Taiwan and China – Ne’er the twain shall meet?

Those of you following this volatile topic must read an opinion piece in today’s LA Times by Sam Crane, who teaches Chinese politics and philosophy at Williams College. It’s very straightforward and reasonable, and I don’t think the tortured arguments I’ve been reading from commenters on the topic can take away from the piece’s essential truths.

I usually shy away from snipping entire articles, but this one is relatively brief and I’d like to have it here as a reference.

Democracy has transformed Taiwan, and the change demonstrates how political participation can shape national identity and international politics.

Fifteen years ago, it was easy to accept the idea that Taiwan was a part of China. Most people on the island defined themselves as Chinese, and their government was named and was acknowledged — though not diplomatically recognized by many countries — as the Republic of China. The official policy of the People’s Republic of China demanded that Taiwan be viewed as a province of the mainland, and the United States vaguely accepted a “one China” principle.

Some things are not so straightforward anymore.

Mandarin discourse is still useful on the streets of Taipei, and the Chinese cuisine is the best anywhere. The National Palace Museum remains an extraordinary trove of Sinological art treasures.

National identity, however, is more than cultural practices and traditions. Linguistic and other affinities are not enough to classify Taiwan as “Chinese,” just as the United States could hardly be considered part of a “British” empire anymore.

What matters for any national identity is politics. And Taiwan’s domestic politics have long been detached from China’s. Since 1895, a mainland government has ruled the island for only about four years, 1945-49. When the Nationalist Party lost the civil war in 1949 and fled to Taiwan, it maintained for many years that it was the government of all China, though it never was.

Since democratization began in Taiwan in 1986, the “return to the mainland” myth has further receded. Free and fair elections have turned people’s attention inward.

The democratic political life shared by millions of Taiwanese is forging a common civic identity distinct from China’s. This Taiwanese national identity is not merely an invention of those who want to publicly declare independence, something that Beijing’s leaders say they will go to war to prevent. It is the natural evolution of democratic participation.

Nowhere is this more evident than in the notion of the “status quo.” For mainland China and the U.S., it refers to the “one China” principle, a reflection of the politics of the 1970s — before democracy took root in Taiwan. For many Taiwanese, perhaps most, it has come to mean the situation that has actually prevailed since 1986, an empirical independence that allows them to rule themselves without Chinese control.

But the people of Taiwan are not unanimous in seeing themselves as wholly separate from China. Debates about national identity are a central feature of the island’s boisterous democracy.

The momentum of nationhood, however, seems to have reached a point of no return. Taiwan is a democratic nation; China is not. It is difficult to foresee circumstances that would allow for real unification.

The dilemma for Taiwan is the contradiction between its democratic development and its geopolitical context. China’s nationalist passions are real. For any mainland Chinese politician, President Hu Jintao included, to be seen as soft on Taiwan independence is to open oneself to charges of treason. Even if political liberalization were to emerge tomorrow, Chinese demagogues could argue that a separate Taiwan is a wound to the nation’s pride. So Chinese leaders continue to threaten and isolate Taiwan.

If the Bush administration thinks the Taiwan question has faded, it is sorely mistaken. Taiwan is not really a part of China any longer. It has grown into a thriving and mature democracy where people join together in constructive self-government and see themselves as a nation like any other. The status quo has changed.

“Taiwan is not really part of China anymore.” Those are strong words, but anyone with a rational mind and common sense can see that it’s simply the truth, painful though it may be for many in China to accept. Trying to fuse the two back together again would go against nature, as Taiwan has evolved into an altogether different species.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 60 Comments

Richard,

I don’t see you as enthusiastic to talk about the democratic development and the separate statehood of a Palestinian state as you have repeatedly talked about the independence of Taiwan here. How come??? Are the Palestinians not ready to become their own country yet? I NEVER heard you say a word about the state of Palestine as a matter of fact. They have their own identity right? Please don’t view this as being belligerent. I know Jewish people personally who support or against the state of Palestine. I would love to hear what you say about it.

January 30, 2005 @ 11:20 am | Comment

JR, I almost never write about this issue, as it’s not one of my primary interests. As it happens, I am firmly in favor of a separate Palestinian state and believe it’s long overdue. They are absolutely ready for their own country and their plight is a real tragedy, for which there is plenty of blame to go around. Unfortunately, Yasser Arafat damaged serious efforts that might have helped lead to the two-nation solution years ago. Tragedy.

