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US arms sales to Taiwan "a slap to Wen Jiabao's face"?

In a surprise move to some, the United States reactivated a $6.46 billion Taiwan arms sales proposal and sent it to Congress for approval yesterday. (As late as September 28, the proposal was said to be frozen by the White House even as Taiwan lobbied Congress.)

Some Chinese now believe China and Wen Jiabao were “played” by the US: “Premier Wen had just said to save the US markets, out came $6 billion of arms sales as a slap to the face,” reads a typical comment online.

According to a now deleted article in the Caijing news magazine, the package of six contracts include 330 Patriot III missiles, 30 Apache attack helicopters, 4 pieces of E2T recoinnaissance plane upgrade parts, 32 Harpoon missiles, parts for F16 and F5 E/F fighters, and 182 anti-tank missiles. The package does not include submarines, Blackhawk helicopters, and F16 C/D fighter jets, which Taiwan also sought originally.

The article continues by speculating on the behind-the-scenes:

Congress has 30 days to discuss the issues. If Congress does not object, then the proposal gets implemented. A US official intimated that there may be further weapons sales, but not of submarines.

There have been rumors before that the US was unsatisfied with Ma Yingjiu’s closer stance to the mainland, and therefore delayed the approval of the arms sales. US Pacific Fleet Commander Keating even said the sales might be frozen, so Taiwan worried that the sales would have to wait till the next administration.

A high level US official told the Financial Times of UK that the reason the White House decided to go ahead with the sales to Taiwan is to show that the US has reinstated the “robust, effective, and active” relationship with Taiwan, but at the same time did not want to break the positive direction of the cross-Strait development. So the arms package was reduced in scope. Another former high level official said, this package is not too large and not too small. However, some Washington pundits worry that this action will surely anger the mainland, and the US-China cooperation on the Korean nuclear issue may be affected as a result.

While the government of China issued the usual statements in what seems like a routine exercise, some people have become increasingly unsatisfied with the ineffectual nature of China’s foreign policy on the US vis-à-vis Taiwan and in general, seeing it as failure:

While the echoes of Premier Wen’s words at the UN exhorting the world to stand with the US and save the markets still ring, the US government announced $6 billions worth of arms to Taiwan … As one who loves my country, I don’t understand China’s foreign policy and Taiwan policy. For decades, the US repeatedly used arms sales to play the Chinese on the two sides … why does our mainland government not have any effective means to check the US government’s thuggish behavior? These things happen time and time again; does it mean that we Chinese, or the Chinese government, is really a weak pushover?

America has no doubt made some clever calculations. Using arms sales to Taiwan, she can constrain the mainland’s development and get huge political profits from the Strait issue, and can extort money from the mainland using the Taiwan card … Are Chinese really that stupid?

Another voice thinks people should be more realistic about China’s current abilities:

A mature politician, a mature government, always should do only what they are capable of, and leave to words what they can only say. They do not repeatedly announce to the world about what they are capable of, nor do they actually do those things that can only remain words.

It’s difficult to discern the reasons for the timing of the arms sales. With Ma Yingjiu’s approval in the tanks even after Chen Shuibian put himself away by his own scandals, did Ma try to revive some of his credibility in Taiwan? Or, is this diplomatic blackmail by the US to get China to pony up some bailout money? Is the US concerned about losing influence in the Taiwan Strait and wanted to strike a tone before the next administration?

  1. October 4th, 2008 at 21:16 | #1

    China is interested in preventing financial meltdown in the USA in order to protect it’s own economy – it isn’t a matter of charity. In fact the rest of the world wants the USA to pay the bill to prop up global banks and are willing to ‘support’ their decision to do so since it saves them having to do it. And anyway, to collapse of the current financial system would be to call off a game that China is winning.

    On the other side – I don’t see why China should be to concerned about weapon sales to Taiwan – Taiwan will never initiate war with mainland China and mainland China surely has no immediate plans to invade Taiwan that this weapons sale puts in jeopardy. To start brinkmanship over something with almost no strategic importance would seem rather reckless.

    here is a US perspective on this sort of issue
    http://yglesias.thinkprogress.org/archives/2008/10/the_wrong_china_hedge.php

  2. Nimrod
    October 4th, 2008 at 21:53 | #2

    My personal opinion on this is that it is indeed not some “dire” incident. This is a large sale, nevertheless, we must consider the history of these sales, which is outlined here:

    Taiwan: Major U.S. Arms Sales Since 1990

    During the Bush administration, US and China have reached a post-1996 strategic accomodation to basically cut off the possibility of Taiwan independence in exchange for stability in the Taiwan Strait. That’s all China wants for now. We’ll have to see how the next administration handles this situation though.

  3. RUMman
    October 4th, 2008 at 23:29 | #3

    Don’t see why Chinese are so worked up about it.

    If they don’t want Taiwan to purchase weapons why not start by pressuring their own government to stop menacing Taiwan? Problem solved right there.

    Why the desire for unification by force? I would have thought the only meaningful unification was one that occurred willingly. Bullying Taiwan seems counterproductive.

  4. john
    October 4th, 2008 at 23:44 | #4

    Everybody knows Taiwan stands no chance against mainland China alone, with or without the arms sale. It used to be an issue of if the US will step in, after Georgia and considering the mess the US is in right now, both military and economically, that’s not an issue anymore.

    So really, the arms sale was meaningless, at least militarlity. Taiwan has once again been ripped off and the most amusing part is there are people in Taiwan who don’t get it. What good will the anti-tank missiles and Apaches do? They only becomes useful when Chinese Army makes land, and once that happens they’ve already lost.

    The US made some money to pay for the bailout, it made a guesture to maintain the illusino of some influence in East Asia. The money Taiwan pays the US will sooner or later go to mainland China to pay for the debt. So what you really have here is Taiwan money goes to mainland China through the American middleman, with the Americans make some political and economical profit in the process.

    Once again the Taiwaness had been play for fools, fools who seem rather happy to be played.

    Instead of a slap, its more like a poke, followed by “haha, you may be my boss but I still have my dignity”

  5. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 01:36 | #5

    RUMman,

    Perhaps you should read up on the last 10-20 years of the cross-Strait relationship because your question seems shallow. Here is a short version:

    Most Chinese understand that unification is not imminent and have the patience to wait for a political solution that both sides can accept. The relative positions of the PRC and ROC in such a political arrangement is subordinate to the unification of China — some would even want the KMT back. They see that as an internal squabble.

    What even more of them cannot accept though, is Taiwan setting up a permanent independence backed up by the military aid and arms supplied by a foreign government. They especially cannot accept such a state of affairs if in addition, it is done with a hostile intent or attitude to the mainland and its people, or by the rejection of the Chinese identity, all of which were the case under Lee Teng-hui and Chen Shui-bian.

    The bottom line, as far as Chinese people were concerned, did not change. In the past 15 years, the mainland government was hardly blameless and made many mistakes, missed many opportunities, and misread the people of Taiwan badly at times. The good thing is, the government’s policy started to be more flexible under Hu Jintao, after an apparent accomodation was reached with the Bush administration to — let me put it bluntly — terminate the viability of Taiwan independence as a political choice in the near future. Now that people understood independence wasn’t going to be a free lunch, and was going to be as costly as forced reunification, things moved. Historical meetings between the CCP and the KMT took place, and in May of this year, because of the election of Ma Ying-jeou, the situation has gotten better and much less dangerous for the first time in 15 years.

    Ma is hardly going to make any efforts toward reunification, but he has a “no unification, no independence, no war” platform, which is but an observation of the current contraints that Taiwan must live with. Beijing recognizes this, too. If both sides understand their roles to keep the peace and work within it, I don’t see where the “bullying”, “menacing”, or “forced unification” that you speak of is taking place. Against this background, a $6 billion sale of advanced arms — even if it doesn’t change the military balance significantly, even if it was cut back from before, even if it has long been in the works — has significant political and symbolic meaning, and the timing is just bizarre, given how much the US needs Beijing vs. Taiwan right now. Given the above, tell me how it should not be interpreted as the US once again “playing the Taiwan card”.

  6. October 5th, 2008 at 02:49 | #6

    My understanding is that most of the arms are outdated equipment that is not going to act as any sort of real deterrent in a real military conflict. However the arms deal does serve some purposes. For Taiwanese who are paranoid about the Mainland, it gives them a sense of security that comes from having “bought” some friendship in America. For Mainland, the deal helps moderates to counsel the nation patience and to focus the nation focused what it needs to focus on – economic and social development. It also gives the nation an “excuse” to continue to develop its military.

    It’s really a win-win for everyone. I just wish Taiwan didn’t have to be the only one shouldering the cost… 🙁

  7. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 03:20 | #7

    Allen,

    You are right that everybody has a different motive in this. For the US, it is a way to offload some arms for cash and keep its place at the table in the Taiwan Strait. (Taiwan is cash cow second only to Saudi Arabia). For Taiwan, it is way to show it is still a “friend” and still “listens” to what the US has told it to do, in order to find some leverage over its otherwise poor international position vs. the mainland. For mainland China, continued arms sales to Taiwan gives it a reason to modernize its outdated forces especially the navy, and have a tangible “goal” to develop the country in a way to be attractive to Taiwanese.

    There are also significant costs, however. For the US, this is one big liability that, depending on the local politics in Taiwan, could really blow up. For Taiwan, the economic costs are huge to maintain this pseudo-alliance. For mainland China, huge amounts of diplomatic capital is wasted and its political room to maneuver in the world is severely constrained by the unresolved issue in the Strait.

    Things are moving in the right direction though. Let’s hope Ma Ying-jeou has the foresight to do something significant during his time in office, because such an opportunity where all three sides are open to some form of cooperation is very rare.

  8. Chops
    October 5th, 2008 at 03:32 | #8

    “According to a now deleted article in the Caijing news magazine, the package of six contracts include 330 Patriot III missiles, 30 Apache attack helicopters, 4 pieces of E2T recoinnaissance plane upgrade parts, 32 Trident missiles …”

    There is some error in the article.

    Trident missiles are only launched from huge nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, which Taiwan does’nt have.

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

  9. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 04:09 | #9

    Thanks for catching the translation mistake on my part. They are “Harpoon” missiles. Corrected.

  10. Steve
    October 5th, 2008 at 04:37 | #10

    I believe it is very difficult for both Chinese and Taiwanese to truly understand this issue without getting involved to the point of conjuring up emotional responses rather than geopolitical ones. Wen isn’t getting slapped in the face and he knows it. This is playing out to the benefit of all sides, and is no surprise at all.

    The political price in the USA for domestically recognizing China was to pass the Taiwan Relations Act. Though the act specified the USA would supply the ROC with defensive weaponry, for China it was well worth it to receive recognition. Since that time, there have been ups and downs but throughout, both the PRC and USA followed the “one China” policy. Under Deng’s administration, there were no problems at all.

    The change in perception happened under the Jiang administration. Before 1996, the vast majority of Taiwanese had no desire to be independent, nor were they anxious to be a part of China in the foreseeable future. I was there at that time, and most said they were Chinese from Taiwan, rather than Taiwanese and that there would be eventual reunification. I’d say about 10% wanted immediate reunification and 10% wanted independence, but the rest believed in the middle way.

    Two events took place in 1996 that I believe directly affect the situation even today. First, during the presidential election, Lee Tenghui talked about a special state-to-state relationship. Jiang’s administration found these words unacceptable and raised the ante by two acts, firing missiles into the Taiwan Strait and having one of their generals threaten to nuke Los Angeles if the Americans got involved. Those missiles essentially created the Taiwan independence movement, and were a huge strategic mistake. As an example, before that time my wife always referred to herself as Chinese but after that, she has always referred to herself as Taiwanese because “they’re shooting missiles at my country”. Voila, instant nationalism! Before that incident, the DPP was the party of freedom and democracy, not of independence. From that time, it took up the mantle of independence because it saw an opportunity to increase its voting base. When Jiang again interfered in the Taiwan election by threatening the country if Lee was elected, it swayed the vote towards Lee (no one likes to be told what to do by outsiders) and he won overwhelmingly.

    The last minute threat towards electing Chen was probably worth about 3% of the vote, and swung that election to him. My wife went to an election party in 2000 because one of James Soong’s best friends from college (Georgia Tech) wanted to celebrate his victory at his house in San Diego. I told her I wasn’t going because Chen would win, since it’s easy to predict elections when you aren’t emotionally involved. She thought I was crazy but that emotional swing is pretty consistent.

    The potential nuking of Los Angeles caused the US government and military to take into consideration a Chinese “threat”, something they hadn’t believed in the past. During the Clinton administration, a percentage of weapons that were targeting at Russia were redirected towards China.

    Jiang was using a ploy that in sales is called the “fear close”. For you techies out there, remember the old IBM commercial where the corporate staff is in the conference room and the company is screwed because they are having computer problems? The message of the commercial to IT staff everywhere is, “You’ll never be fired for using IBM software so why take a chance?” That’s the fear close. Use my product or your plant will blow up, you’ll lose your job, or your country will be invaded. The problem with the fear close is that if it is not successful, it usually backfires and causes an opposite reaction, which is exactly what happened. China was trying to sell reunification and Taiwan was the buyer. Instead of giving Taiwan a reason to buy as was Deng’s strategy, Jiang tried to use the threat of force; too much stick and not enough carrot. Jiang was a very bad salesman.

    Anyone who’s ever lived in Taiwan knows how pissed off Taiwanese get when they can’t attend a WHO conference, can’t fly their flag, have their athletes assaulted at international sporting events, etc. Are those reasons to buy?

    Under Hu, the government realized the foolishness of the Jiang strategy, and has been much more accommodating to the feelings of the Taiwan people. As Nimrod said and I agree, the Bush administration, and I certainly don’t care for the Bush administration, has reached an accommodation with China that is acceptable to both parties. The USA agreed to put the Taiwan arms sale off limits until after the Olympics and now that they’re over, it was time to bring out this arms agreement. I’m sure China and Taiwan were fully aware of the timing. China was most concerned with the submarines, which are not part of the package so their negotiations were fruitful. Six billion is a drop in the bucket when it comes to arms sales, and it won’t come all at once but over time.

    China has kind of painted themselves into a corner concerning Taiwan. Geopolitically, it isn’t as important to them as Tibet or Xinjiang provinces, which are their buffer zones and allow them to bring their borders to virtually impassable mountains, severely decreasing the possibility of attack from those historic directions. Taiwan is a different story. Geopolitically, it holds the sea lane between the Straits of Malacca and Japan. Before the 1930s, China never considered an invasion from the sea to be a possibility but after the war, it needed to protect its coast. But it has used Taiwan as we used to use the Soviets, to unite the country in a common goal. It can’t ignore Taiwan, but it can put it on the back burner until the situations in Tibet and Xinjiang are more under control.

    If you think China can easily invade Taiwan without US intervention, think again. China has a littoral Navy, not a blue water Navy. The logistics of an amphibious assault for a country that hasn’t fought a war in decades and has never mounted an amphibious assault in its history are pretty daunting. The Chinese military knows this; they are professionals. From a strictly military viewpoint, they’d love to have a small scale war somewhere to work out the kinks in logistics and coordination. The political leadership knows that an unsuccessful war with Taiwan would mean the end of their rule, and they like being in power.

    The geopolitical strategies of China haven’t changed in decades. I know, because I wrote my senior thesis on Chinese politics in the 1920s and 1930s and read up on all this back then. I still like to study geopolitics just for fun, since I think it is really interesting. Remember what governments, ALL governments tell their populace is not what they discuss or how they reach their decisions behind closed doors. The public is not interested in geopolitics, so you have to make it emotional for them to buy in. Governments have been doing this for millennia.

    Though Annam (North Vietnam) was a part of China for 600 years, it’s not a geopolitical threat so no one is talking about reunification. The USA is not a threat to invade China. Zhou and Nixon both knew that. Historically, they worry about the north, the northwest, the southwest and Japan. This has nothing to do with financial meltdowns, nothing to do with a bailout, the Taiwanese aren’t a bunch of fools, and life goes on as usual. These are pawns in a chess game, and certainly not rooks or queens. I’m completely with Nimrod on this one.

  11. MoneyBall
    October 5th, 2008 at 04:44 | #11

    I find it funny some posters say if China doesnt plan to invade, shouldnt care this at all. Without US’s encouragement and approval TW will never seek independence, hence there will never be war, why bother selling weapons?

    How China will react depends on whether the 2 sides have reached a deal under the table. I believe they have. If this thing is just out of blue there’s hell to pay……If that’s the case I suspect its just Dubya wants to leave WH with a China like a angry bull staring at Obama…..LOL

  12. Carl
    October 5th, 2008 at 05:20 | #12

    I believe the arm sale will receive most objection from Taiwan. The sale includes “30 Apache attack helicopters” which are really useless for Taiwan’s defense since Apache’s advantage is mainly at anti-tank capability. At the time PLA’s tanks drive on Taiwan’s steets, it’s already game over. IMHO, Taiwan should really buy more personal anti-airplane weapon instead of wasting money on Apache.

  13. October 5th, 2008 at 06:22 | #13

    @Nimrod #7,

    Of course, from my provincial Taiwanese view, I counted only the cost for Taiwan – and forgot to count up the cost for US as well as the Mainland.

  14. S.K. Cheung
    October 5th, 2008 at 06:27 | #14

    This sale, as Nimrod admits, in no way changes the military balance. If China wanted a military solution, the contents of the sale will make not one iota of difference.
    Sounds like the proposal is not new. And the Americans could use the money, now more than ever. So the timing to me is not all that suspicious.
    And most of the materials appear defensive (tho I don’t know what Harpoon missiles do: are they surface to air, air to air, or air to surface?) Admittedly, the Apaches are a little curious. But if Taiwan already had the fighters, seems reasonable to acquire parts for maintenance, if only to preserve the status quo.
    If Mainland and Taiwan both share the “status quo” policy, I don’t think this deal changes that at all. I don’t think there need be any “symbolic” concerns about Taiwan updating her defensive capacity.

  15. October 5th, 2008 at 06:32 | #15

    @Steve,

    Anyone who’s ever lived in Taiwan knows how pissed off Taiwanese get when they can’t attend a WHO conference, can’t fly their flag, have their athletes assaulted at international sporting events, etc. Are those reasons to buy?

    Not all “Taiwanese” feel that way. I think you’ve described the “Taiwanese” who have sensationalized and exaggerated for political gain the missile issues and WHO issues. If these purported people-loving “Taiwanese” really cared about people’s security and public health, they would not have committed irresponsible political acts that provoked Beijing.

    I always get VERY SAD and ANNOYED when people say you know how pissed off “Taiwanese” get when China does this and that because I think China has behaved pretty responsible by laying out the rules pretty well.

    If you want to go ahead and still irritate and poke an otherwise sleeping dog – don’t then complain about getting bitten when it was you who started the poking …

  16. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 06:50 | #16

    Steve,

    Thank you for the detailed and thoughtful response. Opinions in China really do come down to this Taiwan Relations Act. As you said, it was passed out of US domestic concerns, not as part of an agreement with China. One can argue about whether it was worth it as an exchange for diplomatic recognition, but the fact of the matter is, Beijing had no say in it, and Nixon’s deal with China certainly did not involve such a thing. It came as kind of an ex post facto surprise out of Congress not for recognizing PRC, but for de-recognizing ROC, so it was some duplicitous (from Beijing’s view) thing between the US and ROC. So China never wanted to recognize its validity, as doing so would imply a foreign country can make laws about interfering in her “internal affairs”.

    Because this Act happened, Beijing followed up with the Third Communique with the US, in which assurances about a gradual reduction of arms sales were made. Now if you take all of these things at face value, they are logically contradictory. How can you promise to arm Taiwan while reducing arms sales? But I believe it that the US really thought they could manage it on both sides at the time, because they believed the military tension would decrease, and up till the early 1990’s, it was true.

    When things changed was not in 1996, but in 1989. What happened was the end of the Cold War and Tian’anmen Square as a component of that. Suddenly, the strategic balances changed. The US no longer needed China and in fact China became politically costly to “coddle”. That opened the door for the US to “promote democracy” around the world, which includes in Taiwan, and to tilt toward TRA over the Third Communique. Basically the US broke its promise to reduce arms sales and instead decided to beef up Taiwan (and the Dalai Lama and all the dissidents) against PRC as a bulwark in its new global order. Lee Teng-hui (much like Dalai Lama) seized this moment of weakness and isolation in the PRC and played his trump card to promote his own nascent political career. This process again did not start in 1996, but in 1992, when Lee walked away from the “1992 Concensus” and turned to cultivate Taiwan nationalism as an electoral strategy. What happened in 1996 was the symptom, not the cause.

    There would have been a spark in the powder keg for Taiwan independence regardless of whether China fired missiles in 1996. While that certainly changed a lot of Taiwanese minds and sped up the process, it also moved up the date of its inevitable decline as we see now. Nationalism is something that had to run its course. If it weren’t Abian, it would just have been some other politician to exploit the fears and populism.

  17. S.K. Cheung
    October 5th, 2008 at 07:04 | #17

    To Allen:
    I know people fancy making everything political if at all possible, and many Chinese get bent out of shape about symbolism. So I can see, for instance, not recognizing Taiwan in the UN, since, well, it ain’t a nation. So goes for euphemisms like Chinese Taipei at the Olympics. But the WHO stuff boggles me. I mean, Taiwan’s part of the world, aren’t they? Taiwanese have health concerns too, don’t they? Seems awfully petty to deny Taiwan a seat at that table.

  18. October 5th, 2008 at 08:12 | #18

    @SKC,

    Taiwan can easily get channels to the WHO through PRC – that has never been a problem. If ex Pres Chen was really interested in public health, PRC offered plenty of solutions. Instead, ex Pres Chen decided to go politiking. At the risk of oversimplifying, the problem only comes about when Taiwan demands it must be directly represented in the WHO as a sovereign nation.

  19. October 5th, 2008 at 09:42 | #19

    @SKC – The Harpoon is a sea-skimming anti-ship missile, similar to the Exocet or Silkworm, it’s obvious use would be in the destruction of a Chinese invasion fleet, so yes, it too can be called a defensive weapon. As a lot of other people have pointed out, these sales do little to affect the military balance in the Straits. A balance which is swinging the PRC’s way anyway, as spending on the PLA has increased by 11-18% year on year for the past decade at least, much of this being spent on an 1,000+ strong arsenal of short-range ballistic missiles and land-attack cruise missiles on the Mainland coast.

    @Allen – The majority of Taiwanese I know (and by this, I mean people born in Taiwan) have no love for the communist party and the PRC in general. I certainly have never met any who had anything good to say about them, and I think your opinions about how “China has behaved pretty responsible by laying out the rules pretty well” puts you in a distinct minority. I cannot remember one pole in which the number of people who favoured immediate re-unification with the mainland exceeded reached 10% – 3-5% maybe, but not more. As for China acting ‘responsibly’ toward Taiwan, I think most people would agree that denying 22 million people representation on the world stage because of mis-placed allegiance to a mystical concept of ‘one-China’ which only the PRC represents is a deeply irresponsible policy, one at odds with the more responsible paths of mutual engagement and recognition followed by East and West Germany, North and South Korea, and North and South Yemen. When, in the past thirty years, has Beijing actually exercised its claim to represent the people of Taiwan in their interest? What policies has it instituted which actually aided the Taiwanese people on the world stage? The situation pre-1979, where a dictatorship which ruled only a small part of the territory it claimed pretended to represent the world’s most populous nation, was a farce, but this farce has been continued in a different form by Beijing’s insistence that a corrupt and vicious communist dictatorship can represent a free and democratic community.

  20. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 10:04 | #20

    FOARP wrote:

    When, in the past thirty years, has Beijing actually exercised its claim to represent the people of Taiwan in their interest? What policies has it instituted which actually aided the Taiwanese people on the world stage?
    … but this farce has been continued in a different form by Beijing’s insistence that a corrupt and vicious communist dictatorship can represent a free and democratic community.

    +++++
    A country’s representation in the UN has nothing to do with its form of government. The organization was formed to include all countries and for them to fight out their differences there, so there is no ideological check on inclusion. That’s kind of the point of the UN.

    As for whether it is a farce or not, the same arguments have been made about Hong Kong and Macau, which are doing fine under One Country, Two Systems, the same as offered to Taiwan. Taiwanese already enjoy many perks on the mainland, but beyond that, one can’t theorize on how much Beijing might aid or represent the interest of Taiwanese on the world stage, if such offers have all been refused, for political reasons.

  21. October 5th, 2008 at 10:09 | #21

    @Nimrod – The so-called 1992 consensus was not recognised by the mainland until the start of this decade, and the ‘different interpretations’ interpretation of the ‘1992-consensus’ which the KMT touts is still not accepted by the PRC, Lee Teng-Hui had nothing to walk away from.

    Really, it is when you engage on issues like Taiwan that you see how little respect Chinese (small n) nationalists actually have for democracy and freedom of speech and opinion. A society in which the people are allowed to choose their leaders in relatively free and open elections is painted as a semi-colony of the US/Japan/insert-enemy-here. Democratically elected officials are represented by nationalists as trying to ‘grab power’ through a declaration of independence, even though such a declaration would not change the power of the president by one iota. Weird conspiracy theories about Japan are used as an excuse for a military build-up that can only have one objective – the use of force to coerce the Taiwanese people into accepting rule from Beijing. Opinions held by significant sections of the people are said to be the work of a ‘handful of separatists’.

    Here’s my advice on how to get real about Taiwan:

    1) Watch Taiwanese television – notice how rarely they mention the cross-strait issue compared to CCTV 1? That’s right, the vast majority of the Taiwanese people DO NOT CARE about re-unification.

    2) Read the Taiwanese newspapers – how many times do you see editorials calling for the PLA to invade Taiwan and ‘liberate’ them from the government that they themselves chose? That’s right, NEVER!

    3) Listen to how Taiwanese on the mainland talk about the mainland when they think nobody is listening. Do you here them saying that they wish Taiwan was as rich as Bengbu, Anhui province? What? No?

    4) How many people born in Taiwan serve on the People’s Congress? That’s right – none, the last one (a defector from the seventies) left his post a few years ago.

    5) Ask young Taiwanese who they most admire and compare their answers to those given by mainland Chinese – notice how the mainlanders all say Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, Deng Xiaoping etc. whilst the Taiwanese are far more likely to say Jay Chou or Wang Jianming? Maybe this is because the education in Taiwan is a little different and a lot less politicised than that on the mainland, and maybe you should realise that when some Taiwanese say they are for independence, it is not because they have spent their entire lives being told it should be so. Compare this to the mainland position.

    6) Notice how one side has repeatedly threatened to use force against the other? Do you think that the side which threatens aggression against a smaller adversary is usually in the right?

  22. October 5th, 2008 at 10:12 | #22

    @Nimrod – So your answer is ‘never’.

    “The organization was formed to include all countries and for them to fight out their differences there, so there is no ideological check on inclusion. That’s kind of the point of the UN.”

    By this line of argument, shouldn’t the ideological differences between the PRC and the ROC be set aside and the ROC be allowed to ‘fight out its differences’ with the PRC under peaceful conditions under the aegis of the UN?

  23. jack
    October 5th, 2008 at 11:00 | #23

    It is odd timing for USA to poke China in the eyes as US needs more than ever China’s cooperation and assistance in six-party talks and the ongoing financial and economic turmoil. It is speculated that US is counting on China to buy a large chunk of its newly issued 850bn debts.

    If you observe Chinese politics closely, you would know President Hu is not a figure to be pushed around. His style and characters are much more like Deng Xiaoping’s than his predecessor’s. The 6bn arms sales, if confirmed by US congress, would be the largest of its kind since the sale of 160 f-16A/B fighters in the 1990s. So it is a big deal, financially or symbolically.

    If the deal sail through US congress, it will surely stir up anger and nationalism throughout China. Angry people will call for someone’s head, and with Hu at the helm, I can assure you there will be blood.

  24. MoneyBall
    October 5th, 2008 at 12:23 | #24

    @FOARP

    What’s up with these gibberish mumbling bumbling 6 advices? no mainlander has the hallucination that ppl of Taiwan want to come back to motherland tomorrow, we dont need a not-so-bright foreigner like you to enlighten us so. No Taiwanese should have the hallucination that China will let them break off freely either, majority of ppl on both side understand it’s the best for everybody to keep the status quo.

    Taiwan has every reason to buy whatever weaponery they want. China has every right try to block each and every one of it. That’s not the point, the point of discussion is the reason and timing of this move from the perspective of US, and the would-be reaction of China. Do you see any chinese in this thread started to rant the big bad USA? it is ppl like you who need to drop the big bad commie China mentality, if you want to contribute anything useful to this thread.

  25. jack
    October 5th, 2008 at 12:32 | #25

    @MoneyBall

    Well, I guess it is only a knee-jerk reaction.

  26. October 5th, 2008 at 12:45 | #26

    @Moneyball –

    “we dont need a not-so-bright foreigner like you to enlighten us so”

    Then why do you approve of your leaders when they act as if these things were true or might become true any time soon? Why is it that even Tang Buxi saw nothing wrong with using the possibility of a Japanese-backed neocon coup in Taipei as justification for a military buildup across the Strait? What is the point of this double-think?

    “Do you see any chinese in this thread started to rant the big bad USA?”

    I refer you to comment #16, as well as to the comments quoted in the original post.

  27. MoneyBall
    October 5th, 2008 at 14:02 | #27

    @FOARP

    “My” leader acted in what way? you mean like the western coaliation, including UK, declared they would be welcome as the liberators in Baghdad, and then caused 1 million Iraqis have died? I didnt know any taiwanese was killed by my leader’s action, do you? CCP knows what they want from TW, and what they CAN do, ok? if anybody needs a touch-base with the reality, it’s your own leador.

    Go compare comment #16 to those ridiculous — like a woman in a divorce court — 6 advices of yours. If you think they are equivalent, I have nothing else to say to you.

  28. October 5th, 2008 at 14:44 | #28

    @Moneyball – You quite obviously do approve of the PRC policy vis-a-vis Taiwan – are you denying this? China’s leaders may or may not be yours – I’ll admit that I was taking a bit of a liberty by presuming that you are a Chinese citizen, but you do seem to approve of their policy towards Taiwan. As for the rest, this is typical screed – ranting about Iraq on the flimsiest pretext, is Taiwan in the middle east or something? I don’t see the connection. My ‘advices’ were to those who want to actually get an idea of what Taiwanese people really think about the mainland, rather than listening to the usual Xinhua/CCP spiel about the place, which seems to continue with no reference to what the Taiwanese people actually think.

  29. TonyP4
    October 5th, 2008 at 14:52 | #29

    This is a stupid move on the US part.

    * It tells the Chinese spend more on weapons as you no longer have the upper hand. A weapon race should be avoided. We should spend more effort/money on food, housing, infrastructure so we and our next generation will have a better life. Weapons kill. Set the priority.

    I am also against Chinese or any country to build and distribute weapons.

    * It is OK to sell weapons to your enemy or your rebel. Hope China will not use this stupid argument to sell weapons to Iran and N. Korea (I’m sure they do it in some extend but not in the open).

    Do we have enough air fighters, missiles, nuclear bombs already?

    All who argue favorably to make more weapons and distribute them should go to hell where they belong. A thoughtful statement but will not make any friends. I was against sending soldiers to Iraq while 70% favored it (do not just blame Bush). There are enough tyrants. Should we spend 10 or so B on each of them a month?

    Any weapons from missile to the dirty bomb are no good to mankind.

  30. TonyP4
    October 5th, 2008 at 15:08 | #30

    My humble thoughts and I do not want to argue.

    * Taiwan will be invaded when there is crisis in the mainland. 1989 is a close incidence.

    * The more the weapons the Taiwan has, the more both sides of the strait suffer.

  31. Skylight
    October 5th, 2008 at 17:08 | #31

    @Allen

    I dont know much about the Taiwan issue, but is it correct that the view that Taiwan should be reunified immediately with P.R.China is only shared by 3-4% of Taiwanese as FOARP says?

  32. October 5th, 2008 at 17:36 | #32

    See this chart ( http://www.mac.gov.tw/english/english/pos/9708/9708e_1.gif ) on public opinions on cross-strait relations in Taiwan (Compiled by Mainland Affairs Council, Taiwan).

  33. RUMman
    October 5th, 2008 at 18:54 | #33

    @Allen(15),

    Why do you put quotation marks around the word Taiwanese?

    The ARE Taiwanese. There is no reason they can’t be Taiwanese AND Chinese. Most of them feel that way. Of course some (i.e. the aboriginals, new immigrants etc.) and Taiwanese only NOT Chinese.

    I find this putting quotation marks around the word Taiwanese very objectionable. It demonstrates complete narrow mindedness and an inability to show even the most basic civility.

    I mean really. . .just think of it in terms of meaning only Taiwan province if you must, and not referring to a state at all. You write Fujianese rather than “Fujianese”, right?

    Be nice to other people rather than insulting in petty insults, and probably other people will extend you the same courtesy.

  34. EugeneZ
    October 5th, 2008 at 19:02 | #34

    $6.4B translates into $300 for every man/woman/child on the island of Taiwan, if distributed to Taiwan’s people, would have been a sizable “economic stimulas package” that can create jobs on the island, which people really need right now. Instead, now the money is directed to purchase items which would just turn in to piles of rusted metal. This is the bottom line of this arms sales deal, leaving politics aside for a moment.

    The biggest losers are Tawan’s people. As for politics, Ma Yingjou can now use this arms pruchase as a means to defend himself against critics and argue that he is not simply selling out Taiwan to the Mainland.

    It does create an issue for the government of China and USA. China needs to respond appropriately, not too strong, but not too soft. I am sure politicians/diplomats will figure out this sort of things, as a laymen I am not in good position to suggest one way or the other since I do not have sufficient information.

    Personally I do not think there will be a war between Taiwan and China, nor between USA and China. Wars have been a fact of life throughout human history, but the idea of war is getting more and more outdated. The need is for people around the world to come together to solve problems that are of common interest such as climate change. Economic globalization and nuclear deterrence are two major reasons why I think that war is not a viable option anymore in solving world problems.

  35. RUMman
    October 5th, 2008 at 19:02 | #35

    @FOARP (21),

    Well said!

    When PRC citizens talk about Taiwan they almost invariably display virtually zero interest in Taiwanese perspectives, and almost no understanding of what actually goes on in Taiwan.

    I’ve got not problem with unification if that is what Taiwanese people want. As you say, the vast majority are not very interested in it at the moment.

    Moreover, what interest Taiwanese do display in the issue has to be placed in the context of the militaristic threats from China. Essentially the choice is unification versus murder at the hands of the PLA. Err. . . unification please?

  36. RUMman
    October 5th, 2008 at 19:09 | #36

    If the PRC would renounce the use of military force against Taiwan I’d be impressed.

    And I honestly think it could be an effective unification policy, besides being the morally correct course of action. Honestly, what nation threats those it considers to be its own citizens with military force?

    It would be maybe more of a Daoist approach.

    If Taiwan is truly a part of China then no force is necessary. If force is renounced Taiwanese will see China more as a genuine friend and less as a potential enemy. Let Taiwan come to China.

    But no, it would never work because the CCP needs enemies that can help it consolidate its own grip on power more than it needs what is best for Chinese people.

  37. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 20:16 | #37

    TonyP4 wrote:

    Taiwan will be invaded when there is crisis in the mainland. 1989 is a close incidence.

