riders cannot be tolerated.

    Leo,
    When it comes to reasons why countries do things there are very many ways to say the same thing some sounding better than others ( hence my delay in answering Allen’s question).
    But I don’t think that changes that when China no longer has to make such concessions the seperation will largely dissolve.

  52. Jerry
    September 21st, 2008 at 02:23 | #52

    #51, @GNZ

    You are most right, GNZ. There is tension within me. I am a paradox, a dichotomy, a conundrum. I am a fatally-flawed human being. A work in progress, if you will. ::smile:: You see, GNZ, I am not just laying out work that others will have to do, I am starting with myself. This is a personal thing. How can I ask others to change if I am not willing to change?

    For me this is not an academic exercise. It is life, it’s real. I never said that this would be easy. But it is necessary and worthwhile. We Jews have dealt with this tension for a long time. We are somewhat paranoid, skeptical and cynical. We just know that we have to get up everyday because we are here. And continue to work to make the world a better place.

    “… where there will be winners and losers and free-riders cannot be tolerated.” I do not know what the solution will be. I believe that we need to learn how to:
    cooperate better
    share more
    stop being so greedy
    stop being so harsh
    be fairer in our dealings with others
    be more honest with ourselves and others
    be more open with others
    stop resorting to war to solve problems
    be more caring
    see a continually bigger picture
    see the world as it really is

    This is not easy for me. But it sure beats the alternative. That is my motivation.

    GNZ, several more comments. You said, “your desire for states to get together and make drastic change”. My desire is for people to get together; people make up the state. I am asking for change. How drastic or how do you define drastic, I still do not know? I guess you could say it is all perspective.

    “… winners and losers and free-riders cannot be tolerated.” IMHO, I think we will need to dispense with zero-sum games and come up with more win-win solutions. Well, I think I know what you mean by free-riders. I am not sure. I consider the ruling elite and super-wealthy as vampires and free-riders, amongst others. The term “cannot be tolerated” leaves me cold; maybe it is all those years during which Jews endured persecution at the hands of those who did not “tolerate” us.

    GNZ, I have no answers, only directions. This is not just the responsibility of states; it is a personal responsibility, the responsibility of each and every one of us here on Earth.

    Or as I said above in #41, “If we can’t find ways to cooperate, then I think we should rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic until we make the earth uninhabitable for us humans and a number of other species. Then the collapse of our ecosystems will solve all of our problems for us.”

    A bi gezunt. Mazel tov.

  53. September 21st, 2008 at 05:32 | #53

    It is almost impossible to get states to agree unanimously on a good solution. and in most of the solutions there is an incentive for one party to cheat and after they start cheating the solution starts to fall apart. This is why we haven’t just fixed these problems already.

    If human nature changes entirely that might solve the issue but I don’t expect that to happen, certainly not naturally.

  54. Jerry
    September 21st, 2008 at 06:12 | #54

    #53, @GNZ

    GNZ, I agree that it is rare to have unanimous agreement between people or states. Cheating is always possible, and in some instances, it is likely. I believe that greed is also a reason we have not fixed these problems. The American banking scandal and bailout is a good example of criminal greed. Now they want the taxpayers to bail them out. Now we have the ruling elite (including Bush and Paulson) wanting to come to the rescue of the criminal element of the ruling elite using the ordinary taxpayers’ money. Ain’t it swell??

    What will it take to change human behavior and attitudes? I certainly don’t know how. Nonetheless, I think it will involve lots of pain and suffering and panic.

    All of that aside, I have some questions. Do we quit, do we give up? How do we proceed?

  55. S.K. Cheung
    September 21st, 2008 at 06:14 | #55

    Here’s what I don’t get. Taiwan has managed pretty well in the last 59 years. I don’t see her needing China at any point. Now that there’s even some thawing of economic relations, Taiwan gets the upside (access to huge market) without the obvious downsides. So while progressive exposure to mainland China might reassure Taiwanese that life under CCP might not be as horrific as once imagined, neither would such realization necessarily make them want to change their status quo.
    China has had her ONe China deal going for just as long. She’s managed just fine as well without Taiwan officially in the fold. People have made noises about One China, but so far no one has seriously challenged that. Nor would I expect anyone to risk an armed conflict to make such a point. So if the current climate would allow for further economic and cultural co-mingling, is it really of paramount importance for the CCP to extend her method of governance to the Taiwanese? What’s in it for them?

    Seems to me if something’s worked for 59 years, why worry about fixing something that ain’t broken?

  56. Wukailong
    September 21st, 2008 at 06:27 | #56

    “So if the current climate would allow for further economic and cultural co-mingling, is it really of paramount importance for the CCP to extend her method of governance to the Taiwanese? What’s in it for them?”

    Couldn’t have expressed it better myself. For all the opinion pieces about China making authoritarian leadership more attractive to other countries, the fact is that China is still not in the later stages of development as a whole. It is certainly growing so fast it visible gets more clout in the world for each year, but it’s way too early to say that China attracts politically.

    Also, while we’re at it, is there some way to “objectively” measure the political stability on the mainland and on Taiwan? To me it seems as if people think there is chaos in Taiwan when there are large demonstrations or a politician is indicted for corruption, but are there any deeper signs of instability?

    Finally, if the Taiwanese leadership has done the same to their people economically as the mainland leaders are currently doing, then why are they so vilified by many mainlanders? Shouldn’t they at least get some of the similar praise?

  57. Wukailong
    September 21st, 2008 at 06:31 | #57

    Leo (#46): That’s an interesting claim which I’m sure you can back up. Do you have any articles about it?

    On Wikipedia, it says:

    “Since the People’s Republic of China insisted on representing the 23 million Taiwanese people in the WHO by itself and forbid the ROC government’s participation, Taiwan, which was one of the most endemic areas in the world, did not receive direct advice from WHO. Even though the ROC government actively reported the situation to WHO, the authority received SARS information only through the WHO website.

    The ROC claimed that the lack of direct communication with the WHO precluded proper handling of the disease and caused unnecessary deaths on the island. On the other hand, the PRC claimed that video conferences held between her experts and Taiwanese experts already facilitated information distribution and improved the way SARS was being treated in Taiwan; the ROC government denied this.”

    This might be a “drama” staged by them, but if it is true that communication didn’t flow well because China couldn’t get themselves to admit the problem, then they do have a case.

  58. September 21st, 2008 at 06:53 | #58

    @Janice #48,

    I want to acknowledge another point you brought up: many people in Taiwan do have an “orphaned syndome” attitude that we Taiwanese have been dissed by China – first we were given to Japan; later we were ruled harshly by KMT mainlanders. Some probably also feel – as you argued – that since Taiwan had been alright separate from China for the last 100 years – that Taiwan can continue to be ok – if not better off – separate from China in the indefinite future.

    OK – I guess I’ll have to respect that.

    I however really think the last 100 years has been an anomaly in Chinese history. China is only going to get stronger, and soon Taiwan will be better off with China than separate.

    But I guess I’m getting ahead of history. If China gets strong as I expect, one day, re-unification will be easy and smooth. But that day is not here yet.

    So for now, the best solution is perhaps simply wait and see…

  59. September 21st, 2008 at 06:58 | #59

    @Wukailong,

    Finally, if the Taiwanese leadership has done the same to their people economically as the mainland leaders are currently doing, then why are they so vilified by many mainlanders? Shouldn’t they at least get some of the similar praise?

    The last 8 years under the DPP leadership, Taiwan’s economy has actually tanked. The mismanagement of the economy was one of the main reasons for the KMT to so dramatically sweep back to power in both the legislature and executive branch earlier this year…

    The years when Taiwan was an “Asian Tiger” and growing by leaps and bound, Taiwan had an authoritarian gov’t led by the KMT…

  60. September 21st, 2008 at 07:58 | #60

    @Allen – Yeah, that’s right, a developed economy whose y-o-y GDP growth never dipped below 4% and where unemployment has been under 4% for the last three years (and has fallen every year since 2004) has “tanked”. The performance of the DPP in government was nowhere near stellar, but to hear some people speak you would think that they single-handedly brought about a collapse of the Taiwanese economy whilst in government.

  61. Jerry
    September 21st, 2008 at 08:33 | #61

    #55, @S.K. I like your hypothesis. “Seems to me if something’s worked for 59 years, why worry about fixing something that ain’t broken?” Several questions.

    “Taiwan gets the upside (access to huge market) without the obvious downsides.” So, what’s in it for China? Or maybe I should ask, “What’s in it for China’s corporations?” Sounds pretty one-sided to me.

    What will motivate “further economic and cultural co-mingling”?

    What could motivate “armed conflict”? I might suggest that increasing, unsustainable, overuse of the biological resources of this planet might lead to resource wars. This might also be true for energy and mineral commodities. What else do you see?

    #59, Allen and #60, FOARP I am a newbie to Taiwan. I live in Tianmu. I hear from people I meet that the economy is not doing as well as 10 years ago. They complain about price increases and difficulty living on their present salaries and incomes. Merchants complain that their businesses have been going down for the last 2 years. Now, this is all anecdotal. I don’t know how to assess the economy from these conversations.

    But I do know that in legislative elections and presidential elections, the KMT kicked DPP’s butt. If I remember correctly, Ma won 58% of the vote. The KMT won over 75% of the legislative seats. Now, if the Taiwanese are anything like Americans, they tend to vote their pocketbooks. So what generated this “landslide” after 8 years of DPP rule? Or is this just normal in a young democracy?

  62. Daniel
    September 21st, 2008 at 09:39 | #62

    At times, I’m still wondering if this is more of a forum where we discuss more in detail and sometimes personal. Most of the blogs I read don’t have the type of commenting there is here. I don’t know if this is appropriate but…

    To Jerry # 52

    To be honest, I really admire your people, one of the most ever changing and constant religious civilizations. Indeed, I think there is so much to learn from you all. One of the converts told me that in her religious quest, Jews and Judaism aren’t perfect and that’s the way it should be. Their main reason for being is to be a living example and to do so one must show all the flaws and dreams that reality of humans express. One of the famous verses I believe is simply speaking; “curse those that curse you, bless those that bless you”. I believe one way of interpreting this from what I read is this,; “Whatever bad people see in you, they will see in themselves, whatever good they see in you they see in themselves.” Actually, the strange thing is the more I learn from these people, the more proud I am to be myself, there’s nothing ashame or to prove to others in being Chinese or American, etc.