January 30, 2005 @ 11:38 am | Comment

On a purely ideological level, yes Taiwan is for all intents and purposes separated from the mainland. As to why mainland Chinese should accept this, there is no reason to. Force can always be used to rectify the situation. Afterall, an aggressive war created the seeds of independence, another one can crush its fruit.

January 30, 2005 @ 2:19 pm | Comment

Jing, that sounds really bellicose. It’s a very revealing comment, because this is the reason why the very concept of reunification fills most Taiwanese with dread. Why would they want to reuinfy with people so crazed they would consider “crushing” them for the purpose of “reuniting” them?!

January 30, 2005 @ 2:28 pm | Comment

“Trying to fuse the two back together again would go against nature, as Taiwan has evolved into an altogether different species.”

trying to fuse west germany and east germany back together again would go agianst nature, as east germany has evolved into an altogether different species.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:13 pm | Comment

Bingfeng, you are much too smart to put forward such a lame argument. And we discussed this in an earlier thread. But once again:

The East Germans WANTED to join the West. They stood to benefit in every way. And the West Germans were willing to make the sacrifice in jobs and tax dollars to see themselves reunited. Both sides wanted it.

Communist East Germany was giving up communism to join a system where they could vote to choose their government. So they lost no freedoms, but instead gained political freedom for the first time since 1933.

In the China-Taiwan scenario, we have the exact opposite situation! A Communist regime under a repressive authoritarian dicatatorship is asking a democracy to relinquish its freedoms and join it. There is no benefit for the democracy, only a host of negatives. Communist countries often long for democracy. Democracies rarely long for communist dictatorships. And for damned good reason.

Wake up, please. This analogy is beneath you and totally defies common sense.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:21 pm | Comment

richard,

well said.

what you told me is – with some prerequisites, the following statement is not correct:

“Trying to fuse the two back together again would go against nature, as Taiwan has evolved into an altogether different species.”

and you told me what these prerequisites are:

1) both want a reunification
2) freedom will not be lost

so you are telling us – if mainland china and taiwan both want a reunification and freedom is not lost, then reunification is a good thing to do.

good, we have something in common.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:40 pm | Comment

Yes, if both sides want it and no freedoms are lost, then of course it’s a good thing. Only problem is, I’ve almost never heard a Taiwanese tell me they want to be reunited with the PRC. Especially as they watch the slow strangulation of Hong Kong’s liberties.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:44 pm | Comment

first, freedom will not be lost.

taiwan could keep it army, and everything else. and it could send its officials to work in the central government.

second, taiwan is the first democracy in chinese soil, and its experience will benefit the whole china. usually china adopts a “learning by doing” strategy when introducing something new, like the SEZ. taiwan is the “special political zone” for china, and after taiwan, china could do some experiments in fujian or shanghai, and gradually expand it to the whole country.

with taiwan unified, the pressure for democracy like direct voting will become very big, and i do see that as a positive thing.

so, one of the prerequisites is met, and the other, with some assurance, also met.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:47 pm | Comment

“Only problem is, I’ve almost never heard a Taiwanese tell me they want to be reunited with the PRC. ”

just a few years ago, i never heard a taiwanese tell me they want secession from china.

there is nothing unchangable in this world except one – change.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:49 pm | Comment

and to be honest, a unified china is to the best interest of the US.

with its close relations with taiwan, US could exert positive influence to china and enhance the multul understanding between the two countries.

by supporting taiwan secessionism, the US put itself in a position of an enemy of china, what the hell it can get from that? a few more billion weapons sold to taiwan? stupid.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:53 pm | Comment

bellevue comes, i am leaving.

bye-bye everybody!

January 30, 2005 @ 6:58 pm | Comment

Bingfeng, if you understand US politics you know we can’t abandon Taiwan. The right wing would never allow it, and Bush owes them his soul.

January 30, 2005 @ 6:59 pm | Comment

And about your comment on “change”: true, things change. But we are living in the here and now — and here and now, the Taiwanese are firmly opposed to unification. This opinion has evolved and has been strengthened by watching Hong Kong, and seeing the continued repression of liberties in the PRC. Maybe it will evolve the other way (though I can’t see it anytime soon). Then you can talk about unification. Now it’s out of the question, for the reasons Sam laid out in his article.