    +++++
    I know you don’t want to argue, but 1989 was not a close call. In 1989, nobody would have thought China would invade, even if it was in a position to do so. The two sides were just opening up to each other, old soldiers were visiting their relatives. In fact, many Taiwanese held vigils during six-four, and some there even fancied reunification was near by retaking the mainland…

  38. Nimrod
    October 5th, 2008 at 20:35 | #38

    RUMman wrote:

    If the PRC would renounce the use of military force against Taiwan I’d be impressed. And I honestly think it could be an effective unification policy, besides being the morally correct course of action.

    +++++
    And if the US would renounce the use of military force against China, I’d be even more impressed. Heck, let’s not even go that far. If the US would stop selling arms to Taiwan and to stop its military support of Taiwan, China would likely renounce the use of force against Taiwan in a heartbeat. This was the original intention of the Three Communiques. Something close to this was again broached by Jiang in the 1990’s, but of course it went nowhere — guess why. The issue of having military force involved is not a one-sided fault of China’s, so don’t pretend it is.

  39. TonyP4
    October 5th, 2008 at 20:56 | #39

    Nimrod, it will not be successful if every one expects to happen.

  40. cephaloless
    October 5th, 2008 at 20:58 | #40

    Regarding FOARP #21 and RUMman #35 and #36, just got to chime up in agreement. I see the same: taiwanese (or to be formal, citizens of ROC) don’t care about things across the straight, and PRC (government and citizens) not caring about individual opinions. (pardon my broad brush strokes here) Definitely look at what they want before assuming they want reunification.

    “If Taiwan is truly a part of China then no force is necessary.” I’ll use that as a lead-in to having faith in people (like how the residents of taiwan wants come back to the greater china eventually). Let taiwan(ROC) do it’s own thing, it’ll request annexation later if it wants to. So, it seems either the residents of taiwan would not be interested in joining the greater china, ever, or the PRC government has no faith in people choosing CCP to be in charge.

    And I’ll add something more. I’m not sure who said this now, maybe Lee Teng-hui, which rings true with respect to status quo: taiwan is already independent, it doesn’t need to declare independence. PRC needs to deal with the clearly separate ROC government (not KMT which is not the government although they are the ruling party right now), and whatever follows if the constitution changes, as an independent entity.

  41. Steve
    October 5th, 2008 at 21:06 | #41

    I figured throwing out a long comment would elicit responses, so I’ll try to reply as best I can to each one. To be honest, I don’t have any particular axe to grind for either side, so I’ll try to stick to what actually happened and hold off on opinions.

    @MoneyBall #11: The independence movement in Taiwan is independent of the US. I think it’s been pretty obvious that the US had strongly discouraged Chen’s stance on this issue and has put a lot of pressure behind the scenes for him to tone it down. The US practically came out for Ma in the last election, so they’ve been pretty consistent about this issue. Why bother selling weapons? The Taiwan Relations Act allows Taiwan to have defensive weapons to counteract offensive threats from China. The offensive threat is mostly tied to the 1000 or so ballistic missiles China has put into place across the Taiwan Strait over the last ten years, along with China’s general push to acquire a blue water Navy. I think it makes sense for China to develop a blue water Navy since it has such a long coastline but it is still an offensive threat so under treaty, the US has an obligation to supply defensive weaponry.

    @Carl #12: I believe the Apache helicopters will be used against offshore warships in case of attack, not in anti-tank role. There are different versions of Apaches for different scenarios. I actually used to sell instrumentation on their pitot tube systems (to determine air speed, I’ve had a varied and interesting career) and their onboard technology can be adapted to meet different threats.

    @Allen #15: Allen, thanks for the comments. All I can speak from is my personal experience, which in this instance echoed FOARP’s when I lived there. Our divergence might be if you spent most of your time in Taipei, which is where most of the old KMT resides and has the vast majority of the pro-reunification crowd. The further south you go in the island, the more truthful my comments are. I’ve been very critical of Chen’s administration, which to me sounded like a South Park movie but instead of “blame Canada” it was always “blame China”. But I am curious about a couple of your remarks and would be interested in a better explanation. In what way was the missile issue exaggerated? Do you feel those missiles were not put there to intimidate Taiwan? If not, what is their purpose? How has it been sensationalized? I assume the “irresponsible political acts” you imply are Chen’s threats of independence. Is that correct? If not, what other political acts are you referring to? You might have elaborated about this in the past but I’m still pretty new to this blog so I apologize I’m asking you to repeat something you’ve already written about.

    @Nimrod: Thanks again for all your comments. I’d add a couple of points to what you brought up, just to fill out the history. As you said, Nixon’s deal with China was before the Act, but what should be mentioned was that China was willing to allow Taiwan a seat in the UN in exchange for UN recognition and the Security Council seat, but Jiang Jieshi turned this down. Once that opportunity was lost, China saw no need to allow it to happen and has remained consistent since then to bar Taiwan’s entry. The Taiwan Relations Act was instigated by Congress and not the Carter administration, so I don’t think it was necessarily duplicitous since the State Department had no say in its passage.

    Gradual reduction in arms sales was dependent on both sides maintaining the status quo. When China started its ballistic missile program, it upset the balance and therefore no reduction followed. This can also be looked at as modernization and not increase, since technology doesn’t stand still. I admit that is playing with nuance, but that’s what negotiation and diplomacy are all about. You also have to realize that the Third Communiqué is not a treaty, and has no legal status. The Taiwan Relations Act is a treaty and has validity under the law. It’s to China’s benefit to spin the Communiqué from a PR standpoint so I understand their thinking by mentioning it all the time, but the difference between that and a treaty are enormous.

    I have to differ with you about the beginning of democracy in Taiwan. My brother in law was elected to the Provincial Assembly in 1978 as an independent, since no opposition parties were allowed under the military dictatorship. In 1986, opposition parties were allowed de facto and that is the date of the formation of the DPP, of which my brother in law was a founding member. The party was started as the party of increased freedom and democracy, not of independence. This happened before the end of the cold war and was under the rule of Jiang Jingguo. The 1992 Consensus was just that, a consensus and not a treaty. Different administrations are not bound by a consensus but they are bound by treaty unless revoked by law, so it’s a bit of a red herring. You might say Lee exploited nationalism but others might say he represented it. I’m not in any position to say who is correct since I’m not Taiwanese but I still believe those missiles were the single biggest act in creating a sense of nationalism. I can still vividly remember the reaction at the time and since I like to study politics, it captured my attention. You might not remember, but there was a panic on the streets of Taipei and a big rush by many people to leave the island. Because those so eager to leave were predominately the ’49 mainland Chinese, it created a huge resentment among Taiwanese that they were just carpetbaggers and had no love of the island.

    @Allen #18: If I remember correctly, during the SARS scare, Taiwan asked the PRC to share medical information but did not get a prompt response, and felt the PRC politicized the situation rather than attend to its responsibilities as Taiwan’s representative at the WHO. Was this caused by the PRC’s resentment towards the Chen administration? Possibly… but the end effect was to once again build resentment among Taiwanese. What could have been a positive development among Taiwanese towards the mainlanders was misplayed into what was felt as another slap to the face, again under the Jiang regime.

    @Nimrod #20: “As for whether it is a farce or not, the same arguments have been made about Hong Kong and Macau, which are doing fine under One Country, Two Systems, the same as offered to Taiwan.” This one drives Taiwanese nuts! I’m sure FOARP would second this from his time spent there. Taiwan does not consider itself to have anything in common with either Macao or Hong Kong. They were not controlled by European governments, they rule themselves and are extremely proud of their democracy, and they have a much larger population and a completely different history. Until the PRC addresses the needs of the Taiwanese and not compare them to other areas, their chances for success will be severely limited.

    @jack #23: And as you predicted: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/10/05/world/asia/05taiwan.html?_r=1&ref=asia&oref=slogin I believe you are correct in that this indignation is for domestic consumption. But the one thing I have learned about China is that the government is excellent at controlling the behavior of its own people, so I doubt Hu’s head will be disconnected from the rest of his body anytime soon.

    @TonyP4 #30: “*Taiwan will be invaded when there is a crisis in the mainland. 1989 is a close incidence.” This comment reminded me that the Argentinean military did exactly the same thing in the Falklands War. They were very unpopular at home so they figured a quick, easy war for a few islands that Britain would never defend would be an easy way to shore up their support. Oops! I’m sure the Chinese leadership has thought about the risks of this kind of strategy.

    @admin #32: Thanks for the chart. Unification now or later runs around 10% total, which has been pretty consistent for years.

    @EugeneZ: Isn’t that a rather specious argument? Can’t you say the same thing about spending for the Chinese military, or for the cost of the Olympic Games? With Taiwan’s GDP per capita approximately six times higher than China’s, I have to disagree with you on this. However, I agree that military spending for weapons that will probably never be used is just eventually creating piles of rusted metal. I also don’t think there will be a war between China and Taiwan, providing there isn’t enough incentive for one side to push it along. For peace in the Strait, Taiwan needs to not declare independence, but also needs to have enough defensive weaponry so China isn’t tempted into war and potential disaster.

    @Nimrod #38: You bring up a good point. But it is not in China’s interest to renounce the use of military force against Taiwan. It is not in the US’s interest to stop selling arms to Taiwan. It is not in Taiwan’s interest to reunify with China at this time. Countries do what is in their national interest. Sometimes that makes the allies and sometimes that puts them on opposite sides of an issue. You are correct; it is not one sided at all.

    Note: Because of Taiwan’s very restrictive visa rules in the past, virtually no mainland Chinese have ever visited the island, though a huge number of Taiwanese have been to China. Recently that has begun to change, but it’ll take a long time before there is any type of reciprocity between cultures. I’ve lived in China and I’ve lived in Taiwan. Personally, I liked China better because the culture, especially its directness, fit better with who I am as a person. It was easier for me to relate to people there, and my friendships were much stronger. But a guy like FOARP who lived there has a much deeper understanding of Taiwan thought and culture than someone who’s never lived there, whether Chinese or not. You might not agree with what he says, but please respect his opinion. One thing we both agree on is that past Chinese diplomatic strategy has not been effective in wooing the Taiwanese people and has brought no movement towards reunification, regardless of where you stand on this issue.

    One last note: There seem to be an awful lot of Democrat supporters contributing to this blog. Did you know that the US Democratic Party has an alliance with the DPP in Taiwan, and that the Republican Party is allied with the KMT? Hope that didn’t ruin your weekend…

  42. October 5th, 2008 at 21:10 | #42

    @Nimrod – You mean like when the US renounced military action in defence of South Vietnam? The results of democracies making unilateral declarations of military non-intervention in the face of communist dictatorships have not been great.

  43. cephaloless
    October 5th, 2008 at 21:11 | #43

    FYI, an act of congress is law while a communique is a memo. Of course that doesn’t mean a communique doesn’t have diplomatic consequences but it does mean a sitting president could get his head bitten off if he treats an act of congress as “just a piece of paper.”

  44. Raj
    October 5th, 2008 at 21:29 | #44

    Nimrod, it’s interesting you say Chinese think the US slapped Wen in the face because he promised Chinese help. I heard that he suggested it might happen, but the reality on the ground was that the Chinese banks had been ordered NOT to bail out the US banks. Another example of Chinese being told the story Beijing wants them to hear?

    But re your question on Ma and his popularity, he said even before he became president that he supported the purchase of these weapons. It’s not as if Taiwan can protect itself with just goodwill.

    A communique is a statement of intent by the government of the time. It is not a treaty or legally binding document. So if a subsequent government sells arms to Taiwan, it can. Also China was supposed to stop building up its missile programme, but it didn’t do that. Why should the US stop selling arms first? Perhaps China should dismantle its stockpiles as a sign of good faith first.

    =====

    Moneyball, I’m not surprised you brought up Iraq. Chinese frequently do eventually when any foreigner talks about Taiwan. You seem to discount the possibility that any American, European or whatever would disagree with the war……

    =====

    RUMman makes a good point. Why do Chinese talk about “Taiwanese”? Do they talk about “Cantonese” or “Fujianese”? Guys, that’s the best way to piss Taiwanese off. Recognise them for who they are – people with a special identity. You won’t get them to come around to your POV if you refuse to accept them as being individuals.

    =====

    EugeneZ, the US has shown us that tax rebates and “economic stimulus” packages do not work. You also don’t seem to understand that Taiwan doesn’t pay for everything in one go. It makes payments over a number of years as work progresses. So even if all that money were given to Taiwanese families, it wouldn’t make much of a difference.

    Regardless of this, countries who are threatened like Taiwan is have to make sacrifices to afford better militaries. If China doesn’t want Taiwan to buy arms, it could do with getting rid of its huge missiles stockpiles and renouncing war as a means of resolving the Taiwan problem. It wouldn’t mean they couldn’t use war, but at least it would help build trust.

  45. RUMman
    October 5th, 2008 at 23:13 | #45

    @Nimrod(38).

    The US renouncing military force against the PRC and the PRC renouncing military force against Taiwan are two totally different situations.

    The US does not claim PRC citizens are US citizens. The PRC does claim Taiwan citizens are PRC citizens.

    The irony lies in the fact that the PRC is threatening its own citizens.

    So I’ll repeat myself: If the PRC would renounce the use of force against Taiwan (whose people it claims are its own citizens), I’d be impressed. For as long as it threatens force its claims about Taiwanese being PRC citizens ring very hollow, and Taiwanese know it.

  46. Jerry
    October 6th, 2008 at 00:04 | #46

    @Nimrod

    The Wolfman has returned and he has his fingerprints all over this arms deal. He is the prime motivating US driver for this sale. I saw the article below the other day before you started this OP.

    America’s most pre-eminent Israel-Firster and Neocon par excellence, Paul Wolfowitz, is back. Like he was ever gone.

    Wolfowitz, among many duties, was ambassador to Indonesia during Suharto’s reign, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy for Prez GHWB, co-founder (with Donald Rumsfeld, former Secretary of Defense for Prez GWB) of the neocon think tank, “Project for the New American Century”, Deputy Secretary of Defense for Prez GWB and the President of the World Bank (from which he left in disgrace). Wolfowitz has added two new titles now. First he was named Chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board and now is Chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council.

    Here is a snippet from an Asia Times article and a link to the complete article.

    Greater China

    Oct 3, 2008

    Wolfowitz up to more mischief?

    By Jim Lobe

    WASHINGTON – Just 15 months after being forced to resign as president of the World Bank over a conflict of interest regarding his professional and personal relationship with his girlfriend, former deputy defense secretary Paul Wolfowitz may be involved in another, far more geostrategic conflict of interest.

    It involves his dual roles as chairman of the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board (ISAB) and chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council. Among the latter’s US members are military contractors who have been dying to get the George W Bush administration’s approval to sell about US$11 billion worth of arms to the island to protect it against the threat of an attack by the mainland.

    US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appointed Wolfowitz as chairman of the arms-control advisory panel – apparently as part of the campaign to secure the appointment of Eliot Cohen to become to her counselor at the State Department, to co-opt neo-conservatives – in January this year.

    Like the Defense Policy Board, the ISAB became a stronghold for all manner of national security hawks under Bush, with former under secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Robert Joseph, James Woolsey, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and former defense secretary James Schlesinger among its members.

    It also is joined by missile-defense devotees associated with the Center for Security Policy, the National Institute for Public Policy and Southwest Missouri State University as well as executives from the arms industry – Lockheed, Boeing, and Science Applications International Corp (SAIC), to name a few. …

    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/JJ03Ad01.html

    I just thought that you might like to know. Very interesting, hmmm … the games they play behind the scene. That is why they say in D.C., “When in doubt, follow the money!”

  47. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 02:08 | #47

    Lots to respond to …

    On the TRA, a few points:
    1. Of course it’s duplicitous. If it was passed as law, then Carter signed it.
    2. Some of you have mentioned the power or duration of Communiques vs. laws. Give me a break. Laws are not holy. They can be struck down or repealed, too. This particular law — several administrations have noted that it infriges upon the Executive Branch’s exclusive power to conduct foreign policy. Also a law is not a treaty and the TRA is not a treaty — somebody here wrote that it was, that’s wrong. In fact, Congress cannot make treaties, only ratify them.
    3. To China, diplomacy is with the State Department. Diplomatic relationship was built on the basis of the Communique’s, all other things are internal politicking, laws or whatever you call it — who cares? If a contradiction arises, is it supposed to be an excuse? Let’s see this for what it really is: blatant interference in another country’s affairs backed by military force. It’s not just that China finds it convenient to ignore the TRA, it has no fricking reason not to! If China made a Hawaii Relations Act, does it suddenly become the international norm? Not if it isn’t backed up by military force. “Law” merely adds a sheen of respectability to naked self interest. The notion that some internal “law” of the US legally applies to other parts of the world is a pretty bold claim — it even smacks of imperialism. If you can defend that position without shame, then please don’t be hypocritical when evaluating China.

    Renouncing the use of force:
    Look, nobody wants a war, but that doesn’t mean the use of force should be renounced. Don’t nit-pick over what objectives the US is trying to achieve with China vs. what objectives China wants to achieve with Taiwan. Those are not that relevant. The reason why countries do not renounce the use of force is exactly the same: to defend what they see as their own interests. I don’t see why different standards should apply to China vs. anybody else.

    China was supposed to do X in exchange for reduction of arms:
    No, there was no such thing. If you read the Third Communique, it was quite explicit on the American intentions, which the US stopped upholding as soon as the Cold War ended. I’m not looking for the culprit here — don’t misunderstand me — I’m only trying to clear up the history. By all accounts, up to the early 1990’s, China had but a minimum deterrent for self-preservation and was way behind the capabilities of Taiwan. At the same time, Deng held up his side of the bargain of making peaceful entreaties with Taiwan (of course Jiang Jingguo would have none of it). What probably neither China nor the US expected was the sudden end of the Cold War, and when that happened, things changed within the US, its strategies changed quite drastically and unilaterally as I mentioned in a prior post. One of the things it did was to sell more arms to Taiwan. Then China adapted to the new reality, and after the wakeup call of 1996, went to Plan B and built up a credible force against Taiwan for the singular objective of preventing it from declaring independence (quite apart from any goals of reunification). It succeeded in this, but as an inevitable and unfortunate consequence, made reunification much more distant.

    One Country Two Systems and Taiwan:
    True, something else needs to be worked out. I have no idea what form a “reunification” — if it were to happen — would look like. Actually, I am confident that left to their own devices, the two sides are fully capable of putting aside hostilities and ideologies to resolve things creatively. People in the mainland and Taiwan are all pragmatic people at our core. The one variable that has always screwed things up is outside intervention, because it distorts incentives away from cooperation.
    I was amused that somebody brought up Vietnam as a counter-example. The fact that the US and Vietnam have normal relations today is “a slap to the face”, if you will, on those who believed in intervention — what did the Vietnam War achieve? Absolutely nothing. And look, the sky did not fall.

  48. MoneyBall
    October 6th, 2008 at 02:42 | #48

    @Steve

    The reason I said “why bother selling weapons”, is that some posters said if China doesnt plan to invade, she should not care this package, which I find self-serving and insincere.

    Like I said, “Taiwan has every reason to buy whatever weaponery they want. China has every right try to block each and every one of it. That’s not the point, the point of discussion is the reason and timing of this move from the perspective of US, and the would-be reaction of China.”

    I agree with you 100% on ” it is not in China’s interest to renounce the use of military force against Taiwan. It is not in the US’s interest to stop selling arms to Taiwan. It is not in Taiwan’s interest to reunify with China at this time.” The question is , is it in everybody ‘s interest to do this NOW?

    @Raj,

    I m not discounting possibility that any American, European or whatever would disagree with the iraq war, but you, certainly are NOT one of them given your posting history in pekingduck, and yet you have the balls to jump out as a peace loving angel here?? Go back to that China hating nut dungeon.

    @RUMman,

    Stop sounding restarded, PRC do not claim Taiwan citizens are PRC citizens, PRC claim that island is China’s territory.

  49. S.K. Cheung
    October 6th, 2008 at 03:38 | #49

    To Moneyball:
    “PRC do not claim Taiwan citizens are PRC citizens, PRC claim that island is China’s territory” – and what does the PRC call the garden variety run-of-the-mill person living on Chinese territory?

  50. S.K. Cheung
    October 6th, 2008 at 03:39 | #50

    To Nimrod:
    “The reason why countries do not renounce the use of force is exactly the same: to defend what they see as their own interests. I don’t see why different standards should apply to China vs. anybody else.” – you’re right. They shouldn’t. So why are Chinese getting frothy about the arms sale?

  51. Steve
    October 6th, 2008 at 03:46 | #51

    @Nimrod #47: It’s a bit more complex that you painted it. When Carter changed diplomatic status, he did so after signing a bill requiring that he would consult both parties in Congress before making any changes. This he did not do. Congress was furious,and a bipartisan consensus was created almost immediately including virtually every member of both parties.

    The TRA in reality was a treaty imposed by Congress through legislative action. In Congressional annals, it is considered an extraordinary piece of legislation. In it was the language “threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific” which language was also used in the United Nations Charter, especially Article VII which deals with acts of aggression. The statement that peace and stability in the area are international concerns underlines the link to Article VII and directly contests the PRC contention that the question of use of force against Taiwan is an internal matter. Did Carter care about Taiwan? Not at all, his people only cared about using China as a counterweight to the Soviets and would have let China take over Taiwan without interference. Carter wanted to and would have vetoed the bill but was told that the votes in the House (339-50) and Senate (85-4) would override his veto, so in the end he signed it.

    Are there obvious contradictions between the three communiques and this bill? Absolutely! Carter blew it and many of your points are conpletely correct. Can this law be repealed? Sure, it could be repealed tomorrow, but there has never been support in Congress to repeal it.

    You mentioned the executive branch’s exclusive power to conduct foreign policy. That one ebbs and flows. Under G.W. Bush, having a pliant Republican Congress allowed him to stretch that power to historic highs. Now that the Democrats control Congress, those days are over. Using a strict interpretation of the Constitution, which happens to drive the Scalia contingent, I doubt the Supreme Court would be inclined at this time to rule in favor of unlimited presidential power in foreign policy.

    The TRA is not an international norm, it just covers the relationship between the USA and Taiwan. Comparing it with Hawaii is pretty extreme. Taiwan is de facto independent, as anyone can see. It has its own currency, government, military and administration. Saying it is an “internal affair” is convenient for China in pressing its points, but not very realistic in terms of the actual state of affairs. The TRA doesn’t legally apply to anywhere except the United States. It directs foreign aid and policy towards Taiwan. If Taiwan was truly an internal affair of China, the government, military, customs and administration would all be controlled today by the PRC. Taiwan is an exception in today’s world, so claiming that it is the same as say, Gansu province is a bit disingenious, isn’t it? China claims the Spratly Islands, which sit between Vietnam and the Philippines. Is that international law? No, it’s China’s law, and currently as valid as claims by any other nation. Saying the TRA is imperialist would imply that the United States controls Taiwan, runs its government, etc. Would you say Chinese policy towards Myanmar is imperialist because China has extensive trade and diplomatic relations with them? Is selling arms to the Sudan considered imperialist? I don’t think so. I think China’s situation in both Myanmar and the Sudan are both considered to be in China’s best interests by her government.

    I agree with you completely on renouncing the use of force. The threat of force is and has always been a diplomatic and negotiating tool in foreign policy.

    I think the sale of arms to Taiwan and/or Chinese military buildup is kind of a chicken/egg thing. Each claims it was responding to the other’s provocation. However, I think the direct result of China’s military buildup across from Taiwan was a feeling in Taiwan of being bullied and an increase in the support for independence. Again, chicken and egg. I agree with your final statement that this buildup lowered the possibility of Taiwan independence but decreased the chances for reunification.

    Nimrod, Iike I said before, I don’t have any particular axe to grind on this issue, I just think it’s interesting to analyze and appreciate your insight and comments. I’m not going to defend the US government as always being correct. I happen to think that G.W. Bush is the worst president of my lifetime (and I never thought anyone could top Carter) and with this financial meltdown, I’d now put him below James Buchanan as the worst president in the history of the USA. He has made myriad mistakes in both domestic and foreign policy and his administration (excepting Powell) has been consistently incompetent and unpredictable. Thank God we only have three more months until he’s gone. But I am surprised that you won’t also say the same thing about Jiang Zemin’s Taiwan policy. Time has shown it to have been a complete disaster and the Hu administration seems to have recognized this and changed tacks, where the relationship is now the best it’s been in many years. Why is it so hard to admit this?

  52. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 03:47 | #52

    S.K. Cheung,

    Some are getting “frothy” only to the extent that they feel China should have a more robust response to defend her interests. Nobody is writing letters to Congress or the UN to complain — like some Taiwan independence activists have done due to feeling they were owed something.

  53. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 03:53 | #53

    Steve wrote:

    But I am surprised that you won’t also say the same thing about Jiang Zemin’s Taiwan policy. Time has shown it to have been a complete disaster and the Hu administration seems to have recognized this and changed tacks, where the relationship is now the best it’s been in many years. Why is it so hard to admit this?

    +++++
    I and many people have great reservations about Jiang’s Taiwan policy. My view is he was two steps behind the times. He should have adapted more quickly to Taiwan and Lee Teng-hui, made deals in 1992, and not let China be pushed into a corner where it had to use force to deter Taiwan independence and create Taiwan nationalism. That much I recognize. But he did adapt on the US side on defense, especially after 1996, better late than never. That is my take on it.

    Also, I appreciate your other points and I agree with many of them.

  54. S.K. Cheung
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:01 | #54

    To Nimrod:
    “they feel China should have a more robust response to defend her interests” – this is also reasonable. But this reminds me of the days of nuclear proliferation, when each side had arsenals capable of wiping out the other side X times over. China already is capable of overrunning Taiwan X times over. This sale doesn’t change that arithmetic. So again, this boils down to “symbolism” and “face”? China must have started out with a huge face, since she keeps losing bits here and there, but yet the sun still rises from the east the next day.

  55. Jerry
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:01 | #55

    @Nimrod

    Your original question was “US arms sales to Taiwan “a slap to Wen Jiabao’s face”?”

    You then preceded to quote a Chinese blogger (I assume):

    While the echoes of Premier Wen’s words at the UN exhorting the world to stand with the US and save the markets still ring, the US government announced $6 billions worth of arms to Taiwan … As one who loves my country, I don’t understand China’s foreign policy and Taiwan policy. For decades, the US repeatedly used arms sales to play the Chinese on the two sides … why does our mainland government not have any effective means to check the US government’s thuggish behavior? These things happen time and time again; does it mean that we Chinese, or the Chinese government, is really a weak pushover?

    America has no doubt made some clever calculations. Using arms sales to Taiwan, she can constrain the mainland’s development and get huge political profits from the Strait issue, and can extort money from the mainland using the Taiwan card … Are Chinese really that stupid?

    Wen Jiabao knew that Wolfowitz was appointed to the chairmanship of the ISAB in January and the chairmanship of the USTBC in May. He knows Wolfowitz’s reputation. Then, when you add the fact that Hank Paulson, Treasury Secretary, now has the power to buy “toxic assets” from Chinese counterparty banks, thanks to the bailout bill, a bigger picture emerges. There are machinations behind the scene to which we are not privy.

    My answer to you is that Wen is very savvy and pragmatic. The Chinese blogger is an ideologue. He/she is very naïve and gullible. This simplistic “West is a clever devil” kind of thinking is very good cover for Wen. I am sure Wen appreciates it. But I doubt that he engages in that kind of thinking.

  56. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:06 | #56

    Jerry, I’m sure you are right. “Slap on the face” is not my personal view, but as part of the post, I wanted to give airtime to what people think on the street.

  57. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:10 | #57

    S.K. Cheung wrote:

    China already is capable of overrunning Taiwan X times over. This sale doesn’t change that arithmetic. So again, this boils down to “symbolism” and “face”?

    +++++
    This boils down to principle, for some. I don’t see what’s so difficult here. Also I thought somebody already addressed this: if it were a trivial sale, then one could equally ask “why have it” as “why not have it”.

  58. Steve
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:20 | #58

    @MoneyBall #48: I just caught your comments. Sorry, I might have misunderstood your original statement. To answer your question, I can only guess about the timing, but my feeling is that the USA did not want China to lose face by announcing this package before or during the Olympics or Para-Olympics, and now that they are both complete the timing is better. Why would the US want Taiwan to buy this arms package? Many have mentioned the lobbying by US arms manufacturers and I’m sure that plays a role. But another consideration is that right now, Americans are none to eager to protect Taiwan with the lives of our sons and daughters, especially if they feel Taiwan is not willing to protect itself. This arms sale might help alleviate that perception but in the current political climate, I sincerely doubt it.

    The reaction of China is of course negative. They don’t want Taiwan to have more sophisticated weapons since it partially negates their military and missile buildup. They also have to cater to public opinion, which strongly wishes for reunification and would probably revolt if China allowed Taiwan to become independent.

    Your final question asks if it is in everyone’s interest now. Are you asking if China renounces military force and dismantles its missiles aimed at Taiwan and the US no longer sells weapons to Taiwan, would Taiwan reunify with China at this time? Again, this is an opinion but I can’t see Taiwan voluntarily reunifying with a non-democratic government. I can’t think of any examples in the history of the world where a democratic government voluntarily gave up its democracy and placed itself under the control of a totalitarian government. I think the idea, though noble, is a bit pie in the sky. As China changes in the future, I think the idea of unification might appear more advantageous than the present time. China still has to sell the Taiwan people on the benefits of unity, and the threat of force isn’t a very compelling reason.

    Thank you, Jerry, for that link. I thought it was interesting that the article mentions that in the draft it says:

    “In China’s view, Taiwan is the key to breakout: If China is to become a global power, the first step must include control of this island. Taking over the island would allow China to control the seas near its coasts and to project power eastward …

    China views Taiwan … as central to “the legitimacy of the regime and key to power projection”, the report said. Taiwan is seen by China as a way to deny the United States a key ally in “a highly strategic location” of the western Pacific, it adds … The advisory panel report also recommended that the US increase sales of advanced conventional forces to allies in Asia … ”

    This is how governments actually look at these things. Chinese military and government leaders are looking at geopolitical strategy, not reuniting with their Taiwanese “compatriots”. That’s for public consumption. Taiwan is a major strategic asset, an unsinkable aircraft carrier giving them an additional 1000 km or so projection of power into the western Pacific Ocean. It also has a vibrant high tech economy, but that is a secondary consideration if you look at the world in hundred year increments.

  59. S.K. Cheung
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:22 | #59

    To Nimrod:
    I’m all for a principled stance. But if, as you say, people should be allowed “to defend what they see as their own interests.”, then surely, that principle should be extended to the US and Taiwan, as well as CHina.

    As I said earlier, the Apaches part is curious. But do the Chinese begrudge Taiwanese the ability to maintain what they already have (ie parts of their fighters). For if we’re all for maintaining the status quo, and Taiwan shouldn’t buy anything new, then will China also not expand its military, and not replace aging missiles pointing across the Strait with new ones, and not pursue naval expansion?

  60. RUMman
    October 6th, 2008 at 04:55 | #60

    @Nimrod

    The reason I’m suggesting different standards should be applied to China viz a viz the use of force is because China claims Taiwanese as its citizens. I don’t think threatening to attack your own citizens is the done thing.

    Also, for as long as China continues to threaten the use of force all survey data on Taiwanese opinions regarding independence versus status quo versus unification are a joke. You can’t gauge somebody’s true feelings if you interview them while pointing a gun at their head.

    So if the PRC wants genuine cross strait rhetoric and understanding, renounce the use of force. If the PRC just wants a forward air base, say “we want Taiwan as an air base and fuck what the Taiwanese want”.

    But please be honest about it.

  61. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 05:12 | #61

    RUMman,

    Don’t twist not having renounced the use of force into threatening to attack. The only threats of attack come from Taiwan’s previous administration, which was so unprofessional that it issued boasts on taking out Shanghai and Hong Kong — talk about naivete!

    More to the point, the only case in which force might be involved is if Taiwan declared independence, in which case, would they not be loudly announcing they were not citizens and hence could do anything against the interests of the Chinese people? It’s best not to come to that, but if it did, it would not be illogical (though still undesirable) to use force. “Illogical” here is in the sense of your citizenship logic.

  62. Jerry
    October 6th, 2008 at 05:35 | #62

    @S.K. Cheung, #49, 50, 54, 59

    #49 LOL I hope they don’t consider me Chinese. 😀

    #50 Sometimes “frothiness” makes great political cover with the populace at home.

    #54 “So again, this boils down to “symbolism” and “face”?” Yes, and to pragmatic political cover. CYA in other words.

    #59 SK, I was going to joke (moving to another strait, Juan de Fuca) that Wolfowitz might talk about reactivating Fort Worden (outside of Port Townsend, WA.) and arming the fort with missiles pointing at Victoria and Vancouver Island. They also have Whidbey NB on Whidbey Island. Then I remembered that we actually have that capability with the Trident submarines based at Kitsap NB in Bangor, WA.

    Your comments are well stated. But there is a show, a dance played in public and the real game played sub rosa.

  63. S.K. Cheung
    October 6th, 2008 at 06:10 | #63

    To Jerry:
    isn’t that Bangor, Maine? Well, considering the sheer magnitude of the Canadian missile arsenal (ie we don’t have one), I think one missile pointing at our western shores ought to do the trick.
    I agree that most times, what we see is what they want us to see, or allow us to see. I certainly don’t have the life experience yet to be tapping into the subterfuge.

  64. Jerry
    October 6th, 2008 at 06:21 | #64

    @Steve, #58

    Steve, I saw those remarks, too.

    The article/blog says after those 2 paragraphs,

    Now, one has to be careful about anything that Gertz reports, particularly about China, as he is a charter member of the “Blue Team” – a group of hawkish policy specialists, congressional staff, and journalists which includes neo-con luminaries such as William Kristol and Robert Kagan and their Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

    Steve, you wrote:

    This is how governments actually look at these things. Chinese military and government leaders are looking at geopolitical strategy, not reuniting with their Taiwanese “compatriots”. That’s for public consumption. Taiwan is a major strategic asset, an unsinkable aircraft carrier giving them an additional 1000 km or so projection of power into the western Pacific Ocean. It also has a vibrant high tech economy, but that is a secondary consideration if you look at the world in hundred year increments.

    What Gertz wrote is mostly political propaganda, which is used to whip up the populace and further advance neocon goals. That is why when you write, “This is how governments actually look at these things”, I disagree. Bill Gertz, Paul Wolfowitz, Robert Joseph, James Woolsey, and James Schlesinger are very shrewd, intelligent strategists. Wolfowitz is downright Machiavellian. They are all very sophisticated when it comes to foreign policy. And they are part and parcel of the “military-industrial complex” (often attributed to the former president, Gen Dwight D. (Ike) Eisenhower). Their public writings are most often propaganda and marketing ploys. Political screeds, if you will.

    To sum it up, these guys are ideologues only when it suits their strategies. Wolfowitz is a member of AIPAC and an Israel-Firster because it makes it easier to bring politicians in line when they threaten arms shipments and payments to Israel. Also makes it easier for him to keep Israeli arms dealers and contractors on the US defense contractors list. He uses ideology as a whip to keep people in line.

    As I said earlier, “That is why they say in D.C., “When in doubt, follow the money!”” 🙂

  65. S.K. Cheung
    October 6th, 2008 at 06:29 | #65

    To Nimrod:
    “only case in which force might be involved is if Taiwan declared independence”- if, even with a Taiwan declaration of independence, use of force is still only a “maybe”, then if she declares no present or future desire to declare independence, then surely the case for a use of force would be absent, would it not? So maybe Taiwan should make such a statement, and China can make such a stipulation, the Taiwanese can save some $$$, Chinese can spare their knickers from getting all twisted, and the Yanks are short 6 bil. Talk about a win-win + US loses. If CCP believed in a heaven, it must resemble that, I would think.

