Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Saturday, April 30, 2005

Lots and lots of talk these days about the visit of the KMT leader. China obviously views this visit very positively. The Wall Street Journal views it rather negatively. The Wall Street Journal's position is that the government in Beijing should deal with the duly elected leader of Taiwan, rather than the leader of the opposition party. That argument would be perfectly rational if we were talking about a sovereign nation. But is Taiwan a sovereign nation? Beijing certainly doesn't think so. And everyone knows that Taiwan would not have a chance to survive as in independent nation without the support of the United States. But it would be hypocritical for the United States to support Taiwan independence at this point. They never supported Taiwan independence when the KMT was in power.

Personally, I think this kind of visit is a good thing. The first reason I feel this way is that there is so much about this situation that is unusual, that it is hard to measure against ordinary norms of propriety. But the most important reason I feel this way is that I am committed to the underlying value that any reunification must be peaceful. In order for peace to exist between Taiwan and the Mainland, there must be communication. The Wall Street Journal makes much of the fact that Chen Shui-bian is the elected leader of Taiwan. But Chen Shui-bian is a Taiwanese native. The overwhelming majority of those who are eligible to vote in Taiwan are Taiwanese natives, which explains why he is president. But it does not explain how he won the last election over the KMT by such a narrow margin. Chen won by only 29,000 votes. And that over the KMT, which is supposed to be so despised by islanders who see them as the invaders from the mainland. Clearly, many, many Taiwanese natives voted for the KMT. Some say this is because they don't really see Taiwan as a country in its own right. I don't think so. I think it is because, even though most of the voters in Taiwan are not interested in being governed by Beijing, many of them are afraid that Chen's bluster will just stir up trouble with the Mainland. In other words, most of the citizens want to preserve the status quo. They want to go about their daily lives quietly, and avoid waking the dragon. And they are irritated with a leader they perceive as poking the dragon and challenging him to a fight. So even many who have no desire to become a part of China, are glad that their is some measure of friendly communication across the straits.

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