January 30, 2005 @ 7:03 pm | Comment

“Bingfeng, if you understand US politics you know we can’t abandon Taiwan. The right wing would never allow it, and Bush owes them his soul.”

the US has already “abandoned” taiwan in 1970s, and i won’t be surprised to see taiwan is “abandoned” again. i don’t worry about this.

as for taiwanese opinion to reunification, you are wrong by claming that they don’t want reunification. in a strict statistics language, most taiwanese prefer a status quo, those who prefer a “immediate reunification” or “immediate secession” are both very small groups.

January 30, 2005 @ 7:10 pm | Comment

as i said before, taiwan is a chinese soil from any aspect you see it (culture, law, history, language, blood, etc.)

so let’s do it in a democratic and moral way -

1) a reunification must have agreement from taiwanese people.

2) a secession of taiwan from china must have agreement from mainland chinese people

is this fair?

January 30, 2005 @ 7:13 pm | Comment

btw, i have a few taiwanese friends here in shanghai and we sometimes play mahjong together, at least these taiwanese are strongly prefer the reunification with mainland china. one of them is a “new party” member, and two others are 30-something businessman, they just can not see any reason why taiwan should become an independent country.

January 30, 2005 @ 7:19 pm | Comment

I can’t talk abot how Taiwanese feel about secession — that’s a separate issue. But I can say all I’ve spoken too are firmly opposed to reunification. Personally, I hope we can just stay with the status quo, which has worked well enough considering the volatility of this topic.

January 30, 2005 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

how taiwanese view about mainland china (reported by the correspondent Wu Yaming in Taipei):

- a taiwanese married with a woman from mainland, and his neiboures visit his wife and talk with her, after talking, the taiwanese says: “oh, not every mainland chinese is a bad guy”!

- Wu went to banks and often got questions like this : “how do you spend the summer in beijing?” Wu answered: “open the aircon if it gets hot or go to vacation near sea” and taiwanese can not believe that mainland chinese have vacations!

- a group of taiwanese “snakeheads” murdered a few women when they are hunted by the police in the sea, and many taiwanese don’t believe they are murdered by taiwanese, they believe it must be mainlanders who killed those women!

richard, i am sure a lot of taiwanese who opposed reunification are those brainwashed by KMT and DPP governments before.

brainwashing, that’s the reason why many taiwanese are so afraid of mainland.

January 30, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

btw, back in 1960s and 1070s, many chinese are so afraid of the US and they will never think it’s a good idea to move to the US, because they are told that “people in the US are exploited by captalists” and “they have to work day and night without good pay”, and “drugs, crimes, porn, darkness … is everywhere”, “prosperity is abnormal” … in short, it’s a hell.

pretty much the same thing in many taiwanese minds if they are feed by DPP propaganda describing mainland china as a devil

January 30, 2005 @ 8:26 pm | Comment

Bingfeng, I’m against reunification (at least at this time) and I promise, I was never brainwashed. If you read the article in the LA Times carefully, you’ll see this is just a matter of common sense. They are two different societies.

January 30, 2005 @ 8:29 pm | Comment

And regarding your post about how the Chinese felt about the US in the 1960′s/70′s: That was indeed indiced by propaganda, as you say. But the lack of personal freedoms and human rights in mainland China is a matter of fact, not propaganda. I can speak to this myself, having been there to see the government at its worse. I saw things that I am still trying to get over today, and that will haunt me forever. No, this isn’t propaganda, it’s simply reality.

Which isn’t to say there isn’t a wonderful side to China and a lot to admire and love. But the CCP is still capable of incredible badness, and it;s going to take a lot of work on their part to get people to believe otherwise.

January 30, 2005 @ 8:37 pm | Comment

richard, you are educated and well informed, but many common taiwanese will just accept everything what DPP government tells them, many of them are just honest peasants like those in mainland china, who believe everything their “leaders” tell them.

i have met two taiwanese who first visited mainland and they were just shocked by what they see here, not because shanghai is so advanced, but because there is such a big discrepancy between what they see and what they are told before.

when you talk about taiwanese opinion about reunification, you have to take this brainwashing factor into account.

January 30, 2005 @ 8:41 pm | Comment

but i can understand all these brainwashing tricks.

there was an american who moved to shanghai back in early 1990s, and she brought a lot of bathroom tissues with her because she believes china doesn’t have bathroom tissues.

if you read the opinion poll in taiwan, you will find those who have better education and have more contacts with mainland china (mostly in northern part of taiwan) have a higher percentage for reunification, and those who are less educated and mostly peasants living in southern part of taiwan and don’t have many opportunity to visit mainland are against reunification.