    As for the other questions, I don’t think there is much to add on what’s in it for China (Chinese corporations) and what could further economic and cultural co-mingling. In a sense, the inter-mingling going to happen one way or another and corporations could benefit a lot from the existing networks the Taiwanese created over the decades. One thing I heard from some history show was how the geography of Taiwan and the straights holds a lot of meaning…though I’m still not sure if it’s just symbolic or practical.

  63. Wukailong
    September 21st, 2008 at 10:17 | #63

    @Allen: “The last 8 years under the DPP leadership, Taiwan’s economy has actually tanked. The mismanagement of the economy was one of the main reasons for the KMT to so dramatically sweep back to power in both the legislature and executive branch earlier this year…”

    Sure. I understand, from some other Taiwanese I’ve talked to, that Chen’s government have been anything but great. But like FOARP said, if we look at numbers, it’s hard to see why they are so horrible that the mainland media says. And oh, it mainly focused on calling Chen and Lee Teng-hui names, and ranting about the instability of the Taiwanese society.

    This is what I mean: we must look at numbers. Otherwise we can just go on forever with pure opinions based on passions, and I don’t think that’s a good idea.

  64. Nobody
    September 21st, 2008 at 10:44 | #64

    You have the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the United Nations, even a European Union. Soon their will be a North American Union replacing US Dollars with Amero, and US, Canadian and Mexican will be known as “North Americanists.” It is time the Chinese & Asian people joined hands for a CAU ” Sino-Asian-Union,” trading with SAY, Sino-AsianYuan. Just a thought.

  65. Leo
    September 21st, 2008 at 13:22 | #65

    57. Wukailong,

    The sources are as following:

    State Council Taiwan Affairs Office Press Conference, May 28, 2003: http://www.hwcc.gov.cn/nsbd/NewsDisplay.asp?Id=70214

    “…与此同时,我们赞成世界卫生组织派遣专家赴台实地考察疫情,欢迎台湾医疗卫生人员参加中国代表团出席世界卫生大会,赞同台湾医学专家出席世界卫生组织召开的全球非典流行病学专家研讨会,以及将于6月举行的非典全球科学会议。事实上,台湾方面获取卫生信息和技术援助的渠道是畅通的。世界卫生组织有关官员也已多次表示,根本不存在因台湾未参加世界卫生组织而影响非典防治和救助问题。至于台湾地区在国际上与其身份相适应的经济文化社会活动空间问题,完全可以在一个中国前提下,通过两岸谈判寻求妥善的解决办法。…”

    In the meantime, we [Beijing goverment] support that WHO send experts to Taiwan to inspect the situation, and we welcome Taiwan personnel participate Chinese delegation attending WHO meetings, AND WE SUPPORT that Taiwan medical experts attend the internatinal SARS conferences, (which means outside China delegation) including the one held June in Beijing. In fact, the channels for Taiwan to aquire medical information and technical aids are open. The WHO officials have also stated on several occasions that Taiwan’s exclusion from WHO did not affect its SARS prevention and aid work. Regarding the international room for Taiwan region in the economic, cultural, and social activities, it can completely be settled with an negotiation and agreement between both sides of the Strait under the premise of One China.

    An undated press conference release by the Foreign Ministry of the PRC: http://www.fmcoprc.gov.mo/chn/gsxwfb/fyrth/t97939.htm

    “…经中国中央政府同意,世界卫生组织专家曾几次赴台考察非典等疫情,台湾专家也多次参加世界卫生组织非典、癌症等专业会议。…”

    Under the agreement of China Central Government, WHO dispatched experts to Taiwan several times to study the SARS situation, and Taiwan experts have attended several WHO conferences regarding SARS, CANCERS [!] … [Which means Taiwan authorities have had contact with WHO before the event and in the fields other than SARS without any fallouts with Beijing]

    (The sources above are followed by the weblinks where the information were retrieved, which this site may not allow to show. In which case please inform me.)

    As an observer of some Taiwan internal political affairs, I am not at all surprised by this as the varioius political parties to manipulate the interpretation of the same event to an absurd and perverse degree on a daily basis to suit their respective agendas. Today, the Taiwan government still tell the people very officially that “One Country Two Systems” means the Mainlanders will send their corrupt officials to directly rule Taiwan people and all the money will be grabbed away and sent to Beijing. This is at least one factor why there are such huge gap of the reception of the idea between Hong Kongers and Taiwanese.

  66. Jerry
    September 21st, 2008 at 13:52 | #66

    #62, @Daniel Oy gevalt, Daniel! A shaynem dank dir shmooz, Daniel. I am just me. I don’t know what to say about your wonderful compliments.

    I am not a religious Jew. I am a secular Jew. There is a long family history behind that. I don’t really want to go into this now, but suffice it to say that there was external and internal Jewish persecution.

    Actually, the strange thing is the more I learn from these people, the more proud I am to be myself, there’s nothing ashame or to prove to others in being Chinese or American, etc.

    I am happy to hear that. That is important. You have nothing to prove or of which to be ashamed. If people don’t like, approve or agree with me, so be it. If they get nasty about it, I always tell them, “Get in line. You are certainly not the first and won’t be the last.” And my father’s proverb, “It is not important how many times that life knocks you down. What is important is how many times you get back up.”

    Yes, this is an exceptional forum. I am most happy to have found this blog.

    Zay gezunt. Mazel tov.

  67. September 21st, 2008 at 14:02 | #67

    @Jerry – The main difference is that the Taiwanese economy is no longer booming in the way it did up until the nineties – from the sixties onwards Taiwan had 10%+ growth Y-O-Y. Taiwanese manufacturing has now mainly relocated to the mainland, hence if you go to Kaohsiung (that’s Gaoxiong in real money) you’ll hear the locals complain about the difference in the level of activity in the port – I can’t remember the exact stats but it is a severe drop on the peak (maybe 50%). Service industries are filling the gap, but slowly.

  68. September 21st, 2008 at 17:47 | #68

    @FOARP #60,

    On whether the Taiwanese economy has “tanked.” Well – I have at least 20 family members and probably over 30 friends and acquaintances in all sectors of economy I keep in contact with in Taiwan…

    And everyone has been VERY dejected over the economy situation in Taiwan – especially recent college or graduate school grads… The word “tank” is actually an underestimate of how many Taiwanese feel about the economy.

  69. September 21st, 2008 at 18:03 | #69

    @FOARP #60,

    I want to make clear about my last post #68. I purposely stayed away from a “technical” numerical-based argument of whether Taiwan’s economy has “tanked” because we all know statistics can never tell the whole story.

    I believe the Taiwanese people is in the best position to judge whether their economy has “tanked” – no foreigners – not ex pats like me.

    And based on conservations with everyone I know in Taiwan and based on the election results of earlier this (plus based on the “protests” against Ma that he hadn’t done enough on the economy so far this year) – I feel very comfortable saying that the weight of the economy definitely hangs heavily in the mind of every Taiwanese.

  70. September 21st, 2008 at 18:12 | #70

    @Allen – “Feel” being the operative word, when you look at the cold, hard, statistics it is not doing terribly badly, it could be doing better, but other economies in east Asia are doing worse (the Japanese for example). Taiwanese economic prospects are certainly rosy compared to those of Europe/North America. Of course Taiwanese growth is slow compared to the days of the boom economy, but the Taiwanese economy is much more developed now – the days of cheap manufacturing-for-export-led growth are gone. Taiwan lacks the kind of industrial champions that economies like Germany and S. Korea rely on, but service industries should take up the slack.

    Anyone familiar with Taiwan knows that it is a place where people have very little patriotism or pride in Taiwanese accomplishments indeed, but having worked in Taiwanese company, and lived there for a while, I think much of this angst is undeserved. Taiwan has a highly educated workforce, decent infrastructure and is highly accessible, being at the centre of the China/Philippines/Japan triangle, and projects like the Taipei 101 and the high speed rail link show that they are certainly capable of large-scale high-tech projects.

  71. September 21st, 2008 at 18:14 | #71

    @FOARP #70,

    Hmm … definitely food for thought for me…

  72. Chops
    September 21st, 2008 at 23:13 | #72

    March 2008 (Xinhua) — Leaders of China’s eight non-Communist parties met the press on Thursday in their first ever group debut, vowing continued contribution to the country’s economic and social development.

    For the first time ever, the eight leaders briefed Chinese and foreign journalists on their respective parties and answered questions.

    “We voluntarily accept the CPC’s leadership and are heavily involved in the political consultation of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference,” said Zhou Tienong, chairman of the central committee of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang, which was founded in Hong Kong in January 1948.

    He said the committee will actively advise the ruling party on state affairs and promote peaceful development of ties with Taiwan.

    http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-03/06/content_7731685.htm

    “Most of the RCCK members are former middle and high-ranking Kuomintang officials or personages of middle and upper social strata who once had relations with the Kuomintang. The RCCK also recruits members from those who have ties with Taiwan and support the reunification of the motherland.”

    http://english.gov.cn/2005-08/15/content_23323.htm

  73. Daniel
    September 22nd, 2008 at 00:28 | #73

    Mind me asking with my silly comment but I’m a little confused with Allen and Foarp’s last statements. So, it’s really subjective opinion then in the matters they discussed, i.e. Taiwan economy?

    Even though I have little exposure and usage, I think statistics is still quite helpful in it’s own ways, yet of course it has it’s quirks and can’t tell the whole story per se.