    I think the one thing we agree on is that use of force against Taiwan would be a terrible thing. And I certainly hope it never gets anywhere near that.

    The irony, though, is that if China attacked after an independence declaration, she would in essence be declaring war on a (self-proclaimed) sovereign state. She’d probably need to drum up a coalition of the willing. WHereas right now, she’d only be forcefully retaking a “rogue” province. As CCP like to say, an “internal matter”. But again, I’m glad no one thinks like me….that’s a good thing.

  66. Raj
    October 6th, 2008 at 07:12 | #66

    Moneyball

    certainly are NOT one of them given your posting history in pekingduck

    Ah, my history that said the surge was a good thing? Yeah, that doesn’t mean I think it was a good idea to go to war in the first place. Or maybe you think that when you cause a mistake it’s better to cut and run rather than try to clean it up.

    and yet you have the balls to jump out as a peace loving angel here??

    Not sure where I said anything like that.

    Go back to that China hating nut dungeon

    Or you could allow people to express a view freely rather than try to censor them. Is this how people at the fools mountain debate things?

    At least at the Peking Duck, Richard allows people like you to post there.

  67. Jerry
    October 6th, 2008 at 07:36 | #67

    @S.K. Cheung, #63, 65

    #63

    Sorry, SK, it is at Bangor, WA on the Hood Canal. It is on the Kitsap Peninsula. 🙂

    I am sure that the people of Bangor, ME would be more than thrilled to host a sister base. I am sure that there are numerous defense contractors ready and willing to assist. Those same contractors would just be tickled to help the Canadians with their own Trident submarine fleet, bases and missiles galore. You could even use the subs up in the NW passage. And if you get bored, you could attack Alaska and help Palin gain more foreign policy experience. 😀 😛

    #65

    “Talk about a win-win + US loses. If CCP believed in a heaven, it must resemble that, I would think.” The best part is that US citizens win, too. US defense contractors, Wolfman, Condi, Shrub, neocons, Machiavellians, they all lose. And we have a better world. Sounds like a Peter Seller’s “The Mouse that Roared” type of solution. I like it. 🙂 Where is the late Peter Sellers when we need him? We should turn over foreign policy to him and the late Peter Ustinov. I miss those guys.

    “But again, I’m glad no one thinks like me….that’s a good thing.” Don’t be so sure about that. ROFL.

  68. BMY
    October 6th, 2008 at 08:27 | #68

    It is the very fact that there are two governments under the name of China.

    It has been proven that threatening and blocking were counterproductive.

    It is foolish to spend billions on something won’t do much help if there is a full scale of war .

  69. BMY
    October 6th, 2008 at 08:51 | #69

    Taiwan buys more , mainland China would build more. Then India, S.Korea ,Japan and Pakistan would follow the purchase from the U.S . The U.S wins.

  70. JC
    October 6th, 2008 at 09:36 | #70

    BMY, I think you have that the wrong way around. China started buying more weapons and increasing its defence budget by huge sums every year long before Taiwan got these weapons. I think I’m right in saying the Taiwanese defence budget actually shrunk in dollar terms and as a percentage of GDP for the first few years of President Chen’s first administration. Did China respond by slowing its budget increase? No, it just got faster.

    Moneyball, please keep it civil. Let’s discuss what people say rather than engage in name-calling.

  71. MoneyBall
    October 6th, 2008 at 10:12 | #71

    “Or you could allow people to express a view freely rather than try to censor them. Is this how people at the fools mountain debate things? At least at the Peking Duck, Richard allows people like you to post there.”

    @Raj,

    Dude you are such a liar, off all the people, you as one of the 2 admins of pekingduck, have the nerves preaching free speech and cencorship? how many posts and handles defending China have you and your little paranoid friend Richard banned and deleted? I myself got 2 handles banned, a dozen of posts deleted. How many times have you and Richard patronized, ridiculed, names-called posters defending China? have you seen any of the admins here done the samethng? And how many IPs do you and Richard remmember on top of your heads? totally amazing, each time I see you two smirkingly talk down to posters not to use new handle coz you know who they are, I wanna puke!

    You are not here to express a view, you are here because you are a sick hator, just like “not_sinophile” and half a dozen of others over that dungeon. We have a fairly civil and free debating environment here, which is extremly hard to find in cyberspace nowadays, cancers like you will ruin everything. I am not admin here, I m saying this for myself only. Please go away.

  72. BMY
    October 6th, 2008 at 10:12 | #72

    @JC,

    We can debate and trace the arm race back to 1927 when KMT and CCP broke up first time. But it is not my point that who started the race.

    My point is the tax payers with same bloodline cross the strait pay the bill and the U.S receives the cheque.

  73. October 6th, 2008 at 11:00 | #73

    I would say that if you look at Taiwanese public opinion, the arms package is an unpopular policy (I would say even those that support arms purchases aren’t happy with the deal Taiwan got eitherin terms of cost or type of goods).

    But both major parties also believe it to be politically necessary. It’s always easier for Taiwan to negotiate from a strong position than from a weak one, and whether you are interested in moving toward de jure independence or unification, it helps to have a credible deterrent to invasion.

    This is a lot like the checkbook diplomacy Taiwan uses to keep most of its (poor) allies around. Everyone thinks its a complete waste of money and a corrupt way of doing things that doesn’t change Taiwan’s real position in the world; but both parties realized Taiwan just can’t afford to let go of all its allies, either.

    So these are politically unpopular positions that the realpolitik establishment must still support.

    My two cents.

  74. JC
    October 6th, 2008 at 11:33 | #74

    BMY, all humans have the same bloodline even if some are closer to others. It would be lovely if we could live without weapons, but at the moment that seems impossible.

    An arms reduction would be welcome, but ass the larger military power only China can do that.

    One other thing, Russia benefits from China’s arms spending a lot like the US does from Taiwan’s.

    A-gu makes a good point. Certainly the arms package is controversial amongst the Taiwanese electorate. The KMT opposed it in opposition to make political capital out of it. They changed their tune last year when they realised they had a good shot at winning the election.

  75. Chops
    October 6th, 2008 at 11:53 | #75

    Looks like 51 Gold medals and Taikonauts in space still isn’t enough to sweep Taiwan off her feet to “marry” China.

  76. October 6th, 2008 at 13:11 | #76

    @Nimrod – I’ll write more, but this has to be the nuttiest thing that caught my eye:

    “I was amused that somebody brought up Vietnam as a counter-example. The fact that the US and Vietnam have normal relations today is “a slap to the face”, if you will, on those who believed in intervention — what did the Vietnam War achieve? Absolutely nothing. And look, the sky did not fall.”

    WHAT? You mean nothing like “Millions of people dieing in re-education camps, refugee camps, executed as class enemies and ‘traitors’, drowning in rickety boats or starving to death due to Mao-inspired ‘year zero’ economic policies, including thousands of ethnic Chinese” nothing. Pehaps you need to learn up a bit of history?

    An invasion of Taiwan by the PLA would almost certainly involve reprisals against at least the independence-orientated side of the political spectrum. It would strip the people of Taiwan of their human rights and democratic freedoms, and it is for exactly this reason that it must be resisted. It is odd that you should say that China’s military buildup on the other side of the strait only targets ‘independence forces’ (on second reflection, this is not so odd: this is exactly how Xinhua and the CCP describe them nowadays), however, we all remember Jiang Zemin’s ‘countdown to re-unification’, and his pronouncements about not being content with the status quo. Coupled with threats issued in 1996, it is no surprise that Taiwanese people reacted as they di, and the mainland has continued the military buildup under Hu..

    @Moneyball –

    “PRC do not claim Taiwan citizens are PRC citizens, PRC claim that island is China’s territory”

    Have you never heard of the Tongbao Zheng (Taiwanese compatriots certificates) that Taiwanese have to carry when they come to the mainland? ROC citizenship is not recognised by the PRC, and Taiwanese people are most definitely Chinese citizens according to the PRC government.

  77. Win-Win
    October 6th, 2008 at 16:40 | #77

    This deal is a WIN-WIN for the U.S. and China.

    U.S. gets to unload some weaponry, The PRC gets to use the ROC arms buildup and American intervention as justification to increase its budget some more next year.

  78. Hongkonger
    October 6th, 2008 at 16:51 | #78

    HISTORY repeating itself before our very eyes>Your money stolen right under your nose.

    A Speculator’s Seesaw Paradise :

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10397

    – by Michel Chossudovsky – 2008-09-30

  79. Steve
    October 6th, 2008 at 17:31 | #79

    @Jerry #64: A couple of comments and then a story I think you might enjoy…

    Military industrial complex? Check
    Incestuous relationships between government and contractors? Check
    Idiotic and disastrous foreign policy ideas from Neocons? Check

    I don’t disagree with you about Bush’s foreign policy people. My point was that regardless of country or ideology, governments make decisions based on their geopolitical goals and realities. China is trying to build a blue water Navy. Is that a bad thing? To a neocon, it is. To me, not so much since they have a very long coastline and need to protect it. Neocons want a world where only one country controls the world’s oceans and airspace, and guess which one? Not only would that bankrupt the USA, but it goes against classic American foreign policy of working with other nations as part of a coalition, and recognizing other nation’s spheres of influence. You can apply this same principle to the Russian situation in Georgia. Georgia has been under the Russian sphere of influence for centuries. Now Bush wants to bring Georgia into NATO. Of course Russia is going to protect their sphere of influence! Since 1989, NATO has moved from being a thousand miles away from St. Petersburg to being just a few miles away. I can understand eastern European countries wanting protection from Russia; memories of atrocities committed are still fresh in their minds. But how practical is it for NATO to get involved in a war where the Russian supply line is next door while ours would involve great distances. It’s nuts!

    Having said that, don’t you think the Chinese military and government want to extend their sway over the western Pacific by at least 1000 km? Wouldn’t they want to control the supply line between Japan and her raw material sources? Isn’t Taiwan an unsinkable aircraft carrier? Wouldn’t it be a major strategic asset to China in today’s world? The geopolitical facts don’t change, but the conclusion and direction from those facts are completely different with neocons than they would be with you or me. Yeah, these guys are smart, maybe too smart. But they seem not to take into consideration the consequences of their actions in terms of the lives of American soldiers who in the end are the ones who get stuck carrying out all their policies.

    Is there a military industrial complex in Russia? in China? Sure, and it’s just as incentuous as ours, maybe even more so, since government and industry are even less separate over there. That seems to be the way of the world. Eisenhower warned about it, but so far it seems no one can really control it. Personally, I think it should be illegal for a former military officer or congressman to work for a defense contractor, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.

    OK, enough pontificating, now for a story…

    After 9/11 but before the Iraq war, I was with an American customer drinking beer in Malone’s on Tongren Lu in Shanghai. When it was time for dinner, he suggested a taco stand near there. Taco stand in Shanghai, are you crazy? He said it was pretty good so we walked a block away and believe it or not, it actually was VERY good. So we’re eating tacos and drinking beers, our backs to the street as it was an open air shop, when three English guys walk up, start chatting with us and buying us beers. They invited us to come along with them to a bar so since we didn’t have plans, off we went.

    The bar was a dive hostess bar; not much to tell there. Two of the guys were in the “soccer hooligan” category, drinking and whoring kind of guys but the third guy was really interesting. He was with the British Consulate in Shanghai on the Economic side and was taking these businessmen out for the night. We both ended up being huge early Pink Floyd fans; Ummagumma, Meddle, Atom Heart Mother, Saucerful of Secrets era so had a nice conversation about music. I then asked him what he thought about American Foreign Service people. He said they were very professional, knew their stuff and were easy to work with. I then asked him what he thought about the Bush administration. Right away, he said they had a great respect for Colin Powell. As far as the others, he rolled his eyes and basically said he thought Cheney, Rumsfeld and the rest of them were yahoos. Well, when the Brits who are our best friends in the world think that our foreign policy people are nuts, that is NOT a good sign. Time proved him correct in his pronouncement.

  80. Steve
    October 6th, 2008 at 17:39 | #80

    @ FOARP #76: My wife has a Tongbao Zheng. I call it her third passport. She could have used her American passport in China, but the Tongbao Zheng is much cheaper with fewer constraints. I was the one who had to spend a night in HK every six months getting my multiple entry visa updated, not that I minded since HK is a fun place with great food, and had the only decent Italian restaurant I ever found in Asia.

  81. Raj
    October 6th, 2008 at 18:22 | #81

    Well, Money, if you tried to avoid the ban by posting under another name you only had yourself to blame. Richard normally lets people prove him wrong by letting them come back after a while. People get banned for how they express their views, not what they think. Richard has been accused of being a “panda hugger” (amongst other things) in the past, so I don’t accept your rather irrational dislike of him.

    I won’t leave a blog because of bullying from other people, so you can ignore me or respond to my comments on the relevant blog topic like a mature individual – your call.

    =====

    Win-Win, I can promise you that the PRC will increase its budget by the same amount it would have done had the deal been blocked. Note that it kept rising even when it was blocked in the Taiwanese legislative.

  82. October 6th, 2008 at 18:52 | #82

    @skylight #31,

    I dont know much about the Taiwan issue, but is it correct that the view that Taiwan should be reunified immediately with P.R.China is only shared by 3-4% of Taiwanese as FOARP says?

    There have been many informal polls, all of which I take with a grain of salt, but depending on the time and who it’s from, it can range from 5% to almost 20%. (The vast majority wants the status quo)

    @RUMman #33,

    Why do you put quotation marks around the word Taiwanese?
    ….
    Be nice to other people rather than insulting in petty insults, and probably other people will extend you the same courtesy.

    Ok – relax… Peace. Gosh even my father-in-law or my Buddy’s uncle, Su Tseng-chang (the one that was going to be Chen’s next-in-line until Su distanced himself from Chen when DPP’s first corruption charges arose over two years ago), do not talk to me like that. FYI – I was born to a Taiwanese family (been on the island for over 300 years) in Taiwan, grew up in Taiwan, still visits Taiwan regularly, loves Taiwan, have most of my family members (95%+) still in Taiwan, etc., etc., etc.

    As for your observation that many people in Taiwan can consider themselves both Taiwanese and Chinese, I whole-heartedly agree. That’s how I was raised – and that’s who I am. I put the quote “Taiwanese” to bring the special context I was using it – to refer to the people who take “Taiwanese” as a political term aimed at creating a Taiwanese identity at the exclusion of the Chinese identity.

    @Steve #41,

    But I am curious about a couple of your remarks and would be interested in a better explanation. In what way was the missile issue exaggerated? Do you feel those missiles were not put there to intimidate Taiwan? If not, what is their purpose? How has it been sensationalized? I assume the “irresponsible political acts” you imply are Chen’s threats of independence. Is that correct? If not, what other political acts are you referring to? You might have elaborated about this in the past but I’m still pretty new to this blog so I apologize I’m asking you to repeat something you’ve already written about.

    Regarding the missile issue, I was in Taiwan at the time. I remember the run at the bank as well as the attempt by many to stash food (rice, can food, water, etc.) in their house. It was a tumultuous time.

    However at the same time, it was the media that created the frenzy in my opinion. It’s one of those irrational crisis that disappeared from “Main Street” within a few weeks. Unfortunately, the political repercussions lasted as politicians continued to make a major issue out of it for political gain.

    As for the irresponsible political acts – yes I am talking about pro-independence – and ALL of its associated politics.

    If I remember correctly, during the SARS scare, Taiwan asked the PRC to share medical information but did not get a prompt response, and felt the PRC politicized the situation rather than attend to its responsibilities as Taiwan’s representative at the WHO. Was this caused by the PRC’s resentment towards the Chen administration? Possibly… but the end effect was to once again build resentment among Taiwanese. What could have been a positive development among Taiwanese towards the mainlanders was misplayed into what was felt as another slap to the face, again under the Jiang regime.

    SARS was some time ago – and it was also the time when I first started to get very disgusted with the politics in Taiwan. PRC always had a policy of one-China. Taiwan could easily work with PRC in getting representatives to WHO and get all the channel of communication it needs. However, Taiwan decided to inject international politics into the task and demanded nationhood status at all international organizations. In my eyes, this was a great irresponsible act of crime against the Taiwanese people (putting politics above the public good).

    OK – I’d like to end with reference to the question from skylight quoted in the beginning of this long post – what do Taiwanese people want – are they pro-independent, pro-unification, or what?

    The answer, for me, is not to be found in the surveys because people’s attitude – esp. regarding independence – change all the time. Taiwan still has a developing political system. I would not take what happened over the last decade as anything definitive about Taiwan. Most Taiwanese are confused and consider the last decade to be chaotic as well as a setback.

    As for re-unification, I only have this to offer. I know all Taiwanese feel very proud about their Chinese heritage. Even the most ardent green party member consider themselves culturally Chinese (hua ren) even if not politically Chinese (zhong guo ren).

    The main divide between the Mainland and Taiwan today arises from their differences associated with socioeconomic development. Take the latest milk contamination crisis as an example. Many people in Taiwan have been affected and fear that if we were part of China, we would not be able to protect ourselves against such problems.

    Many also fear that if we were part of China, corruption (not that there is no corruption in Taiwan now!) would become an even bigger problem than today. Of course, people also have long memories about the cultural revolution and the great leap forward – and many still worry about Mainland’s future. If the Mainland should fall into chaos again, how can we protect ourselves against their politics?

    So – for now – even I – an ardent Chinese nationalist – would not openly call for re-unification today. Taiwan has prospered under an international system dominated by the US and US protection. Taiwanese localism (nationalism) make sense geopolitically today since there really is no real tangible benefits for re-uniting today – except for Chinese pride. But when the Mainland does become strong enough, perhaps in 10-20 years or less, many in Taiwan will realize that there will be tangible benefits to re-uniting. A swell of Chinese pride then will sweep over the population – and re-unification will take place faster than the blink of an eye – without a single shot fired.

    Just some foolish thoughts from a native Taiwanese…

  83. Raj
    October 6th, 2008 at 19:03 | #83

    Allen, would you admit that when the polling on unification/independence is done, unification always comes out lower than independence and that generally speaking people who want unification are in a minority? From what I see most Taiwanese believe in and support their independence. They may not back immediate independence, but for many the status-quo is independence. If forced to choose, I believe they would go towards formal independence.

    “many in Taiwan will realize that there will be tangible benefits to re-uniting”

    What would that be? China won’t give Taiwan free money of an amount that would make a difference, and unification won’t bring anything that trade agreements couldn’t.

    On the other hand, realistically what do you think Taiwan would have to sacrifice?

  84. October 6th, 2008 at 19:13 | #84

    @Raj – good questions/observations. I don’t want to force any answers – although I think you know how I’d answer each of your questions.

    Let’s let history answer the questions you posed: just promise to stick around so we can debate/discuss them together as history enfolds! 😉

  85. Raj
    October 6th, 2008 at 19:15 | #85

    “I don’t want to force any answers – although I think you know how I’d answer each of your questions.”

    Not really – I’d like to hear what you have to say.

    One question that I think you can certainly answer is whether you think when deciding what to do, Taiwanese should be given a free choice and China promise to respect the decision without using threat of force. You might have said that already, but I’d like to hear clarification.

  86. October 6th, 2008 at 19:40 | #86

    Ok – Raj. I’ll answer by starting with your question:

    would you admit that when the polling on unification/independence is done, unification always comes out lower than independence and that generally speaking people who want unification are in a minority?

    To be knit-picky – the answer is depends. I have not kept up with the latest demographics, but the answer depends on many factors such as socioeconomic factors as well as geographic factors. If you survey the people in Taipei and GaoXiong – what is the majority opinion in Taipei may be the minority opinion in GaoXiong, and vice versa.

    So when you ask the question

    One question that I think you can certainly answer is whether you think when deciding what to do, Taiwanese should be given a free choice and China promise to respect the decision without using threat of force.

    I want to point out that you are somehow presuming that Taiwan as a whole should decide – without any input from the “China” – and that individual districts and cities within Taiwan (i.e. the minorities) all somehow do not have such a special power at self determination.

    From my “Chinese” perspective, I believe the whole question of Taiwanese independence/re-unification should be addressed by Chinese people as a whole – people on the Mainland and Taiwan. Taiwan does not have a special choice to secede just as the street I grew up (ti what street) does not have a special power to secede from “Taiwan.”

    If we can vote, I would ask for a vote by all Mainland and Taiwanese Chinese – some 20-30 years from now – to settle this question once and for all – and for us all to abide by that decision then.

  87. October 6th, 2008 at 19:48 | #87

    @Raj – sorry I didn’t answer your “use of force” question.

    Of course I don’t want war in my homeland. I will do anything in my power to avert that.

    But with that said, I also want to say that this is not an International issue. The “use of force” rules of engagement between states do not apply between the Mainland and Taiwan. Any use of force would be a civil war between Chinese.

    I am confident however there would never be such a civil war – or if there is – it would be a purely military conflict – with little (if any) civilian casualty…

  88. October 6th, 2008 at 20:01 | #88

    @Raj – The most important thing to remember is that supporters of the status quo out-number both the ‘unification now’ and ‘independence now’ camps. In this respect it is rather like the attitude that British people have towards the EU – a minority support greater integration, a larger minority want separation, and the vast majority are happy with things the way they are, mainly because they are not really interested.

  89. October 6th, 2008 at 20:02 | #89

    @FOARP – I agree (about the status quo bit). As I expressed in my long-winded post #82, I myself am in the leave things as they are camp (for now).

  90. Raj
    October 6th, 2008 at 21:04 | #90

    FOARP, yes. Though the comparison doesn’t quite work because EU membership is permissive – it’s not like Brussels threatens any country who thinks of leaving with a military response.

    Allen

    If we can vote, I would ask for a vote by all Mainland and Taiwanese Chinese – some 20-30 years from now – to settle this question once and for all – and for us all to abide by that decision then.

    That’s just not going to happen. In that case Chinese win and Taiwanese get no say because they’re drowned out. Taiwan would never agree to such a system. Yes, China may have input but not until it renounces threat of violence. And in the end, even if the Chinese and Taiwanese governments agree on how to resolve the problem, the Taiwanese electorate would have to be consulted separately – if they rejected a plan, even if 100% of Chinese voted for it, it wouldn’t make a difference.

    Things can only work out when Beijing accepts that Taiwanese have the right to make a democratic decision.

    that individual districts and cities within Taiwan (i.e. the minorities) all somehow do not have such a special power at self determination

    If China rules out self-determination for Taiwan, Taiwan won’t offer it to individual cities or districts. Though the bar might be set high so that not only would 50% of the population vote for unification, but 50% of the districts and cities too, or some such.

    But with that said, I also want to say that this is not an International issue.

    Hu Jintao made it an international issue when he asked the global community/the UN (I forget which now) to help him with the Taiwan problem.

  91. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 21:11 | #91

    Raj wrote:

    One question that I think you can certainly answer is whether you think when deciding what to do, Taiwanese should be given a free choice and China promise to respect the decision without using threat of force. You might have said that already, but I’d like to hear clarification.

    +++++
    And when that decision is made, it should also be without political influence from any foreign country.

  92. Raj
    October 6th, 2008 at 21:19 | #92

    And when that decision is made, it should also be without political influence from any foreign country.

    Nimrod, I think that would go without saying. Taiwanese wouldn’t fight for a free vote independent of Chinese pressure only to let someone else push them in another direction.

  93. Netizen K
    October 6th, 2008 at 21:20 | #93

    I think this is a business as usual.

    The US gets paid for providing protection to Taiwan.

    Taiwan pays for protection from the US.

    China has an excuse for advance its weapon programs.

  94. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 21:29 | #94

    Raj wrote:

    And when that decision is made, it should also be without political influence from any foreign country.

    Nimrod, I think that would go without saying. Taiwanese wouldn’t fight for a free vote independent of Chinese pressure only to let someone else push them in another direction.

    +++++
    Then perhaps you at least understand one of the many reasons why Chinese are totally opposed to any outcome of independence arising from Taiwan “self-determination” in the near future.

    And since you brought it up, what makes you so sure polls wouldn’t change on the independence side without arms sales or this pseudo-alliance with the US? Isn’t it a little disingenuous to pontificate about the relationship between reunification numbers and China’s missiles? Some people seem blind to the multiple interactions going on here.

  95. totochi
    October 6th, 2008 at 22:30 | #95

    @Allen

    “If we can vote, I would ask for a vote by all Mainland and Taiwanese Chinese – some 20-30 years from now – to settle this question once and for all – and for us all to abide by that decision then.”

    Vote. I hope in 20-30 years, mainland Chinese people can vote on their OWN government.

    I still don’t understand why the average mainlander cares if Taiwan is independent or not. It has zero impact on their life. OTOH, I can understand why people in Taiwan don’t want the CCP involved in any part of their lives.

  96. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 22:43 | #96

    totochi,

    Then maybe you should make an effort to understand.

  97. totochi
    October 6th, 2008 at 22:47 | #97

    @Nimrod

    Thanks for the useless comment.

  98. totochi
    October 6th, 2008 at 23:04 | #98

    @Nimrod

    Since you’re so adament about Taiwan not going independent, why don’t you tell my why it matters to you personally and how your life will be impacted if it happens. Also enlighten me why you think it’s okay for China to invade Taiwan, killing Chinese civilians in the process.

    Maybe I shoud rephrase. I’ve read through just about every thread and comments in this blog. Just because you type a lot, it doesn’t make your arguments logical nor convincing.

  99. October 6th, 2008 at 23:18 | #99

    @totochi,

    No country in the world allows a piece of its territory to unilaterally secede.

    In the US, there are no recognized Constitutional path to secession by individual states (the last time secession was tried resulted in a bloody civil war).

    When some claim that Quebec wants to secede, Canada has to first as a country to agree to allow Quebec to hold a referendum before Quebec can hold a referendum.

    To me this is all self evident.

    China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory. The only reason Taiwan is not part of China is because of US protection (or interference if you will). To not respect China’s claim simply because of US interference is to challenge China’s nationhood and to force “China” to resort to force to complete the Chinese Civil War and to settle a political question that was settled throughout much of China but for the island of Taiwan.

    Talking about the “self-determination” of Taiwan as if it were an independent country (no one, even the CCP, disputes its de-facto autonomy) would only cause great political instability in the region – in my opionion.

  100. Otto Kerner
    October 6th, 2008 at 23:50 | #100

    Few countries in the world allow pieces of their territory to secede. On the other hand, lots of countries have recognised a fait accompli after it has already happened. Wouldn’t it be destabilising if, for example, France steadfastly refused to recognise Algerian independence, and kept threatening to eventually “invade” Algeria (not actually an invasion, of course — simply French troops entering French territory)?

  101. Nimrod
    October 6th, 2008 at 23:54 | #101

    totochi,

    If you have the desire to understand, the least you could do is not put words in other people’s mouths or make innuendos. Things like “it’s okay for China to invade, killing Chinese civilians…” Now I will explain.

    For better or for worse, the fates of mainland China and Taiwan are tied. Let me repeat: their fates already are, and have been, tied. They have extensive historical as well as ongoing and expanding ties in family relations, economics, and culture. Whatever other influences there exist, it’s indisputable that Taiwan’s most direct and deepest ties are still with mainland China. One million people from Taiwan — enough to swing an election in Taiwan by many percentage points — work or live in mainland China. As Taiwan opens up, the reverse will also be true. Already, cross-Strait marriages are common, and Buxi’s is one of them. All of this is hardly surprising. If it were not for politics and international divisions, Taiwan’s natural state is with the mainland, not separate from it. Taiwan is the largest and second nearest coastal island of China, directly opposite the fastest developing coastal area of China responsible for her rise this century. Culturally, it is a part of the Fujian Min sphere. They are exactly the same people. From any perspective, Taiwan is important to mainland China as mainland China is important to Taiwan.

    Today, Taiwanese who go to the mainland use a “Taibao Zheng” (Taiwan compatriot card), and mainlanders who go to Taiwan use a “Mainland Area resident’s pass”. These aren’t merely euphemisms like the “AIT”. These have special political meanings. A “compatriot” in the mainland refers to a member of China who is in an area not part of the central government’s direct control — Hong Kong, for instance. And a “Mainland Area resident” is somebody in an “unfree” area of the ROC territory according to its Constitution. As long as there are still distinctions of “countries” in the world and boundaries between them, and special privileges to citizenship, it is perfectly logical and rational for me, a member of the Chinese family, to want these special ties be maintained and any privileges expanded, as well as to reduce the ongoing possibility of such a close territory from aligning with forces that may have interests divergent from those of the Chinese people.

    It is my view that there will not be a war between the two sides and that they will only come closer as time passes. Whether the eventual outcome is what we understand today as “reunification” is anybody’s guess, but the label itself is not as important. But I believe the best course of action toward that goal is to never let Taiwan independence, a minority opinion even with the political and military influence of foreign regimes, become a de jure reality. You may disagree (because your interests are different from mine), but that’s what I believe, and that’s what the vast majority of the people I know in China believe.

    I hope I answered your question.

  102. October 7th, 2008 at 00:00 | #102

    @Otto Kerner, unfortunately I cannot comment on the French-Algerian relationship – since I’ve never been to either countries nor studied much of their histories. Sorry…

  103. Otto Kerner
    October 7th, 2008 at 00:03 | #103

    And yet you have no trouble justifying Chinese policies on the grounds of what other countries do …

  104. totochi
    October 7th, 2008 at 00:04 | #104

    @Allen

    I realize there are political arguments per many long-winded posts/comments. What I want to know is why you (and others) care. I’m serious. I want to get beyond all this nationism crap and understand why people feel they have the right to subjugate others. I’m pretty sure when mainlanders talk of unification, they’re not talking about the KMT/DPP/whatever taking over a unified China. Do they really believe that people in Taiwan will want to live under CCP rule? Or is all this noise just from the CCP? How do we really know what the mainland Chinese feel about it? It’s not like they can vote on the issue.

    I lived 8 years in Toronto. I really didn’t care at the time whether Quebec stayed as a part of Canada or not. If they wanted to be their own country, let them decide. There has been several referendums on Quebec and the vote never passed. That means the majority of the people in Quebec do not want to be split from Canada.

    All this aside, the China/Taiwan situation is unique. You guys keep talking about the status-quo. The current situation is different than Canada/Quebec or a US state trying to leave the union.

    “China considers Taiwan to be part of its territory.”

    Do we just accept that? What about Taiwan/ROC’s ridiculous claim that they’re the official government of greater-China?

    “To not respect China’s claim simply because of US interference is to force “China” to resort to force to complete the Chinese Civil War and to settle a political question that was settled throughout much of China but on the island of Taiwan.”

    This may not be relevant to the political discussion, but reviewing the history of the PRC in from 1950-1980, I don’t think there much to “respect” about China’s claim. I personally feel that the US saved the people of Taiwan (including myself) a lot of suffering from not being part of China (this is not an endorcement of the KMT). I read in a post above that your family has been in Taiwan for generations. In hindsight, do you believe that US “interference” was bad, i.e., Taiwanese people would have fared better under CCP rule since 1949?

  105. October 7th, 2008 at 00:16 | #105

    @Otto Kerner #103 – huh??? I don’t think I ever justified Chinese policies on ground of French-Algerian history or politics … but if I have – I apologize! I must have amnesia (will get a doctor to check it out if so) for I truly don’t remember – or must have been sleep-writing or something (in which case, I guess I also need a doctor to check me out)! 😉

  106. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 00:21 | #106

    totochi,

    The retrospective outcome of a particular path of history may be better than another, but that is a coincidence that has no value in justifications about interference. It’s not like all the countries or parts of countries in which the US interfered in came out better. What Allen was saying is a philosophical stance supporting something like the Prime Directive. As a principled stance, the US’s repeated interference single-handedly created and maintained the current cross-Strait division, and so neither side has an obligation to accept it as natural.

  107. Otto Kerner
    October 7th, 2008 at 00:29 | #107

    Allen, when you wrote “No country in the world allows a piece of its territory to unilaterally secede”, was that not a justification of Chinese anti-secession policies? “No country in the world” clearly includes France as one of its referents.

  108. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 00:32 | #108

    totochi wrote:

    I’m pretty sure when mainlanders talk of unification, they’re not talking about the KMT/DPP/whatever taking over a unified China.

    +++++
    And you would be wrong. There are more people who oppose Taiwan independence than support the CCP. You can do that math. Ultimately, parties come and go. ROC or KMT are not strangers to mainland Chinese, and most of us would gladly support KMT or even DPP, if they had the capabilities to run China. It’s not an easy job, and I don’t think they would succeed, but other people disagree with me.

    And let me take a step back. Nobody wants the CCP to run Taiwan. The essence of any political settlement proposed or envisioned clearly is for Taiwan to run itself. In light of that, let me throw the question back at you: What does it mean “personally” to get that stamp of “independence” for Taiwan? What good is it? You’re not going to get any more or less melamine in your milk. I think you’ll find the answer even more ideological and nationalistic than that of the most ardent Chinese nationalist.

  109. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 00:36 | #109

    Otto Kerner,

    I don’t know what you’re getting at. Obviously France did not allow it because it fought a war over the issue just like China might fight a war if Taiwan declared independence. The difference is, Algeria won. Taiwan has so far not done anything similar, and should it fight a war and win, there is no question then that it would be an independent country like Algeria.

  110. Otto Kerner
    October 7th, 2008 at 01:05 | #110

    I’m afraid you have your history quite wrong. France won the war. France lost politically. In real-world politics, winning does not require a fair fight. Taiwan has most certainly won in its attempts to keep Beijing from conquering it — you’ll have to explain to why it matters how it won. France has accepted that it lost Algeria, just as lots of other countries have accepted that the past is what it is. China could accept that it has lost Taiwan. What I’m saying is that the appeal to what other countries do or the appeal to stability have very little to do with PRC policy toward Taiwan.

  111. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 01:18 | #111

    Otto Kerner,

    France “won” the war like the US has “won” the War in Iraq with “mission accomplished”.

    “China could accept that it has lost Taiwan.”
    +++++
    Or you could accept that Taiwan probably will not follow the path of Algeria in becoming a country…. like the world has accepted pretty much since 1972. Not fair to die-hard independence seekers? Perhaps. Well, they aren’t “die-hard” at all, just loudmouths, which is the problem I guess. In due time, they will all change their minds. 😉

  112. totochi
    October 7th, 2008 at 01:21 | #112

    @Nimrod

    Thanks for your response. It was not my intent to put words in your mouth. Maybe I got confused reading 90+ comments. Sorry.

    I am more interested in people’s personal views. I understand your comment about ties to the greater Chinese community. However, I don’t feel we need to be living in the same political country, especially when there is such a huge difference in political systems. They can live in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or overseas, they’re all still Chinese people. To me the Taiwan issue is not about the geographical boundary but rather the political boundary between communism and democracy. It’s inconceivable that people in Taiwan would voluntarily “reunify” into a CCP controlled government.

    What I don’t understand is why it matters to the average person in China to the levels I read online; sometimes it feels like the world will end if Taiwan is independent. If Taiwan declares independence, the people there are still Chinese. The special relationship people have amongst themselves won’t change. Did your relationship with Hong Kong people change after 1997?

    “But I believe the best course of action toward that goal is to never let Taiwan independence, a minority opinion even with the political and military influence of foreign regimes, become a de jure reality. You may disagree (because your interests are different from mine), but that’s what I believe, and that’s what the vast majority of the people I know in China believe.”

    Even if Taiwan does declare independence now, it does not preclude some type of reunification later. Why not let them compete in the Olympics or join the WHO as Taiwan. You probably know more people than me in China but the ones I talk to, most don’t really care one way or the other since it won’t have any impact on their daily lives. The same holds true for most Chinese-Amercans I know.