January 30, 2005 @ 8:50 pm | Comment

if we do a public opinion poll in taiwan, and do a cross tabulation, i am 100% sure:

1) those who have visited mainland will have more liking for reunification than those who never visit mainland

2) those who are better educated will have more liking for reunification than those who are less educated

3) those who have business ties with mainland will have more liking for reunificaiton than those who don’t have such ties

in short, those taiwanese who prefer reunification represent a constructive, progressive and liberal power

January 30, 2005 @ 8:55 pm | Comment

“when you talk about taiwanese opinion about reunification, you have to take this brainwashing factor into account.”

Bingfeng – I really wouldn’t play the “stupid brainwashed peasants” card in this argument if I where you … you should save that for the “Is China ready for democracy” discussion :)

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a loud and active discussion going on in Taiwan about things like national identity, and its relationship with China – where anyone is allowed to say, read and write anything they want on the topic – and of course vote for people who support their view. You don’t usually get that sort of thing in a brainwashed society.

Sure, the education system used to come close to brainwashing at times – but that was 100% pro-China propaganda, and things are a bit more open nowadays.

“brainwashing, that’s the reason why many taiwanese are so afraid of mainland.”

Um – it wouldn’t be the threat of invasion that is making people nervous then?

Incidentally, how did these evil separatists do all this brainwashing when they weren’t in power?

January 30, 2005 @ 9:16 pm | Comment

david,

“Incidentally, how did these evil separatists do all this brainwashing when they weren’t in power?”

very interesting comment.

as a matter of fact, only after DPP took power, then there are more and more taiwanese started to consider secession an option.

is this just conincidence?

January 30, 2005 @ 10:23 pm | Comment

“In case you haven’t noticed, there is a loud and active discussion going on in Taiwan about things like national identity, and its relationship with China – where anyone is allowed to say, read and write anything they want on the topic”

not really like what you mention here.

actually any taiwanese who think about reunificaiton will be called as a “mai tai” (means sell taiwan off) by those little green footballs.

and i remembered a news report that a bookstore selling mainland books were destroied by those secessionists.

in theory, there is the freedom to talk about reunification with mainland china, but in reality, no body dares to do that because if you do that, you are not “politically correct” and you are “a “traitor of taiwan”

as we all know, taiwanese politicians are competing with each other to demonizing mainland, because only by doing that, they can attract votes.

sounds familar to you? look back to the US.

just an excellent pic of “tyranny by the majority” described by tocqueville

January 30, 2005 @ 10:33 pm | Comment

Hello, a friend referred me to this site. My parents are Taiwanese born and bred, but I was born in America. I lived in Taiwan for 7 years before coming to college in the States…

Anyway, reading this comment log really made my blood boil, so maybe I’m not making the most intelligent of comments.

BUT: I for one do not believe for a second that the DPP is responsible for brainwashing peasants. If you listened to people from my grandparents’ generation talk, you would hear a strong resentment, and a strong tendency towards self-pity as a colonized people.

“1) those who have visited mainland will have more liking for reunification than those who never visit mainland”

Well, have you considered the fact that those who visit the mainland are perhaps more open to the idea of reunification? Also, living UNDER the government of China is different from visiting it ONCE or TWICE and liking the look of it.

“2) those who are better educated will have more liking for reunification than those who are less educated”

Hello, those who are less educated tend to come from lower income families, many of which are NOT privileged because they are NOT affiliated with the KMT, which had all the money just one generation ago.

It’s like associating a “Taiwanese accent” in Mandarin with being low-class, simply because of socio-economic factors.

“3) those who have business ties with mainland will have more liking for reunificaiton than those who don’t have such ties”

Again, those who are willing to do business in China, away from their extended family for the most case, are MUCH more willing to give up what they have in Taiwan. They have looser ties to the sentiment that Taiwan is it’s own sovereign body.

Anyway, my two cents…

January 30, 2005 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

China doens’t have a good record on allowing others to maintain their way of life. Looks at Tibet and Hong Kong.

You have to ask yourself, if being controlled from China is so good, why do these two regions want to rule themselves.

Take a look at Hong Kong. If it were simply a matter of being part of China, then Beijing would have a big ceremony and a democratically elected official from Hong Kong would sign a piece of paper to say that Hong Kong was part of China, but China won’t allow Hong Kong to have democratic elections and it feels the need to butt in every five minutes ot ‘correct’ or ‘influence’ a policy. Beijing even slanted the voting system so that the people of Hong Kong could never have an outright majority in their own government.