  74. September 22nd, 2008 at 03:26 | #74

    @Daniel,

    Mind me asking with my silly comment but I’m a little confused with Allen and Foarp’s last statements. So, it’s really subjective opinion then in the matters they discussed, i.e. Taiwan economy?

    Let me explain from my perspective my exchange with FOARP – even though I don’t believe the state of Taiwan’s economy is necessarily at the core of the Cross-Straight politics.

    Even though I don’t believe the state of Taiwan’s economy is necessarily at the core of the Cross-Straight politics,
    the issue of economy came up here because I tried to respond to Wukailong’s question why the Taiwanese leadership (I assumed he meant Chen and the DPP) does not get the same respect as the CCP if both Taiwan under the DPP and the mainland under the CCP achieved similar economic progress.

    I responded that Taiwan’s economy actually took a step back economically under the DPP as compared to the KMT. FOARP responded that Taiwan actually did quite well under the DPP – citing 4% annual growth Taiwan experienced every year under the DPP (I have not checked the stat) as proof . I responded that whether 4% is a step forward or backward must be determined by the Taiwanese people – not some foreigners or ex pat judging in the vacuum whether 4% is a step forward of backward – and noted that the Taiwanese people have definitely been very unhappy with their economic progress under the DPP (citing personal anecdotal evidence as well as election results as my evidence).

    FOARP then responded that 4% should be considered good progress. If the Taiwanese people do not consider it good, it is only because they have not taken enough pride in their accomplishments…

  75. Chorasmian
    September 22nd, 2008 at 04:40 | #75

    @Allen & FOARP

    Just got the index from ROC government 2007 report. Can you guys tell me it is good or poor progress? Though I am uneducated in ecomomic/finacial area, I don’t want to be misled by CCP. Commentors here have more credibility to me than any media.

    http://www7.www.gov.tw/todaytw/2007/intestine/ch06/2-6-14-0.html

  76. S.K. Cheung
    September 22nd, 2008 at 05:10 | #76

    To Jerry #61:
    since you’re living in Taiwan, you’re in a WAY better position to answer those questions to me.
    But you’re right, seems to me any benefit of normalization of relations would go to Taiwanese companies, since the Taiwan market is a drop in the bucket for mainland companies. And it’s not like Taiwan has access to any markets not available to PRC entrepreneurs.
    As for the co-mingling, I have nothing but gestalt generalizations. I think the presence of easier access, the novelty of having such access for the first time in 2 generations, will have people on both sides of the strait intrigued at exploring the other side of “China”. I also imagine there might be family ties previously severed by the split, similar to what happened with East and West Germany after 1945. But again, I’m totally guessing.
    As for armed conflict, here’s hoping it never comes to that. PLA could’ve overrun Taiwan any time it wanted in the last 5 decades, but hasn’t seen fit to do so. If nothing changes (ie no one declares independence), hopefully the PLA will continue to see no such need. Again, ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 🙂

  77. September 22nd, 2008 at 06:57 | #77

    Jerry,
    Do we quit, do we give up? How do we proceed?

    there are many ways – the point is that most of them mean serious compromises to liberal ideology, just like China can build the three gorges dam, and put in place laws to control it’s population growth but no western country could do the same.

  78. Wukailong
    September 22nd, 2008 at 07:30 | #78

    @Allen: I referred to the Taiwanese government in general, though of course the DPP have come to represent it during the last years.

    It’s an interesting discussion whether statistics “tell the whole story” – of course not, but when questions such as “stability” and how democracy is said to affect it comes up, you’re almost invariably going to have factless arguments where people throw their feelings around.

    (An anecdote about this: I remember watching the movie 黑金 here back in 1999 or so. In the cinema version there was extra footage, in the beginning, of people fighting in parliament, with big block characters stating: “This is the political system of Taiwan, a so-called multi-party democracy based on a Western model. See what it has lead to!”)

    @Leo: Interesting, I read through the documents from the Chinese authorities. Though I have to say, they seem one-sided and the first one even propagandistic. I’m not saying Taiwanese documents would be any better, but if you just read what the mainland authorities say, I’m not surprised everything Taiwan does seems like political wrangling of the worst sort, with the selfless mainland doing all they can to support their brethren at the other side.

    As long as the SARS problem was handled the way it was on the mainland, even though the responsible for later sentenced, the mainland gave a bad impression to both Taiwan and the rest of the world. If the government wants to thwart separatism, behaving well at home is a good way.

  79. Jerry
    September 22nd, 2008 at 07:39 | #79

    @Allen, @FOARP, @Daniel
    #68, 69, 70, 71, 73, 74

    Several comments and observations.

    Life is a balance between the microcosmic (anecdotes, experiences, feelings, perceptions) and macrocosmic (numbers, culture, the public, the state, Earth, etc.). I would caution against over-reliance on anecdotes or statistics. Both anecdotes and statistics can distort; Allen says “statistics can never tell the whole story.” and FOARP counters, ‘“Feel” being the operative word, when you look at the cold, hard, statistics …’

    As a scientist and mathematician, I detest the term “cold, hard statistics”. I usual counter with, “Based on what?” The underlying assumptions can dramatically impact any set of statistics. Or can dramatically affect a journalist’s report or a set of anecdotes.

    Let me give an example.

    In the US, we have the Department of Labor. They have a bureau, the Bureau of Labor Statistics which publishes, among other reports, the Unemployment Report. These official unemployment rate is oft-quoted in the US. Now, what they don’t publicize, but they also publish, is “Table A-12. Alternative measures of labor underutilization” (http://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t12.htm). You will see several different unemployment rates on this page for August 2008 (the latest monthly report). So what is the true unemployment rate, 6.1%, 6.3, 7.0, or 10.7%? The next questions are what do they consider part-time and full-time hours? The actual rate may even be higher than 10.7. Then you may ask, “What if you consider a person being employed only if he or she makes a sustainable ‘living wage’. What is the unemployment rate then?”

    Now, while there is a lot hoopla about the employment rate, it is only part of the picture. I will ask, “So what is the total payroll, by income classes, in 1960-adjusted dollars?” How many in each class. How many people have sustainable incomes? How has the middle-class family fared income-wise over the last 20 years? In real dollars, has their income increased? I could go on ad nauseum about this one. But I hope you get the drift.

    You can play the same game with GNP, GDP, trade balance, typhoon and weather predictions. They are all based on mathematical models and assumptions. Furthermore, government statistics bureaus can be de facto marketing departments. They, like corporate marketing, may be encouraged to distort by the powers that be.

    Now let me pick apart some examples just to demonstrate that much is subjective. I hope that some of this does not offend you. It is just for demonstration.

    Allen, you said:

    On whether the Taiwanese economy has “tanked.” Well – I have at least 20 family members and probably over 30 friends and acquaintances in all sectors of economy I keep in contact with in Taiwan…

    And everyone has been VERY dejected over the economy situation in Taiwan – especially recent college or graduate school grads… The word “tank” is actually an underestimate of how many Taiwanese feel about the economy.

    It may just be the opinion of your affinity group. Or it may be that people who are doing well aren’t saying anything. Or they are using the economy as a proxy issue. I have no idea. I hear the same stuff you hear. But I am reluctant to extrapolate that to an overview of the Taiwanese economy.

    FOARP, you said “… but other economies in east Asia are doing worse (the Japanese for example). Taiwanese economic prospects are certainly rosy compared to those of Europe/North America.” Not quite so sure. It appears that Asia is not as “decoupled” from the American/EU economy as they had earlier boasted. The banking industry here invested heavily in Lehman securities. Greed seems to know no bounds.

    “Anyone familiar with Taiwan knows that it is a place where people have very little patriotism or pride in Taiwanese accomplishments indeed …” I find a mixed bag of pride and patriotism here. If you want to talk angst, I would also cite Seattle, WA. “Taiwan has a highly educated workforce”. They may be good worker bees, but, by my standards, they don’t meet the bar of “highly educated”. Given my set of beliefs, standards and prejudices, I believe TW education does not develop much, if any, critical thinking, creative thinking and conceptual thinking. It seems to be too rote-oriented and systematic. Here is my personal opinion. I would never educate my children here. To learn Mandarin, maybe. I would never send them to buxiban. Play time/free time is where children can have fun and learn a lot on their own. Those are 2 important skills which I believe that we all need for a good lifetime.

    My daughter graduated in May from medical school at Northwestern University in Chicago. I know a number of her classmates; there were 175 students ranging in age from 25 to 35 years old. They are very intelligent, but not so much more or less than any of the well-known programs in the US. If I brought them over here as a group, I suspect that they would be among the smartest, if not the most intelligent young people in Taiwan. I know that this statement may be appalling, arrogant, racist and/or elitist to you, but it is just my observation, opinion and judgment. Their intelligence does not make them better human beings; I am not saying that they are better or any more deserving than any Taiwanese young person. It is just my opinion. Not dogma, not fact. It is merely opinion, prejudice and observation through my filters. I keep telling people I am not perfect. They just don’t want to believe in my imperfection.

    That is the point I am making. It is very hard to argue opinions, prejudices, experiences, feelings and beliefs. But god knows, people do it anyway. To the point the point of insisting that their dogmatism is better than the other person’s dogmatism. It is like when my daughter gets so assertive with me on some stupid point. I just say, “I wish I was as smart as you … think you are.” I always add that pause to hook her attention before hitting her with the verbal jab out of nowhere.

    It is good to know your opinions. I just take your opinions with a grain of salt or 2 and store them away in my mind’s database. It allows me to make better judgments in the future.

  80. cephaloless
    September 22nd, 2008 at 07:42 | #80

    @Wukailong and Leo

    I wasn’t going to say anything about the sources cited by Leo in #65 but since Wukailong commented on it, PRC official sources (including most news) keep sounding like CCP propaganda (one-sided and praising all the good things CCP government does).