    ==========

    I just hit preview and saw more comments…

    “And you would be wrong. There are more people who oppose Taiwan independence than support the CCP. You can do that math. Ultimately, parties come and go. ROC or KMT are not strangers to mainland Chinese, and most of us would gladly support KMT or even DPP, if they had the capabilities to run China. It’s not an easy job, and I don’t think they would succeed, but other people disagree with me.”

    Where? In China or in Taiwan? Those that disagree with you about KMT being better than the CCP in China… are they allowed to voice that opinion. I hate to be snarky but it seems most likey that they will be thrown in jail as an enemy of the state. I agree that political parties come and go but how does that happen in China today? What is your scenario for the eventual replacement of the CCP? I hope it’s non-violent but I’m not optimistic. The party is not just going to give up it’s power and wealth.

    =========

    “The retrospective outcome of a particular path of history may be better than another, but that is a coincidence that has no value in justifications about interference. It’s not like all the countries or parts of countries in which the US interfered in came out better. What Allen was saying is a philosophical stance supporting something like the Prime Directive. As a principled stance, the US’s repeated interference single-handedly created and maintained the current cross-Strait division, and so neither side has an obligation to accept it as natural.”

    You’ve lost me. As someone born in Taiwan in the late 1960’s and having a grandfather in the Nationalist air force, I can imagine what my childhood would be like if the CCP ruled Taiwan as well. Debate Star Trek philosophy all you want, I am forever grateful for any US internvention that helped me avoid living through the Cultural Revolution as a Rightist.

  113. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 01:46 | #113

    totochi wrote:

    “However, I don’t feel we need to be living in the same political country, especially when there is such a huge difference in political systems. They can live in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, or overseas, they’re all still Chinese people. To me the Taiwan issue is not about the geographical boundary but rather the political boundary between communism and democracy. It’s inconceivable that people in Taiwan would voluntarily “reunify” into a CCP controlled government.”
    +++++
    I think there is something nontrivial to be gained from politcal integration, but I generally agree with your sentiment. But would you also agree that up to now, there hasn’t been any rational consideration or debate on Taiwan’s side about what it means to have more cooperation (political or otherwise) with the mainland? It has been mostly driven by fear-mongering and provincialist xenophobia. Until the day that conversation happens in earnest, I don’t think you can draw any conclusions on the subject. And I for one think you’ll be surprised at the outcome. It does not mean submitting to a CCP controlled government, to be sure, but I think the degree to which a rational person in Taiwan would be willing to cooperate with the mainland politically is a lot higher than people think.

    “Even if Taiwan does declare independence now, it does not preclude some type of reunification later. Why not let them compete in the Olympics or join the WHO as Taiwan. You probably know more people than me in China but the ones I talk to, most don’t really care one way or the other since it won’t have any impact on their daily lives. The same holds true for most Chinese-Amercans I know.”
    +++++
    Accepting Taiwan independence now would make it a lot harder for reunification later. One more hurdle to cross, one more psychological barrier, one more chance for external forces to affect outcome, etc. I also think it’s counter-productive. There is no gain and closes many doors. Even just the single-minded focus on independence politics has been enough to paint Taiwan into a dead corner. To what end? As for international events and organizations, I am certain something mutually acceptable can and will be worked out if de jure independence is off the table. I think most people don’t care about the details of China’s policy toward Taiwan (since they don’t set it) or are apathetic to politics in general. But if you ask them to accept Taiwan independence, it would be a tough sell.

    Where? In China or in Taiwan? Those that disagree with you about KMT being better than the CCP in China… are they allowed to voice that opinion. I hate to be snarky but it seems most likey that they will be thrown in jail as an enemy of the state.
    +++++
    These discussions take place because they do not constitute an active and credible plot to overthrow the state, so nobody cares. Like I said, the ROC and KMT are not strangers in the mainland, they played significant roles in the mainland, so they are in books, movies, TV series; the CCP meets with the KMT periodically now, and I’m sure they are studying their party organization and things like internal party democracy; none of these are off limit topics… Elections in Taiwan are covered in Chinese news, and lots of people quip that even with the Chen Shui-bian scandal, the CCP is still magnitudes more corrupt.

    And that brings me to an important point: Taiwan can help mainland China develop in a way that not only benefits mainland Chinese, but creates a better environment for Taiwan itself. That can only happen with engagement. It should do that even out of self-interest.

  114. cephaloless
    October 7th, 2008 at 02:51 | #114

    @Nimrod

    Would you care to elaborate more on how you see declaring independence would make it a lot harder for reunification later?

    The way I see it, the economic policies in place now wouldn’t change unless PRC decides to cut ties to an independent taiwan. People would continue to fly across the straight but with passports and visas so everything is a little more formal until something is signed to waive visa requirements. The language isn’t going to change and most holidays will continue to happen on the same days on both sides of the straight. If the boundary between usa and canada could be ridiculously blurry, why not mainland china and taiwan as two nations each with their own government.

  115. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 03:18 | #115

    cephaloless,

    The basis for reunification is the shared tenets of “One China”, which is that both sides, at least on paper, still have the framework for a single state, even though they are ruled by different governments. That automatically sets up a mode of relationship, and a default eventual goal, much like the EU implicitly has a default eventual goal, even though nobody knows how long it will take, or if it will ever happen. That being the case, why take a step back? Like I asked before, what’s the benefit of declaring independence? All that does is remove the goal, which if later one decided to put back, would require additional political cost. The EU “found” its goal after two world wars. The United States moved to incorporate Canada by force on at least two or three occasions. And it was not after a few such wars early on that the presently open borders were settled down.

    For the two sides of the Strait, there is by definition little to be gained by becoming separate “countries” if it were just a symbolic change like you described, and therefore pointless. In reality, it would not just be a symbolic change when external forces are involved with one side or another. For a preview of what might happen and whether it would be easier or harder for reunification, I refer you to Russia and its former satellites.

  116. October 7th, 2008 at 03:35 | #116

    @Otto Kerner,

    Ok – no country other than the great country of France allows a piece of their territory to unilaterally secede… 😉

    Jokes aside – if France wants to allow Algeria to leave, that’s fine. It’s French business. Similarly if Mainland and Taiwan jointly decides for Taiwan to be separate, I have no problem either. It’s Chinese business.

    I still don’t see a problem …

  117. October 7th, 2008 at 03:54 | #117

    @totochi,

    I read in a post above that your family has been in Taiwan for generations. In hindsight, do you believe that US “interference” was bad, i.e., Taiwanese people would have fared better under CCP rule since 1949?

    No. I am grateful for US “interference” – at least from WWII to about 1990 – which on the whole I believe has been good for the people of Taiwan. (Some may even go further to argue, too, that Japanese colonization of Taiwan has been on the whole beneficial for Taiwan … but that’s another matter!). But I am talking about the future, not the past…

    Look, my family has suffered at the hands of KMT, too. For example, in the late 1970’s, my Dad had smuggled Chinese herbal medicine from the Mainland through Hong Kong – and was unfortunately caught. Under the harsh rule of the KMT, Mom, Dad, and Sister were forced to immigrate to the U.S. (and that’s supposed to be nice treatment).

    The fact I live in the U.S. has not excused me from the Chinese experience, however, but has only intensified my feelings. Chinese both on the Mainland, Taiwan, and overseas have suffered a lot over the past 2 centuries or so, but I am now living comfortably like a Westerner in a Western country.

    When I visited the Mainland a couple of years ago, instead of feeling “superior” as some overseas Chinese (or even Taiwanese), I only felt profound sadness and empathy. For every poor peasant I met, I saw one more brother that I should try to help.

    The emotion I felt is stronger than the feeling I got when I visited Latin America a couple of times – when I also felt empathy, but not the strong sense of “guilt” and indignation that overcame me when I saw how poor and how difficult life was for so many Chinese.

    No man is an island. And a nation is still the best means for liberating and empowering a people. So when I articulate my views regarding China – it is out of a deep sense of identity and emotion.

    I will respect you if you don’t feel what I am talking about. But I hope you will also respect me for who I am, too. 😉

  118. RUMman
    October 7th, 2008 at 04:46 | #118

    @Nimrod (108).

    You said “And you would be wrong. There are more people who oppose Taiwan independence than support the CCP. You can do that math.”

    I’m not sure I’d agree. My own feeling is that less educated Chinese are not very interested in Taiwan. In contrast, those who have been through the education system to tertiary level are very likely to be raving nationalist xenophobes.

  119. Jerry
    October 7th, 2008 at 04:50 | #119

    @Steve, #79

    Thanks for the comment, Steve. Several comments

    Yes I agree with “My point was that regardless of country or ideology, governments make decisions based on their geopolitical goals and realities.” My question is always, what aren’t they telling us and what is motivating and driving those goals and realities? And as I usually say, “Follow the money.” Sure the neocon lemmings are ideologues. The guys at the top are manipulative, pragmatic and in my opinion, slightly to seriously insane. Ideology rarely fattens your wallet, unless you are a leader wielding the sword of ideology. And “Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

    War is crazy and rarely beneficial to all but the ruling elite and their economic interests. I remember Anthony Hopkins line from “Legends of the Fall” which I paraphrase from memory, “There is no great honor in dying.”

    Yep, the Chinese have a lot to gain by acquiring Taiwan.

    America is hardly unique for having a military-industrial complex. I was just citing a case in point with current ramifications for Taiwan and China.

    “Personally, I think it should be illegal for a former military officer or congressman to work for a defense contractor, but I’m not holding my breath on that one.” I heartily agree. Glad to hear you are not holding your breath. Good idea on your part. 😀 LOL

    Interesting story. I love stories.

    “Well, when the Brits who are our best friends in the world think that our foreign policy people are nuts, that is NOT a good sign.” Well, he was a sensible Brit. Perhaps he should have had a chat with the Poodle-in-Chief, Blair. Sounds like Blair needed his advice. 😀

    “Two of the guys were in the “soccer hooligan” category, drinking and whoring kind of guys but the third guy was really interesting.” Imagine that? Westerners who consider Asia to be their personal brothel playground? That’s a new one to me. (tongue seriously in cheek)

    BTW, my cousin John is in Shanghai; he has been there 3 weeks. He has never been to China before. He is doing QC (non-destructive testing) on steel parts being manufactured for the Bay Bridge (spanning SF Bay) construction. Apparently, he is going through mucho culture shock.

    BTW 2, I think you mentioned that you lived in San Diego in your posts. My son is living in San Marcos and is doing his doctoral course on Physical Therapy nearby.

    One final comment. Let’s hope that we do something about the unsustainable way that we are living on Planet Earth. Or all of these wonderful and sometimes painful discussions will be for naught, moot. We, the citizens of this planet, have currently overshot our biocapacity by 25% as of 2003. The pace has been accelerating for the last 40 years if not longer. I wrote about this in http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/09/04/chinas-hazy-future/ in #24.

    If we do not solve this problem, I sure would not want to be around as the ecosystems near collapse or collapse. And I sure would not want to be in the middle of the resource wars between nations and even individuals. Kind of makes some of the issues we discuss here pale in comparison.

  120. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 04:50 | #120

    Most of the people commenting here are smart, and most of the time the comments are thoughtful, even if I might not agree with all of them. But then we get on a provocative subject a la Taiwan, and smart people start making some pretty silly statements. What is it about Taiwan that causes such emotional responses?

    Allen #82, your remarks were cogent and I thank you for letting us know more of your personal story. I would say there are more cultural differences between China and Taiwan than you would, but that’s just a personal opinion based on my experience. I noticed that in the end, you agree with the status quo, though your ideas about the future are definitely reunification. Since about 80% of Taiwanese tend to support the status quo at this time and that’s been a pretty consistent number, your opinion is similar to most everyone else. As you say, let history answer the questions. Your final statement of letting both China and Taiwan vote on reunification might not be popular on this blog, but it’s your opinion so that’s fine. The next few posts are back and forth; very civil.

    Nimrod, in #94 I have to point out that you began to escalate the tension with your phrasing. “Pseudo-alliance”, “pontificating” and calling someone “blind” are personal terms that don’t add anything to the discussion. The points you bring up are fine, but now the fans are flamed. Totochi brings up a valid point of discussion to Allen’s China/Taiwan vote, saying that the concept of voting doesn’t exist in China at the present time. He’s correct, it doesn’t. But Nimrod, your response that he should make an effort to understand is purely emotional and does not answer his point about voting. Totochi responds with an emotional remark and things begin to degenerate.

    Allen, so far you’ve been cogent, but on #99 it seems you also respond emotionally by making comparisons with completely different situations (US Civil War, Canada/Quebec), and I have read enough of your comments to know you know the difference. “The only reason Taiwan is not part of China is because of US protection (or interference if you will).” I am sure you don’t mean that the USA is forcing Taiwan against her will to be separate from China but that without American support, Taiwan would not have been able to keep apart from China since the Civil War. If so, your statement isn’t accurate and can be misinterpreted. You yourself have said you prefer the status quo at the present time, and that most Taiwanese do also.

    Otto Kerner takes up the Canada/Quebec analogy and applies it to Algeria. Unfortunately, that is a completely different situation so the emotional level goes up another notch.

    Nimrod #101, nice response! You brought up points that are valid for discussion and kept it pretty civil. The weakest part of your argument is in the “compatriot” label. People in Hong Kong and Macao might also call themselves compatriots. Would people in Taiwan say they are compatriots of mainland Chinese? Terms only work when they are shared on both sides. If only used by one side, then it’s just a label. The other part I would dispute is that the people of Fujian are the same as the people of Taiwan. I’ve been to both places, all over Taiwan but only in Xiamen while on business. It certainly seemed like a different culture to me. A majority of Taiwan’s population might have originated from there, but they have certainly changed over the years. Allen’s family is a good example of the longevity of some of these families. My wife’s family came from one of the Hakka cities in northern Guangdong province over 150 years ago. However, these points can be discussed and aren’t emotional responses so fair game for discussion.

    Totochi’s comments in #104 are fair and ripe for discussion. Nothing below the belt and a good and fair response. Nimrod, the Prime Directive? You had to know you’d get nailed for comparing this situation to a science fiction plot device! You also echoed Allen and said very directly that the US is solely responsible for the current division. Again you are implying that the Taiwanese are being subjugated against their will by the US in maintaining a de facto independence at the current time. That seems extreme to me and a valid point to be challenged. But your point in #108 about less support in China for the CCP than for Taiwan independence is both accurate and something new added to the discussion! The vast majority of Chinese will not allow their government to idly sit by if Taiwan declared independence, and that is the most powerful factor against independence I’ve heard. But now you and Otto Kerner get into a discussion about France and Algeria that has no bearing on this argument so of course it goes nowhere, and the dig against the Bush administration seems petty to me. We all agree with you that GW Bush is an idiot; end of discussion.

    Totochi #112, those are strong, solid comments and move the discussion along. There was a lot for the reunification guys to reply to but it was said in a straightforward manner. The subsequent reply by Nimrod is also reasonably stated. I disagree with you about no rational consideration or debate on Taiwan’s side about cooperation. What just happened in the last election? Ma wanted more discussion and cooperation with China. Even Hsieh ran to the right of Chen pledging more cooperation, but wasn’t as convincing in his arguments. Economics were probably the biggest argument in favor of the KMT, but I certainly heard and read about discussion. Be careful with that word “xenophobia”. In Taiwan there are pro-KMT media and pro-DDP media, in China there are only state media outlets and they have certainly been known to stir up and then shut down xenophobia. “Japan is bad, now Japan is good.” “Carrefour and the west are bad, now Carrefour and the west are good.” That hasn’t happened in Taiwan to my knowledge but you can correct me if I’m wrong.

    Allen, I’m sorry to hear about your family’s plight by the hand of the KMT in the bad old days. But it does bring up a question: Unless you are visiting Taiwan on a regular basis or live there for periods of time, your opinions are certainly valid but how can you say what Taiwanese are thinking if you don’t actually live there? That makes them no more valid than the rest of us who live in other countries, and we have to grant the people actually living in Taiwan much more validity as to their comments about the current public mood. When I lived there, I’d occasionally come back to San Diego and when with our Taiwanese American friends, they’d say things that just weren’t accurate, like they were living in a time warp. I’m not sure if FOARP or others that have lived in Taiwan would echo this, but many of my Taiwan colleagues at work in Hsinchu resented Taiwanese Americans telling them how to run their country, and gave no extra validity to the fact that they were former Taiwanese.

    Since most everyone here thinks the status quo is the right move for now, there’s really not much to argue about. Why is the situation the way it is? Starting with the Dowager Empress Cixi taking the ammunition money for the blue water Beiyang Fleet and spending it on the Summer Palace and her stupid marble boat, China was defenseless against the Japanese fleet, lost the first Sino-Japanese war and ceded Taiwan in 1895, which many historians claim to be the final straw that broke the back of the Qing dynasty. Next was 50 years of Japanese rule followed by 40 years of KMT rule followed by 20 years of democracy in various stages. There is nothing in the world to compare to it. How it’ll all turn out is speculative and can be discussed and argued, but no conclusions can be drawn so no real reason to get emotionally upset and insult differing opinions. I know family, cultural and nationalistic personal histories are involved here, so I expect some animosity but when you stick to cogent arguments, your views are respected and appreciated to a much greater degree.

  121. S.K. Cheung
    October 7th, 2008 at 04:59 | #121

    To Steve:
    do you work for Coles/Cliff’s? 🙂 That’s an awesome summary of 30-40 comments where people seemed to be getting a little hot under the collar. Your last sentence is da bomb.

  122. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 05:04 | #122

    SKC ~ Too many sales and marketing reports over the years, ha ha!

  123. Jerry
    October 7th, 2008 at 05:19 | #123

    Steve, #120

    I’m not sure if FOARP or others that have lived in Taiwan would echo this, but many of my Taiwan colleagues at work in Hsinchu resented Taiwanese Americans telling them how to run their country, and gave no extra validity to the fact that they were former Taiwanese.

    Hell, Steve, we can’t even run our own country right. Why should we be lecturing others? 🙂

    Ooops! I forgot. We aren’t supposed to admit that. LOL

  124. October 7th, 2008 at 05:29 | #124

    @Steve,

    Allen, so far you’ve been cogent, but on #99 it seems you also respond emotionally by making comparisons with completely different situations (US Civil War, Canada/Quebec), and I have read enough of your comments to know you know the difference. “The only reason Taiwan is not part of China is because of US protection (or interference if you will).” I am sure you don’t mean that the USA is forcing Taiwan against her will to be separate from China but that without American support, Taiwan would not have been able to keep apart from China since the Civil War. If so, your statement isn’t accurate and can be misinterpreted. You yourself have said you prefer the status quo at the present time, and that most Taiwanese do also.

    Thanks for you comments.

    A couple of points: first regarding US Civil War and Canada/Quebec, I do mean what I say. To me, the issue between Mainland and Taiwan is part of a civil war (hence the US analogy). As for Canada, it’s releveant in the sense that Quebec “self determination” was always posed as a domestic issue – not an international issue – which I believe is the correct thing to do. The same should go for Mainland/Taiwan.

    As for USA “forcing” Taiwan … I didn’t use the word “force.” I was only characterizing US “protection” as a sort of “interference” into a Chinese Civil War… That to me – from whichever side – is not an inaccuarte statement.

    As for your point about the weight of my opinion given that I am now living overseas – well, anyone on this board is free to give as little or as much weight to my opinions. I don’t ever proclaim to be in the “right.”

    Ultimately, my view may be an insightful voice that gives a peek in to the future. Or I may be just a lost irrelevant soul in the dark. Whatever the case, I am just happy to be allowed to voice my opinions – with its warts and all – to everyone here on the board…

  125. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 06:07 | #125

    @Allen #124: The US Civil War was fought over “that despicable institution”. The southern states were a part of the government since the inception of the republic and only left the union when Lincoln was elected. There was never a time when they were independent of the national government.

    Quebec not only has always been a part of Canada, but has had many of her people serve as Prime Ministers of the country. To this day, no provincial vote has ever gone for secession. Were those votes part of a civil war? If so, why did the national government allow them?

    A Chinese analogy to Quebec or the south might be if Hebei province decided to pursue independence. Then I can see the comparison. To compare it with the USA, Taiwan would be similar to Puerto Rico. Speaking of Puerto Rico, they voted for independence and it failed. Was their vote a civil war? If so, why did the American government allow it? Did the entire United States vote on the independence of Puerto Rico? Or did Puerto Rico vote for its own future status?

    Would the Chinese government allow Taiwan to vote on its independence? I think we would say they would not, so for me I can’t personally compare it to Puerto Rico or Quebec.

    Allen, you used the phrase “The ONLY reason Taiwan is not part of China is because of US protection (or interference if you will).” (I added the capital letters). “Only” means there are no other reasons besides the United States. I said I was sure you DON’T mean by force, not that you did. But by using the word “only”, your meaning wasn’t clear and left you open to rebuttal. If it was done with the cooperation and approval of Taiwan, then that would be two reasons, not one.

    I agree and believe I said that the validity of your opinion is as valid as anyone else here and certainly as valid as anything I have to say, but that unless you or I actually live in Taiwan our pronouncements about the general opinion of the people living there concerning reunification/independence could not be as accurate as someone who actually resides in Taiwan. So if we bring up Taiwanese opinion, either it is a snapshot from when we DID live there or we are quoting from data such as Admin linked us to earlier in the discussion. Doesn’t that make sense?

  126. S.K. Cheung
    October 7th, 2008 at 06:46 | #126

    To Allen:
    I agree that the Mainland/Taiwan question is a domestic issue. But that doesn’t mean that other countries can’t or won’t have an opinion. And the relevance of that opinion will be at the discretion of the stakeholders. “Interference” implies something unwanted. While that may be true of China, that may not be true of Taiwan.

  127. October 7th, 2008 at 07:06 | #127

    @SKC #126 – no no no … I am not saying foreign nationals can’t have a say (i.e. have a take on this board) at all … even though it’s a domestic issue. Foreign nationals advise Chinese on all sorts of domestic issues – including regulatory structures, construction, environment, etc. The only time it’s a problem is when foreign nationals seem to “lecture” Chinese on how to settle their political disputes based on Western rhetoric and ideology without any effort at understanding the Chinese experience. (Or (I don’t intend to inflame) if foreign nations want to take an active political role in the domestic process)

  128. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 07:10 | #128

    Nimrod

    Then perhaps you at least understand one of the many reasons why Chinese are totally opposed to any outcome of independence arising from Taiwan “self-determination” in the near future.

    No, I don’t. If Taiwanese push for self-determination then that’s their choice. Or are you going to tell me that self-determination is an “alien political concept”, or some such? -_-

    what makes you so sure polls wouldn’t change on the independence side without arms sales or this pseudo-alliance with the US?

    Given that those who support independence in the short-term are relatively few, it would seem that arms sales and the possibility of US assistance don’t shift people’s views.

    Isn’t it a little disingenuous to pontificate about the relationship between reunification numbers and China’s missiles?

    Not really. China sustains/increases a very public threat, which does not endear itself towards the Taiwanese. If China wants unification, it has to realise that sticks do not work.

    +++++

    Allen

    Jokes aside – if France wants to allow Algeria to leave, that’s fine. It’s French business. Similarly if Mainland and Taiwan jointly decides for Taiwan to be separate, I have no problem either.

    Clearly that isn’t possible, because of the media limitations in China. Although independence supporters would still remain unpopular, if there was a free media they would at least be able to put their case logically and openly. But we all know the current regime won’t allow that. Even if it did, it would take decades to bring people around. Plus schools would need to drop the routine nationalism reinforcement (that would take an entire generation to clear).

    As I said earlier, China needs to realise that the Taiwanese will vote separately and not care how many Chinese want this or that. If they can’t win over the electorate on a separate basis they might as well declare war now and get it over with.

  129. October 7th, 2008 at 07:12 | #129

    @Steve #125,

    Let’s just agree to disagree on the analogies of US and Canada … It’s probably better to talk about China without referring to US and Canada anyways! 😉

    I agree and believe I said that the validity of your opinion is as valid as anyone else here and certainly as valid as anything I have to say, but that unless you or I actually live in Taiwan our pronouncements about the general opinion of the people living there concerning reunification/independence could not be as accurate as someone who actually resides in Taiwan. So if we bring up Taiwanese opinion, either it is a snapshot from when we DID live there or we are quoting from data such as Admin linked us to earlier in the discussion. Doesn’t that make sense?

    Maybe… But I still feel Chinese/Taiwanese in every sense of the word (almost all my family and assets are there, for gods sake…) – and I do also still have the right to go back and vote in every election …

    Besides I don’t see my role as necessarily presenting the “accurate” view on Taiwan. As I mentioned before, Taiwanese view is still in its infancy changes all the time – and will no doubt change with changing geopolitics as well.

    And when or if people like me get the chance, we will play active roles to do what is right for Taiwan/China. I am but one man. But in the right circumstances, even one man can make a difference…

    Hope that makes sense!

  130. October 7th, 2008 at 07:17 | #130

    @Raj,

    Not really. China sustains/increases a very public threat, which does not endear itself towards the Taiwanese. If China wants unification, it has to realise that sticks do not work.

    Not necessarily. But I agree that given Taiwan’s Chinese heritage, “China” can accomplish its goal with “Taiwan” with much less effort … with means other than sticks!

  131. October 7th, 2008 at 07:19 | #131

    @Raj,

    Clearly that isn’t possible, because of the media limitations in China. Although independence supporters would still remain unpopular, if there was a free media they would at least be able to put their case logically and openly. But we all know the current regime won’t allow that. Even if it did, it would take decades to bring people around. Plus schools would need to drop the routine nationalism reinforcement.

    Yes – you have a good point. That’s part of the reason why I wrote about an election 20-30 years in the future… not today.

  132. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 07:22 | #132

    I have an open question for anyone to answer. It’s a bit extreme, but I want to see how far this can be pushed.

    Many Chinese say “do not interfere in internal policies”. Ok, so what if in North America or Europe, a leader came to power who was very racist. And amongst other things, he treated ethnic Chinese very badly – very, very badly. Not Chinese nationals, just those of his country – hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of them.

    Boycotts don’t work because the country has few trade ties with China.
    You cannot issue passports to those people (for whatever reason).

    Should China do nothing? According to the “non-interference” doctrine it cannot even propose sanctions. Yet I have a feeling that the emotional response from most people would demand action.

  133. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 07:24 | #133

    Yes – you have a good point. That’s part of the reason why I wrote about an election 20-30 years in the future… now today.

    Even 20-30 years isn’t enough. I’m talk about 50+ years after all reforms have taken place.

    And, as I said, there will be no joint-referendum. China can vote all it likes – but Taiwan will make its own mind up and seal/break a deal accordingly.

  134. Nimrod
    October 7th, 2008 at 07:38 | #134

    Raj, have you not heard of Indonesia and the ethnic Chinese there? Anyway, that is far afield.

    Your last few posts start to sound a little like those who speak about Western ways of doing and analyzing things as if they applied to the Chinese world, especially on seemingly “incomprehensible” issues like non-interference and unification, you know what I mean? Oh — if only they had elections, oh — if only they had a free media, oh — if only they had schools that didn’t brainwash them. It’s okay, some overseas Chinese who return have this symptom too, without realizing it. It is all abstraction and gibberish to Chinese ears, and if I dare say, to even the ears of Taiwanese independence supporters. Surprise, surprise, even the latter couch their arguments in bloodline, legitimacy, and nationalistic terms. Then this:

    “Even 20-30 years isn’t enough. I’m talk about 50+ years after all reforms have taken place. And, as I said, there will be no joint-referendum. China can vote all it likes – but Taiwan will make its own mind up and seal/break a deal accordingly.”

    Wow, I didn’t know you run Taiwan… Sarcasm aside, most of this is just semantics: if both sides can seal or break a deal, then I consider that a joint decision. As it stands, Taiwan cannot make a unilateral decision (and neither can the mainland) so I think that base is covered. I also fully expect the two sides to have changed their relationship significantly within 30 years and there won’t even be a referendum.

  135. October 7th, 2008 at 07:45 | #135

    @Raj #132 – please check out a recent thread we have. http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2008/09/11/malaysias-ethnic-politics/

    The short answer – China today will do nothing. If China ever becomes imperialistic, maybe it will – but I’m going way into the deep end of the theoretical there…

  136. Wukailong
    October 7th, 2008 at 10:27 | #136

    “Raj, have you not heard of Indonesia and the ethnic Chinese there? Anyway, that is far afield.”

    I was going to mention that example, although I don’t know the case in as much detail as would be needed to make an argument. I remember that as an example where China certainly can (and should have) acted tougher, at least issuing a strong protest.

    The amount of dead (according to Wikipedia) were some 1500, which is over 100 times larger than the Lhasa riots. I have to say I do find the low-key response puzzling.

    On another note, the principle of non-interference in other state’s affairs is nothing particularly Chinese. It seems to be Soviet boilerplate.

  137. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 12:54 | #137

    Nimrod, I had heard about Indonesia (and what goes on in other South East Asian states too). I would have thought that nowhere is too “far afield” for humans to want to do something about the suffering of other humans. But certainly I remember that Chinese wanted some sort of action to take place, even if the government was unable/unwilling to do much about it.

    It isn’t a case of “oh – if only….” I wouldn’t be surprised if a majority of Chinese people wanted unification even with a less partisan education and media. But without the less partisan system you can’t open the discussion up properly.

    It is all abstraction and gibberish to Chinese ears

    So you’re telling me that reinforcement of Taiwan “being part of China forever” from reasonably early on in a child’s life at school, to supression of informed discussion involving people who criticise the government’s position on Taiwan have no effect on the perceptions of Chinese people? Many Chinese will say that it is Europeans and Americans who are “brainwashed” because our media is “biased” – so how do Chinese escape this when their media is nowhere as free as ours?

    Personally I have never called Chinese “brainwashed”, but their opinions have been restricted in some ways by the lack of a spectrum of discussion on Taiwan’s future. If that were to change, it would take a freer system with quite a long period of time for people to shift their views.

    Sarcasm aside, most of this is just semantics

    It is, however, important to note that a deal cannot be sealed until Taiwan separately backs it in a referendum. Otherwise it is just an agreement between China and the then president of Taiwan – any future leader would be free to say that it was invalid or subject to being suspended. The only way to make it unbreakable is to change the constitution, which needs the backing of either 2/3 or 3/4 (forget which) of the legislative and then a successful referendum to support it.

    As it stands, Taiwan cannot make a unilateral decision (and neither can the mainland) so I think that base is covered.

    They can make a unilateral decision. The Taiwanese government could make a universal declaration of independence, Taiwan could pass constitutional amendments that affected its name and/or territorial claims, etc. On the other hand China could impose economic or military sanctions if it didn’t like the way things were going.

    I also fully expect the two sides to have changed their relationship significantly within 30 years and there won’t even be a referendum.

    Hopefully for the better, but there won’t be a legal/formal/effective end to the dispute without a referendum. If China could live with the status-quo forever, ok. But as others have said, it doesn’t help that in the past Chinese leaders have said that the current situation cannot be indefinitely maintained. Even if current leaders are in no hurry, there is a concern that their successors may demand more concrete action.

  138. TonyP4
    October 7th, 2008 at 13:34 | #138

    I wish they will reunite in a peaceful way. Deng’s “one country, two systems” works for Hong Kong and Macau so far in general. The more time they have to understand each other, the easier is the transition.

    Of course, many want to be kings and queens. Many have their own agendas and special interests. With Taiwan’s huge investment in mainland, they’re getting closer in many ways. From my limited experience, the Taiwan natives are more similar to Chinese than Tibetans. I bet their number is small compared to those from mainland originally.

    It will be tough for me to bear to see Chinese killing Chinese. I hope it will not happen in my life time.

    Someone mentioned Indonesia. It reminded me some guy from the Chinese army mentioned about the loyalty of Chinese over there and started a riot against Chinese. It caused so many harm when some one opened his big mouth for no purpose. Be loyal to your adopted country.

  139. cephaloless
    October 7th, 2008 at 14:00 | #139

    Imagine two brothers living in the same house, one is indecisive, the other has some of the nastiest habits you can’t tolerate (fat, smelly, drunk, hot tempered, take your pick). The indecisive brother can’t stand to live in this house so he sleeps in the shack out back just to get away. The nasty brother tries to get the indecisive brother to move back in the house. He says, “We’re family, we have to live under the same roof.” “I’ll change so that I’m better.” The indecisive brother, being indecisive, stays in the shack. Then there are periods when the nasty brother comes by the shack with a baseball bat, demanding his brother to move back in the house, and other times when he demands that the indecisive brother promise not to move away.

    Should the indecisive brother move back in the house (now, later if ever), or move away? Should the indecisive brother promise to never move away? Should the nasty brother have a say in what the indecisive brother chooses to do? Should the indecisive brother make it a goal to move back in with the nasty brother? Or perhaps the nasty brother needs to change before that goal can even be considered?

    Modify the scenario as you wish.

  140. TonyP4
    October 7th, 2008 at 14:41 | #140

    They are different, but they do not have to live in the same house and by the same rules.

  141. October 7th, 2008 at 14:59 | #141

    @Allen – “No country in the world allows a piece of its territory to unilaterally secede”

    Right, now just pause for a minute and read that sentence again.

    Done now? Can you see a problem with it?

    Yes, that’s right – it’s a complete tautology. If a country allows part of its territory to secede then this separation is not unilateral, it is only when a country does not allow part of its territory to secede that the separation is unilateral.

    Many countries have been formed through unilateral declaration, indeed, the PRC came into existence this way – it was formed on territory claimed by the ROC and only increased its territorial holdings through the conquest of ROC territory. The PRC certainly was not formed through negotiations with the ROC government, nor did the ROC government consent in its formation. The territory now held by the ROC is still not governed by the PRC, nor has it ever been. The PRC may claim it as its own territory, they may force other countries to go along with this and pretend that Taiwan really is an island in rebellion against the central government, but this is not so, and you cannot make it so through such tautological reasoning. The ROC still has all the attributes of statehood, indeed, according to the governments of 20+ sovereign nations it is a state.

  142. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 15:29 | #142

    @Allen #129: Makes plenty of sense to me, thanks!

    @ Raj#132: Interesting. When I read your post, the first thing that popped into my mind was apartheid in South Africa, while everyone else tended to think of Indonesia or Malaysia. Obviously the South African situation did not involved Chinese, but the situation you described seemed to apply. Malaysia has obvious legal discrimination towards non-Malay (which there means Chinese) countrymen. I mean, the only reason Singapore exists as a separate nation was from discrimination towards Chinese after the war. One of our good friends who is Chinese Malay just got his US green card after many years of waiting and said that from the time he started college, he had every intention of leaving because of said discrimination. He’s an IT guy and they use a quota system for university entrance that is directly discriminatory against the local Chinese, so he went to college here in San Diego and has never left.

    I’ve noticed in general that comments about Taiwanese will reflect a variety of opinions held by people there, and all seem to agree that those opinions are certainly not monolithic. However, it seems that most here think the Chinese public holds only one opinion about Taiwan. That’s certainly not what I encountered when I was there. Opinions ranged all over the place about both China and Taiwan, and practically no one held the opinions stated in Chinese media editorials. Now I have to admit that the Chinese nationals I dealt with were usually engineers from Shanghai Jiaotong, Nanjing or Qinghua Universities, etc. I didn’t interact so much with the Fudan or Beijing University crowd, since our field was highly technical. So as Jerry would like to say, most of my contacts were with the “elite”, best students at the best universities, etc. I’m sure that had an effect since these people were tech savvy, knew how to use proxy servers so could get around the Great Firewall, had been overseas on several occasions and worked for international companies where you are exposed to all kinds of ideas and opinions. Some didn’t care if Taiwan was independent, most were for reunification in a general way but didn’t get worked up about it and a couple held very strong opinions.