Beijing wants to stamp its name and its identity everywhere, and it would stamp them Taiwan too. Unfortunately, Taiwan has its own identify, and that identity clashes with Beijing’s.

There is no way that Taiwan would be allowed to have a military that is answerable to a democratically elected group on Taiwan, it would also be ‘requested’ to change its history books in the same way that Honk Kong did, to give a ‘correct’ slant on Beijing and Chinese history.

How many years after reunificatio do you think that it will be before Taiwanese children learn about the “so called” governemnt when talking about Chen or before books start calling Lee a sepratist and a traitor.

China will meddle, it always does. It is also afraid that people in China will see democracy and freedom at work in Taiwan and want it for themselves. Why do you think that Chinese television always highlights the internal disagreements between politicians in Taiwan, or calls their system chaotic and unstable. China has already had to put in meaures to prevent influences from Hong Kong spreading to China.

January 30, 2005 @ 11:07 pm | Comment

“Well, have you considered the fact that those who visit the mainland are perhaps more open to the idea of reunification?”

most taiwanese come to mainland not because they like the idea of reunification. but they get a real and better pic of mainland china than those who only learn mainland china from DPP green footballs. and with more truth, they prefer reunification.

“Also, living UNDER the government of China is different from visiting it ONCE or TWICE and liking the look of it. ”

who tells you that reunification means “living UNDER the government of China ”

see, a perfect example of brainwashing. i feel pity for those brainwashed taiwanese.

“those who are willing to do business in China, away from their extended family for the most case, are MUCH more willing to give up what they have in Taiwan.”

no taiwanese is “willing to give up what they have in Taiwan”. but those taiwanese can see the two sides of the story, they are less brainwashed, and can see why reunification is not a bad idea.

thank you for your input.

January 30, 2005 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

“China has already had to put in meaures to prevent influences from Hong Kong spreading to China.”

LOL

OK, now i really understand how “knowledgable” you are about china.

perhaps you don’t know how many “study groups” shanghai and other provinces of mainland sent to hong kong to learn their experiences. do you know shenzhen? do you know a high ranking official in china’s stock administration committee is from hongkong? ….

January 30, 2005 @ 11:18 pm | Comment

Richard:

I’m impressed and amazed by your patience, but sorry, I don’t admire it. It’s a waste of time for you to offer Politics 101 here.

Look at that guys’s blog: every and each line echos a government propaganda talking point. He is simply not serious about truth, and his blog is only a scoreboard of his daily job. I don’t think even he himself believes in it. You think it’s political speech, in fact it’s commercial speech. He may quote deTocqueville, but the buttom line is: Beijing is all right, America is all wrong.

Ignore him. In China those people are called wang3 te4, who stage a paid show working for CCP. He won’t be able to harm you, but you can never educate him. Please just give up.

January 31, 2005 @ 1:10 am | Comment

bellevue,

you are more civilized than me.

i am paid by ccp to do all the brainwashing job here, you are an independent critical thinker.

i don’t believe in what i said.

what i said here is not about politics, they are about business.

i didn’t read any books of Tocqueville, you read a lot.

YOU WIN.

now, go to dump more shits in my blog, gentleman bellevue.

January 31, 2005 @ 1:37 am | Comment

“China has already had to put in meaures to prevent influences from Hong Kong spreading to China.”

I can bear testmony for this one. Hong Kong’s TVB and ATV are all accessible in Guangzhou. They are actually relayed by local CATV operators. Whenever ‘sensitive’ stuff is aired in Hong Kong programming, the sound track will be muted, and the picture scramble or just gone. Ask any Cantonese in China and they know it.

This is only one most obvious one. Also, China’s Customs will confiscate any books they deem improper for travelers back from Hong Kong. Travelers from the US are seldom searched thouroughly.

January 31, 2005 @ 5:47 am | Comment

“Richard:

I’m impressed and amazed by your patience, but sorry, I don’t admire it. It’s a waste of time for you to offer Politics 101 here.

Look at that guys’s blog: every and each line echos a government propaganda talking point. He is simply not serious about truth, and his blog is only a scoreboard of his daily job. I don’t think even he himself believes in it. You think it’s political speech, in fact it’s commercial speech. He may quote deTocqueville, but the buttom line is: Beijing is all right, America is all wrong.

Ignore him. In China those people are called wang3 te4, who stage a paid show working for CCP. He won’t be able to harm you, but you can never educate him. Please just give up.