  81. September 22nd, 2008 at 07:52 | #81

    @Allen – I don’t think that the Taiwanese economy has been doing well, just not as badly as some like to make out, at best the DPP was a B- government, at worst they get a D, Taiwan can certainly do better – the stats bear this out. Yes, I do think that people in Taiwan generally take a lot less pride in their economic achievements. This is partly because Taiwan lacks a national champion like Hyundai, BMW/Mercedes, Toyota/Sony, or Ford/GM/Boeing are for their respective economies, but also partly because Taiwan has historically been a plaything of the great powers.

    @Chorasmian – This page has the important stats:

    http://www7.www.gov.tw/todaytw/2007/intestine/ch06/2-6-13-0.html

    (what’s with the ‘intestine’?)

    The stats I was using above went back to 2004, so I didn’t pick up on the effects of the dotcom bubble back in 2001, or the SARS virus in 2003, but asides from this Taiwanese growth remains about the same level – not bad, but not great for an East-Asian former bubble economy.

  82. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 08:05 | #82

    @79

    Well I sort of agree. If you want to prove something by designing the statistics in order to prove your point, you can pull any sort of stats from out of anywhere (actually a hat would be fine, lol). But on the other hand, if you get your statistics, but then draw your conclusions without bias from what was observed, then I would like to think that you CAN in this case, rely on cold-hard-statistics (In most cases, there are exceptions). But, I’m not trying to stand out here, 98.321% of all statisticians are all weirdos, well, perhaps not as weird as topologists (99.485% are), I guess.

  83. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 08:06 | #83

    And Igor the computer scientist looks at both, shakes his head, and goes back to his computer in the basement.

  84. RMBWhat
    September 22nd, 2008 at 08:11 | #84

    BTW, I bombed in mathematical statistics, and frankly I barely remember anything from that class, except maybe the part about not designing your tests based on retarded assumptions.

  85. September 22nd, 2008 at 08:16 | #85

    @Jerry – Well, you picks your statistics and you takes your choice, but I am yet to see a stat which shows a catastrophic failure in the Taiwanese economy. How far is the far east into dodgy debt? Probably not as far as the US and UK, that’s for sure.

  86. Jerry
    September 22nd, 2008 at 08:20 | #86

    #76, @S.K. Cheung. S.K., I have been here for 10 months. I am still trying to get a handle on Taiwan and relations with China. It just takes time. This blog is helpful.

    The family ties/cultural ties seem to be a distinct possible source of motivation for comingling. Hopefully it is also a source of deterrence for war. And I am guessing here too. And I think it is the best we can do.

  87. Jerry
    September 22nd, 2008 at 08:38 | #87

    #85, @FOARP. I was just citing how stats can distort. Not saying that there is catastrophic failure anywhere. Regarding dodgy derivatives, we will just have to see. No one seems to know how much there are, anywhere, and how to assess risk. Hopefully we have seen the bulk of the fallout. I am not sure. A lot of these were off-the-books transactions.

    The scariest derivative I have heard of so far is the “Credit Default Swap” (CDS). This is an unregulated insurance business which is run privately by our wonderful financial institutions. There are calculations that show that the total amount of CDS contracts is $45-60 trillion. More than my pocket change.

    I liked what Warren Buffet had to say about CDSs.

    ” …financial weapons of mass destruction.” In Berkshire Hathaway’s annual report to shareholders in 2002, he said, “Unless derivatives contracts are collateralized or guaranteed, their ultimate value also depends on the creditworthiness of the counterparties to them. In the meantime, though, before a contract is settled, the counterparties record profits and losses -often huge in amount- in their current earnings statements without so much as a penny changing hands. The range of derivatives contracts is limited only by the imagination of man (or sometimes, so it seems, madmen).”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Credit_default_swap

    What is a few trillion dollars between friends?

  88. HKonger
    September 22nd, 2008 at 09:51 | #88

    Jerry # 79.

    I really like what you wrote above.

    Believe me, you are not the first foreigner & local to say regarding Chinese-style education:

    ” Given my set of beliefs, standards and prejudices, I believe TW education does not develop much, if any, critical thinking, creative thinking and conceptual thinking. It seems to be too rote-oriented and systematic. Here is my personal opinion. I would never educate my children here. To learn Mandarin, maybe. I would never send them to buxiban. Play time/free time is where children can have fun and learn a lot on their own. Those are 2 important skills which I believe that we all need for a good lifetime.”

    First of all, Jerry, even though my mother tongue is not English, but Chinese, however, like you, I have never experienced so-called “Chinese-Style education.” When I first came in contact with Mainland Chinese students, the first thing that impressed me were their respect for their teachers and elders in general. Then I felt really sorry for them when I learn how much time they are devoted to their exam-oriented education. Then I was told that the situation is far worse in Japan. OMG, I felt like an idiot in comparison. I started wondering if I had missed out on a real education. My school days were spent mostly day dreaming, reading non-school related books, hanging out with friends in the afternoons or listening to the radio etc. Then perhaps a week before exam I’d then hit the school books. Compared to these kids, whose time and effort spent in classroom & on homework/assignment, I might as well tell people I’ve had only a primary school education.
    With regard to your remark of linking rote-learning to the lack of critical thinking, creative thinking and conceptual thinking, I only have this to share. I remember hearing on a popular Hong Kong radio program hosted by intellectuals with well known world class Chinese-speaking international authors, artists, heart-surgeons, space program scientist, well known educators, professors etc as their guests. And on this particular week, the topic was about the transitional chinese culture, or something like that. What the three hosts & guests said regarding the importance of rote-learning in Chinese context, totallydestroyed my prejudices on oriental methodology & POV on intelligence. The hosts & guests in question were, a renowned gay fashion designer &internationalist. The other was also an internationalist, a famous HK intellectual & best seller-author, and the other was a higly respected lecturer on Chinese history & a military historian, and another a retired TV producer, script-writer, scholar cum international bon vivan. What they all said regarding Chinese intelligence, creativity, holistic conceptual capacity totally humbled me.

    “My daughter graduated in May from medical school … They are very intelligent, … If I brought them over here as a group, I suspect that they would be among the smartest, if not the most intelligent young people in Taiwan. I know that this statement may be appalling, arrogant, racist and/or elitist to you, but it is just my observation, opinion and judgment.”

    I am guessing you are not serious but using that only as an example to show the unreliability of “opinion, prejudice and observation through [ones] filters.” Language barrier and cultural misunderstanding aside, those are still pretty bold assumptions, but like I said I understand your using it as a parable. How often have I heard Chinese folks calling a foreigner stupid or dense or lack creativity—in a crosscultural milieu or context regarding problem solving efficacy, for example, of which I had to often agree with the Chinese.However, knowing the said foreigners personally, I know the appraisals of these “不会转弯的死鬼佬, 低他死,” foreigners were far from fair. At the same time, how often have I heard a Westerner saying a certain Chinese person lacks imagination when I know outside of the English-speaking western environment, this same Chinese person is many times smarter than his/her accuser. But such is life.

  89. September 22nd, 2008 at 12:52 | #89

    @Allen:

    “Good point. But my response would be: hell with what the CCP says. We (ROC) are a state as Chinese as they are – even if we are not so powerful on the geopolitical stage.”

    If that were enough to guarantee Taiwan’s continued political and economic economy, it would seem to a Green-leaner like me, I’d say it is not substantially different than the Green’s core goals, and I’d like it. The fear, of course, is that whether Taiwanese say “We’re Chinese” or not won’t make a lick of difference if the CCP refuses to accommodate and accept Taiwan’s de facto independence.

  90. Leo
    September 22nd, 2008 at 12:56 | #90

    Wukailong @ 78,

    Sorry that I can only provide these two sources, because no single Western media outlet reported this. They are one-sidely worded and bluntly propagandist, but they have made two points directly or indirectly clear:

    1. Taiwan has contacts with WHO

    2. Taiwan has had contacts with WHO broader than, beyond, and PRIOR TO sars issues.

    If you realized that Taiwan has had more or less regular contacts with WHO at the discretion of Beijing government, you should figure out which side would exploit this issue at such a precarious moment.

    Regarding how Beijing handled the sars issue internally and how bad an impression it left on Taiwan and the world, is this the point we are talking about?

    Why is Beijing so selfless and brotherly? I don’t see any selflessness and brotherliness. I only see Beijing trying to buy out troubles. WHO membership issue is a topic Beijing tries to keep off. If WHO-SARS issue can be handled without involving membership, Beijing was, and is ever, willing to concede on cash, resources, etc, etc, which were anyway not huge. It was Taiwan that wanted to stir up the mud.

    It is always a running joke on the Chinese forums that every diplomatic document Beijing has with foreign countries has to begin with “The government of the People’s Republic of China is the one, and only, LEGAL government of China”. Do you know how much cash and concessions Beijing has been squeezed out by this sentence?

    PS: I rarely read the Mainland press. I used to read US, UK, German, and TW newspapers a lot.

  91. cephaloless
    September 22nd, 2008 at 17:37 | #91

    @Leo

    I wouldn’t know about Taiwan and regular contact with WHO but it seems ridiculous that someone would need permission from one country to enter territory controlled someone else. Imagine if ROC rejects their entry visa. Among other bad results, it raises the question of how PRC represents ROC in WHA.

    I definitely agree about that money diplomacy but I’d also say Taiwan wants and needs to assert its sovereignty. Can’t act like somebody’s dependent until you are.

    I dug up some things that you’ve probably heard about too:
    This one slams on WHO about the shigellosis outbreak in 2005. Throwing lots of salt on it, I just want to point out the fact that WHO->PRC->ROC passing of critical information took 10 days. Don’t know where the incompetence was in that case but the arrangement definitely did not work.
    http://taiwanjournal.nat.gov.tw/ct.asp?CtNode=122&xItem=43952

    Back to SARS, Taiwan received WHO updates and other assistance from US CDC during the SARS crisis. Praise PRC 😛
    http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9E07E6DA1631F930A15756C0A9659C8B63

    don’t mean to “pick” on you but you post the interesting stuff that I can reply to

  92. Leo
    September 22nd, 2008 at 18:43 | #92

    cephaloless,

    I don’t want to waste time to talk to you. The health agencies of Hong Kong and Macao have got no problems regarding 2005 shigellosis outbreak. You should go questioning the competence of your respective provincial authorities and your beloved governor His Honor Chen Shuibian. Use your limited democracy, don’t trash it! Even if your province would gain independence one day, your hapless island would definitely remain helplessly provincial.