    As someone previously mentioned, there are a million Taiwanese currently living in China. The Hong Xiao neighborhood of Shanghai is practically “Little Taipei”. The biggest complaint I heard about Taiwanese in China concerned their attitude, and the biggest complaint I heard from Taiwanese living in China about their Chinese colleagues concerned their attitude. If you walk into a semiconductor foundry near Shanghai, at lunch all the Chinese sit together and all the Taiwanese sit together. They don’t like each other and talk freely about it. My wife was an exception; everyone liked her but she has a unique personality. The most common comment I heard about her from Chinese was that she acted like Chinese and not like other Taiwanese. This was considered a great compliment!

    I also noticed that the further you are from Beijing, the more open people are about discussing these topics. One of the women in our Tianjin office told me that her dream vacation would be to visit Xizang province. I said, “Isn’t that Tibet?” She said, “No, Xizang” several times and would not use the word Tibet. I could tell she was getting nervous. Now, state Chinese English media use the word Tibet all the time but somehow she didn’t trust it. By the time you get to Shanghai, things are a lot more open and in Shenzhen, completely open, no different from HK.

    The biggest complaint in China isn’t about Taiwan or about democracy or even about human rights. It’s about corruption. I’m not sure how many of you have actually done business in China, but you cannot do business without some form of hong bao. It is endemic in virtually every business transaction, used to launder money out of the country, used to get around government regulations, used in dealing with the law, used in real estate development, etc. Being a purchasing agent for a big company is a GREAT job! I’ve had Chinese tell me that if there was a revolution, they would join the revolution side, not because of democracy but because they hate the corruption so much. Someone mentioned corruption in Taiwan. Yeah, there’s some but not in the high tech business and nothing compared to China. I believe when Mao was asked about corruption, his reply was that “a fish cannot live in pure water.”

    That is why in my experience, most Chinese I knew felt that China needed to get its act together first, raise the living standard, greatly reduce corruption and lower the discrepancy between coastal cities and the rest of the country. Taiwan could be dealt with later, and was way down the list of priorities.

    Was my experience unique? What have you all run into when in China? I’m not talking about university level; I’m talking about the business world, the older crowd. Students the world over are idealistic and emotional; into ‘causes’. The business crowd tends to be more practical, pragmatic and experienced. What did they tell you? What were your dealings like in the business world? How often did the topic of Taiwan come up and what did they say?

    Do you feel that allowing Chinese tourists in Taiwan under the new rules will create a better understanding and more brotherhood between Chinese and Taiwanese? Or do you think Taiwan’s only reason to allow those tourists is for the money they will spend, and they will be on such a tight tourist leash that there will be minimum interaction between the two cultures?

  143. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 16:24 | #143

    Steve, I would agree that the Chinese I have met did not consider Taiwan a priority issue. Though the diversity of opinion only covered how unification could take place – there was no “maybe Taiwan should be allowed to make its own decision”. Perhaps no one wanted to be the person that said that in front of their friends, and I would accept some Chinese either might have that POV, or at least care so little about it that they wouldn’t mind.

    However, the prevailing attitude, as I understand it in China, is that unification must happen/independence must not happen. The main difference is whether force should be used or not – or to what degrees.

  144. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 17:05 | #144

    Raj, your experience echoes mine. Most of my conversations were dialogues with no other Chinese around, but the attitude of the ones that weren’t for reunification was exactly the way you described it, “or at least care so little about it that they wouldn’t mind.” However, they formed a small minority and the greater number were in Allen’s camp; eventual reunification but no rush.

  145. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 17:27 | #145

    Why is everyone surprised? China has rights to sell her most advanced anti-ship missiles to IRAN as well. Why would China give a sh*t what US might feel?

  146. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 17:35 | #146

    Raj,

    Don’t you think for US to sell more weapons to Taiwan just increased the possibility of using force in a separation/unification war? Maybe that is what American’s secret agenda, to have Taiwan as tool to contain China. I just feel it very irresponsible. United States just indirectly killed thousands if not millions of chinese (on either side or both) for some profit for Bush’s buddies.

    If, on the other hand, China sells advanced weapons to Iraq before the Gulf War, or to Iran at this time, imagine how US would retaliate!

  147. October 7th, 2008 at 17:53 | #147

    @Steve #125,

    The US Civil War was fought over “that despicable institution”. The southern states were a part of the government since the inception of the republic and only left the union when Lincoln was elected. There was never a time when they were independent of the national government.

    Don’t want to nit-pick, but I thought you’d be interested in this quote from Lincoln.

    I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

    I don’t want to dispute the impact the American Civil War has on slavery – or the symbolic meaning the Civil War has taken for the U.S. society. However, I don’t think it was correct to say that the Civil War was fought to get rid of the “despicable institution” – as you put it…

  148. October 7th, 2008 at 18:06 | #148

    @Raj #133

    Even 20-30 years isn’t enough. I’m talk about 50+ years after all reforms have taken place.

    And, as I said, there will be no joint-referendum. China can vote all it likes – but Taiwan will make its own mind up and seal/break a deal accordingly.

    Sure – it may proceed exactly as you say. All I am saying is that the time and the process for determining the status of Taiwan should be worked out by Chinese on both side of the strait. If the Chinese want to carve out a special exception for the people of Taiwan and give the people of Taiwan a referendum in 50+ years. Fine. I have no problem with that.

    The only thing I am against is for the International Community (whatever that means) to dictate to China how the issue ought to be settled – invoking western rhetoric such as the “self-determination” of the “Taiwanese people.”

  149. RUMman
    October 7th, 2008 at 18:26 | #149

    Somebody said that Taiwanese aboriginals were ‘more similar to Chinese than Tibetans’.

    I’d say the difference between the two cultures was larger than that between the Chinese and the Tibetans – not that I know much about Tibetan culture. Tibetans seem to me to be an Asian culture, and Chinese and Taiwanese at least share a common Buddhist religion (albeit different variants of that religion). In contrast, Taiwanese aboriginals seem to be a Pacific culture. I spent plenty of time in the Taiwan mountains interacting with aboriginals. I was even learning Atayal at one point because some of my then girlfriend’s family couldn’t communicate in Mandarin. From my New Zealand perspective I thought Taiwanese aboriginals behaved similarly to Maori or Pacific Islanders. It was all a marked contrast to socializing with Chinese anyway. Incidentally, so far as religion goes the aboriginals are mostly Christian.

    Of course the Taiwanese aboriginals are only a very small percentage of the population of Taiwan these days, and their political and economic clout is negligible.

    Also, while the DPP did some good things for aboriginals (i believe they introduced aboriginal language education to schools), its focus on casting Hokkien speakers are the most legitimate ‘owners’ of Taiwan stunk a little in my view.

  150. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 18:40 | #150

    saimneor @ 146

    Don’t you think for US to sell more weapons to Taiwan just increased the possibility of using force in a separation/unification war?

    No, I would say it has reduced it. Taiwan would never make the first move in a conflict, because it doesn’t have the military power to resist China indefinitely. It needs American goodwill in event of a war, which it wouldn’t have if it started the fighting – and China would respond. But if China was making the decision, it would probably prefer to avoid conflict if Taiwan could give it a nasty wound.

    Maybe that is what American’s secret agenda, to have Taiwan as tool to contain China.

    You’re actually half right, but it’s not secret. It’s public knowledge that many Americans do not want China to take control of Taiwan, because it would give it better access to the Pacific. This is part of the PLA’s future strategy – the second island chain, or something?

    United States just indirectly killed thousands if not millions of chinese (on either side or both) for some profit for Bush’s buddies.

    American workers will benefit too. But no one has to die – China has the power to avoid a war.

    If, on the other hand, China sells advanced weapons to Iraq before the Gulf War, or to Iran at this time, imagine how US would retaliate!

    The US would respond in some way, but it wouldn’t be militarily against China. And it wouldn’t even respond against Iran, unless it had been preparing to do so anyway.

    Allen @ 148

    The only thing I am against is for the International Community (whatever that means) to dictate to China how the issue ought to be settled – invoking western rhetoric such as the “self-determination” of the “Taiwanese people.”

    Well, the international community already interferes – partly at China’s request – by pressing Taiwan not to declare independence. So China can’t spin around and complain when it gets a lesson as well. It’s also in part for China’s own good, because it’s advice. I think that sometimes China/the Chinese government kids itself into thinking that Taiwanese support unification and that if it weren’t for its “evil democracy” everything would be fine. But that’s not the case.

    It’s also a bit of a warning, because if China uses force then many countries would respond with diplomatic, economic and maybe even a few with military intervention.

  151. RUMman
    October 7th, 2008 at 18:45 | #151

    @Allen(135),

    How can you say “If China ever becomes imperialistic” with a straight face when discussing the Taiwan issue?

    – Taiwan was originally a purely austronesian society with zero to minimal outside influence.

    – The first colonization was by the Dutch (European imperialism in other words). The slightly earlier Spanish colonization were close to being a non-event (the Spanish ran into problems and barely managed to maintain a fortress or two). There is little evidence of a significant and permanent Chinese presence prior to this (though Chinese and others – i.e. Japanese, Okinawans – visited for trade, fishing etc.). The Dutch were specifically interested in finding Chinese on Taiwan because they saw Chinese mercantilism and labor as necessary to building a profitable colony. They sought that Chinese presence and failed to find it, because it didn’t exist.

    – Anti-government forces from China took over Taiwan to use it as a base (was affiliated with the 思明州 – the Ming loyalist kingdom that spent a few years fighting the Qing from, I think, 福州 ). When the Ming forces lost their Chinese base they continued the fight from Taiwan. Though at that time Taiwan simply was not considered ‘part of China’. The only reason these Ming forces even used Taiwan was because they were led by a half-Japanese pirate (Koxinga) who was used to projecting power by sea (not unlike the Europeans – but very different to standard Chinese practice at the time). Actually the situation at this time, with an anti-government force claiming to represent the ‘true china’ holding out on Taiwan, has some parallels to the situation with the ROC on Taiwan today.

    – Chinese government forces (representing the Qing empire) eventually seized Taiwan to stop it being used as a base for operations against China (Chinese imperialism in other words). If you liked you could see this as an extension of anti-Chinese Manchurian imperialism.

    But China’s claim on Taiwan really goes back to those Qing operations to root out Ming loyalists. The whole enterprise, seizing a territory that had not previously been “Chinese” in order to protect “China’s” borders, seems fairly blatantly imperialistic.

    Calling China’s claim on Taiwan (currently an independent state) non-imperialistic is just daft. China’s designs on Taiwan have always been about imperialism and colonization (as have those of everyone else – the Spanish, the Dutch, the Japanese, etc).

    The only non-imperialistic actors in the whole Taiwan saga are the Taiwanese aboriginals, and they are a tiny minority that everyone ignores.

  152. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 19:00 | #152

    @RUMman,

    You said, “Calling China’s claim on Taiwan (currently an independent state) non-imperialistic is just daft. China’s designs on Taiwan have always been about imperialism and colonization (as have those of everyone else – the Spanish, the Dutch, the Japanese, etc). The only non-imperialistic actors in the whole Taiwan saga are the Taiwanese aboriginals, and they are but a tiny minority.”

    What you said is half truth. However, you must know AFTER the chinese seized Taiwan as a colony by defeating the Dutch and driving the aboriginals to the mountains during Ming dynasty, the Taiwan-Mainland relationship is now an internal affair of the chinese. Say all you want how they occupied the land; it is not different from how USA occupied California or Hawaii (well before that); since that day forward, it is Taiwan Chinese and Mainland Chinese who are either at odds or peacefully co-exist under the same government, with the only exception of 50-year Japanese rule (while half of mainland was also under Japan invade during war time).

  153. October 7th, 2008 at 19:10 | #153

    OK – there have been a few too many posts about Taiwanese aborigines and their status.

    If people are interested, I can start a new thread on that. But just so people know, according to linguistic research, most polynesians can trace their root to Taiwan, and from there, the polynesian root can be traced from mainland china.

    The theory is that a first wave of original “Chinese” were displaced from “China” by a subsequent wave of subsequent “Chinese.” All of this is fascinating … but I think irrelevant to today’s politics.

    If you want to know about the migration pattern of native americans from asia … ok, I digress….

  154. October 7th, 2008 at 19:12 | #154

    @Allen – The PRC were the original rebels, and formed a state founded on ‘principles’ offensive to basic human rights – the example of the US civil war is not a good one. In fact what happened is more similar to what might have happened had the Confederacy conquered the entirety of the Union except for some small corner of it, and then the Confederacy claimed that, as they were the successor state to the United States, all territory still in US hands was in a state of rebellion against them.

    I must say it is news to me that “self-determination” is “western rhetoric”, the people behing the May the 4th movement did not seem to think so. It is odd to see how the CCP has managed to turn “民族自决” into such a dirty word.

    As for Raj’s comments, he is entitled to his opinion, but I do not think it is any business of mine to tell the Taiwanese people whether and when they should become part of the PRC. However, ever since the intervention of the US fleet saved Taiwan from invasion Taiwanese society has developed under the guarantee that the US would protect them against unwarranted aggression. For the US to unilaterally renounce this duty and allow an invasion of Taiwan would a great dereliction of duty, one as great as that brought about by their abandonment of the Saigon regime in 1975. In fact it would be an even greater than 1975 as the Republic of Vietnam was essentially a military dictatorship, but the ROC leadership are democratically elected.

  155. October 7th, 2008 at 19:14 | #155

    @Raj #150,

    Well, the international community already interferes – partly at China’s request – by pressing Taiwan not to declare independence. So China can’t spin around and complain when it gets a lesson as well. It’s also in part for China’s own good, because it’s advice. I think that sometimes China/the Chinese government kids itself into thinking that Taiwanese support unification and that if it weren’t for its “evil democracy” everything would be fine. But that’s not the case.

    It’s also a bit of a warning, because if China uses force then many countries would respond with diplomatic, economic and maybe even a few with military intervention.

    I am going to assume you weren’t serious about the first paragraph.

    As for the second, I guess you are arguing for status quo of your view of the international order. Fair enough. But even the international order will have to accommodate for changing realities of the global order…

  156. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 19:23 | #156

    @Allen #147: I’m a big fan of Lincoln and remembered that particular letter. Abraham Lincoln is stating his official duty as chief executive. At the time, slavery was still legal in the United States, even though illegal in northern states. Until the Emancipation Proclamation was issued, it would have been beyond his duties to fight a war against slavery. But let’s look at why the south left the Union.

    Before the Republicans, the Whig party was the second major party in the US after the Democrats. The Whigs were replaced by the Republicans, whose major issue was the repeal of slavery. When Lincoln was running for office, elite members in the south threatened to leave the Union if he was elected, precisely because his party was intent on abolishing slavery. The two previous presidents, Buchanan and Pierce, were Democrats and believed in the status quo. Once Lincoln was elected, they followed through on their threat, not because of any act Lincoln passed, but because of what he represented in regard to slavery.

    The last paragraph in that same letter states “I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”

    Under his official duty, Lincoln’s position was correct. But it was the possible repeal of slavery that caused the south to revolt. Lincoln was a politician and a damn good one. He knew when he wrote this letter that he had no official position to fight the war to rid the nation of slavery, but as the prologue said “President Lincoln made his reply when a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation already lay in his desk drawer.”

    Allen, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion but I am always leery of comparing different conflicts to each other. As I’ve said before, Taiwan’s position with China and in the international community is very unique and we really have nothing to compare with it that I can find. You may also notice that I haven’t advocated either reunification or independence. As a legal citizen of Taiwan, you have a voice it its future. I do not.

  157. RUMman
    October 7th, 2008 at 19:31 | #157

    @Allen(153),

    And your point is?

    If Taiwanese aboriginals (and by extension all Polynesians) originated in China, and therefore “Taiwan is part of China”, does that mean “China is part of Africa” because Chinese originated there?

    I responded to a statement about cultural similarity. There is little that is ‘Asian’ in the culture of Taiwanese aboriginals. The culture of Taiwan aboriginals more resembles a ‘Pacific’ culture.

    Culturally, Tibetans, Mongolians, Koreans, Japanese and others seem more ‘Chinese’ to me than Taiwanese aboriginals do. I’d say Uigurs are another group whose culture is extremely ‘non-Chinese’.

    And I’d say there is far too little discussion of Taiwanese aboriginals. Mainstream Taiwanese society is woefully ignorant about aboriginal issues. Mainstream Chinese society is about a thousand times worse.

  158. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 19:39 | #158

    @Raj

    You said:
    “United States just indirectly killed thousands if not millions of chinese (on either side or both) for some profit for Bush’s buddies.

    American workers will benefit too. But no one has to die – China has the power to avoid a war.”

    What?! If China sells 2000 nukes to Pakistan and tells you India has power to avoid a war and no one has to die, can you keep a straight face? US has a tradition of supplying weapons to one or both sides of the conflict for economic gains, e.g. Iraq and Iran war. And I see it not different this time. If US is really worried about Taiwan’s independence, it should not recogonize China.

  159. RUMman
    October 7th, 2008 at 19:39 | #159

    @Saimenor,

    Except that Taiwan now existing as a separate state to the PRC means that issue is a state to state issue rather than an ‘internal affair’.

    I don’t really see the problem with this.

    If the Taiwanese want to unite with China great. If the PRC wants to force the Taiwanese to unite with China then the PRC are a nation of murdering bastards.

    It’s that simple.

    Is the PRC a nation of murdering bastards?

  160. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 20:02 | #160

    @RUMman

    Taiwan has its government separated from China, is a problem created and continued to be maintained by USA for its own economic and political interests. If USA truly considers Taiwan as an independent nation, why does it not officially recognize Taiwan? Do US presidents/citizens have any principles left?

    Your point to have a Taiwan de facto independence is moot. It is all about power, military, political, and economic power. USA had enough power to run the world as it sees fit. Wait till China get its turn in later this century or next.

    Does Taiwan have enough self-decision in its own independence? Probably not. Why would Hawaii kingdom be removed? Is USA a nation of murdering bastards, as it’s always been?

  161. RUMman
    October 7th, 2008 at 20:04 | #161

    Actually I shouldn’t have said ‘nation’ above. . . it’s more a governmental thing.

    More like, are the CCP (and their supporters) a bunch of murdering bastards. . .

    I get so fed up with PRC arrogance, intolerance, and general “don’t give a stuff what Taiwanese really think” attitude, that I get carried away sometimes.

  162. October 7th, 2008 at 20:05 | #162

    @FOARP #154,

    I must say it is news to me that “self-determination” is “western rhetoric”, the people behing the May the 4th movement did not seem to think so. It is odd to see how the CCP has managed to turn “民族自决” into such a dirty word

    Sorry I am going to blunt in this post – but I think you’d prefer me to get to the point rather than beat around the bushes.

    When I use the word “self-determination,” I often put it in quotes on purpose because it does have both a noble as well as ignoble application.

    When I use the word “self-determination” on this board, I almost always refer to its ignoble application – as an international poliking tool for stronger nations to meddle with the internal affairs of weaker nations.

    In China’s case, I believe self determination has been a tool used by the (much stronger) Western nations to continue to bully and divide China.

    China is a diverse country and has people with many minority opinions. Whether the minorities are spread out throughout China, or focused in some geographic locales (i.e. a province, city, or an island), however, I believe the minority must submit to the majority – unless the majority makes a special rule for the minority to stake a special voice.

    We can talk about self-determination of the “Chinese people” for sure. I have no problem with self determination in that context.

    But when outsiders begin carving up China into specific regions such as Taiwan, or Tibet, or Xinjiang, or Inner Mongolia – and demand that you’ve got to apply the “universal concept” of self-determination to those regions – at their appointed times, I think that’s when the outsiders go too far. That is the time when “self-determination” rears its ugly head, which unfortunately happens quite often in today’s political discourse.

    I understand that were China stronger, this would not be an issue. Perhaps that’s why many Westerners fail to see what they are doing antagonize so many Chinese (the Westerners being in the stronger position).

    China today, despite the Olympics, 30 years of economic growth, etc., is still a developing country at mercy of Western rhetorical Imperialism… Maybe in 20-30 years, things will get better for Chinese, and the Chinese people would longer have to be so defensive about these “ignoble” applications of “self determination”…

  163. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 20:10 | #163

    saimneor @ 158

    What?! If China sells 2000 nukes to Pakistan and tells you India has power to avoid a war and no one has to die, can you keep a straight face?

    Dude, don’t be so hysterical. Now how the monkeys do PAC-3 interceptor missiles etc compare with nuclear weapons? The first is defensive, the second is offensive (and WMD to boot). Your comparison is terrible because Pakistan could use the nukes to try to wipe out India – how can Taiwan do that to China with PAC-3 and Apaches?! o_0

  164. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 20:21 | #164

    @Raj-163,

    Ok, now we both agreed selling weapon to another country and still believe “no one has too die” is naive. The question now is if we agree on the degree of the weapon trade and what is considered as pure defensive and what is not.

    The first question I would ask is if you have read the full press release on the weapon trade and concluded only PAC-3 is included. Have you ever heard (probably not) the Taiwan military publicized its plan to bomb the Three Gorges Dam in 2006 that may result in as many as 300 million death in mainland china? What weapon they are using to complete that task? 100% US made F-16 fighter planes and bombs.

  165. October 7th, 2008 at 20:27 | #165

    @Steve #156,

    Under his official duty, Lincoln’s position was correct. But it was the possible repeal of slavery that caused the south to revolt. Lincoln was a politician and a damn good one. He knew when he wrote this letter that he had no official position to fight the war to rid the nation of slavery ….

    Allen, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion but I am always leery of comparing different conflicts to each other. As I’ve said before, Taiwan’s position with China and in the international community is very unique and we really have nothing to compare with it that I can find.

    I think we are in agreement.

    I didn’t mean to say that Lincoln personally didn’t care about slaves. I only wanted to bring out the fact that the U.S. did not fight the Civil War to free the slaves…

    As for your comment about comparing conflicts, I agree. In bringing up the US Civil War in the first place, I had not wanted any of us judge which Civil War is the more worthy cause. I just wanted to make the proposition that Civil Wars fought in the name of National Unity is a totally legitimate concept (at least in my book).

  166. October 7th, 2008 at 20:30 | #166

    @Allen – So, self-determination is good except when it is not? And who is the ‘majority’? How do they assert their opinions? Nobody knows what the majority of the Chinese population thinks. Were the Chairman of the People’s Republic of Great Britain to tell you, a citizen of the United Kingdom of Greater China and Taiwan, that the British people were all one people and all spoke the same language and had a shared history stretching back for 4,500 years, and that the so-called ‘Irish Republic’ was a splittist organisation and relations with it were entirely a British affair – how willing would you be to believe him?

    @Guys – Throwing around words like ‘murdering bastards’ when talking about whole nations is no way of continuing a polite debate.

  167. October 7th, 2008 at 20:34 | #167

    @Allen – “at mercy of Western rhetorical Imperialism”

    Okay, I really don’t think that the PRC government, protected as it is by the world’s largest army, is really endangered by ‘rhetorical imperialism’ that the average Chinese citizen is not even allowed to read. Rather, what you call ‘rhatorical imperialism’ is in fact a more accurate portrayal of the real state of things than what emanates from state-monitored media, and as such is more convincing. If the Chinese government cannot sell its own party line within its own borders, this is no fault of anyone in the ‘west’.

  168. October 7th, 2008 at 20:53 | #168

    @FOARP,

    Were the Chairman of the People’s Republic of Great Britain to tell you, a citizen of the United Kingdom of Greater China and Taiwan, that the British people were all one people and all spoke the same language and had a shared history stretching back for 4,500 years, and that the so-called ‘Irish Republic’ was a splittist organisation and relations with it were entirely a British affair – how willing would you be to believe him?

    All farce aside, I would believe him. The Irish and the British would have to work out a political solution or fight a Civil War amongst themselves. As a Chinese, I’d leave it at that.

  169. October 7th, 2008 at 21:01 | #169

    @FOARP #167,

    If the Chinese government cannot sell its own party line within its own borders, this is no fault of anyone in the ‘west’.

    I sort of agree. That’s why most Chinese believe that China as a country must get stronger.

    Whether it is the Western rhetorical Imperialism that we perceive is going on today, the Japanese military transgressions of the early 20th century, or the European adventures in China in the 19th and 20th century, the Chinese really only have themselves to blame for being in this position of weakness…

    And regarding the rhetoric – I should also have been clearer. The rhetoric is also often for Western consumption – aka torch relay.

    As for the Chinese army – despite its size – I don’t think it would be a great match against the full brunt of the Western military (ok I know many Mainlanders would disagree with me, but some may agree).

  170. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 21:27 | #170

    saimneor

    The question now is if we agree on the degree of the weapon trade and what is considered as pure defensive and what is not.

    Yeah, I never said that selling weapons is never “bad”. I was talking about Taiwan and what has happened recently.

    The first question I would ask is if you have read the full press release on the weapon trade and concluded only PAC-3 is included.

    No, I was using it as an example.

    Have you ever heard (probably not) the Taiwan military publicized its plan to bomb the Three Gorges Dam in 2006 that may result in as many as 300 million death in mainland china? What weapon they are using to complete that task? 100% US made F-16 fighter planes and bombs.

    Our survey says…. BUZZ! Wrong answer.

    In 2006 I believe a general (as in one) boasted that the indigenous HF-IIE cruise missile would eventually be able to hit the Three Gorges Dam. It is not a Taiwanese “plan” to attack targets like that, unless perhaps China had attacked civilian targets first (and the HF-IIE doesn’t have the range, nor will it because plans to extend it have been scrapped – the focus is now on accuracy and reliability).

    Taiwan’s F-16s wouldn’t have the range to hit the Three Gorges Dam, which you would know if you read up on military affairs.

  171. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 21:29 | #171

    Rhetorical imperialism? That’s a term I’ve never heard before. Does it mean “persuasive ideas”? Does it mean “propaganda”? Or does it mean something else? I’m a little confused here…

  172. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 21:44 | #172

    @Raj,

    Did you actually read reports from Taiwan (in traditional chinese), watched Taiwan TV, or you are speculating based on your English online chat rooms? (Sounds like another feel-good story to me.) Chen Shui Bian’s top military aid, in an apparent showing off, around 2004, stated publicly that the Shanghai, Beijing, and The Dam are all within striking distances from F-16 with inter air refueling. The bomb discussed was the “bunker buster” that US can provide.

    The PRC government, went on to say that The Dam is actually can not be destoried even by nukes. (True or false I do not know.)

    I hope you open up your eyes a little bit to see the world. The western world has less than 30% of human population and its economic dominance is also fading fast, as more and more developing countries go through industrialization.

    As for the name of Taiwan, I hope you also realize the official name of the country is ROC. If you speculated that the pro-independence must be the majority in ROC, think again. The fact is pro-independence party lost in a landslide presidential election. Till today, all “referendums” hold in ROC result in disapproval of independence. ROC is still under its constitution no matter how serious people want to respect it or not. In other words, ROC is still the “Republic of China” planning to retake mainland some day, by its constitution.

  173. October 7th, 2008 at 21:54 | #173

    @Steve #171,

    Rhetorical imperialism? That’s a term I’ve never heard before. Does it mean “persuasive ideas”? Does it mean “propaganda”? Or does it mean something else? I’m a little confused here…

    Yeh … a term I made up. In my mind, I was thinking about “human rights,” “democracy,” “self-determination,” “freedom,” etc.

    As for whether they are persuasive ideas or propaganda or something else – I would say a mix. Some are ideas that could be of genuine good for China. Some are rhetoric meant to destabilize weaker countries. Some are mere feel-good opiate for masses for consumption in the West…

  174. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 22:07 | #174

    Dear Raj,

    I can not find the exact english source for my claim, but here is one report that started the whole thing in 2004; and it was not about the Taiwan missile program.
    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=102×614128
    The chinese media apparently does not keep historical reports so it is hard for me to dig it out for you.

    The point is, say, the spare parts of F-16A/B in this arm sale can result in huge casualties for chinese on both sides of the strait. Does it directly cause the damage? Maybe not. However, you can not tolerate US selling weapons to Taiwan aimed to kill chinese, can you? Or else, let’s say, a single US soldier’s life is important; but thousands of chinese (either side) soldiers are simply meaningless?

    Arm sale is arm sale. US will pay for all this one way or another once China is strong enough. It is just a matter of time. It is probably not the right time to sell anti-ship misslles to Iran yet, or long range rockets to the Arabs. But some day, some form of Chinese arm sale will for sure cause headaches to USA. When that happens, US only has itself to blame.

  175. Raj
    October 7th, 2008 at 22:12 | #175

    saimneor

    Chen Shui Bian’s top military aid, in an apparent showing off, around 2004, stated publicly that the Shanghai, Beijing, and The Dam are all within striking distances from F-16 with inter air refueling.

    Except that Taiwan doesn’t have any air refueling aircraft, and the US hasn’t offered any for sale!

    The bomb discussed was the “bunker buster” that US can provide.

    And has not sold!

    As for the name of Taiwan, I hope you also realize the official name of the country is ROC.

    In part because China threatens war if it tries to change its name. Give Taiwan a free decision and you’ll see what they go for.

    If you speculated that the pro-independence must be the majority in ROC, think again. The fact is pro-independence party lost in a landslide presidential election.

    Please, everyone knows the voters weren’t deciding on independence or unification. They voted for the DPP in 2000 and 2004, but that didn’t lead to independence. It’s mostly rhetoric. Note that the KMT kept having to play up its “pro-Taiwan” nature and dismiss unification to get elected.

    Till today, all “referendums” hold in ROC result in disapproval of independence.

    Wrong. All the referendums got majority support, but each party boycotted the others proposals so they failed due to turnout regulations.

    Now, if you want to still say they failed, then I should point out the following:

    2004 referendum qn:

    “Would you agree that our Government should engage in negotiation with Communist China on the establishment of a “peace and stability” framework for cross-strait interactions in order to build consensus and for the welfare of the peoples on both sides?”

    Failed. So according to your logic, this means that Taiwanese don’t want negotiation with China to build positive relations. They want ill-will! 😀

  176. Steve
    October 7th, 2008 at 22:15 | #176

    Allen, thanks for the explanation. Could you clarify? Which ones would be ideas that could of genuine good for China, which are meant to destablize weaker countries and which do you feel are feel-good opiates for the masses? In college, instead of saying “opiate for the masses” we used to say “cookies for the mind”. LOL

  177. saimneor
    October 7th, 2008 at 22:23 | #177

    Raj

    “Give Taiwan a free decision and you’ll see what they go for.”

    You are speculating again. Hehe, I hope the Hawaiian women who tried to re-establish the Hawaii Kingdom is not expelled from the palace in 2008.

    “So according to your logic, this means that Taiwanese don’t want negotiation with China to build positive relations. They want ill-will!”

    The referendum leading to independence failed is what I said. You were trying to say another 2004 referendum is valid and the result is “NO”. That is the most strange logic.

  178. October 7th, 2008 at 22:44 | #178

    @Saimneor & Raj – Guys, this argument is stupid, no doubt both y’all can find ‘sources’ for this argument, but let’s just ask – can Taiwan hurt the mainland? Yes. Would Taiwan launch a surprise attack on the mainland? No, because if the ROC military were to launch an attack on the mainland they would lose all protection from their allies. As Americans like to say “Period”. We saw as much this summer following the Georgian attack on South Ossetia. The PRC would then be free to do as they liked with Taiwan, and the results wouldn’t be pretty.

    @Steve – Yeah, rhetorical imperialism, yeah right! By this standard, the Soviet Union conquered China through ‘rhetorical imperialism’ back in 1949 – when are the Chinese going to free themselves?

  179. S.K. Cheung
    October 7th, 2008 at 23:35 | #179

    To Allen #162:
    ok, this time it’s on you for bringing up self-determination. Last time it was my bad, I believe 🙂

    Obviously we have differences of opinion on this.

    ““self-determination” … as an international poliking tool for stronger nations to meddle with the internal affairs of weaker nations.” But that implies that certain nations or certain peoples are fundamentally incapable of fomenting the desire to choose their destiny, unless that desire is instilled by evil western forces. Now granted, perhaps the concept is western in origin. But surely, people can learn of these concepts and espouse them, without subliminal direction from (insert evil western empire du jour here).

    So if Tibetans or Taiwanese want to exercise such rights of their own free will, and do so not at the behest of you-know-who, what then? First off, would you recognize that such a scenario is within the realm of possibility?

    If you do, and you say “We can talk about self-determination of the “Chinese people” for sure”, then must all Chinese toe the same line, and want the same thing? Certainly, many people want what you want. But I think it equally likely that many don’t.

    “I believe the minority must submit to the majority” – certainly true in a democracy. But I don’t think even you would argue that such exists in China, today.

    “But when outsiders begin carving up China…”- when did roast beef enter into the discussion? Again, that’s predicated on people only wishing to distance themselves from “China” when their mind’s been poisoned by you know who. My contention is that perfectly sane and lucid individuals may choose such a course, if such a possibility was offered to them. So what you should ask is not when the west will stop enticing Chinese with the pie-in-the-sky of self-determination; what you should ask is when China will be mature enough to offer it up herself (with dijon mustard on the side) 🙂

  180. cephaloless
    October 7th, 2008 at 23:50 | #180

    Just thought to share the sayings of a couple famous people since between all the highly enjoyable and edifying exchange, I have no other words left.

    “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” Joseph Goebbels.

    “A lie told often enough becomes truth” Vladimir Lenin.

  181. October 8th, 2008 at 00:22 | #181

    @SKC #179,

    OK – this time is my bad. But it’s you who volleyed back…! 🙂

    that implies that certain nations or certain peoples are fundamentally incapable of fomenting the desire to choose their destiny, unless that desire is instilled by evil western forces. Now granted, perhaps the concept is western in origin. But surely, people can learn of these concepts and espouse them, without subliminal direction from (insert evil western empire du jour here).

    I will not attribute the concept of self determination to the West. The concept that the people ultimately decide the natural order of things is instilled in the Chinese concept of governance for a long time…

    The “problem” with self determination is that it is a collective right, not an individual right. If it were an individual right (i.e. every person has a right to self determination), then things would be simple – though we would be arguing for non-governance – anarchy.

    But the fact of the matter is that we are talking about a collective right. And if we are to talk about a collective right – we must decide which basic, indivisible collective unit has such a right, knowing full well that once such a unit is defined, there may be minorities who may not want to belong to the collective, but nevertheless will have to.

    Now by “majority, I mean it only as a matter of speech – not necessarily democracy. What I am trying to say is that once you do start down the path to self determination (activating the collective right), you will have to recognize a will of the “people” (which I term majority) – and that not everyone may be happy with the will of the people (which I term minority).

    And no, we don’t need democracy per se for self determination. The democratic process may enable or may impede self determination, depending on how the democratic process is administered. As I’ve mentioned before, many stars have to align for an elected gov’t to really be a gov’t for the people; and I have serious doubts that U.S. sys is a democratic one…

    My “roast beef” with the West is that it seems many people outside of China would like to define for China what these collective units are: instead of recognizing a Chinese people, they want a Tibetan people, a Taiwanese people, a Uighur people, etc., etc. I feel especially offended when Westerners begin dictating to the “Chinese people” that certain “Chinese people” are actually not “Chinese” and thus China should hold some sort of referendum to decide either if they are really “Chinese” or if they want to opt out of being Chinese.

    These are China’s internal affairs. If you really think that China is like a Nazi Germany bent on oppressing its own people, then you must fly the flag of Freedom and go to war with China NOW (TODAY) to liberate the Chinese people. Otherwise, let the Chinese practice their own self determination and give them space to find a political solution for themselves.

