Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Monday, November 11, 2019

Taiwan's Dire Straits 

The constant question is how China and Taiwan will work through the perpetual conflict caused by the 70 year old civil war. The KMT under Chiang Kai-Shek used to rule China, and was an ally of the United States during World War II.

The Communists took over most of China, but were unable to defeat the KMT. The KMT fled to Taiwan, but also occupied other smaller islands, one group of which is very close to Xiamen (a coastal city in Fujian Province). Less than 10 kilometers, in fact. The Communists decided that, as a step toward taking Taiwan, they should first capture these islands. They failed, in a struggle that came to be known as the Battle of Guningtou.

Although the Americans were not directly involved in this fight, the Nationalists did have the benefit of a bunch of cast-off World War II tanks, which gave them a hugely unfair advantage against the PLA. One can only wonder if the Communists should have bypassed Kinmen and gone directly to the main island of Taiwan. At any rate, the attempt to take Taiwan was foiled, and the Chinese Civil War was destined go continue for another...who knows? It's already been 70 years and it is not over, although the two sides have managed to maintain a more or less peaceful ceasefire for most of those years, except for a period during the Cold War when they were shooting at each other, but neither was attempting to conquer the other.

So where to go from here? The video below outlines the basic situation such as it is. It should be noted that the rock star featured in this video is a Taiwan native (not a descendant of those who came over in 1949). That should be taken into consideration when listening to his comments. The Taiwan natives have no interest in "retaking the mainland," which was always, and is still supposed to be the objective of the KMT. But something interesting seems to be happening in Taiwan. In the current generation, there seems to be less divide between the two entities. Young people generally don't have a strong philosophy about "one China," or whatever. They just know that they don't want to be dominated by China.

China has tried many ways to bring the wandering province back into the fold. Recently, they put a female television anchor in front of the camera begging "wan wan" to come back home.

It didn't go over well. I feel sorry for the lady, because she's probably a nice person. But it just doesn't work to be doing threatening military maneuvers, threatening to invade, and then have a pretty lady begging "wan wan" to come back to Mommy. This is the worst possible time for China to be doing that, especially with what is happening in Hong Kong and Xinjiang. The young people of Taiwan do not want to come back to a "Mommy" who puts hundreds of thousands of innocent people in prison camps. I call them prison camps, because people are put there by force. That's prison. So I don't want to hear what they are doing in those camps. It is not relevant to the basic human rights issue (deprivation of liberty without due process). If you told me that they were living in mansions and beijing waited on by servants, I would still call it a violation of human rights, because they did not choose to be there and they are not free to leave. I don't want to belabor that point, because I have addressed it before in this blog. Just let me say that that issue is not going to go away, and will affect the way most people view the China-Taiwan relationship for years to come.

So what should China do? I have never been a fan of Mao, but I do think he was right about Taiwan. In his conversation with Kissinger he stated that Taiwan would come back eventually, but the time was not right for it. He said it would take a hundred years. But that was almost fifty years ago. Will it really take another fifty years? I don't think it has to. But it will not happen in the next ten years. Maybe not even twenty. Why not? Because whatever you say about Taiwan, it has been functioning as an independent entity for seventy years, and is not going to just give up its de facto independence and become another province in China. The only way forward that China can accept right now is "one country, two systems," and that is anathema to both the DPP and the KMT.

There seems to be a perception that China is upset with Tsai Yingwen because she opposes "one country, two systems," in contrast to the KMT. This is incorrect. The KMT also opposes "one country, two systems." Why? Because "one country, two systems" would mean Taiwan coming into China under the Communist party. That would be the same as surrender.

"One country, two systems" and "one China" are not the same at all. They are as different as night and day. The DPP opposes both of them. The KMT supports "one China," but opposes "one country, two systems" just as much as does the DPP. So there is a difference between the KMT and the DPP with respect to "one China," but no difference between them with respect to "one country, two systems." They both oppose that vehemently. But right now, "one country, two systems" is the only way forward that China can accept. This is the main roadblock to reconciliation.

Is there a way forward? Many say no. But I do not agree. Reconciliation is definitely a possibility. But it will require a way forward that is more creative than what either side has conceived of or been willing to accept. Before that way forward can be found, China has to be willing to give up "one China, two systems," because the people of Taiwan will never, never accept it, and China does not have the power to force them to accept it.

China likes to talk about the fact that most countries recognize the Beijing government diplomatically. But that recognition is not a recognition of China's right to take Taiwan by force. The practical truth is that most, if not all of the countries that recognize China diplomatically also have a (non-diplomatic) relationship with Taiwan as an independent entity, and support Taiwan's (de facto) independence. There can be no greater example than the United States, which publicly recognizes China diplomatically, but openly sells weapons to Taiwan to defend their independence. What greater sign of recognition (of Taiwan's de facto independence) can there be than selling them weapons to defend that independence? Come on. Actions speak louder than words. The Americans clearly recognize Taiwan's (de facto) independence, and are committed by law to helping them defend it.

But again, reconciliation is not out of the question. Not at all. I don't think it is the only option, but it is one of them. It is worth talking about, and should be talked about. And that conversation can begin as soon as China is ready to give up the "one China, two systems" idea. Taiwan is not Hong Kong.



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