  93. cephaloless
    September 22nd, 2008 at 18:56 | #93

    Taiwan didn’t have a problem with the shigellosis outbreak either and my lovely wife is my only beloved.
    If these exchanges of opinions/viewpoints/bits of facts is considered a waste of time, then so be it.

  94. September 22nd, 2008 at 19:53 | #94

    @Jerry –

    “” …financial weapons of mass destruction.”

    Yup, like they say – a billion here and a billion there and before you know it you’re talking real money!

    Taiwan is a beautiful place though, if you haven’t already, you should definitely take a trip to the east coast when you get some time. Head up to Taroko gorge, stay at the Grand Formosa there for a few days and chill in the river-side hotsprings they’ve got ten minute’s walk or so from there – I promise you’ll not be disappointed. Taipei’s a nice enough city, but the mountains are the part of Taiwan I love best, damn I miss that place . . . .

  95. Chorasmian
    September 22nd, 2008 at 21:39 | #95

    @FOARP

    Thanks for you explain, mate. I got the idea now.

  96. Hongkonger
    September 23rd, 2008 at 01:27 | #96

    FOARP,

    I have been very curious about Taiwan ever since watching a show on how much of the old Tang period high culture and traditions (and priceless antiques) are preserved and practiced there. I dunno, it was just a TV show, so, will someone here enlighten me further if that is true? Or being what they are, high cultures and all, the general public are oblivious to them. Like many good things in many cultures we see on TV, are in reality restricted playgrounds reserved for the rich, corrupt & famous?

    Fellow Chinese, Taiwanese, overseas 同胞,
    I remember mentioning the same to a very well educated Chinese lawyer, also an overseas returnee, right after watching the said show. His reaction totally took me by surprise. He appeared offended, hence I did not further pursue the topic and continued to enjoy our BBQ and beer. I am guessing, perhaps, he felt that I was implying(because of the ranksacking by the 8 Allies, the wholesale theft of the KMT and later the destructiveness decade of the CR) that China is today somehow less – whatever – in high cultures? Honestly, I have not travelled enough of China nor erudite enough to make such worthless judgement. What’s my question here? Well, having never been to Taiwan, my impressions are the following: First of all, the mandarin that taiwanese girls speak are very 嗲…Sorry, I don’t know the english for that – except that hearing them speak weakens my knees. The mountains are very beautiful, taiwanese snacks are yummy, reverse racism (anglophilia / the worshipping of the West) is strong, some politicians are violent and connected with the chinese mafia, etc. These are the stereotyping I’ve gathered, and I feel I may need healings, no? Thanks

  97. RMBWhat
    September 23rd, 2008 at 01:55 | #97

    Well, what I’ve heard over the years is that Taiwan IS more traditional compared to mainland. The explanation for this is that the mainland went through the CR, where many traditional values were either destroyed or altered. Many examples of traditional things and practices (e.g. celebrations, items, etc) on the mainland have ulterior monetary motives where in Taiwan it’s more based on actual traditional values.

    Just what i’ve heard, not based on any personal experiences.

  98. wuming
    September 23rd, 2008 at 02:08 | #98

    Hongkonger

    “I am guessing, perhaps, he felt that I was implying(because of the ranksacking by the 8 Allies, the wholesale theft of the KMT and later the destructiveness decade of the CR) that China is today somehow less – whatever – in high cultures?”

    Yes, 8 Allies destroyed some stuff and KMT took away much treasures, gold and more importantly talents of all kinds. But the communists did most of the destruction to the Chinese culture, high (阳春白雪) or low (下里巴人), in its first 30 years of ruinous reign.

    ” First of all, the mandarin that taiwanese girls speak are very 嗲…Sorry, I don’t know the english for that – except that hearing them speak weakens my knees. ”

    Unfortunately, Mainland girls (and boys) are also acquiring this 嗲(cutesy?) accent.

  99. September 23rd, 2008 at 02:17 | #99

    @Jerry,

    I like your philosophical bent on things – especially when used to cultivate a sense of self humility. That is something that definitely everyone can use a bit more off: to make one less blind to ideologies and more open to others’ ideas.

    I am not sure if you go as far as Descartes in questioning your self knowledge … but I personally am not – at least not for now…

    My sense of reality about Taiwan may be biased by, as you say, my “affinity group” (even though my friends come from all walks of life), but the fact of the matter is that besides interacting my “friends,” I have also interacted with the broader Taiwanese society by listening to radios, watching TV, and reading newspapers (also talking to acquaintances at the gym, taxi drivers, strangers at the market, the local barber, etc.). Few can argue that the political issues in Taiwan over the last year or two has been about economics – so I can’t be that off about the perception of Taiwan’s economy hasn’t been doing that well!

    Unless … I don’t exist at all … but wait, I think, therefore I am – maybe that is the only thing I can know for sure?

  100. TonyP4
    September 23rd, 2008 at 02:19 | #100

    They will be re-united for the following reasons: (1) China is too big relatively to Taiwan. (2) Taiwan business investment in China is too big. (3). KMT at one time wanted to return and rule China (so, it acknowledged it is one country). (4) The race is the same – all yellow. (5) Some came to Taiwan before KMT, but they’re the same race and most likely from China.

    I believe a lot of immigrants from China to Japan in the Tang period, and that explains why Japan cultures and dresses are similar to that period. In addition, a lot of Chinese language you can find in older temples in Korea and I can understand at least half of Japanese as a good portion is in Chinese.

    I met many ladies from Taiwan (at that time, few if not none from China). They are taller and fairer skin than folks from Hong Kong.

    China does not need any carrier for defense but not so for conquering Taiwan.

  101. Hongkonger
    September 23rd, 2008 at 02:36 | #101

    RMBWhat — “mainland have ulterior monetary motives where in Taiwan it’s more based on actual traditional values”… Hmm, I saw a program about this fine china-porcelain maker in historic Jing De village, who was given the near impossible assignment from some high office to replicate these beautiful imperial paper-thin translucent bowls, vases and whatnot. It took him 5 years just to find the right type of gao ling clay. And it was after five years of tracking the mountain where gao ling clay are mined that he fell into an old tunnel and then was bitten by a poisonious snake and survived that he was able to start working on replicating these exquisite ceremic master pieces. Sounds like a present day chinese version of Indiana Jones’ adventure, doesn’t it? There are many stories of retirees making models of old chinese artifacts, sail model boats, even models charriots and push carts and sedans. Oh, there are the traditional latern maker, last of his kind and the amazing kite maker etc. People like them are wonderful folks from the old culture, who went through the CR and have remained unscathed and honest.

    “Unfortunately, Mainland girls (and boys) are also acquiring this 嗲(cutesy?) accent.”

    Thanks Wuming for the translation. Yeah, that’s like chinese and white kids trying to act like they black rappers, that’s when what’s originally cool become an eye-sore. Oh, maybe I am just old fashion. Never mind what I’d just said.

  102. Hongkonger
    September 23rd, 2008 at 03:12 | #102

    Unless … I don’t exist at all … but wait, I think, therefore I am – maybe that is the only thing I can know for sure?

    This is one of the most difficult concept I’ve been struggling with. I exist because my brain is functioning, at least, that is, the self – awareness part of my brain faculties are. So, is there a consciousness that is not a cerebral function? Do souls and spirits exist or are they mere words to define concepts which may not necessarily exist but only in the living and culturally conditioned minds – a mere function of the living brain?
    Is Taiwan part of China, and if not says who? If so, says who? What is the use of anything for the human race if we all cease to exist? Nevertheless, we live as if to be alive is not the most important reason for reasonings when we go to war for a belief, an ideology, for “justice, God & country.” I am babbling. So, I am going to sit in the quiet corner with Descartes right away. **………………………………….*

  103. Jerry
    September 23rd, 2008 at 03:22 | #103

    #99, @ Allen

    Thanks, Allen. I don’t have much use for ideology and dogmatism. Gets in the way of thinking, learning, discovering and having fun. I have had some painful experiences which have driven those points home. To me, expanding the “big picture” is important, ongoing and a work in progress.

    Ah, René Descartes, great philosopher and great mathematician. Cartesian and analytic geometry, oh the memories. Another amazing renaissance man; da Vinci and Michelangelo amaze me, too. All I know is that I think and I keep thinking more. Most common comment to me by my friends, “Jerry, you think too much!” C’est la vie, mon ami!

    I am not ridiculing your viewpoint and opinions about Taiwan. I observe many of the same things. I have discovered how my biases, prejudices and filters, subtle as they may be sometimes, color how I perceive things, make judgments and adopt beliefs. Thus, I find myself driven to keep thinking outside of my own box. I trust that you are more enlightened than I and don’t fall prey to the weaknesses which plague me. At least they are my weaknesses. I have come to believe to embrace how I am, with all my weakness, frailties, faults and ghosts which walk the hallways of my mind. Better to make friends with them than enemies.

    Speaking of Descartes causes me to remember this marvelous quote from Einstein which I first discovered this year.

    The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.

    Albert Einstein

    US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955)

    Einstein always amazes me. After discovering the theory of general relativity and the special theory of relativity, I understand that he continually tried to disprove his theories. And relentlessly pursued the unified field theory.

  104. Wukailong
    September 23rd, 2008 at 03:24 | #104

    @Leo: Thanks for the explanation. You have some good points here. It now definitely seems to me that the Taiwanese government did take the opportunity to bring up politics (not that it hasn’t happened on both sides).

    As for what the Western media would write about this, I would probably not be interested in reading – I was mostly thinking about Taiwanese sources. But you already gave me two sources and it would be kind of impolite to me to keep asking for others without doing my own research…

    “It is always a running joke on the Chinese forums that every diplomatic document Beijing has with foreign countries has to begin with “The government of the People’s Republic of China is the one, and only, LEGAL government of China”. Do you know how much cash and concessions Beijing has been squeezed out by this sentence?”