    So in summary. I have no problem with the concept of self determination. I just don’t like the way it has been used in the international arena to divide weaker nations into politically expedient groups.

  182. totochi
    October 8th, 2008 at 00:24 | #182

    @Allen #117

    Thanks for your response. I actually had the same feeling when I visited China. I studied a lot of Chinese history in college and the overwhelming feeling was sadness, especially modern Chinese history. However, unlike some of the more nationalistic people on this blog, I lay 99% of China’s problems today on the CCP. Yes, I studied about the Opium Wars, the Unequal Treaties, the Sino-Japanese War, etc. For me, what’s more inexcusible is the Chinese-on-Chinese abuse that happened after 1949. That’s the legacy of the CCP. I see pro-China people talk about how much progress there has been in the past 30 years, conveniently choosing the end of the Cultural Revolution as their comparison point. What about the first 30 years? Why should the CCP get a pass for causing all the suffering and deaths during those years? Does anyone in China still think Mao was good for China? Why are his posters still up everywhere in China? They should be pulled down like Saddam Hussein in Iraq.

    This is my primary reason of opposing reunification as long as the CCP is in power. A goverment without accountability to its people has no legitimacy. I also agree that to just remove the CCP would most likely reduce the country to chaos. Fine, then focus on fixing the internal problems. If the bureaucrats in charge really are there to serve the people and not themselves, deal with the massive corruption problems. Whether Taiwan goes independent or not, it’s inconsequential to the future well-being of China. I help my friend run a small factory in Chengdu. Each time I visit, I am offended by the lavish offices and perks given to govenment officials whose job, it seems, is to obstruct us until we give them red envelopes. Then I talk to our workers and other middle class people I meet trying to earn a living, and the hopelessness they feel, and it pisses me off.

    Anyway, even though I was born in Taiwan, I’m not Taiwanese and all my relatives have moved to US/Canada/China. I just think that reunification under CCP rules will be bad for Taiwan while independence is not too different from the status-quo while allowing the people of Taiwan a voice in international affairs.

  183. S.K. Cheung
    October 8th, 2008 at 03:15 | #183

    To Allen:
    since we’re back on the subject… 🙂
    “If it were an individual right (i.e. every person has a right to self determination), then things would be simple – though we would be arguing for non-governance – anarchy” – that assumes that every individual exercises that right to the fullest, in every aspect of their lives, with no room for compromise on anything. Theoretically possible. Practically, IMO, exceedingly unlikely. But people may exercise that right in the arena that bothers them the most, or that they value the most. And on many other “less important” things, they may well be willing to compromise, particularly if it allows them to achieve what they want most dearly. So a bunch of Tibetans, if given the chance, may exercise their self-determination in a certain unnamed arena, and put up with the fact that, say, they don’t share the same taste in music, or have different favourite colours. Once their biggest beef is addressed, they may tolerate that they like their potatoes different ways. That needn’t result in anarchy.

    Defining the unit is tricky, i admit. But that’s not the rate-limiting step, nor would it be once the philosophical barriers are removed.

    “instead of recognizing a Chinese people, they want a Tibetan people, a Taiwanese people, a Uighur people, etc., etc.” – but that was the crux of my point in #179. Forget what Americans want. Aren’t Tibetans or Taiwanese capable of wanting same, without being told to want it? No one’s dictating anything. Why always assume that it’s the west doing the asking? To me that’s a false premise. Why not consider the scenario from the perspective of it being the Tibetans and Taiwanese making the request? So in your paradigm, if it’s one Chinese asking another, then what?

  184. doodling
    October 8th, 2008 at 04:22 | #184

    I’ve read all of the post so far and it’s pretty good and insightful. Some of the post here are negative to the idea of having a communist government control a democratic area like Taiwan. They think that the democracy in Taiwan will be immediately destroyed by CCP. This belief is false if we look at how CCP has handle the situation in Hong Kong. CCP has allowed Hong Kong people to govern its own local matters. This gives Hong Kong a chance to slowly adapt to the communist government while being part of China. It would be narrow minded for people to say CCP is still an evil government due to its past history. You have to look at CCP recent progress in order to understand that the government is trying its best to change itself for the better good. Corruption happens everywhere but when you’re in a huge government like CCP; it will be hard to stop these. The higher ups needs more control to crack down on these corruptions.
    I believe this is what China has been doing in recent years, slowly trying to buildup its relationship with Taiwan so that it can be part of China again. Once Taiwan joins China it would be given the same privilege of Hong Kong. However, the purchase of these weapons will make China more aggressive in its policy against Taiwan.
    I would like people to look at the recent policy of the U.S government. People thought that democracy would bring hope to Iraq. Look at it carefully it has brought death and suffering. Look at what American is trying to do now, wash their hand away from this situation. The think tank of U.S military really has spent a lot of time creating new controversy.
    You may call me pro-China or something but I really want Taiwan and China to be together again. Why? There are too many similarities between both Taiwan and China for them to be separate. If they separate, it’ll be like North and South Korea.

  185. October 8th, 2008 at 04:40 | #185

    @SKC #183,

    So a bunch of Tibetans, if given the chance, may exercise their self-determination in a certain unnamed arena, and put up with the fact that, say, they don’t share the same taste in music, or have different favourite colours. Once their biggest beef is addressed, they may tolerate that they like their potatoes different ways. That needn’t result in anarchy.

    OK – I’ll bite …

    Which “bunch” are you talking about? Unless you are talking about a unanimous “bunch,” you will always get minorities that disagree. Tibetans and Taiwanese are terminologies. There are always minorities within them. For Taiwanese, there are northern Taiwanese and southern Taiwanese. Within northern Taiwanese, there are Taipeese and non-Taipese. Further sudivisions can always be made. Same with Tibetans or any other group.

    Eventually, however, we need to define which group constitute a “people” for self determination purposes where the minority have to submit to the “majority”… I stop at the Chinese level. You seem to sometimes want to stop at the individual level but in the next breadth at the Tibetan and Taiwanese level (for what reason I don’t know).

    You can’t stop in the individual level because that’s how reality works. When is the last time you or your neighbor take such a vote whether to secede from the gov’t or to swear allegiance to the gov’t?

    Consider also this: everyone American citizen needs to pay tax and thus implicitly pay for the war even if he may be adamantly against the war. No individual can unilaterally withdraw from the duty of paying tax on the basis he is against the war. Correspondingly, no individual can simply secede from society even if he is unhappy with this gov’t. This is the political conundrum that has perplexed liberal political philosophers since time immemorial…

    I think you have a “theory” that in democratic societies, every individual actually have a right to unilaterally secede from their gov’ts. You assume that no one does so because all individuals in the West actually prefer to stay with the gov’t.

    But that’s not reality. There have never been any country that hold period elections to see if individuals (with their neighbors if they so choose) want to secede from their gov’t. The reality is such governance would never work.

    But when it comes to China, things are different. You question China’s legitimacy. Every time there are any civil unrest, you seem to want China to hold referendums.

    So I bit your bait – I hope you finally have come to see light and agree that I am 100% right and you are 100% wrong! 😉

  186. October 8th, 2008 at 04:47 | #186

    @doodling,

    How has the milk crisis affected Hong Kong?

    Has there been more corruption since joining China?

    Do Hong Kong people hold prejudices against the Mainlanders – i.e. thinking they are rude, corrupt, backward, etc.?

    Do Mainlanders hold prejudices against Hong Kong people – i.e. thinking their are snobby, cold, selfish, etc.?

  187. S.K. Cheung
    October 8th, 2008 at 05:08 | #187

    To Allen:
    as I said, people who may choose to exercise their right of self-determination needn’t agree on everything. All they need to agree upon is the MAIN thing. Whatever that MAIN thing is to them; far be it for me to tell them that.
    “Eventually, however, we need to define which group constitute a “people”” – as I’ve said, yes, this is a hurdle, but by no means insurmountable. OK, I’m going to sound like Wahaha for a sec with goofy examples…must be something I ate tonight. Say you’re thinking about buying a Prius. You’ve first got to want the Prius. Then you worry about the colour. To me, self determination is the Prius; the “group definition” is the colour.

    “You seem to sometimes want to stop at the individual level but in the next breadth at the Tibetan and Taiwanese level” – you must have me confused with someone else. The “level” to stop at, to me, is defined by those who are seeking it, and not by you, me, or Dupree (sorry, goofy movie reference…I’ll stop that now).

    “When is the last time you or your neighbor take such a vote whether to secede from the gov’t or to swear allegiance to the gov’t?” – never, cuz I’ve never wanted to (can’t speak for my neighbour, however). But Tibetans or Taiwanese might.

    As for the US legal example, at least that poor taxpayer can vote out the government, which is more than what a Tibetan can. I guess a Taiwanese can too, but that vote won’t count for much on the other side of the Strait.

    If you took my “theory” to the extreme, i suppose you could apply it to the individual. And I suppose i would give that individual that choice. But again, practically, would any individual in his right mind choose to be his/her own little fiefdom within their former country? Would it be worth it to have to cross a border just to cross the street from his house? Not to mention a long litany of other “practical” concerns.

    We don’t have elections to secede from government, because we do have elections to give us some input into the makeup of that government. And i’d submit that so far, for Canadians and Americans, those choices have been sufficient. And if one day, those choices no longer suffice, then we may have to go with your option.

    I don’t ask China for a referendum every time there’s civil unrest. With Sanlu, for instance, all I asked for were heads placed on ends of sticks, put there with the use of dull knives. But I don’t think Tibet and Taiwan are garden-variety cases, unless 60 year old issues are still garden variety.

    Hey, you’re one greedy dude. My wife and I each only claim to be right 51% of the time. 🙂

  188. S.K. Cheung
    October 8th, 2008 at 05:19 | #188

    To Doodling:
    I’m not one for labels. You make good points. But for HK, she went from colony to SEZ. I’m glad it’s worked out relatively well. But it is what it is, and HK didn’t have much choice in the matter. But Taiwan already has more autonomy than HK. So giving her HK status would actually require taking something away.
    In whatever way this turns out, hopefully neither side will be looking at starvation (the way North Koreans have to).

  189. Otto Kerner
    October 8th, 2008 at 05:19 | #189

    Allen,

    Out of curiosity, on what grounds did you choose to stop at the “Chinese” level? What was your decision-making process?

  190. October 8th, 2008 at 05:42 | #190

    @Otto,

    Good question. Thanks for reading my posts.

    There are many levels – in several threads we tried to discuss what makes one “Chinese” – and there are many views – including perspectives that take into account cultural, linguistic, historical, nationalistic factors, etc.

    I myself simply go with the national definition.

    Many can debate what makes a Canadian – or an American – or perhaps French. But on the International stage, there is no such debate. The American people must as a “people” decide their own fate – whether through a civil war – or through the turmoils of their civil rights movement.

    I think the same respect should go to the Chinese.

  191. October 8th, 2008 at 05:51 | #191

    @SKC,

    I won’t be so greedy as to think we can reach complete agreement. So I’ll just pick on one of your points.

    As for the US legal example, at least that poor taxpayer can vote out the government, which is more than what a Tibetan can. I guess a Taiwanese can too, but that vote won’t count for much on the other side of the Strait.

    That is wrong. One individual – or two individuals – cannot vote the gov’t out. As minorities, we must suffer the decisions that we as “American people” make (e.g. voting Bush in).

    We minorities can’t do anything about it. Not a damn thing!

    That is the nature of governance. That is the nature of being a people. That is sacrafices we make in being part of a community – we minorities and individuals don’t get to secede even if we get to vote!

  192. S.K. Cheung
    October 8th, 2008 at 06:25 | #192

    To Allen:
    you’re right. I’ll rephrase. That poor taxpayer can vote on who he wants in government, which is (still) more than what a Tibetan can etc etc. And if he doesn’t get his wish, he’s got a choice to make. Does he deal with it, or does he renounce that government altogether? And for Americans, clearly even 8 years of Bushisms hasn’t been enough to renounce the system in droves.
    But when people exercise their right to self-determination in an affirmative way (ie. choosing separation), they’re renouncing whatever government they were previously under. And in China’s case, it would be one not necessarily of Tibetan/Taiwanese (or for that matter Chinese) choosing.
    “That is the nature of being a people” – actually, what I’m saying is that the people should get a say as to whether they share that vision.

  193. Raj
    October 8th, 2008 at 07:00 | #193

    saimneor

    The referendum leading to independence failed is what I said. You were trying to say another 2004 referendum is valid and the result is “NO”. That is the most strange logic.

    No, I said according to YOUR LOGIC because the 2004 referendum failed on turnout, which was the case with the “referendum leading to independence” (whichever that one was), then it means it failed and Taiwanese don’t want good relations with China.

    Either accept that the failure of referendums is down to turnout matters and does not necessarily reflect the views of Taiwanese, or that calls for good relations with China were rejected because they don’t want them. You can’t have your cake and eat it.

  194. Nobody
    October 8th, 2008 at 07:10 | #194

    @Allen,

    In 20 – 50 years?…Haha…Listen to the last American true Prophet, and you KNOW you’ve got nothing to worry about that evil rhetorical empire yonder..haha

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pTxlriL72s&feature=related

    “The White empire is OVER! We’ve over reached, arrogant,… taquila lolipop and over 200 car smell ….organized ourselves poorly, greedy, …..” “You don’t go to Iraq, you don’t get behead, so now you know.” “The Muslims are gonna take over. The White race is over; we don’t even produce enough for replacement. And they’ve got nothing to lose. ” George Carlin.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTLW1FwupE4&feature=related

  195. Jerry
    October 8th, 2008 at 08:20 | #195

    @Allen, #147,165, 173
    @Steve, #156

    As a disclosure, I, too, am leery of direct comparisons between the China-Taiwan and the American Civil War.

    Ah, the American Civil War was a mess, politically and personally, for a lot of people.

    IIRC, the Republicans ran on a platform of preventing slavery’s expansion outside of the Southern slave states. A number of Southern states seceded after the election and before the inauguration. The Confederates attacked Fort Sumter, SC in April of 1861. Lincoln called for volunteers and volunteer militia from all non-secessionist states to join the army. More states seceded.

    So opposition to slavery was clearly an irritant to the Southern slave states. And yes, slavery is despicable. Just as economic slavery, poverty and near-poverty, are despicable now.

    Here are some messy points.

    Lincoln was vexed by riots and militia actions in Maryland and Indiana, which are border states. He also had opposition from some Democrats who favored peace or were supportive of the Confederacy. So he suspended habeas corpus in 1861 (Sound familiar? Can you say Gitmo?). Using this suspension, he rounded up those he viewed as disloyal. (Just writing this sends shivers up my spine. Implications for the present are scary.) Congress officially suspended habeas corpus in 1863. I vaguely remember reading Sandburg’s description of the vitriole that ensued.

    Lincoln, though personally opposed to slavery, had political reservations about the Emancipation Proclamation. A number of people in the North, including his home state of Illinois, opposed freeing the slaves. They feared that a human tide of freed African-American slaves would swamp the North, taking away their jobs. (Hmmm, sound familiar? Same cry is used about immigration.) After a great personal struggle, Lincoln enacted the proclamation.

    If I would have a reason for raising on FM a discussion of the American Civil War, it would not be about comparison with China-Taiwan. It would be about a cautionary tale, as SK mentioned elsewhere. Brothers and cousins fought against each other, family against family, over 1,000,000 (maybe several million) people were killed, maimed, wounded, displaced and/or traumatized.

    Similar things happened in the confrontation between South and North Vietnam. 3,000,000 died in the American War, as the Vietnamese call it.

    I would always ask if the violence, destruction and human devastation are worth fighting a war?

    —————-

    #173

    Allen, how about you use the term “imperialistic rhetoric”?

  196. Otto Kerner
    October 8th, 2008 at 12:08 | #196

    Allen, sorry for the misunderstanding. I wasn’t asking how you define the “Chinese” level. That seemed reasonably clear from context. What I wanted to ask is how you decided that this level is the appropriate level for self-determination to operate at.

  197. saimneor
    October 8th, 2008 at 15:45 | #197

    Raj,

    You said “No, I said according to YOUR LOGIC because the 2004 referendum failed on turnout, which was the case with the “referendum leading to independence” (whichever that one was), then it means it failed and Taiwanese don’t want good relations with China.

    Either accept that the failure of referendums is down to turnout matters and does not necessarily reflect the views of Taiwanese, or that calls for good relations with China were rejected because they don’t want them. You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

    Please read the original chinese text. Question #2 is to vote a yes/no to enable the ROC gov to directly negotiate with PRC gov to build a “peace framework”. Till today, there is no progress to even start the discussion to build such a framework and if that framework is built, it would greatly benefit both sides. However, the time is not ready to do that. Especially USA would not like that because it makes USA irrrelavent. Please note the question is not to have a good relation with PRC or not. There are many ways to build a good relation with PRC without dive into a permanent peace framework. In reality, I think the current ROC gov has a good relation with PRC gov. There will be a historical visit from the PRC Taiwan office head soon.

  198. cephaloless
    October 8th, 2008 at 17:41 | #198

    @doodling #182
    I know what you want to try to say but why does Hong Kong need to “adapt to the communist government” if its local matters are autonomous? Following up on on S.K. Cheung #188, how much more “adapting” would be forced on taiwan even though its supposed to be autonomous?

  199. October 8th, 2008 at 20:33 | #199

    @Steve #176,

    Allen, thanks for the explanation. Could you clarify? Which ones would be ideas that could of genuine good for China, which are meant to destablize weaker countries and which do you feel are feel-good opiates for the masses? In college, instead of saying “opiate for the masses” we used to say “cookies for the mind”. LOL

    This is a tall order. As we continue our interaction on this blog, I’m sure we’ll get many opportunities to work through all these ideas.

    But here is a short version.

    Democracy as opiate of the mass (or “cookie for the brain” as you prefer): Many stars have to align for a government be truly democratic – i.e. to truly represent the will of the people and to legitimately be for “the people.”

    All too often in the West, such stars don’t align. In the U.S., people live paycheck to paycheck with little energy or time to really participate in politics; the media reports stories in simple rhetorical ways (i.e. sound bites) to maximize revenue; laws are routinely made through negotiations amongst lobbyists (special interests) with lawmakers standing by as on-lookers/judges to the process, the political vetting is expensive and dominated two parties controlled by entrenched interests, etc.

    Democracy as imperialistic Rhetoric (thanks Jerry for improving my terminology): Many see the U.S. as a superpower and believes that democracy is part of the secret. But democracy is not right for every country and is all too often used to delegitimize foreign governments.

    Without the proper institutions (legal, civil, cultural, etc.), democracies simply provides a different forum for powers to be grabbed as the expense of the people. Nations, still the best mode to advance the interest of its people, become weakened and/or controlled by outside interests. It is unfortunately that too few people recognize this. When translated to other lands by people without the true interest of “the people” in mind, democracy often only brings misery, empowers ethnic strife, and weakens the nation of many people across the world.

    Freedom as opiate of the mass: personal freedom is a function of many factors, including social environment (e.g. do you live in a racist country?), cultural constraints (e.g. do you live in a culture dominated by religious fundamentalism), technological know-how, economic resources, government regulations, development of a civil society, maturity of the legal system, stability of the country, etc., etc.

    People are not free simply because there is a Bill of Rights. People are truly free when the gov’t work to empower the people. I don’t think the U.S. is empowering its people at all. It is hiding behind the Bill of Rights as if that is the end all and be all to freedom when it as a country is rotting through its core.

    China on the other hand is working to empowering all its people through socioeconomic development. Sure, there are still too many social injustices. But at least people are working toward a just society.

    Self Determination as imperialistic rhetoric – As I mentioned many times, too many people presume that self determination must be applied along ethnic-religious lines – which I believe is unfortunate. Some may want even intend to apply self determination to weaker countries by supporting domestic insurgent groups for political expediency.

    China has a very different idea of a multi-cultural society than the West, and the West should respect it. The West should also respect the Chinese people is a “people” and as “a people” deserve their right to self determination. The differences between Taiwanese and Mainlanders or ethnic Tibetans and the central government is a Chinese problem – and as such ought to be worked out by the Chinese themselves – within the Chinese framework – not with the injection of foreign power.

    Human Rights as imperialistic rhetoric: human rights arouse the biggest emotions within me. I wont’ go into all details, but suffice it to say that the western definition of human rights is very VERY narrow.

    We know there are never absolute freedoms. Societies always have to play a balancing game. Take Freedom of speech and freedom of religion as examples. Depending on the time in history – such as times of war, or when a country may be weak, freedom of speech may have be suppressed more than at other times. Religion is also regulated. Even today, the U.S. bans polygamism or the use of certain drug even when such laws interfere with certain religions. The U.S. promotes children to get abortions even when their parents’ religious beliefs may consider the procedures to be murder.

    My point about human rights is that you must consider human rights in the broader social context, not in an absolute frame of mind of the society you come from.

    In China, all people can be allowed to worship the DL if the DL is not flying around the world fanning the seed of Tibetan nationalism all the time. Westerners should understand the full dynamics of the situation rather than simply accuse China of “religious suppression.”

    Of course it’s ok to engage China in helping China build a modern society. You may point to your own history and suggest lessons you learned that could benefit China. But don’t lecture China about what they ought to do based on a narrow interpretation of your history and your values.

    If human rights is truly “universal,” you need not worry: China will discover them just fine. Give her the freedom to discover and take to heart those very “universal” values.

  200. October 8th, 2008 at 20:42 | #200

    @SKC #192,

    And if he doesn’t get his wish, he’s got a choice to make. Does he deal with it, or does he renounce that government altogether?

    Can you really renounce your gov’t? If someone here tries and renounce the gov’t and not do his duties as a citizen (such as not paying tax), he will end up in jail … or worse (maybe Guantanomo).

  201. October 8th, 2008 at 21:22 | #201

    @Allen – Human rights, democracy etc. are much more missed in their absence than they are celebrated in their prescence. And the majority of Chinese seem fairly clear what they mean when they talk about human rights – and freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and freedom from poverty, hunger, and terror are definitely included in every definition. There is a reason why human rights are defined narrowly – because they are the minimum that the human race can agree on, even the Chinese government does not dispute that these things are human rights. Were you to try to define human rights more broadly they would include things that people both within and without China’s borders might legitimately challenge as non-essential. Were America really to try to impose its sense of what basic human rights are, the vast majority of countries in Europe would certainly oppose them – particularly if they were to try to include the right to bear arms that they enshrine as the second amendment of their constitution. It is the fact that these human rights are not respected in China that makes people demand them, not ‘rhetorical imperialism’.

    You have said often enough that people in Taiwan are ethnically and culturally Chinese, why haven’t we seen the people of Taiwan challenge these rights? Why was it that the Dangwai movement, with the majority of Taiwanese behind them, successfully challenged the government of a US ally by demanding these rights? Why was it that thousands of Filipinos took to the streets and overthrew Marcos, another American ally, whilst also demanding human rights? ‘rhetorical imperialism’? Why were the junta’s aligned with the US in Chile and Argentina overthrown by people demanding human rights?

    And here in Europe, were Sakharov, Solzhenitsyn, Havel, Lech Wałęsa and the other human rights activists of the 70s and 80s all US stooges? How then do you understand their later policies? And what about the moves made under the European Convention on Human Rights, particularly integrating it into national law?

    And, as a someone who has studied law you must have heard of the International Criminal Court – is this too a piece of US ‘rhetorical imperialism’?

    Non-democratic governments lack legitimacy simply because they were not chosen by the people. Including words like “People’s” and “Democratic” in the name of the country does not change this.

    As for the rest of it, I’ll have a go when I have more time.

  202. October 8th, 2008 at 21:26 | #202

    @Otto Kerner #196,

    Allen, sorry for the misunderstanding. I wasn’t asking how you define the “Chinese” level. That seemed reasonably clear from context. What I wanted to ask is how you decided that this level is the appropriate level for self-determination to operate at.

    I don’t know … except to say that because I love China, or because to say I feel empathy for all people of China.

    I have two points I intended to make.

    1. to articulate the perspective that many Chinese feel that there is a “Chinese people” and that we deserve to be accorded “self determination” and to develop in our own way.

    and if that doesn’t register, then at least

    2. point out that the emotional pull of self determination is not self determination per se, but the underlying assumption about what groups of people deserve self determination. If you don’t feel a pull for self determination of the “Chinese people” but do for the “Taiwanese people” or “Tibetan people,” I hope you can at least see that perhaps your emotional pull is not based on universal values per se, but some other (unarticulated) preferences.

  203. Oli
    October 8th, 2008 at 22:38 | #203

    Frankly this is getting silly and me thinks in both threads certain individuals’ ignorance of international law is telling, so here goes a quickie International Law 101 for anybody who needs it and for those who thinks that the Republic of CHINA is a “nation”.

    Firstly, the “body” of international law lies not in any UN charter of declarations nor commonly perceived or supposedly accepted “standards” of state behaviour. Each recognised sovereign nation under the doctrine of the supremacy of national sovereignty have pretty much the right to do whatever it wants, including the passing of extra-territorial laws and the unilateral declaration of war.

    Secondly, international law is really nothing more than the bodies of treaties and agreements signed between two nations or among a group of nations. These agreements can range from the most mundane such as an extradition agreement between two nations or as major as the EU Treaty that underpins EC law, the ASEAN agreement, the NAFTA agreement, WTO rules or agreement to set up the International Criminal Court.

    Therefore, whenever some activist groups or the media create an outcry to gain publicity by alleging some breach of international law or breach of human rights, my first reaction is bemusement, whilst wondering “which” international law, which treaty or agreement exactly is alleged to have been broken. Thus, contrary to common misconception, there is no such thing as a supposedly overriding body of “supranational” laws riding to the rescue. There never was.

    Thirdly, a political entity is NOT a sovereign nation until it is recognised by a “sufficient” number of other national governments, this is NOT an international law, but simply recognised diplomatic modus operandi. Recognition is achieved firstly through the exchange of ambassadorial representation to each other’s incumbent government, the head of which in annual and elaborate ceremonies will officially recognise and receive each ambassador’s credentials.

    Consequently, as the Republic of CHINA is neither recognised by a vast majority of nations on this planet nor represented at the United Nations or other official international bodies that matter, it is by definition NOT a sovereign nation, irrespective of its de facto status. Furthermore, even if the Republic of CHINA were to declare itself independent, it would still not be a sovereign nation if it does not gain sufficient recognition, ergo the situation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. And yes I know, all these can easily be dismissed as mere technicalities with a hand wave, but unfortunately the law, whether international or domestic, is founded on so much technicalities. Otherwise, any Tom, Dick or Harry would simply purchase a disused oil rig and declare themselves a sovereign state, even if they are within territorial waters. Thus “de facto” independence is ultimately also meaningless where contention exists.

    Fourthly, notice the capitalisation of Republic of CHINA? The irony apparently lost in all the arguments that have spread over two threads is that both the Republic of CHINA and the People’s Republic of CHINA assert in their own constitutions sovereignty over the “whole” of CHINA. And THAT really ought to say something to the rabid anti-PRC crowd, whose jumbled twistings and turnings I admittedly find pretty amusing.

    Therefore, the comparison of the situation in the Taiwan Strait ought not be between two independent nations. By the reckoning of the two immediate protagonists and their respective constitutions, it ought to be regarded as between two different political parties, whether its between the CCP and the KMT or between the CCP and the DDP, who simply govern different parts of a single nation. This is akin to say one American state is ruled by a democrat governor, while another is run by a republican governor and where each governor’s state troopers are forbidden to cross state lines or have jurisdictional powers in the other state.

    And yes ultimately, under the previously mentioned technicalities of international law and under the constitutions of both the RoCHINA and the PRoCHINA, the USA IS interfering in the internal affairs of China. Yet paradoxically, under the conflicting, but internationally accepted doctrine of national sovereignty and parliamentary supremacy, the US Congress has every right per its mandate to pass the extra-territorial Taiwan Relations Act. But the practical decision of whether to implement or how to implement the Act is a political decision for the executive branch of the US government to decide.

    However, as this is a political decision, there will ultimately be both short-term and long-term consequences for the US. The short-term consequences are already apparent, while the long-term consequences will undoubtedly transpire. It may not be within the next 12 months and it may not be within the next 5 years. It may not even occur in the relationship between the PRC and the US, but it will happen in whatever format, particularly if the fallout from the Monroe Doctrine and past US meddling in Middle Eastern countries’ internal politics is any indication.

    Furthermore, the end beneficiary of this arms sale is in reality not the ROC, but in fact through S. Korea and Japan, the US bases and US strategic freedom in those countries either vis-à-vis the PRC, N. Korea or most likely Russia. Should the ROC and the PRC reunify, under whatever circumstances, a unified China will dominate the oil, resource and strategic military transport shipping lanes to those countries and the bases there as well as Alaska. Consequently, the sales of such arms is never intended for the “defence” of the ROC, but simply to delay any inevitable PRC military victory long enough to force a change in world public, political and strategic opinion in order to either force a political settlement or play for time to enable military intervention.

    Consequently, the ROC, S. Korea and even Japan are in the end nothing more than a sacrificial “buffer zone” for US strategic interests and the stalking horses that maintain US strategic freedom in the Pacific basin. The irony is that in the end the ultimate and best guarantor of the ROC’s continuing existence lies neither in US weapons, future US governments or US laws, but rather with the people of the PRC, the people of the ROC and to a lesser extent among the Overseas Chinese. US involvement is nothing more than the ladle that stirs the pot to the benefit of US interests. In the end the best way to maintain peace within the Taiwan Strait, short of reunification, is for the peoples of the PRC and the ROC to become as close to each other as possible, whether socially, politically or economically.

  204. saimneor
    October 8th, 2008 at 22:57 | #204

    Oil,

    Well said. I guess this is what people in Taiwan failed to realize. Four years ago there was a debate that someone said US should not SELL weapons to Taiwan. US should provide weapons for free. Because Taiwan is really defending US national interests by not choosing a unification path.

    US was able to use the pan-green parties to raise enough pro-independence sentiment, to get to the goal with no cost. But it was a dangerous strategy to feed the extremists.

  205. Chops
    October 8th, 2008 at 23:08 | #205

    “North Korea has signed on to a ‘non-aggression’ pact with South-East Asian nations after regional security talks at an ASEAN forum”

    http://www.radioaustralia.net.au/news/stories/200807/s2313852.htm

    “Obama and McCain also appear to be receptive to Washington signing up to a non-aggression treaty with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)”

    http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jIeVAsF1gObWW01dfHiuMzltMCHw

    President Ma has also been talking about a possible peace treaty with China and a reduction of missiles aimed at Taiwan.

  206. saimneor
    October 8th, 2008 at 23:22 | #206

    “missiles aimed at Taiwan” is a propaganda, me thinks. China has a long coast line and US navy often pay a unwelcome visit such as in 1996. There were Japanese navy that is stronger at this time. So, is it not permitted to have some missiles for self defense? So next time an US navy fleet tried to pass the strait to humiliate the chinese, at least we have some threat.

    And how do you really aim the missiles at Taiwan? We are not talking about the long range nukes. These are the small, mobile, short range missiles. I would not doubt if they can change the aim in 10 minutes.

    If you say the missiles concentrate around the Taiwan Strait area, that is understandable. This is the most unstable area around China. It will be hard to pick any nation who has this level of US weapon and so little space. China has every right to prepare for a F-16 attack from Taiwan, or warship raid, given the level of US weapons they have acquired in the past, e.g. 4 kidd class AEGIS warships.

    As chinese continue to develop the long range rockets, it was considered as a weapon that will be most effective to attack Taiwan. Cheap, powerful, can be mass produced in no time. These are the best tool to destory military airbase, for example. So personally I do not think the misslles were only there for Taiwan, even if they are, it is not a good option. Just too expensive compared to the rockets.

  207. RUMman
    October 9th, 2008 at 00:23 | #207

    I love the way that Oli’s post totally ignores Taiwan and Taiwanese. It’s all about China versus the US.

    This is a common thread in how PRC citizens approach the Taiwan issue. They do not give a shit about the actual Taiwanese themselves. Everything must be sacrificed on the sacred altar of Chinese National Interest.

    It’s like that dumb film Hero all over again.

  208. October 9th, 2008 at 01:30 | #208

    @totochi #182,

    I just think that reunification under CCP rules will be bad for Taiwan while independence is not too different from the status-quo while allowing the people of Taiwan a voice in international affairs.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Have to respect your view.

    I also do think that Taiwan has been “lucky” to develop away from the CCP thus far in its history.

    At some time though … the Taiwanese people have to say: OK – China has finally risen up – it is a viable country now – we are grateful for the U.S. protection and support over the years … but it will soon be time to head back home…

  209. cephaloless
    October 9th, 2008 at 02:55 | #209

    @saimneor

    If the missile buildup on the eastern coast of China were anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, that would be understandable (sort of, since it’s not exactly threatened IMO.) The big buildup is the short ranged ballistic missiles of ~500km range. And, like you said, I don’t think they can be retargeted all that fast either, so, useless against a fast moving naval fleet. These ballistic missiles are designed for land targets and there isn’t much non-PRC land in that area besides taiwan.

    I believe the rockets you refer to are not normally called rockets but short range ballistic missiles. “cheap” artillery rockets can’t reach very far across the taiwan strait.

  210. cephaloless
    October 9th, 2008 at 03:07 | #210

    @Allen #208

    Oh goody, statements I can agree with. “Risen up” doesn’t give me a good feeling though. Seems more like “gotten powerful in a threatening way.” Probably just me. Either way, would you see “responsible government” as a better descriptive characteristic rather than “risen up”?

  211. saimneor
    October 9th, 2008 at 03:39 | #211

    The rocket is WS-2 who has a published range of 200-400km. It was displayed in Zhuhai a few years ago. I can not recall the warhead size you may want to google it. But it was pretty big for a rocket. Here is a picture that I can find about the range: http://www.strategycenter.net/imgLib/20070323_16.jpg

    I was not sure what kind of the missiles were deployed. So your message is a helpful reminder. Do you think China deployed 2000 DF-15? If you count the bases along chinese shoreline, the coverage would include Russia, Korea, US base in Korea, Japan, US base in Japan, Taiwan, Taiwan navy ports, Taiwan airbases, and some SE Asia areas. It for sure covers the disputed areas of Diaoyutai island and areas surrounding chinese oil platforms.

    I still maintain that missiles are too expensive if Taiwan is the only target.

  212. Raj
    October 9th, 2008 at 11:40 | #212

    saimneor, I think you should just accept that “missiles aimed at Taiwan” is not propaganda. You don’t need thousands of them to deal with disputed islands like the Senkaku chain. The short-ranged missiles that China has most of cannot reach US bases in the region, nor Japan. As for Korea and Russia, that makes no sense.

    So, really, there is only Taiwan. Don’t stick your head in the sand because it lets you ignore what the sitation is.

  213. cephaloless
    October 9th, 2008 at 13:57 | #213

    @saimneor

    Thanks for info about this impressive rocket system. I don’t know about 400km range though. I keep seeing 200km when I looked around. Either way, it’s a very new system (2004) and the biggest chunk of missile build up which happened before that would have to be SRBMs. Maybe this rocket system replaces some of the older more expensive missiles (400km is in SRBM territory) or maybe it just adds to the numbers, neither is comforting.

    The fact is, we don’t know what’s deployed (military secrets and all). It could even be a thousand decoys and it could be 5000 well hidden systems. And they are mobile.

    The fact that so many appear to be there (with threats) make PRC seem belligerent.