    This reminds me of when I watched the news with some friends here and there was a short piece about Putin coming to China. He said that there is only one China, and then the news switched to something else. Another guy commented: “It’s like he just came to China, said that sentence and went back again.” 🙂

  105. TommyBahamas
    September 23rd, 2008 at 04:08 | #105

    Hi Jerry,

    Another good comment. Thanks.

    Yeah, Einstein, what an amazing human being.

    Jon Stewart jokingly said to Tony Blair, “I am a Jew, we are raised to be sad.”

    Smart people tend to be melancholic, yet their messages are profound and their words fashioned to encourage. Einstein must’ve been by nature a very happy person, full of childlike curiosity. But what profound sorrow he must have had to suffer for the rest of his life when he couldn’t stop the two atomic detonations over Japan and felt somehow responsible for the consequent horror of global nuclear proliferations.

  106. cephaloless
    September 23rd, 2008 at 04:13 | #106

    @Jerry

    Got to love Einstein. Thanks for sharing that quote.

  107. September 23rd, 2008 at 10:42 | #107

    @Allen
    “Is there another basis for wanting independence besides emotions?”

    Are you kidding? The question is normally phrased in the opposite way because of the indisputable success of current de facto independence. What is Taiwan supposed to get out of political unification again?

  108. Jerry
    September 23rd, 2008 at 11:21 | #108

    #105 @TommyBahamas

    You set me to thinking. We Russian Jews tend to consider ourselves “long-suffering”. I liked ‘Jon Stewart jokingly said to Tony Blair, “I am a Jew, we are raised to be sad.”’ Hmmm …

    We are raised to face suffering and pain. We are also taught to get back up after life knocks us down. (If you want, you can see my dad’s proverb up above in #66). I end a number of my comments in “A bi gezunt”. My grandparent’s interpretation of that (God knows how many different ways you can interpret Yiddish. I think yenta has over a 100 meanings) was “you are healthy, you are here, so be grateful”. My grandfather considered himself so blessed to have escaped Russia. One of the best things that happened in my life, decades before I was born.

    My grandfather had a saying about the American Depression of the 30’s, an era in which he thrived as a merchant. “You think that was a depression, try growing up Jewish in Russia. Now that is depression.”

    I remember going through my daughter’s many years of cancer treatments and the after-effects from the treatment. Most painful years of my life. It is very hard to eat and digest the words, “Your daughter has a 15% chance of surviving.” But she is alive and well and now a doctor. A bi gezunt. She and I will both tell you that neither of us would be the person we are today without going through that experience. I believe that 100%.

    “Smart people tend to be melancholic…” Perhaps? Or maybe certain people know that they can still get back up after facing the pain and suffering. And the pain and suffering are every bit the gateway to a good life? (By no means am I encouraging you to go look for pain and suffering. They will find you.) Life is full of pain, anxiety, suffering, joy, wonder, awe, curiosity and happiness. Just my musings. But what does this have to do with cross-strait politics? Beats me? But I think that a person’s underlying beliefs, philosophies, prejudices, biases, filters, strength of will, all of them color and propel the person in dealing with politics, issues and problems that face him or her.

    “One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.”

    A bi gezunt. Zay gezunt. Mazel tov.

  109. TommyBahamas
    September 23rd, 2008 at 12:51 | #109

    “One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality.”

    Is that from the Old Testament? It is true, Jerry… I get goose-pimples watching Natonal Geographics all the time~! This is what’s keeping me from being a full blown atheist, but an Agnostic – What some would call as one who lacks the guts to get off the fence. However, I think the verses following that wonderful line was, if I am not mistaken, but I am pretty sure I am, but anyways, ” so that he is without excuse before the Lord God Almighty on that Day of reckoning,” some scary shit like that….

  110. Jerry
    September 23rd, 2008 at 13:18 | #110

    #105 @TommyBahamas

    Tommy, it is from my A. Einstein quote above in #103. ::smile:: I have no idea about whether it is in the OT or not; I am not a biblical, Talmudic or Torahic scholar. Might be in the OT??

    Besides, atheism to me is about not seeing God or cosmic intelligence in some little anthropomorphic box. And man, I am sure not religious. Agnosticism started off as seeing God everywhere, in everything and everybody. The Catholic power structure just could not deal with that concept. How the hell do you control anyone with a concept like that? “Bye bye, agnostics!” at either Council of Trent or Nicea. Religious scholars have since distorted and tainted those 2 words. Right up there on their dysfunctional scale.

  111. September 23rd, 2008 at 19:34 | #111

    @HKer – Wish I could give you an expert opinion on this, all I can say is that whilst Taiwan is a very modern society, it is also a place in which many traditions are still observed. Some of these take the form of weird superstitions (not whilstling at night as it may attract ghosts, for example). Taoism also has a following beyond anything I saw on the mainland, and the best piece of Kunshan opera I’ve ever seen (okay, I’ve only seen three performances in total) was a Taiwanese production of 牡丹亭.

  112. Chorasmian
    September 23rd, 2008 at 21:39 | #112

    @A-gu #107

    In my opinion, Repbulic of China has been enjoying her independence for nearly 100 years. “De facto independence” is low self-estimate for current situation.

  113. Jerry
    September 24th, 2008 at 00:02 | #113

    #112 @Chorasmian

    I agree that Taiwan has been enjoying independence for a long time. What I don’t agree with is ‘“De facto independence” is low self-estimate for current situation.’ I believe “de facto” is a pretty high standard. “De facto” is reality. Reality is a very high standard.

    It is the old, famous saying I like in this case, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck.” It takes high reasoning on our part to confer “duckdom”. No law which pronounces the duck to be a goose or a wolf changes the fact: It is a damned duck. Reality trumps stupidity and ignorance. It is our choice if we want to ignore reality. Often at our own peril.

    Perhaps one could infer that if Taiwan has de facto independence, the Mainland accepts that de facto independence, no matter what it proclaims to the rest of the world. As S. K. has said above in #76 (and before), “Again, ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    A bi gezunt. Mazel tov.

  114. September 24th, 2008 at 02:07 | #114

    I guess in a way, it’s fair for some to see “re-unification” as an issue of convenience: i.e. if joining China or getting closer to China can result in a better future, let’s think about it; if joining China or getting closer to China does not necessarily lead to a better future, let’s keep the status quo or even go for formal independence.

    I tend however like to think like a “die-hard” nationalist (take whatever connotation you like). Taiwan was forcefully split from China by the Japanese over a century ago and then split apart from the Mainland by a civil war. Now that Chinese (on both side of the strait) have their destiny in their hands, why not make re-unification a non-negotiable goal? It doesn’t mean we have to decide on a time line or even a process – but we should not hesitate to accomplish something that previous generations of Chinese would have died to be able to make happen.

    But I also understand the limitation to my stance. Taiwan has definitely been better off separate from the Mainland the last 50 years or so – having avoided the chaos of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution. Taiwan has also been made better off by close contact with the West for the last half a century. I can understand why many Taiwanese may not want to rush to anything … for now.

  115. September 24th, 2008 at 02:26 | #115

    @Allen

    “Now that Chinese (on both side of the strait) have their destiny in their hands, why not make re-unification a non-negotiable goal?”

    I suppose the crux of the issue is who gets to determine what the goals are and how negotiable they are. If the terms are dictated by China, Taiwanese will not accept them except perhaps out of great fear; if Taiwan actually has a say in the matter, I think you’ll find making unification/annexation a “non-negotiable goal” is just not going to fly with the public here, as they actually want to control their own destinies. Die-hard nationalists aside, of course.

  116. Chorasmian
    September 24th, 2008 at 03:19 | #116

    @Jerry

    According to my understanding, ROC is an independent country in reality AND in legitimacy. The confusion come from the difference between the territory, not independence, she claims (in legitimacy) and she currently controls (in reality).

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:ROC_Administrative_and_Claims.jpg

    The conflict between PRC and ROC is not a conflict between local administration and central administration, like the case in Georgia. It is between two EQUAL central administrations with claiming the territory covering each other. That’s why I have the view as post #6.

    Basically, I agree with President Ma Ying-jeou, “因为我们的宪法无法容许在我们的领土上还有另外一个国家;同样地,他们的宪法也不允许在他们宪法所定的领土上还有另外一个国家…….中华民国是一个主权独立的国家,我们和大陆虽然没有办法做到相互承认, 可是至少可以做到相互不否认。” (Sorry about these non English content, I can’t find the English version of this news http://www.voanews.com/chinese/w2008-09-04-voa31.cfm . As a second language speaker, I dare not to translate it, cause it will surely misleading)

    Independence of Republic of Taiwan (not ROC, they are different concepts) means not just seperate from PRC, but also means overthrow ROC.

  117. September 24th, 2008 at 08:54 | #117

    @Chorasmian

    I will try to make an adequate translation first below: “Our constitution forbids having another country within our national borders, and likewise, their constitution does not allow another country to exist within the territory as defined by their constitution…. The Republic of China is a sovereign and independent country. Although we are not able to achieve mutual recognition between us and the mainland, at the very least, we can at least achieve mutual non-denial.”

    因为我们的宪法无法容许在我们的领土上还有另外一个国家;同样地,他们的宪法也不允许在他们宪法所定的领土上还有另外一个国家…….中华民国是一个主权独立的国家,我们和大陆虽然没有办法做到相互承认, 可是至少可以做到相互不否认”

    Secondly … the ROC constitution no longer defines the borders as including China. Please see the official English translation of the constitution here: http://www.president.gov.tw/en/prog/news_release/document_content.php?id=1105498685&pre_id=1105498701&g_category_number=409&category_number_2=373&layer=on&sub_category=455

    “The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly.”

    Chen and the DPP had no problem recognizing the PRC government; it was the PRC that could not recognize the ROC government. So this idea that somehow the best we can do at this point is “mutual non-denial” is nonsense. And China continues to openly deny the the existence of the ROC to this day. So in either case, Ma’s statements on this matter might have made sense in say, 1985, but not so much so today.

  118. ioksin
    September 24th, 2008 at 09:29 | #118

    I’m a Taiwanese, period. I don’t know why are people talking about “Chinese on both sides of the strait”.

    One or two of my ancestors may have come from China, but so what? Most of my ancestors, family and friend are born and raised in Taiwan, not to mention that there were also Japanese and Taiwanese Aborigines in my bloodline.

    But anyways, to me, it’s not where our ancestors came from that makes a country a country, rather, it’s the sense of community, statehood, and shared history. If we have to look back 100 years, how many countries in the world now “should” actually belong to other countries?

    I have several close Chinese friends, and although we’re very close and speak the same language, I still don’t consider them as my “countrymen”, and I’ve made it very clear to them (and they all accept the idea that Taiwan and China are two separate countries and don’t think we have to be “reunified” somehow.)

    Under any circumstances, I would like to retain my own identity and would NOT want to be a Chinese.

  119. Netizen K
    September 24th, 2008 at 11:52 | #119

    Many Taiwanese want to rennite with Mainland and consider themselves Chinese. “Chinese on both sides of the strait” makes perfect sense.

  120. Leo
    September 24th, 2008 at 15:32 | #120

    There was a story once widely circulated on Taiwan press and forums. It goes that en route to S.America Chen Shuibian had to take a refueling in Alaska. The U.S. Taiwan affairs officials went onboard to scold him for his stirring up trouble between China and the U.S.. Chen got nerved and said, “OK, if Taiwan independence is anything wrong, please allow us to reunify with China.” The U.S. officials immediately said, “Uh noooo!”

    I think this story, maybe not true, can still perfectly picture the awkward positions of the Chinese on both sides of the Strait.

  121. Netizen K
    September 24th, 2008 at 16:57 | #121

    Chinese on either side of the Strait don’t consider it awkward. They consider it a hurdle to overcome. Taiduers find it awkward because they are played like pawns in a bigger game.

  122. September 24th, 2008 at 17:41 | #122

    @ioskin,

    My family has been in Taiwan for over 300 years (according to my “family book”), and most (30+ cousins) are still in Taiwan. And my great grand mom is a Japanese. So while I may not be ethnically Chinese (whatever that means), I still consider myself Chinese.

    I definitely respect your identity as Taiwanese though (you sound just like my father-in-law). I just don’t understand…

  123. September 24th, 2008 at 17:47 | #123

    @A-gu,

    Where in the ROC Constitution does it state that the territory of ROC does not include the mainland.

    According to the (English) link you gave, Article 91 states:

    The Control Yuan shall be composed of Members who shall be elected by Provincial and Municipal Councils, the local Councils of Mongolia and Tibet, and Chinese citizens residing abroad. Their numbers shall be determined in accordance with the following provisions:

    1. Five Members for each Province;
    2. Two Members for each municipality under the direct jurisdiction of the Executive Yuan;
    3. Eight Members for the Mongolian Leagues and Banners;
    4. Eight Members for Tibet; and
    5. Eight Members for Chinese citizens residing abroad.

    ROC would seem to include the mainland from just this provision…

  124. cephaloless
    September 24th, 2008 at 17:53 | #124

    @ioksin
    I share your sentiments. As much chinese culture as there is in “taiwanese”, theres plenty more besides that. Besides, it just make sense to identify one’s homeland. No sense calling a far away place home that I was not born in, have no relatives, nothing at all to do with me other than a major component of the culture and language. If you say culture and language makes me chinese, that would mean chinese babies adopted by american parents grow up english.

    @Netizen K
    Please paint with smaller strokes. There are plenty of differing opinions that you haven’t heard but are painting right over.

  125. cephaloless
    September 24th, 2008 at 18:03 | #125

    @ Allen
    I understand identifying oneself as “chinese” just as well as “taiwanese”. It lead right back to “what does it mean to be chinese?” I would take it as “I’m ethnically chinese” and I’m taiwanese. I see “chinese” as a word thats covering too much territory. At least I keep thinking “chinese is from mainland china”. In chinese, theres a few more words that distinguishes between the different types of “chinese” (huaren, zhonggouren) so its not quite as bad (as far as misunderstanding) but it seems that even in chinese, people say “I’m from the nation of china” a lot when they mean they’re ethnic chinese.

    I hope I’ve confused everyone 🙂

  126. Daniel
    September 24th, 2008 at 18:53 | #126

    Hi cephaloless, Allen, and to anyone else who could help.

    Regarding that identity issue you all mentioned, I was wondering if you all could help me understand a bit of what this woman is saying, in relations to pretty much what you all are discussing about. I mean, it’s a little weird but in different languages while the rendered meaning can be the same, the weight and image of it’s entire definition could be significantly different.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9jrmR9LUCU&feature=related

    Ignore the heated comments on the bottom. Can never get away from them.

    In terms of politics, or general purposes, it be hard for anyone to call themselves a term that belongs elsewhere or has little sense of belonging…hope that makes sense as well. There was a guy from Hsinchu I used to hang out with for a couple of years in college where once in a while where we run into conversations like this…his reaction was “I don’t care about China, it’s not my home”. I guess it was a decent reply, especially if others bug him about it.

  127. September 24th, 2008 at 19:44 | #127

    @Daniel,

    That’s an interesting interview on youtube. The woman being interviewed seems to go out of her way to be politically correct.

    I think the question of identity for Taiwan should probably be simpler than that for the Uyghurs or Tibetans – partly because of the geopolitical situation today (the West v. China in Tibet, Islam v. China in XinJiang (I guess some can argue Taiwan is the result of West v. China also…)) – and partly because the culture in Taiwan is predominantly “Han.”

    Perhaps as the geopolitical situation shifts in favor of China – and as China develops to become a more fully embracing and confident multicultural nation – people would not have to fudge so much about being Chinese!

  128. September 24th, 2008 at 21:52 | #128

    @Allen – The Control Yuan no longer allows the representatives from mainland provinces to sit, that was one of the results of the reforms in the 70’s/80’s, these reforms (i.e., the renewed elections to replace the 70+ year ols representatives from mainland provinces with an all-Taiwan assembly) are part of what allowed the Dangwai movement to form.

    There are currently 24 members of the Control Yuan, listed here:

    http://www.cy.gov.tw/eng/members.asp

    Here’s the relevant part from the official history:

    “When the second National Assembly met in May 1992, it approved the Additional Articles of the Constitution of the Republic of China, which provides that the Control Yuan shall have 29 members, including a president and a vice president, all of whom shall serve a term of six years and shall be nominated and, with the consent of the National Assembly, appointed by the President of the Republic. Henceforth, members of the Control Yuan are no longer elected by representative councils. In accordance with this constitutional amendment, the members of the second Control Yuan, nominated and appointed by the President with the consent of the National Assembly, began to exercise their powers on February 1, 1993.”

    As you can see, Chapter IX is no longer the relevant section of the constitution, and would require the repealing or amendment of the Additional Articles to bring it back into effect. Furthermore, allowing for the election of someone from a particular area does not actually necessitate a territorial claim to that area, many constitutions allow for the election of representatives from beyond the territory claimed by that state, the ROC included.

    Still, the ROC still maintains its claim to the mainland area under Article 4 of the constitution:

    “The territory of the Republic of China according to its existing national boundaries shall not be altered except by resolution of the National Assembly.”

    Which has now been replaced by Article 4 of the additional articles:

    “The territory of the Republic of China, defined by its existing national boundaries, shall not be altered unless initiated upon the proposal of one-fourth of the total members of the Legislative Yuan, passed by at least three-fourths of the members present at a meeting attended by at least three-fourths of the total members of the Legislative Yuan, and sanctioned by electors in the free area of the Republic of China at a referendum held upon expiration of a six-month period of public announcement of the proposal, wherein the number of valid votes in favour exceeds one-half of the total number of electors. “

    As you can see from a reading of the additional articles, control of the ROC is now limited to citizens from the ‘free area’ of the ROC – i.e., Taiwan. Check it out:

    http://www.president.gov.tw/en/prog/news_release/document_content.php?id=1105496084&pre_id=1105498701&g_category_number=409&category_number_2=373&layer=&sub_category=

    So the ROC has not officially changed its border from those claimed pre-1949, but no longer includes those from outside the ‘free area’ in its workings, the only way in which this can be change is for mainland China to be ‘liberated’. Even Chiang Kai-Shek’s presidential order recognising an independent Mongolia was never ratified by the national assembly, and is unlikely to be put into affect by the Legislative Yuan any time soon, but as Mongolia is not included in the ‘free area’ this is immaterial for modern-day politics.

  129. cephaloless
    September 25th, 2008 at 01:55 | #129

    @Daniel

    I tend to agree with Allen. Taiwan’s situation is much more of geopolitical issue than cultural.
    I would say the “taiwanese culture” has components different from the overall “han chinese culture” but that should also be true for each geographical area with their own dialect.

  130. Chops
    September 25th, 2008 at 02:21 | #130

    “The EU has been urged to review its support for the so-called ‘One-China’ policy which it is claimed effectively excludes Taiwan from international organisations.

    The call, by Portuguese MEP Paulo Casaca, comes at the start of the 63rd general assembly of the United Nations where Taiwan’s application for ‘meaningful participation’ in the UN’s specialised agencies will be considered.”

    “Any change to the One China policy would have to approved by all 27 EU members,” added Hohmann, spokesman for external affairs commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner.

    http://www.theparliament.com/latestnews/news-article/newsarticle/eu-urged-to-review-its-one-china-policy/

  131. September 25th, 2008 at 02:32 | #131

    @FOARP,

    Great information provided in #128. Thanks!