  214. saimneor
    October 9th, 2008 at 16:09 | #214

    @cephaloless,

    Even the older model with a range of 200km would be able to reach Taiwan. The 400km version with improved accuracy is said to be called WS-2D, with only pieces of information available. The point is these things are more efficient than SRBMs to deliver warheads around 200km range to take out an airebase, for example.

    http://www.strategycenter.net/imgLib/20070325_table_SRBMs_IDEX_032307.png

    On the other hand, if the deployed SRBM is truly DF-15 or newer, the range should be around 600km; which supports what I have said. If you draw a 600km line along the chinese shoreline, you will see the region it covers. Taiwan has most of the military targets these missiles are designed to take out. However, my point is not all missile are for Taiwan. And even for Taiwan war, missiles are too expensive compared to WS-2.

  215. Oli
    October 9th, 2008 at 19:31 | #215

    RUMman @ #207

    Firstly, allow me to enlighten you on the origins and meaning of the word “prejudice”. It has its origins in the French for prejudice and from Latin praejudicium, as in “prior judgement” or “of having a preconceived opinion”. And as you surely must know, prejudice people are typically and non-exclusively, the ignorant and the bigoted that form opinions based on assumptions in the absence of facts. Consequently, as I don’t know you and you don’t know me, I am perplexed as to how you assume that I am a PRC citizen and I am wondering whether you are an ignorant or a bigot.

    Secondly and just for your information, I am neither Chinese nor Taiwanese citizen, although I am fluent in Putonghua/Mandarin as well as Taiwanese, among other languages. (Hint: I am also not Han Chinese ).

    Thirdly, if you would but take a moment to wipe those frothing foam from the side of your mouth that is proving an obvious impediment to whatever reasoning ability you possess, you will see that in my posting @ #203 I neither advocated unification nor independence under any circumstances.

    Fourthly, Taiwan is the geographical name of the island, whereas the Republic of China (ROC) is the formal name of the political construct that currently occupy the island. Notice how the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) both have China in their names? Just thought I might make it clear to you, in case your frothing foam and spittle is obscuring your eyesight as well.

    In fact, my posting concerns dispelling common misconceptions people have about what constitute international law, its nature and the maintaining of peace between the RoCHINA and the PRoCHINA for the sake of the people on both side of the Strait. It is about how the people of the RoCHINA, being in an inherently weaker position and from which no amount of US weaponry will alleviate, can seek to maintain peace through alternative means.

    Finally, I have briefly come across your comments before in the other threads and it made an impression purely because of their sheer *yawn* banality and total lack of creativity or constructive content. Although I must say, that VERY big chip you have there on your shoulder is apparently only out sized by your anger, judging by your postings. Speculatively speaking, either you are not getting any or you need to watch Star Wars some more and listen to what Master Yoda has to say about anger management.

    Btw, you profess to be a “student of history”, but your treatment of the history of Yunnan and the Chu General Zhuang Qia’s punitive expedition into the Dian Kingdom, holding it up as an exanple of “Chinese aggression”, was research-wise a disgrace.

    You neglected to mention General Zhuang Qia’s personal background, the nature of the Dian Kingdom, the reasons for the Chu invasion, its aftermath, how the Chu army ended up settling down in Yunnan and how Yunnan later ended up becoming part of successive “Chinese” dynasties. However, from the perspective of historical analysis, your cardinal sin is not only your projection of contemporary values and Weltanshaung onto an historical event and the analysis thereof, but ultimately it is your failure to put an event into its own historical context. Frankly, your personal tutors ought to be severely embarrassed that you have the gall to call yourself a “student of history” after that performance. Hell, I am embarrassed on your behalf, nevermind your tutors. Seriously cringe inducing.

    I am also flabbergasted that your tutors did not warn you about the pitfalls of using Wikipedia as a source of research. But, seriously though, if I was to come across another abused citing of Wiki, I might just finance a permanent denial of service just to bring back some rigour in research. Paraphrasing Wiki is never a substitute for research in depth and personal intellectual analysis or careful thought.

    PS: Just what is up with that faecal obsession you have there anyway???? It seems that almost every other one of your postings includes some mentioning of faecal matter. Soooo, you are prejudicial, angry, has a VERY big chip on the shoulder AND anally retentive??? Or is it simply constipation brought on by bowel obstruction or irregular bowel movement? So either way, who is not a happy-bunny then eh?

    But semi-joking aside you need to have that either mentally or physically examined rather than oh-so-proudly displaying it here for all to see and for god’s sake develop some self-awareness while you’re at it. Metaphorically speaking, your own faecal matter only smells good to yourself.

    Live long and prosper and may you never stop discovering new things about yourself.

  216. RUMman
    October 9th, 2008 at 20:12 | #216

    Oli, I don’t recall consulting Wikipedia in relation to any of my contributions to this thread.

    I realize Taiwan’s official name is the Republic of China – everybody calls it Taiwan though. I lived there for half a decade. I could hardly fail to notice this. I don’t see labels as hugely relevant to my key belief – that Taiwanese people have the sole right to determine Taiwan’s future.

    I am perfectly familiar with the history of the Ming activities in Yunnan. I’m comfortable calling it an example of imperialism. China was an empire for thousands of years. What exactly was it engaged in if not imperialism? Sun Yat-sen had no problem labeling the Manchurians as the imperialist overlords of the Han. Why do the Han have such problems applying the label to their own?

    I merely seek a more balanced perspective on Chinese history.

    And as for your sillier comments – foul language removed by admin

  217. RUMman
    October 9th, 2008 at 20:18 | #217

    @Raj,

    OK, the missiles really do exist. The fact the rabid anti-China brigade desperately try to cover up though is that the warheads really contain gummy bears and cotton candy, a beautiful gesture dreamed up by precocious little PRC tykes like the one in this tissue ad.

    http://subyo.com/main/watch/_WUtnNXXk3U/569.htm

  218. Oli
    October 9th, 2008 at 21:21 | #218

    @ RUMman #216

    “And as for your sillier comments” – foul language removed by admin

    *Sigh* I rest my case….

  219. S.K. Cheung
    October 9th, 2008 at 23:09 | #219

    To Oli #203:
    nice post.
    I certainly think the status quo is the path of least resistance for all parties involved, give or take a couple of Apaches. And I certainly agree that Taiwan’s future path to maintaining the current status quo will not involve a single shot fired in anger (or by accident, for that matter).
    However, your postulate suggests independence is either “sovereignty”, or nothing at all. Perhaps that is how Taiwanese feel, or perhaps not. I don’t know. But one can be self-governing, unencumbered by outside edicts, and be content with that status, without international recognition. It only becomes a problem if one seeks that elusive recognition, at which point the decision arises: forgo said recognition, or attain it as part of another, at the expense of the self. Otherwise, “de facto” status may be more than adequate. And an outright declaration thereof, or not, doesn’t make a difference.

    You make the comparison of PRC and ROC as 2 states. Sorta like California and Rhode Island (wrt relative size and population). However, in that construct, who are the feds? While California and Rhode Island would not procure their own arms, they’re absolved of that responsibility because the federal government bears that responsibility. But if PRC and ROC are supposed equals, who looks after the armament department? On the other hand, states make their own commerce decisions. So in essence, the state (small s) of Taiwan is merely making a business transaction, albeit involving goods that fall into a different category.

    I agree that the US does things that further her interests. Likewise, China does things that further hers. And I think Taiwan is no different. And maybe someday, they may decide that Taiwan’s interests are best served with reunification. I hope that decision is made by them, and not for them.

  220. Chops
    October 9th, 2008 at 23:37 | #220

    Taiwan celebrates Double Tenth National Day, commemorating an event that happened on the Chinese mainland – The Wuchang Uprising, which lead to the 1911 Revolution and the subsequent collapse of the Qing Dynasty.

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

  221. October 10th, 2008 at 07:31 | #221

    @Oli #203,

    I am going to play a little devil’s advocate here.

    A nation state-centric international system like you described is definitely the traditional standard of international law. There is relatively little debate on its existence or validity.

    However, since WWII and after de-colonialization, there have also developed a set of “human rights” based “norms” aimed at explicitly weakening the boundaries of traditional nation states.

    The impetus for these new norms are 1.) to allow the International System address the potential question of another Hilter; and 2.) facilitate the International Community in dealing with weak/unstable states.

    Regarding 1., the idea is that instead of impenetrable national boundaries, no nation is now immune to attack by another country if the nation is involved in “severe” “human rights abuses” (however defined). The intent is to prevent another tragedy such as the holocaust. Would your system allow for such interference? If so, what would you define as severe human rights abuses?

    Another impetus relates to dealing with weak states such as Sudan/Darfur. When a central gov’t is weak and involved in perpetual civil wars, especially where the central gov’t and the rebels hold approximate (even if not equal) power, then one’s economic dealing with the “central government” can effectively subsidize the war, effectively affecting and interfering with the outcome of the “civil war.” A “human rights” based foreign policy can help guide the International Community’s dealings with such weak states.

    In your strong nation-state model, how can China (which is supposed to be blind to others’ domestics politics) avoid interfering with the internal affairs of weak states in it its dealing with weak states?

    I have some ideas about both … but I am curious to see what yours might be…

  222. Oli
    October 12th, 2008 at 02:50 | #222

    @SKC 219

    Apologies for the late reply and appreciate the compliment.

    Firstly, I never postulated that independence is sovereignty or nothing at all. Far from it. My posting concerns the formalities and accruements of sovereign statehood of which independence is only one of the identifying markers. And irrespective of whether we like it or not, formalities are a fact of life, in both the private and public sphere and irrespective of whether it is between individuals or between nations. It is simply a manifestation of the way we regulate/conduct human interactions, which I am sure Allen, being a lawyer will appreciate.

    Yet between independence and sovereignty there is also a vast spectrum of possibilities as exemplified by “political” entities such as, non-exclusively and in no particular order, the Principality of Monaco, the various North American Indian Nations, the Vatican, the Kingdoms of Lesotho and Swaziland or the various island dependencies etc.

    However, sovereignty and independence are too different things. One can be independent without being sovereign, but one cannot be sovereign without independence. And for better or worse, the situation with the ROC is currently that of the former due to the consequences of history, international politics and diplomacy, in that the PRC claims sovereignty over the island of Taiwan as an integral part of an overarching “China”. And it is a claim that the majority of other nations and most tellingly, also a significant portion of the ROC population concur with, such that currently although the ROC is independent, it is not and cannot be sovereign in the eyes of many world governments.

    By pushing for a formal “declaration of independence”, what former ROC President Chen Suibian is asserting is in actual fact independence AND sovereignty, except that in “marketing” it as “a push for independence”, it creates a public relations resonance with the world media and by extension the international audience, vis-a-vis the evil commie, God-hating empire that is the PRC.

    However, under PRC national law this would undoubtedly trigger a war. And if there is one thing I am sure of is that out of a matter of principles of statecraft, the PRC government, from the Korean War to the punitive invasion of northern Vietnam to setting aside space for demonstration during the Olympics, has a habit of doing exactly what it said it would do, although the manner in which it will be done may often come as a surprise, or not as the case may be. Therefore you’ll find that an outright declaration of independence WILL make a difference, not only to the ROC and its people, but its consequences will reverberate far beyond the Taiwan Strait.

    Beyond the threat of war or out of pride and honour, the significance of being sovereign and to be regarded as being sovereign can range from the mundane, such as the convenience of ROC tourists enjoying visa waiving privileges when visiting another country or access to consular mediation, to the significant such as the range and types of international treaties or agreements it is able to sign, whether it is a defence treaty or the possibility of becoming a member of ASEAN, regardless of the potential objections or consent of the PRC.

    To hazard an analogy without intending it to be condescending to Taiwanese everywhere and that you will no doubt venture to push beyond breaking point 🙂 , one may say that the situation of the ROC is akin, but not necessarily identical, to that of a child who, although being “independent” of body, mind and soul, is still not regarded as “sovereign” in the eyes of the law, in that he/she remains below the legal age of consent. Consequently, any consent given by the child, whether of a significant contractual or of a sexual nature is null and voidable or that it becomes illegal to sell tobacco, alcohol or firearms to that child.

  223. Oli
    October 12th, 2008 at 02:51 | #223

    @Allen

    Apologies for the late response due to the interventions of God and female nature (not mine), but enough said.

    Thoroughly enjoyed the movie The Devil’s Advocate, esp. Al Pacino’s rendition of Lucifer/John Milton (of Paradise Lost?) that God is an absentee landlord.

    As for:

    “I have some ideas about both … but I am curious to see what yours might be…”

    I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours…. 😉

  224. S.K. Cheung
    October 12th, 2008 at 03:53 | #224

    To Oli:
    thanks for the reply. Very logical points.
    I guess this encapsulates what I don’t understand about China (clearly a big capsule, cuz there’s lots in it). Taiwan has de facto independence, and as far as I can tell, PRC is willing to go with the flow. But if she makes a formal declaration thereof, then the MIG’s are coming out. Notwithstanding the fact that, as you’ve previously described, a declaration of independence is not synonymous with a declaration of sovereignty, since sovereignty is not something that can be self-proclaimed; rather, it is something that other states must acknowledge to be in your possession. So a declaration of the latter is meaningless; whereas a declaration of the former merely verbalizes what is already understood, but such an affront to PRC’s “face” is automatically assumed to warrant the big stick. I too would bet on your assumptions; but the reasons why China would conform to those assumptions, I don’t get. Perhaps never will.

    Interesting analogy. Sorry, can’t help myself but to have a go at it. If China gives Taiwan a free pass in, at most, 19 years’ time, that would work for me. And if she doesn’t, she’d have to claim Taiwan to have some type of mental incompetency. No matter to me; but Allen might object 🙂

  225. RUMman
    October 12th, 2008 at 18:15 | #225

    @Oli(222)

    Your analogy is simplistic and massively patronizing. I’ve heard the exact same analogy before about Taiwan – it’s a ‘wayward child’, ‘needs to be disciplined if it steps over the line’, etc.

    All these analogies overlook what Taiwanese people want. It all becomes about what Chinese people want – or what the Chinese government tells them they want.

  226. ecodelta
    October 12th, 2008 at 20:26 | #226

    China could sold arms to Puerto Rico in reply…..

  227. Oli
    October 13th, 2008 at 03:45 | #227

    @SKC #224

    No, No, No. My fault if I wasn’t clear enough.

    The political situation as it stands now in the Taiwan Strait is that although the ROC enjoys independence it is not sovereign according to the definition and practices of international diplomacy and inter-national recognition. The analogy I gave earlier of the ROC as an underage child and his or her legal status is simply to broadly illustrate the way the international diplomatic community regard and approach the current status of the ROC and in their dealings with the ROC.

    However, should the ROC make a formal declaration of independence, it will then not only be INVITING other nations and relevant organisations to recognise its sovereignty, but CRUCIALLY it is also CLAIMING FOR ITSELF official independence AND sovereignty. Then in this hypothetical situation, a formal declaration of independence WILL be synonymous with a declaration of sovereignty, irrespective of whether recognition from other nations is forthcoming or not, simply because the ROC will then have undergone the formality. Henceforth it shall regards itself as sovereign and separate, both physically and politically, from the overarching political entity of “China”.

    The critical component in all this IS the public and formal declaration, however superfluous this may appears, but as I said before, human societies turn on formalities to mark transitions. Such formalities carry with it real consequences, even if it is the effect of a marriage certificate on the status of an individual’s property or the impact of graduation or a qualification on future employment prospect.

    Alternatively put, you may not like your colleague and your colleague may know that you do not like him and the feeling may be mutual, but so long as your mutual dislike is not verbalised (or formalised as it were), a semblance of cordiality and working relationship can still be maintained. However, once its out in the open it means that the working relationship has irrevocably broken down and one of you will likely have to leave the firm.

    Therefore, the effect of a formal declaration of independence will carry concrete consequences beyond the mere loss of face; a concept that is not limited to Chinese societies, but at which I nevertheless cringe whenever I see it being used as some sort of “explain all” by the media or supposedly China “experts” in presenting complex issues to a public it assumes want everything neatly packaged and easily digestible. Just as when the media or charities cite tribal rivalries as the root cause of all of Africa’s ills. Such over simplifications often serves no other purpose other than obfuscating the real underlying causes that are in fact not unique to Africa.

    As for why the PRC would conform to those assumptions I mentioned the reason is actually quite obvious. It is the PRC drawing a line in the sand that must not be crossed.

    PS: if you are interested in discovering more about the nature and absurdities of international diplomacy and relationship you can google or wiki the topic of the Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

  228. Wukailong
    October 13th, 2008 at 04:08 | #228

    @Oli: That’s a very good and clarifying distinction. Independent but not sovereign says it very well.

  229. S.K. Cheung
    October 13th, 2008 at 04:16 | #229

    To Oli:
    again, very good points.
    But if sovereignty is something that others recognize in you, then I didn’t realize that such an endowment could only be bestowed upon request. It would seem that, if states wanted to recognize Taiwan’s sovereignty, an invitation would not be required. And if they haven’t done so by now, I didn’t think a formal invitation would provide the requisite additional motivation. So I don’t understand how a declaration of independence would be synonymous with one of sovereignty, especially as you’ve previously defined.

    I recognize the presence of formalities, though fail to grasp its purpose sometimes. If I can’t stand somebody’s guts, and everybody knows it, to me actually saying so materially changes nothing.

    But if that’s where PRC chooses to draw their line in the sand, I suppose it is what it is. Seems as illogical as any other landmark they could’ve chosen. That it would carry concrete consequences is also no more logical to me.

  230. jay
    October 13th, 2008 at 06:23 | #230

    What US really should do is to stop its arrogance and really appreciate what other people in the world are thinking. This is not 50 years ago. If US still thinks there is only one standard and one way to do things, i.e. the US way, it is deadly wrong. It is only going to drag US down further. The ideology in US is not superior to others in the world. Stop policing the world and mind its own business. I feel disappointed at Chinese government about their only issuing some harsh words without any real actions. Who gives US the right to police the world?

  231. S.K. Cheung
    October 13th, 2008 at 18:02 | #231

    To Jay:
    “US involvement is nothing more than the ladle that stirs the pot to the benefit of US interests” – (from Oli #203) I don’t think the US is so much policing as they are looking after their interests, and I think those interests can extend beyond her shores. So I think she is minding to her business.

  232. October 13th, 2008 at 18:21 | #232

    @SKC #231,

    Is there really a difference between saying “US involvement is nothing more than the ladle that stirs the pot to the benefit of US interests” and saying “they [the U.S.] are looking after their interests, and I think those interests can extend beyond her shores. So I think she is minding to her business”?

  233. S.K. Cheung
    October 13th, 2008 at 18:30 | #233

    To Allen:
    nope. Which is what i am trying to say to jay: when he says ” (the US should ) Stop policing the world and mind its own business”, I’m saying that the US IS minding her business, and not policing the world. I could’ve quoted myself (last paragraph of #219), but Oli’s said the same thing, and he usually argues for the “other side”. Thought it might be more compelling than me quoting myself.

  234. Oli
    October 13th, 2008 at 18:32 | #234

    @SKC #229

    It is actually both. Sovereignty can be granted through other governments’ recognition as well as by claiming it for oneself, yet within these two approaches, there are influencing inter-related factors as to which course towards sovereignty a political entity will take. Such factors include non-exclusively, the relative strength of the protagonist, a political entity’s self-image and the strategic environment at the given point in time.

    Under Chen Suibian, the ROC has approached smaller and poorer nations on an individual basis to solicit recognition, often with financial inducement, in the hope of gaining momentum for his cause. But should it make a formal declaration of independence, then the nature of the invitation changes from that of a targeted “private” individual invitation to that of a standing OPEN invitation to all governments to recognise the ROC’s self-proclaimed sovereignty for subsequent years to come, including in times when the fortune, power and influence of the PRC waxes or wanes.

    Therefore all things being equal, because of the balance of power, a weaker political entity will often be forced to seek recognition from others, whereas a relatively stronger political entity often enjoys the luxury of first claiming sovereignty for oneself, such that solely by virtue of that relative strength, subsequent acquiescence and recognition of that sovereignty will naturally accrue to the stronger entity; ergo the USA switching of recognition from the ROC to the PRC or when Russia during the final years of the Glasnost and Perestroika era could not prevent the international recognition of the independence of its various former republics or the break-up of the British and Spanish Empire with the US War of Independence and the various South American wars of independence under Simon Bolivar and Jose de San Martin.

    The important factors to consider here is that the situation NEVER stays the same forever. Governments come and go and the nature of governments and society too changes, even in the absence of a mechanism for that change. Recognition of sovereignty can be granted as well as be withdrawn.

    Finally, a formal declaration of independence would also be synonymous with one of sovereignty in that it is either the first step or the final step in how a political entity change its views of itself. It is the first step in that it becomes a consciously directed act by the DDP to place the ROC and its people on a path towards separation, irrespective of whether there is popular consensus to take that first step or not. It may become the final step should such consensus be achieved.

    Consequently, the way we view ourselves is as important, if not even more so than the way others initially view us, for often it is the former that affects our behaviour thereby determining how others view us. Sometimes this changing self-image can be “naturally occurring” or it can be directed, led by influential individuals or brought on by social, economic and political confidence. Examples can be found in the “Japan that can say no” during the 80’s when Japan was buying up major US assets or the debate in both Japan and Germany over whether to participate in Afghanistan and Iraq, as a first step towards overcoming the shame and guilt of its wartime past in order to become a “normal” nation.

    The fact that the ROC under Chen Suibian failed to achieve that consensus can therefore be variously attributed to the fact the ROC was either not yet ready as well as unwilling to become sovereign independent of the PRC, along with the pressure exerted by the PRC and the USA on account of their relative strengths.

    As for the PRC drawing the line at the point of the ROC formally declaring independence, it is actually an imminently logical landmark, for it signifies the crossing of the Rubicon, beyond which there would be no return as it marks an immediate threat to the sovereignty of the PRC over the “whole” of China. The historical precedents can actually be found in all wars of independence including that of the USA, Rhodesia or the Boer Wars.

  235. Oli
    October 13th, 2008 at 18:36 | #235

    @SKC #229

    “I recognize the presence of formalities, though fail to grasp its purpose sometimes. If I can’t stand somebody’s guts, and everybody knows it, to me actually saying so materially changes nothing.”

    Then in that case you are enviably in a far more fortunate position than a vast majority of the people on this planet. Sincere congratulations and hope you appreciate just how fortunate you are.

  236. Oli
    October 13th, 2008 at 18:40 | #236

    @SKC #233

    Have you perhaps consider that it is actually in the US’ interest to police the world as it is now, which is very much a creation of the post WWII Bretton Woods Agreement among others?

    I usally argue for the “other” side? Which side is that? The “dark” side or the “light” side? 🙂

  237. October 13th, 2008 at 18:43 | #237

    @Oli #234,

    I agree with basically everything you said. I think the PRC is really going out of its way to bend backwards for the Taiwanese people by giving Taiwan such a long leash on political autonomy – by implicitly agreeing to attack Taiwan only if Taiwan formally declares independence. Some people just can’t see a good thing even when it is shoved right under their nose!

  238. S.K. Cheung
    October 13th, 2008 at 19:25 | #238

    To Oli #234:
    “Governments come and go and the nature of governments and society too changes” – ahhh, so there is still hope….

    #235: yeah, I am pretty enviable, aren’t I? 🙂 And I very much appreciate my circumstance.

    #236: well, if the US interest is in policing the world, I’d suggest that interest is for the purposes of furthering her other interests. Such pursuits can come in many forms.
    As for the “other” side, it’d be the side I’m not on. As for which side enjoys the light, probably comes down to the time of day.

  239. October 13th, 2008 at 19:28 | #239

    @Allen –

    “by implicitly agreeing to attack Taiwan only if Taiwan formally declares independence. Some people just can’t see a good thing even when it is shoved right under their nose!”

    Dude, I really am hoping that’s the most amazingly subtle irony, it reads like it could be, I’m giving you the benefit of the doubt and assuming that I’m being stupid even to write this . . .

  240. October 13th, 2008 at 19:32 | #240

    @Oli –

    “However, under PRC national law this would undoubtedly trigger a war.”

    If you are talking about the anti-secession law, you’re totally wrong on this. The anti-secession does not bind the PRC leadership into an invasion of Taiwan in response to a declaration of Taiwanese separation from China. Go read the exact wording of the thing and you’ll see a good half-dozen loop-holes that the leadership could use to get out of it.

  241. October 13th, 2008 at 19:38 | #241

    @FOARP – for the benefit of the readers here, if you already have the law right in front of you, can you list a few of the loop-holes (doesn’t have to be comprehensive)…

  242. S.K. Cheung
    October 13th, 2008 at 20:12 | #242

    To Allen:
    rather than the nudge nudge wink wink, it’d be good if both sides just came right out and said it. Taiwan will not unilaterally declare independence. PRC will not open up a can of whup-ass on Taiwan’s head. There. Deal. Now Taiwan can save a couple of bil; and CHina can point her missiles elsewhere. And they both lived happily ever after.

  243. October 13th, 2008 at 20:46 | #243

    @SKC #242,

    I think that’s pretty much what China is allowing and what Ma is pursuing – except for China pointing her missiles elsewhere part or Taiwan not buying weapons from US part.

    If China and Taiwan both disarm across the strait and Taiwan agrees to never to secede and to work through the PRC in interacting with international organizations, China and Taiwan would well be on their way to re-unification (one country, two systems) – and there would never be war along the strait …

    But maybe that’s just too easy!

  244. Oli
    October 14th, 2008 at 00:59 | #244

    Seriously, is the skill of reading in context no longer taught in school or are people so intellectually lazy and dull these days that one no longer find joy in thought extrapolation, that the process of “dumbing down” becomes irreversible. Are people no longer capable of following a strand of thought in a conversation, much less remembering what was previously said or written? Have we all become so pedantic and slothful in demanding to be passively force-fed absolute clarity that the only thing we are capable of is to nitpick others’ choice of words? Maybe the media is right and we totally deserve to be treated the way we are by the media.

    @FOARP

    You are begining to sound like RUMman. Reread what I wrote about the Taiwan Relations Act. The same thing pretty much applies to China’s Anti-Seccession Act. When considering any laws, much less laws of such nature, it is incumbent upon the readers to go beyond the letter of the law, but also consider the wider context. In fact, in any discipline or field of research one is poorer if one neglects the context in which the subject is couched.

    GOD! I am not a lecturer and I don’t know why I bother. Foo’ls mountain indeed!

  245. October 14th, 2008 at 09:41 | #245

    @Allen, Oli – I made a very long comment on this over at Peking Duck a while back which i’ll just put in here:

    “@Falen – The TRA does not mandate any specific action in the event of an invasion, check out USC 22, section 3302 C:

    “United States response to threats to Taiwan or dangers to United States interests
    The President is directed to inform the Congress promptly of any threat to the security or the social or economic system of the people on Taiwan and any danger to the interests of the United States arising therefrom. The President and the Congress shall determine, in accordance with constitutional processes, appropriate action by the United States in response to any such danger.”

    As for conditions being ‘triggered’ the wording of the law does not actually specify ‘failure’ in a way that would force the government’s hand – it is for the government to decide whether re-unification has ‘failed’. Article 8 reads like this:

    “In the event that the “Taiwan independence” secessionist forces should act under any name or by any means to cause the fact of Taiwan’s secession from China, or that major incidents entailing Taiwan’s secession from China should occur, or that possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted, the state shall employ non-peaceful means and other necessary measures to protect China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

    The State Council and the Central Military Commission shall decide on and execute the non-peaceful means and other necessary measures as provided for in the preceding paragraph and shall promptly report to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress. “

    There is no definition of ‘China’ – does it mean the PRC? The ROC? Or something else? What is meant by ’separation’? What are ‘non-peaceful means’. These terms are not defined anywhere in the law.

    Then you look at whether the law actually binds the government into an invasion to retake the island – and it quite clearly does not, as the executive is still free to decide what form these ‘non-peaceful means’ take. They could easily take the form of means that would not normally be considered ‘non-peaceful’. Likewise, since the law also allows the government to take action if ‘major incidents’ ‘entailing Taiwan’s secession’ are occurring (or about to occur), the PRC is still free to invade Taiwan at any time as it is free to decide what events ‘entail’ secession. It is not even a general ‘anti-secession’ law, as it only applies to Taiwan, nor are Hong Kong or Macau bound by it.

    The strangest part of the law has to be this part of Article 7:

    ” The two sides of the Taiwan Straits may consult and negotiate on the following matters:

    (1) officially ending the state of hostility between the two sides . . “

    But in Article 3 it says this:

    “The Taiwan question is one that is left over from China’s civil war of the late 1940s.”

    So is China at peace with Taiwan? Or isn’t it? One article says that negotiation may still be necessary to end the “state of hostilities”, but the other part defines the civil war as something which is finished. And if a “state of hostilities” does exist then surely “non-peaceful means” are already allowed – so why is the act necessary?

    @Oli –

    “Seriously, is the skill of reading in context no longer taught in school or are people so intellectually lazy and dull these days that one no longer find joy in thought extrapolation, that the process of “dumbing down” becomes irreversible. Are people no longer capable of following a strand of thought in a conversation, much less remembering what was previously said or written? Have we all become so pedantic and slothful in demanding to be passively force-fed absolute clarity that the only thing we are capable of is to nitpick others’ choice of words? “

    Or has someone totally disappeared up his own backside? The fact is that you said that a Taiwanese declaration of separation would “under PRC national law . . . undoubtedly trigger a war.”, but that any reading of the relevent statute shows that there is much reason for doubt, just as there is with the US TRA. Opinions are all well and good, but they must answer to the facts, and where they clash with reality it is opinion that must give way. There is good reason to believe that the PRC does not yet have the power to invade and swiftly subdue Taiwan, not least because the crossing of a 100 mile-wide stretch of water and defeat of an army with a peace-time strength of 300,000 is no small venture. In fact it is a task as difficult as that which faced the invasion of Normandy, or the re-capture of the Phillipines during World War 2. And China lacks the air-superiority, aircraft carriers, landing ships, experienced troops, control of the seas, strong para-troop force, and local sympathisers that the Allies enjoyed. Therefore, all this talk about tacit agreements, acquiescence etc. sits on rather dubious foundations.

  246. Raj
    October 14th, 2008 at 13:00 | #246

    @ Allen

    If China and Taiwan both disarm across the strait

    What do you mean by “disarm across the strait”? I’ve heard about pointing the missiles elsewhere, but that would be rather useless as they could be pointed back. They would need to be dismantled for Taiwan to give anything in return.

    work through the PRC in interacting with international organizations

    That’s assuming that won’t slow things down. Taiwan wants access to things like the WHO because it wants access to information as soon as everyone else does, rather than wait for someone in Beijing to push the necessary paper.

    China and Taiwan would well be on their way to re-unification (one country, two systems)

    This is one of the problems facing reconciliation. Whether it is down to censorship or simple denial, I don’t think people in China realise that Taiwanese reject the one country, two systems style of unification. This has been identified in many different polls in recent years.

    China needs to shelve the idea of 1C2S in public and commit to working out a new system with Taiwan. That would reassure Taiwanese that they won’t end up like Hong Kong, where Beijing still calls the shots politically (and also has influence over the media).

  247. Oli
    October 14th, 2008 at 14:26 | #247

    @FOARP

    LOL, your head is obviously still stuck in Operation Overlord 1944. Do you play with toy soldiers and plastic tanks in your bathing robe and sing God Save the Queen over your makeshift battlefield, while holding a cup of tea and biscuit, dreaming of the days when the hag Britannia ruled the waves?

    Should it come to “war”, the strategic situation in the Taiwan strait as it stands now, does not warrant air-superiority, aircraft carriers or landing ships nor total control of the sea around the ROC. Hell, the PRC probably will not even need to nor want to land any troops, experienced or not. You obviously have absolutely not a single iota of experience with modern warfare, either tactical or strategic. Big hint: there are many TYPES of war.

    Fighting a war encompasses far more than just guns and soldiers. Go and read some Livy, Clausewitz, Napoleon and the usual or Sun Tze and Wu Zixu. And for God’s sake THINK about what you have read. Only people with absolutely no imagination or extremely low self-esteem would resort in the very first instance to what should be the final option that is armed violence.

    I suggest you go and re-read the Anti-Secession Law and really, really read it again and THINK about what it says.

    I rest my case about dullards and dimwits, so show me some intellectual cojones for a change instead of the usual dross.

  248. October 14th, 2008 at 14:48 | #248

    @Oli – Only one type of warfare should concern anyone – that is a unilateral attempt to coerce Taiwan through the use of force. No form of warfare that does not fit within this matters – so should the mainland try to liberate Taiwan through devious use of Feng Shui (and I expect that a flow of negative qi across the straits can be arranged) then I doubt that response would be necessary. Any inspection of the anti-secession law shows that it has not changed the situation in the strait one iota – the threat of war was already there, it has not become more or less likely, nor has anyone who was unconvinced of the PRC’s warlike intent beome more likely to believe in it.

    As for my game of choice, that’s usually dominoes, nomination whist, or chess at a pinch, and I prefer drinking cider and humming ‘Oye Como Va’ whilst playing.

  249. Oli
    October 14th, 2008 at 15:26 | #249

    @ FOARP

    You call THAT cojones. Well that’s disappointing and a bit of a damp squib to boot.

    You obviously still have absolutely no understanding about the significance of the concept and role of formality in human social and political interactions, judging from your “reading” of the Anti-Secession law.

  250. Steve
    October 14th, 2008 at 16:24 | #250

    Oli~ I’m open to what you’re saying about the China/Taiwan conflict but I have to say that your answer to FOARP was evasive. I’ve read all the western and eastern writers you mentioned and am quite familiar with both strategic and tactical warfare, having had to spend way too much time on those subjects in my youth.

    Because of my background, I am very interested in the specifics of what you would consider China’s battlefield strategy to be. Could you please expand your ideas on the topic? You seem to imply an indirect military strategy, which I’m assuming would involve economic, diplomatic and electronic means. But I hate to assume anything on your part, so please clarify if you could. It might make for some interesting ideas and posts since lately this topic is starting to devolve into cheap insults.

    Most of what has been discussed so far has been from a nationalistic and diplomatic viewpoint. Since I believe you are saying that there are various possible military responses to different actions Taiwan and China can take either unilaterally or together, what response would apply to what action, and what counter response do you feel would occur as a result?

  251. Zilar
    October 14th, 2008 at 16:53 | #251

    It would take an idealist romantic sort of person like Mao to bomb Taiwan to kingdom come to even entertain the thought of Taiwan declaring independence. Currently, China after Deng has lean to the right and nowadays are ruled by technocrat socialists. Pray that China doesn’t change and lean back to the left and their proletariats are well fed & above poverty lines while their CCP leaders still drunk in their capitalist ideals & lots of those pop Jay Chou concerts to entertain the masses. If there’s any straits war, which generally people nowadays in China & Taiwan don’t have the stomach for with their comfort zones achieved but be careful what you wish for…

  252. October 14th, 2008 at 19:02 | #252

    @FOARP #245,

    Clearly you read the passages… but I don’t agree with your interpretation at all. I’ll just leave it at that since I don’t think my interpretation will carry more weight than yours.

    I’ll make just one quick note though. I don’t see why a statute such as this (clearly meant both as a threat as well as a carrot – 99% being the carrot!) need to spell out military strategy in order to have bite.

    Besides, reading the whole context of the statute, I think it to be pretty clear that the statute stipulates a line has been drawn in the sand even as the Mainland is committed fully to peaceful re-unification.

  253. S.K. Cheung
    October 14th, 2008 at 19:52 | #253

    To Oli:
    you often make good points, which is laudable. But you often seem quick to resorting to calling names, which is less so. FOARP’s clearly read the laws to which you’ve referred. That his interpretation is different from yours doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about them. But while espousing a different point of view, he seems to give you space to justify yours. The polite (and dare I say mature) thing would be to return the favour, sans patronizing tone.