  132. S.K. Cheung
    September 25th, 2008 at 06:20 | #132

    To Allen:
    you asked “why not make re-unification a non-negotiable goal?” – which is reasonable enough. But one could ask the question in the affirmative, and it would be similarly reasonable. It still comes down to an evaluation of “what’s in it for us”. And I think the assessment of that last question will determine the sentiment towards the goal you mentioned.

  133. September 25th, 2008 at 09:27 | #133

    Chops,
    yeah, but the EU couldn’t agree it’s way out of a paper bag. I don’t think we need fear they will change their policy on one China.

  134. September 25th, 2008 at 09:47 | #134

    @FOARP

    Yes, thanks a lot for the information and clarification on the issues.

    I think, still, that a point made very early on still applies. Taiwan cannot be convinced to be annexed by any other method but bullying (or prodding, as the original post put it). China has repeatedly rejected all compromise ideas put forward over the years such as an EU style merger, an East/West German style dialogue, a federalist Chinese Union, or any other proposal that would have been acceptable to Taiwanese.

  135. September 25th, 2008 at 10:50 | #135

    @Chops – The EU’s stand on one-China is not relevant to the position of its member states, apart from any other reason, foreign policy is retained by the member states – member states decide who they do and do not recognise. The EU acts as a forum in which the member states can co-ordinate their foreign policy in certain areas – agreement is not necessary, as we saw in 2003. The EU is granted the power to make treaties and conduct relations, but only in certain areas and only with the agreement of member states.

    Currently the only country on the continent to recognise the ROC government is the Vatican, which is not an EU member, however, the possibility exists that if the PRC does not recognise Kosovo then the Kosovans will opt to accept ROC recognition (and the money that would come with it). Whether Kosovo would be required to drop such realtions if it wanted to join the EU, I don’t know.

    Check it out for yourself:

    http://ec.europa.eu/external_relations/taiwan/intro/index.htm

  136. September 25th, 2008 at 10:58 | #136

    @A-Gu – I try to stay away from saying what Taiwan will and will not ‘accept’, if it can accept F4 and S.H.E. as music, the scooter as a means of transport, and Li Ao as a serious politician and author, then it can accept anything!

    But yeah, the CCP is yet to produce anything which would be compatible with Taiwanese citizens retaining democratic control over their own lives. The idea of an over-arching ‘China’ of which both the ROC and the PRC are part of, whilst being able to maintian their own defence forces and foreign relations, is probably the closest thing I have heard to something that would be acceptible by both sides, but it is hard to see how meaningful such a ‘China’ would be.

  137. Wukailong
    September 25th, 2008 at 11:13 | #137

    @FOARP: “if it can accept F4 and S.H.E. as music, the scooter as a means of transport, and Li Ao as a serious politician and author”

    S.H.E. is passable, and Li Ao is probably not that bad as an author (as a politician, he seems to add a bit of Zhirinovsky-style entertainment).

    “The idea of an over-arching ‘China’ of which both the ROC and the PRC are part of, whilst being able to maintian their own defence forces and foreign relations, is probably the closest thing I have heard to something that would be acceptible by both sides, but it is hard to see how meaningful such a ‘China’ would be.”

    The new cross-strait policy decided on by Hu Jintao seems to allow for such a viewpoint. Basically it’s saying that there is one China, with the mainland and Taiwan having the choice to interpret China as they wish.

    I can’t help thinking this conflict would be a bit easier to solve if the PRC actually admitted there is a government on Taiwan, and that the current situation is that it is independent, even though only 20 or so countries have diplomatic contacts with it. Of course, I guess people in the West wouldn’t be so keen on insisting on Taiwan being independent if it was called “South China”, and the PRC “North China”.

  138. September 25th, 2008 at 11:55 | #138

    @Wukailong –

    “S.H.E. is passable”

    Dude, you have now just lost all credibility with me whatsoever. Forever. I’m really sorry, but that’s just the way it is . . .

    “Whether Kosovo would be required to drop such realtions if it wanted to join the EU, I don’t know.”

    Sctratch that, actually I think it wouldn’t matter. Turkey recognises North Cyprus, but breaking off relations has not been made a condition of Turkish membership of the EU. Likewise, Spain claims Gibraltar as its own territory whilst Britain governs it as an overseas territory, but this does not prevent Spain and Britain both being EU member countries. Member states can veto membership, but none are likely to do this to prevent a country which recognises the ROC from joining the EU.

  139. Wukailong
    September 25th, 2008 at 12:20 | #139

    “Dude, you have now just lost all credibility with me whatsoever. Forever. I’m really sorry, but that’s just the way it is . . .”

    Haha, I’ve just happened to hear their music a couple of times.

    Has anyone hear ever read a book by Li Ao, by the way?

  140. chorasmian
    September 25th, 2008 at 12:43 | #140

    @FOARP

    Personally, such an over-arching “China” means a lot for me. Although it is mainly psychological impact, we can’t resolve everything by only logic and material mearsue, can we? Especially for a traditional chinese like me, we value “名” (what it is called) more than “实” (what it actually is).

    @Wukailong

    I did read his 蒋介石评传. Though I don’t really like his style. His TV shows are even worse.

  141. Jerry
    September 25th, 2008 at 13:34 | #141

    #140, @Chorasmian

    Interesting comment.

    Personally, such an over-arching “China” means a lot for me. Although it is mainly psychological impact, we can’t resolve everything by only logic and material mearsue, can we? Especially for a traditional chinese like me, we value “名” (what it is called) more than “实” (what it actually is).

    I have to agree on not trying to resolve everything only by logic and material metrics.

    Since I am so new to Chinese culture and thinking, some of the concepts are hard to grasp. For instance, it is hard for me to understand your last sentence, because for me it is just the opposite. Jewish culture used to be like that, but it has changed in the last 100 years or so. I am just curious. I don’t know if there is more you can say about it, but I would be interested in hearing and learning more.

    @Wukailong, @FOARP
    #136, 137, 138, 139

    Nobody has lost credibility with me based on their music choice. I looked up SHE and listened to part of one of their songs. I can understand FOARP’s sentiment. 10 seconds and I was out. I am just an old fuddy-duddy who likes jazz and classical music. I like Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Michael Buble, Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit, Diana Krall, Beethoven, Bach, Bartok, Haydn, to name a few. Electronic music is not my cup of tea.

    BTW, Duke Ellington (consummate jazz musician and commentator) had a great saying on personal musical choices. “If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”

  142. A Nobody
    September 25th, 2008 at 14:28 | #142

    Duke Ellington (consummate jazz musician and commentator) had a great saying on personal musical choices. “If it sounds good and feels good, then it IS good!”

    So, judging from your list of who’s who in classical & Jazz list, I don’t see Chick Chorea, Billy Holiday, Norah Jones, Frank Sinatra, Chopin, Mozart, Emerson Lake & Palmer, Yes, Pink Floyd….Dude, you have totally lost all credibility with me from now till the end of time, period. And that’s just the way it is . . .”

    While I am at it, talk about the Mother of all BS: Dreams & Visions, cow dung & Marijuana…There is a school of thoughts, or maybe some weedheads thought it up, I don’t know, who believe that Magic Mushroom — Manna from heaven, like, created all religions great and small….Yunno, like, purple haze in my brain, Lately things just don’t seem the same, Acting funny and I dunno why…..Excuse me while I kiss the sky….

    Oh, please don’t mind me, I’m just ……………..ZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  143. September 25th, 2008 at 18:43 | #143

    Hey, S.H.E. are better than just passable, they are great cheesy pop – and there is nothing wrong with cheezy pop.

  144. RUMman
    September 25th, 2008 at 20:58 | #144

    Wouldn’t a larger China which the PRC and ROC both belonged to require a flag?

    Why don’t they use the original 1911 flag for that ‘Chinese Union’, with the ROC and PRC flags continuing to be used under that.

    And obviously Taiwan would have to be allowed to begin displaying its own flag at international events rather than being ritually humiliated.

  145. Wukailong
    September 26th, 2008 at 02:55 | #145

    @Jerry: “Nobody has lost credibility with me based on their music choice. I looked up SHE and listened to part of one of their songs. I can understand FOARP’s sentiment. 10 seconds and I was out. I am just an old fuddy-duddy who likes jazz and classical music. I like Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker, Coltrane, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Michael Buble, Kurt Elling, Jane Monheit, Diana Krall, Beethoven, Bach, Bartok, Haydn, to name a few. Electronic music is not my cup of tea.”

    I want to point out that I don’t listen to S.H.E. and that my choice of music is usually electronic music. 🙂 On the other hand, a friend of mine who’s a music expert if there ever was one, played some of their music along with a lot of other things one day, and it wasn’t that bad.

    Anyway, did someone expect a group of teenage girls to produce the music of the century?

  146. Wukailong
    September 26th, 2008 at 03:02 | #146

    I remember this year’s New Year, where S.H.E. played a song about other people around the world learning Chinese. That was pretty awful, but one funny thing was that they sang about people learning the “language of Confucius.” I would be impressed if someone actually did speak the now unintelligible language of Confucius, with consonant clusters in the beginning of words, possibly lacking tones, and maybe even bisyllabic reading of characters.

  147. Daniel
    September 26th, 2008 at 03:18 | #147

    Maybe some people are taking the “cliches” of pop culture a little bit too serious. Many celebrities, well politicians too, talk a lot of this and that, but come on….most of us know that it’s jsut figure of speech, cliches, and other playing around with words. Perhaps or I hope so;wait a second, nevermind. I remember that there’s a lot of people being “influence by the Big’o’Media” .

  148. chorasmian
    September 26th, 2008 at 11:35 | #148

    @Jerry #141

    In Chinese culture, it is very common that we name the subject with something we want it to be. The intention is so important that the subject itself sometimes could be overlooked. For example, on any vegeterian resteraunt menu, you will find a lot of meat, say chicken. In some first class resteraunt, it looks like chicken, smells like chicken, tastes like chicken, but actually it is tofu. 🙂

    While the similar componant in Jewish culture has changed in the past as you said, it is changing dramatically in Chinese culture nowadays.

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