  254. S.K. Cheung
    October 14th, 2008 at 19:56 | #254

    To Allen:
    “China and Taiwan would well be on their way to re-unification (one country, two systems)” – but Oli has spent a lot of pixels basically saying that it already IS one country (ie the PRCHina and ROChina bits). And clearly, it already IS two systems. So in that sense, it already is re-unified; for that matter, it was never separate. So for reunification by that definition, case closed…moving on….unless you mean reunification by another definition….

  255. October 14th, 2008 at 20:01 | #255

    @SKC #254,

    I think it is a matter of terminology. I’d resolve it this way. Taiwan and Mainland are currently not unified but are also not separate “countries.” Under the vision and stipulation that both belong to “one country,” the PRC and ROC ought to work diligently toward reunification.

  256. S.K. Cheung
    October 14th, 2008 at 20:09 | #256

    So what do you mean by “reunification”? One system? Two systems but a la HK or Macau? Or truly 2 systems where the Taiwan “province” could do her own thing? If it’s anything other than the latter, I don’t know what appeal it would have to Taiwanese in the foreseeable future, especially considering the deal they’ve got going now.

  257. October 14th, 2008 at 20:13 | #257

    I’m actually agnostic toward it at this moment. My only “view” for now is that reunification should be a non-negotaible goal that both side have to agree upon.

    The ultimate goal of course is full reunification. Along the way, however, there can be any several paths – including full autonomy for x number of years, less autonomy for the next y number of years, and then full integration as a normal province after z number of years. Or it could be something conditional – full integration after GDP per captial of Taiwan and that neighboring provinces (guangdong, fujian) are within 10-20% of each other.

    Sometime like that…

  258. S.K. Cheung
    October 14th, 2008 at 21:22 | #258

    Well, I think for a Taiwanese (other than you) to know if they’d want “full reunification”, they’d first have to know what that entailed.
    You brought in economics, which is interesting. In Canada, we have “have” and “have not” provinces, such that “have” provinces end up literally subsidizing the others, for the good of the country. If you start telling Taiwanese, OK, we want you back “officially” as part of our country, and to show our gratitude, we will give you the privilege of financially supporting some of our more economically down-trodden comrades, now there’s a deal that any sane and sober Taiwanese can’t refuse!

  259. Steve
    October 14th, 2008 at 21:26 | #259

    It seems there are three areas to address concerning reunification: nationalism, political systems and economic balance.

    Based on what I’ve read on the blog, nationalism might be the toughest to overcome, since overt nationalism on both sides is not compatible with any form of equal reunification. On one side, many believe Taiwan can only aim towards eventual independence while on the other, many see Taiwan as essentially a type of colony that can either reunify peacefully or forcefully, but without having a choice. Those two attitudes are the two extremes of the spectrum. Realistically, both of those options are currently off the table.

    In between the two sides are various options, most of which have been discussed ad naseum on this site. Should it be 1C2S? Different timelines such as Allen suggested in #257? Or as also suggested, an economic pact based on GDP or something similar? I can see problems with all of these. 1C2S was designed for small islands that were colonies of European powers. Taiwanese definitely do not see themselves as anyone’s colony and the 1C2S does not play well there at all, as SKC mentioned. I also can’t see a treaty based on timelines getting approval, since they don’t address nationalism, political systems and economic balance as the future is unknown. China has industrialized rapidly but has yet to have that economic slowdown and readjustment that eventually comes to all developing countries. Until that comes and is dealt with successfully, I can understand Taiwan’s hesitancy to integrate. Also, the current mainland political system simply isn’t compatible with Taiwan’s form of democracy. Will Taiwan move towards more autocracy? Will China move towards a more democratic system? Will the two political systems be able to find common ground? Right now, they are so far apart in terms of individual, political and press freedoms that I can’t see much movement towards a consensus between the two. As far as basing integration on GDP numbers; in an authoritarian government, numbers can be manipulated for political reasons. China would be tempted to overstate her GDP, and Taiwan would be tempted to understate China’s GDP if it didn’t have consensus for integration at that time.

    Might it not be better to achieve some sort of economic federation as a starting point? That seems to be what both countries are working towards at the present time. What is needed for that is trust. Taiwan is by far the largest investor in China. During the Chen administration, China refused to talk with Taiwan, figuring to wait Chen out. Now he’s out but that eliminated eight years of possible communication. Diplomats are now starting to visit each other’s countries so there is finally the beginning of diplomatic communication, but trust isn’t yet established. Some might want to try a European style economic federation, but those countries have similar political systems which do not exist between China and Taiwan. What adjustments need to be made for this to happen? How will each country change over the next ten years? Will both governments be more open to negotiation, or will there be a “take it or leave it” approach by China?

    Hard to say, but I believe right now the choices each country can make are limited by each’s unique situation. The one thing we know is that everything changes, and usually more rapidly than we ever expected. Just ask investment bankers….

  260. S.K. Cheung
    October 15th, 2008 at 00:24 | #260

    To Steve:
    well said, once again.

  261. Oli
    October 15th, 2008 at 00:25 | #261

    @ Steve & SKC

    The reason I am evasive is that as an ex-servicemen (non-PLA) I am disinclined to discuss strategy in details generally (call it a force of habit if you will), but especially where it concerns the PRC and the ROC. And even if my sympathy lays with China as a whole, it is not necessarily with the CCP generally, despite my agreement with a majority of the central government’s policies and even though I sometimes do wish that they have more courage with the planned reforms that are on the drawing board.

    But what I will say is that I am in agreement with many here that armed conflict is frankly the last thing the PRC wants over the ROC. Not simply because it would be costly in every possible ways for everybody, including the US, but also because this latetest generation of PRC leaders, both at the central and the provincial levels, who have gone through the deprivation of the aftermath of WWII, are extremely disinclined to shed Chinese blood, for many genuinely feel kinship with the people of the ROC, especially those who originated from Fuijian, Nanjing and Shanghai areas.

    Secondly, what many Taiwanese Chinese and others outside of the region don’t realised is that the ROC is NOT and never was the primary intended target of the missiles on the PRC side and Jiang Zemin was an idiot for using them the way he did. But I guess he had to appease the hardliners somehow, though he later paid the price for it with the younger generation in his pre-mature retirement. However, this and future arms packages are also extremely irresponsible as it only plays into the hands of both the hardliners and the nationalists in Beijing, Washington and Taipei.

    Thirdly, contrary to popular misconception, in military thinking there is no such thing as a “defensive” weapon. There are only weapons, period. The description of a weapon as “defensive” is purely to get the public to swallow the bill and shut the bleeding-heart liberals up.

    Finally, I also agree that the One country-Two system approach is a non-starter and unrealistic as a first step towards reunification and I have something else in mind that has not been mentioned before, but may benefit both sides, which I might turn into a mini-post and which everybody are then welcome to take potshots at. On top of all the others I have promised admin. :p

    As for cheap shots and patronising tone, mea culpa, but its only because it’s FOARP and others like it. It and I go a bit back. I am a push over when it comes to kids, even teenagers, and old people. One is ignorant, the other is usually either senile or too old and has earned the right not to give a damn, but they both can’t help themselves. However, I am absolutely intolerant of the stupidities and voluntary narrow-mindedness of adults who really ought to know better and can know better, irrespective of the occasional entertainment value they provide on a slow day.

    I mean seriously, fearofaredplanet@yahoo.co.uk (FOARP) as a handle??? Seriously??? It should go read Fukuyama. Practical Soviet communism is dead, liberal democracy is alive and kicking, though of course history and the folly of history marches on. As Alice would say, it is not in 1962 anymore and it ought to get with the programme. I wouldn’t be surprise if it has a bunker stock with 360 days worth of rations somewhere. And if it was in the US, it would probably be a militia with a camp somewhere in the mountains, where it and its buddies can play soldiers and feed each others’ paranoia about the Federal Government, the UN, the Vatican or the MIB to their hearts’ content. Until, that is, they decide to blow a few federal buildings up just for kicks.

    Fearofaredplanet (FOARP)??? Seriously???

  262. Steve
    October 15th, 2008 at 00:54 | #262

    My wife always says, “It takes two quarters to make noise”. 🙂

  263. S.K. Cheung
    October 15th, 2008 at 01:27 | #263

    To Oli:
    look forward to your mini-post. But I think FOARP maybe just doesn’t like Mars 🙂 I have no problem with Mars, but he and I agree on most everything else.

  264. Oli
    October 15th, 2008 at 01:39 | #264

    Mars??? As in Mars bars? What’s there not to like about Mars bars or Milky Way bars? 🙂

  265. TommyBahamas
    October 15th, 2008 at 02:54 | #265

    Oli, SKC….FOARP, has good points most of the time, but no one is perfect. If you recall, for a day, a couple of months ago, FOARP did actually, only so briefly, shift-shaped into (Can’t remmeber exactly) Fear Of A Sexy Planet, or blue planet or whatever schizo paranoid-handle, he did indeed shift. But only for a post or two. 🙂 Peace

  266. Oli
    October 15th, 2008 at 03:57 | #266

    Correction @ #261 should read:

    Practical Soviet communism is dead, capitalism is alive and kicking, status of “liberal democracy” is as usual undetermined, though of course history and the folly of history marches on.

  267. Jerry
    October 15th, 2008 at 04:55 | #267

    @Jay #230
    @S.K. Cheung #231, 233, 235, 242, 263
    @Allen #232, 243
    @Oli #235, 244, 261, 264
    @FOARP #261

    #230

    Yes, Jay, American government leaders and ruling elites have a propensity for hubris.

    ++++++

    #231, 232, 233

    SK and Allen, call it policing, call it looking after your interests, call it using intimidation, call it the willingness to rain death on those who get in the way of “U.S.” interests or whatever,

    But let us be clear on what we mean by those interests. Primarily, it is the interests of the ruling elite and very powerful corporations which financially benefit by attacking Iraq, selling arms to Taiwan, selling cluster bombs to Israel to drop on innocent Lebanese, and threatening to attack Iran. I personally see little direct upside for me(or for that matter, indirect upside). I see a lot of downsides. The ruling elite pay a lot of money for their direct upsides. And that is a big part of the problem in the US. The government is bought and paid for.

    ++++++

    #235

    Oli, I agree with SK (“I recognize the presence of formalities, though fail to grasp its purpose sometimes. If I can’t stand somebody’s guts, and everybody knows it, to me actually saying so materially changes nothing.”). I personally think there is way too much PC in this world. Furthermore, to me, it seems like there is way too much political/diplomatic posturing and “reading of tea leaves”. And, I consider myself fortunate to be able to think in that manner.

    ++++++

    #242, 243

    “rather than the nudge nudge wink wink, it’d be good if both sides just came right out and said it.” SK, I agree that would be nice. I don’t think it will happen. Maybe you and I could make a deal like that work. I have seen deals like that work in the US. Probably too much to expect out of China and Taiwan, as Allen points out in #243.

    This unwillingness to be direct is coloring how the US elites are approaching this arms deal with Taiwan. That is why they brought on Paul Wolfowitz, master of the underhanded diplomacy.

    ++++++

    #244

    Oli, I was taught how to read in context and draw inferences. IMHO, it is just that there is too much PC and attempting to determine subterranean context going on in this world. It is not that I am “pedantic”, I am anything but. I just believe that if something is really bothering somebody or if they really feel great about something, just say it. If it doesn’t need mentioning, don’t say it. You may prefer a different style, Oli, and that is your right.

    ++++++

    #247,261

    However, I am absolutely intolerant of the stupidities and voluntary narrow-mindedness of adults who really ought to know better and can know better, irrespective of the occasional entertainment value they provide on a slow day.

    Oli, I know where you are coming from. Sometimes it is hard to suffer fools. But I don’t think of FOARP as a fool. I find FOARP rather lucid. His opinions differ from yours.

    In #247, you wrote, “I rest my case about dullards and dimwits, so show me some intellectual cojones for a change instead of the usual dross.” Now I have a sharp, belligerent tongue at times. But that is a little too much cynicism and hubris, even for me.

    In #261, you wrote, “I mean seriously, fearofaredplanet@yahoo.co.uk (FOARP) as a handle??? Seriously??? It should go read Fukuyama. Practical Soviet communism is dead, liberal democracy is alive and kicking, though of course history and the folly of history marches on.” He may very well mean that. Or it may be meant in a different context. Maybe he doesn’t like the planet Mars or the Roman god of that name? Maybe his family had a bad experience with communism. Even so, I don’t care. I think you are “reading tea leaves” way too deeply at this point. And he has the right to any handle he wishes.

    BTW, I am in a communist, socialist country, Vietnam, as I write now. I don’t feel endangered at all. In fact, I feel safe. But I do know others who won’t venture here. And that is their right.

    Finally, name-calling will not improve the discourse on FM. When you write in such a manner, I tend to become dismissive. Which is too bad because you have some wonderful comments.

    ++++++

    #263, 264

    SK and Oli, I have no problem with Mars, either. Nice planet. But, Mars candy is junky, mass-manufactured candy. I prefer Fran’s Chocolates from Seattle or Chocolaterie Callebaut from Belgium or BC/Alberta.

  268. S.K. Cheung
    October 15th, 2008 at 05:03 | #268

    To Jerry:
    man, I must have pedestrian tastes. I like my Mars bars. Used to be a staple in my diet…now it’s just a side dish, sorta like vegetables.

  269. Jerry
    October 15th, 2008 at 05:14 | #269

    @S.K. Cheung #268

    LMAO. I used to eat Snickers, Mars Bars and Milky Ways, too. As I got older, my tastes changed. And vegetables are no longer a side dish. Since last year, I am now a vegetarian. Life changes. 😀

  270. S.K. Cheung
    October 15th, 2008 at 05:33 | #270

    To Jerry:
    I’m a meatatarian…yes, I know, it’s a lifestyle choice. Sadly, I copied that from a commercial running in Canada. But it’s brilliant; too bad I didn’t come up with it myself.

  271. Jerry
    October 15th, 2008 at 07:53 | #271

    @S.K. Cheung #270

    If you want to be a meatatarian (great term, BTW), more power to you. 😀 Oh, I spoke too soon. I forgot. I am a westerner. I am supposed to dissuade you from your evil ways. (tongue seriously in cheek) 😀

    Speaking of sad, I see that Harper won today, but still did not get a majority. I also heard that he employed some novel ways of offending Quebecois during this election, possible keeping him from winning a majority? I heard it on a BBC report this afternoon. I don’t know much about Stephane Dion. Any relation to Celine? 😀

    Speaking of offensive, the internet sucks over here in Hanoi.

  272. October 15th, 2008 at 09:57 | #272

    A Mars a day helps you work rest and play, and no, I have never changed my name. If someone else posts as a look-a-like this is no affair of mine. If you want to know anything more about me instead of making up cariacatures, read my blog.

  273. TommyBahamas
    October 15th, 2008 at 10:30 | #273

    FOARP,

    Oh, so “FOAMP” was not you.

    My apologies.

    As they say, “Imitation is the best compliment.”

  274. Jerry
    October 15th, 2008 at 14:16 | #274

    @FOARP #272
    @TommyBahamas #273

    #272

    FOARP, thanks for contributing at FM. I have only been in Taipei for almost a year. I am still trying to decipher the Taiwan-China issue, Chinese culture/thinking and Asian issues in general. Yours and other contributions help me to get a better handle on the situation. I just don’t like reading such blatant hubris and cheap shots. And referring to you as “it” is just another unnecessary attempt at name-calling.

    —————-

    #273

    Hi Tommy, how is life? Hope things are going well.

  275. rasta
    October 15th, 2008 at 17:29 | #275

    Jerry

    Now, now, who is reading “tea leaves”. Maybe Oli just doesn’ want to come across as sexist.

    Personally I prefer his candour. He is not afraid of showing his dislike and he seems really not to care too much about being PC, which you previously seem to complain there is too much of in this world.

    At least he is using a flippant tone instead of foul or obscene language. I have come across way too much racist, xenophobic and sinophobic intent couched in so much reasonable language which I find way too disgustingly patronising and all too familiar.

    So maybe you should do as you preach instead of using your bandied about “age” to patronise others.

    Peace and have a joint 😉

  276. Steve
    October 15th, 2008 at 20:20 | #276

    Fear of a red planet? Reminds me of Porcupine Tree’s “Fear of a Blank Planet”. 🙂

  277. October 15th, 2008 at 22:56 | #277

    @Steve – FOARP comes from “fear of a black planet” by Public Enemy, and a conversation with a friend of mine back at the beginning of 2004, no need to read much more into it.

    People are always so capable of coming up with ways to rationalise pure aggression, here’s some examples:

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=ufsQSDdEo8A&feature=related
    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=gi3nx7XKfas
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2003/03/20030317-7.html

    All this “China is behaving responsibly in threatening Taiwan” talk is nothing but more of the same.

  278. Jerry
    October 16th, 2008 at 00:27 | #278

    @Rasta #275

    You are free to think and do as you want. Speaking of reading tea leaves, it seems that you are now engaging in it too. Sounds like you enjoy engaging in PC and preaching. Perhaps you should read what you write.

    I just say as I feel. Sometimes I am humorous. Sometimes caring. Sometimes subtle. Sometimes cynical and harsh. Sometimes sarcastic. And sometimes I temper my remarks and hold back. Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.

    If you take it as preaching, that is your problem. Obviously. “Peace and have a joint.” Sorry, I don’t do drugs. “Peace”: how ironic in light of your previous statements.

    So Rasta, what is your point?

  279. TommyBahamas
    October 16th, 2008 at 00:33 | #279

    HI, Jerry,

    Life’s good. Thanks for asking.

    I’m having fun reading and learning about Western educated folks’ sense of humor and lack thereof . Some people are so uptight while others are easy-going. That book “Sense & sensitivity,” sure made me feel bad for those wealthy folks who have so much yet so little by ways of simple joy and freedom.
    I dunno, Jerry. I am a simple man, what the hell am I doing here among the western-educated pretending to know-it-all, or questioning everything and sometimes hypersensitive crowd?

    So, Jerry, how was Hanoi? Many of my expat friends tell me they love Vietnam, but I forget which part though.

  280. S.K. Cheung
    October 16th, 2008 at 00:37 | #280

    To rasta:
    a “him/her” clears the sexist hurdle with ease; resorting to “it” is uncouth. That’s not tea leaves; just English.

    Candour…good. Name-calling…not so good. Obscene language, definitely not good. So why not just stick to candour without the latter 2?

    Besides, I believe Oli “him/her-self” came to BXBQ’s defense a while back by suggesting that we should criticize the ideas, and not the person. And I completely agree with that approach.

  281. S.K. Cheung
    October 16th, 2008 at 00:47 | #281

    To Jerry #271:
    yes, sigh, Harper won. Thankfully not a majority. But I’ll be working through some Guinness as I build up the capacity to face that reality. He cheesed off Quebecers by cutting arts funding, and also by introducing new tax rules that eliminate tax credits for film makers who make “objectionable” films, something which the likes of Sarah Polley (you may have heard of her in the US) liken to censorship. And good thing too, otherwise I’d be looking at a Harper majority, and I might have needed something that Rasta is selling to get over that one.

  282. Hongkonger
    October 16th, 2008 at 01:00 | #282

    SKC,

    So, I gather from yours & Jerry’s comments that Harpper is not the best man who [again] wins the prize?

    “Candour…good. Name-calling…not so good. Obscene language, definitely not good. ”

    I agree with you (Jerry and Allen too) that Candour is good, but what’s wrong with foul language? I know it is not good to break the rule seeing that Fool’s mountain is a place for polite debates, comments, discussions. I guess what I am trying to say is, or rather ask the question: Are we too sanitized to our own detriment? I guess the eff word is ok. I think I might have used it a few times, so, maybe I’ve answered my own question. Never mind. Y’all have a lovely day. (It is 9 a.m. here in HK, what time is it over there in wherever you guys are?)

  283. rasta
    October 16th, 2008 at 01:00 | #283

    @Jerry

    You obviously are very adept at discerning what is and what isn’t “tea leaves” so in deference to the master, what do you think my point is?

    Cannabis’ medicinal quality is well documented, maybe you should try some. Might help alleviate that prickly grumpiness of yours. 🙂

    @S. K. Cheung

    Agreed. However, i simply don’t care very much for FOARP’s incessant insinuations and tedious picking on other’s word usage either. He and Oli obviously has a bit of history and maybe they rub each other the wrong way. Besides i find Oli’s put downs actually quite entertaining in an exaggerated truthful kind of way.

  284. S.K. Cheung
    October 16th, 2008 at 01:23 | #284

    To HKer:
    well, to me, Harper isn’t the best man for the job. But 35-40% of Canadians thought he is, hence I find myself in a pickle until at least the next matter of confidence in Parliament.

    Maybe I’m old-school, but I was taught that if you can’t make a point without using an expletive, it’s probably not a point worth making. Hey, i’m no prude, so if you want to sprinkle some in for emphasis, no problem. But some people confuse foul language for a thought, and that’s clearly not the case.

  285. S.K. Cheung
    October 16th, 2008 at 01:26 | #285

    To Rasta:
    I agree we’re not in English class. However, requesting a little precision in word choice is not a bad idea in a debate, otherwise you’d be just as likely to be talking at cross purposes.

    It does look like FOARP and Oli have a “history”. Maybe they just need to get a room and work it out 🙂

  286. rasta
    October 16th, 2008 at 01:38 | #286

    @S. K. Cheung

    Yup and I wonder if we can turn it into a spectator sport so that we can watch. Maybe FM can sell tickets and provide popcorn and hotdogs. But I seriously hope its not x-rated especially if they are both guys then count me out. 🙂
    No offence to gays everywhere.

    Precision in word choice, hmmm I see your point, so perhaps formality does have a role even in language.

    On another note, I noticed that Oli never actually call FOARP any names directly, but simply by implying some such in exasperation. Now is that enough to be considered as rude and if yes would that not be too PC?

  287. October 16th, 2008 at 02:33 | #287

    @Oli #223,

    As for:

    “I have some ideas about both … but I am curious to see what yours might be…”

    I’ll show you mine if you’ll show me yours….

    OK – I guess I backed myself into a corner.

    As I mentioned before,

    The impetus for these new norms are 1.) to allow the International System address the potential question of another Hilter; and 2.) facilitate the International Community in dealing with weak/unstable states.

    Regarding 1., the idea is that instead of impenetrable national boundaries, no nation is now immune to attack by another country if the nation is involved in “severe” “human rights abuses” (however defined). The intent is to prevent another tragedy such as the holocaust. Would your system allow for such interference? If so, what would you define as severe human rights abuses?

    Another impetus relates to dealing with weak states such as Sudan/Darfur. When a central gov’t is weak and involved in perpetual civil wars, especially where the central gov’t and the rebels hold approximate (even if not equal) power, then one’s economic dealing with the “central government” can effectively subsidize the war, effectively affecting and interfering with the outcome of the “civil war.” A “human rights” based foreign policy can help guide the International Community’s dealings with such weak states.

    Technically, I have no problem with imposing “human rights” onto the international order. But we must set the bar for “human rights” abuses to be high enough to avoid “human rights” from being politicized.

    If we are going to compare to “Hitler” (a la point 1 above), then we must talk of really egregious human rights abuses. The nation must not only be ready to go to war with all countries violating such alleged “human rights,” but also be ready to commit the resources needed to rebuild the target nation (what’s the point of attacking in the name of “human rights” if the aftermath of the war leaves just more suffering?).

    If we don’t set the bar for alleged “human rights” abuses high enough, we risk having strong nations projecting their own “values” on weak countries in the false pretense of “human rights” – falsely advancing their national interests under the banner of “human rights.”

    Take Iraq as an example. The U.S. attacked Iraq under the “banner” of deposing a hated dictator as well as bringing “democracy” to the Iraqi people. The U.S. public bought into the notion that such conditions constitute human rights abuses to justify a U.S. attack. By not defining clearly what are the clearly egregious “human rights” abuses, U.S. was able to get away with illegally attacking another country.

    How can we set the bar high enough to ensure that countries are attacked only when true human rights violations occur? One way is through consensus in the U.N. I personally think the U.N. can sometimes be too political, but I rather have arguments about human rights duked out in the U.N. rather than unilaterally decided upon by a president sitting in Washington.

    As for the second issue of how to deal with weak states without interfering with their domestic politics, I don’t have a good answer yet. By definition of being weak states, weak nations are particularly prone to influences from others, even that of normally hands-offish foreign partners.

    But with that said, I don’t think it should be the burden of a foreign power to decide what is good for the weak state – whether in the name of human rights, or stability, or whatever (that would be completely undemocratic and patronizing to the people of the weak state). I also don’t think weak states should be isolated from interacting with the international community simply because they are weak.

    The best resolution I can think of now is again for the U.N. to take a role. Where the U.N. does find that certain international interactions undisputedly cause large human rights abuses, the U.N. should issue suggestions on how the foreign actors may change its act.

    In summary, no country should monopolize the definition of “human rights” – especially in the name of attacking another country or dictating how weak states should be engaged. “Human rights” should not be politicized to advance the private interests of strong nations. The U.N. may have a role in helping to define “human rights abuses” that could trigger warfare and in guiding how strong states interact with weak states – as long as the U.N. can keep alleged “human rights’ abuses from being politicized by strong countries.

    That’s already much more than I wanted to say for now. Perhaps we can spend a future post specifically to this topic…

  288. S.K. Cheung
    October 16th, 2008 at 03:05 | #288

    To Rasta:
    you have a point. Oli never calls FOARP a fornicating orifice, or anything close. So using my rudimentary scale from #280 (Candour…good. Name-calling…not so good. Obscene language, definitely not good.), he only did the middle category. I guess all I’m saying is that it would be nice if we just stuck to the first category…but curing cancer would also be nice and that’s not happening anytime soon, so I suspect so too with this one.

    I think both Oli and FOARP are “he’s”. So you should make your sports viewing choices accordingly 🙂

  289. Jerry
    October 16th, 2008 at 05:39 | #289

    @Rasta #283

    Rasta, I will leave the tea leaves to you. I love the old saying (and song title), “It takes 2 to tango”. 😀

    “Might help alleviate that prickly grumpiness of yours.” Say it aint so, Joe. LOL. I plead guilty. To be honest, Rasta, I have worked too long and hard over a number of years (there is that “age” thing again) to give up my irascible, cantankerous curmudgeonhood. A little bit of recognition goes a long ways. Thanks for the offer. I think I will just hold on to and enjoy my “prickly grumpiness”. 😀

    “So maybe you should do as you preach instead of using your bandied about “age” to patronise others.” (#275)
    Note to self: Stop preaching and beating up on the young ones using your age as a cudgel. You curmudgeon, you! LOL

    —————-

    @TommyBahamas #279

    Hi Tommy,

    I am still in Hanoi. I will be here for a few more days. Today is the first day of sun and no rain. But it has been raining in Taipei since I left on Monday. So what the hey?

    “That book “Sense & sensitivity,” sure made me feel bad for those wealthy folks who have so much yet so little by ways of simple joy and freedom.” True. Wealth can be a prison. I have never heard of that book. I have read Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”.

    “I dunno, Jerry. I am a simple man, what the hell am I doing here among the western-educated pretending to know-it-all, or questioning everything and sometimes hypersensitive crowd?” We are all just human, Tommy, and we are all different. I enjoy your posts, so keep on writing. I have never met anyone who knows it all. I have met people who pretend to do so.

    Hanoi is great. The food is wonderful. The women are great. The ice cream is good at Fanny’s or the gelato stand at the north end of Lake Hoan Kiem. I know enough Vietnamese to be able to converse with the people. Life is good.

    —————-

    @S.K. Cheung #280
    @TommyBahamas

    Bummer about Harper. “But I’ll be working through some Guinness as I build up the capacity to face that reality.” SK, at least Harper has some value in your life; Guinness is a great way to go. Guinness is on my short list of beers which I like to drink. Deschutes Black Butte Porter is the other one. And there are some microbreweries in Portland, OR which brew wonderful Porters and stouts.

    I have heard of Sarah Polley. I checked out IMDB. She was in “The Sweet Hereafter”, which I have watched several times. I now remember her role as a survivor confined to a wheelchair. To me, it is a mesmerizing movie. Atom Egoyan did a wonderful job. Ian Holm was riveting, tragic and tormented; he is a marvelous actor. Strangely, I am fascinated by Arsinée Khanjian, Egoyan’s wife. She has that “je ne sais quoi” kind of aura about her. I saw her in “The Sweet Hereafter” and “Exotica”. And I think Polley also was in “Exotica’, playing the central character’s niece, IIRC.

    Tommy and SK, looks like the global stock markets are taking it in the shorts again. Losing shares outnumbered gainers 9:1 on the NYSE and 6:1 on the NASDAQ. The Treasury is putting an unprecedented $100 billion in banks like Citi, JP Morgan Chase, B of A and Wells Fargo. Greed knows no bounds. Leveraging, hey, it’s only money. I would be happier if some of their criminal, thieving butts were sitting in jail. Nationalizing banks; sounds like somewhat of a Depression to me. BTW, since they have those printing presses rolling and smoking, I would not mind a few million of the inflated dollars. Like Fred Rogers would say, “OK, boys and girls, can you say ‘inflation’? Can you say ‘overleveraged’? Can you say ‘thieves and criminals’?”

    I like this one comment out on Marketwatch.com:

    It is from LookingForward

    No suprise here. The biggest gamblers with the biggest losses and the highest paid CEOs have sent the most lobbyists who have bought the most Washington politicians who have agreed to cover the gambling losses by taxing you and me. It is modern day slavery with the Washington Politicians (including Obama and McCain) swing the whip on the backs of the American citizens.

    http://www.marketwatch.com/news/story/nine-largest-us-banks-getting/story.aspx?guid=%7BF3935594%2D9048%2D4BE1%2DA98D%2D4D9759A90DF9%7D#comment840028

  290. Tommy B.
    October 16th, 2008 at 05:59 | #290

    Jerry,

    Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility”.Yes, That’s the one…

    “Hanoi is great. The food is wonderful. The women are great. ” Wow, GREAT food & women?…

    Um, Care to elaborate? 😉

  291. S.K. Cheung
    October 16th, 2008 at 06:27 | #291

    To Jerry:
    one day the Dow is up 900, and floor traders look like they just won the lottery. The next day it’s down 700, and they look like they can’t wait to get home to start their hesitation wrist slashing. But i don’t think the US economic fundamentals improved by 10% on day 1, nor deteriorated 10% on day 2. Investors (at least the short term ones) are a fickle species.

  292. October 16th, 2008 at 11:28 | #292

    @Rasta – I have never met and do not know any of the people here on this site. As for my ‘nitpicking’ and ‘endless insinuations’, you might think some of my points minor, you may think that they lead down a particular route of analysis with which you don’t agree – but if you think so the best thing you can do is to challenge the relevance of what I say and the validity of my reasoning. Simply making sweeping statements ad hominem without engaging with what has been said is likely to make people think that you are trying to avoid backing up your opinions.

    Like I said above, opinion has to give way to fact. This means that if the PRC has up till now been incapable of conquering Taiwan in a swift and certain fashion, then there is no basis on which to say that the PRC has tacitly agreed not to attack except in event of a declaration of independence in the future. If PRC law does not actually require that the PRC attack Taiwan in the event of a declaration of separation, then there is no basis on which to say that the PRC is bound by law to do so – at least not by the law seen up to now. I am not ‘insinuating’ anything except these points.

    Anyone who has watched the news of late has seen many pundits talking about the economic situation. Some give the reasons behind what they say, others speak totally from the gut. My inclination has always been to shut out the Jim Cramers of this world and listen to the guys who can tell you the hard and fast evidence which supports their conclusions. When Jim Cramer said he wanted people to get all the money they were going to need for the next five years out of the stock market because he ‘didn’t trust this market’, he makes himself irrelevant. He’s not saying ‘this company is over-valued because of XYZ – you’d better sell it now’ he’s just talking straight from what his instinct tells him – and given that he is the guy who tipped Bear Stearns a few months before they went belly-up, that’s not a great source of advice. The same kind of thing can be found in a lot of other areas.

  293. Oli
    October 16th, 2008 at 16:35 | #293

    @Allen 287

    Dang! I was just thinking about a piece on ROC-PRC reunification process and you called me on it. 🙂

    OK lots to think about. Shall get back to you shortly.

  294. rasta
    October 17th, 2008 at 04:11 | #294

    @ S. K. Cheung

    Not meaning to encourage Oli, but purely in the interest of fairness, I think it was FOARP who accused Oli of having “totally disappeared up his own backside” @245 in response to Oli’s exasperation. This seemed to have set Oli off. So I guess they definitely have a history there. 🙂

    Personally I don’t care very much for FOARP’s sometimes off topic digression either but can see why Oli overreacted.

    Re viewing choices, waaaay to much info, very bad mental image 🙁

    ——————-

    @ Jerry

    Tango? Too uptight, too morose and too much clenched bottoms for me. Now reggae or samba that’s a dance to do with the ladies 😉

    “To be honest, Rasta, I have worked too long and hard over a number of years (there is that “age” thing again) to give up my irascible, cantankerous curmudgeonhood. A little bit of recognition goes a long ways.”

    There you go, you’re doing it again! 🙂

    Re the weed offer, no problem. My friends and I only grow the stuff in a pot each for another friend, who on a good day we like to tease her as a deathbed first time user (macabre deathbed humour that). But a bit of it is also quite nice in cake or brownies. 🙂

    ———————-

    @FOARP

    Friend, you seem like a smart person, but I am not interested in any big argument with you over the theory of knowledge, the theory of logic, the theory reasoning or how to argue and debate or any other theories of whatsoever and maybe others are not either. Life is way, way too short for all that and I finished high school a long time ago.

    I also don’t care whether opinion HAS to give way to fact. All I know is that nobody can know everything, but someone always knows something.

    I only come here and other websites to find out what Chinese people are thinking or discussing and what China is like before my first trip there. Now I don’t know what your beef is with the Chinese government or with Chinese people supporting China, though not necessary always its government it seems and I also don’t know whom you are trying to convince of what.

    It seems to me that the Chinese people here know their government and society is not perfect, but then which one is? But non-Chinese people like you always reminding them of that is not going to improve relationship or help people learn from each other is it?

    I am not very familiar with internet manners, but the people here seems very nice to let you continue posting even after you advertise your own blog here, which away from the internet would be considered very rude. Now, to make you happy, I did briefly see your blog and you seem to have left China under not very happy circumstances, but that is something you have to deal with yourself and sometimes other people simply don’t care. Its unfortunate, but that is a fact of life.

    That’s all I have to say, so peace, chill, life’s too short. 🙂

  295. Wukailong
    October 17th, 2008 at 11:06 | #295

    @rasta: “That’s all I have to say, so peace, chill, life’s too short.”

    No no no – we all have a lot of time, we just don’t use it well! 🙂

  296. Sabah
    January 26th, 2010 at 21:57 | #296

    An easy way for China to stop arms sales to Taiwan is to threaten, and follow through if necessary,with arms sales to Cuba. Then see how much the US likes the idea of China having a (possible) military base so close to it’s shores. What is sauce for the goose is surely sauce for the gander.

  297. r v
    January 28th, 2010 at 03:37 | #297

    On the contrary, China should allow Taiwan to buy arms, as much as they want to buy. Heck, China should sell weapons to Taiwan.

    Let Taiwan spend itself into the poor house.

    If Taiwan buys advanced US weapons, it will only be easier for some smuggler to sell those weapons to China.

    In 10 years, China will have copies of every advanced US weaponry and made improvements on them, and Taiwan will be poor.

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