Posted by bellevue at January 31, 2005 01:10 AM”

bellevue,

It is absolutely shameful and uncalled for. Quit lying about bingfeng, he is not like that. Everyone should visit his site, and be a judge. Don’t forget to read what Chinese linguist bellevue wrote about Chinese people as a whole also.

January 31, 2005 @ 10:57 am | Comment

A lot of good points made in this comment train. But I have to admit I’m still offended by the idea that I’m “just brainwashed.”

Come to think of it, how are any of us able to say that we are NOT brainwashed? Maybe I believe more in the imagined community of Taiwan, and you believe more in the imagined community of China. It’s still nationalism, and it’s still a limited way of thinking. It’s got roots in history, and there is history on both sides of the straits that could support either argument for a community.

But shouldn’t I have the right to believe in my imagined community? Am I actually being forceably brainwashed, which is to say, forced to think a certain way to the detriment of my own well-being? When the element of coercion comes into play, I’d say the ballistic missiles pointed at Taiwan from China are more coercive than the mainstream, majority political atmosphere within Taiwan.

And why has the political climate shifted so quickly within Taiwan? Why are the politics of self-determination so rooted in the…well, the grass-roots? In the mid-80s, many DPP people were jailed for saying what they present as their party line today. Did they somehow just creep into mainstream media and brainwash everyone with illegal pamphelets?

Let me say, I’m not a fan of identity politics. I don’t think the identity card is a constructive game to play during a political campaign, because it eclipses real issues that affect people’s lives. But you have to admit that the DPP’s grandstanding has been strangely popular. If Taiwanese did not resonate with the content of the DPP message, it could not have taken off. Maybe it was just Common Sense, in a Thomas Payne sort of way?

The American Revolutionaries believed that they were fighting against a real danger of tyrrany. This is not to say that they were right. But is it right to deny Taiwan the chance to decide what is tyrrany, and what is not?

“Which isn’t to say there isn’t a wonderful side to China and a lot to admire and love. But the CCP is still capable of incredible badness, and it;s going to take a lot of work on their part to get people to believe otherwise.”

I agree. Just look at the recent handling of Zhao Ziyang’s death. Perhaps I am an outsider making comments; but why did it have to be so hush-hush? Why were there security guards on Tiananmen hours after the news got out? The CCP has got some issues in the not-so-distant past that it has yet to answer to in a satisfactory way.

And after seeing how useless protests have been in HK, I don’t think any reasonable person should believe in the possibilty of civic change in a Two Governments system. I just can’t see it. Sorry. For me, it’s just a bankrupt idea.

January 31, 2005 @ 4:07 pm | Comment

“The American Revolutionaries believed that they were fighting against a real danger of tyrrany. This is not to say that they were right. But is it right to deny Taiwan the chance to decide what is tyrrany, and what is not?”

I am interested to know what tyrrany Taiwanese are now suffering from, CCP’s? or KMT’s?

The situation in today’s Taiwan is entirely different from that of North America back in 1770′s. Mainland China doesn’t maintain one soldier or one official or any tools of governing on the land of Taiwan and Taiwanese don’t need to pay any outrageous tax to the mainland Govt, except those Taiwan businessmen who get huge profit from the cross-strait trade need to pay the tax at the rate half of their counterparts in mainland should pay.

Well, I forget to mention those missiles targeting Taiwan, they are part of the imagined tyranny, aren’t they? But what about the clmor in Taiwan for attacking Shanghai or Xiamen with American-made missiles? Should mailand China burn those missiles simply because these crazy words are from madmen’s mouth? We can only hope Taiwan will not one day be pushed into a war by these madmen.

Having said that, I am not a radial unificationist.I just can’t understand the logic of a group of politicians, they would rather fulfill their short-term personal political gain at the cost of the long-term prosperity of this beautiful island. I am not satisfied with the political situation in mainland China, but let’s work to improve it, let everyone of us who really love this country and this culture do our own part to change it. The worst thing, if any, could happen to China’s democratization and Taiwan’s future is a war, so please don’t waste our energy and degrade ourself into a futile debate between “evil and good”, between “tyranny and democracy”, for no intelligent and rational person who understand China well will believe that an independence of Taiwan without a war is possible.

February 1, 2005 @ 1:49 am | Comment

well said, mainlander.

that’s my point -

1) forget about taiwan independence and forget aoubt reunification through war

2) let’s find out a way to meet taiwan and mainland’s minimum requirements

3) if we can’t do 2), let’s compromise

February 1, 2005 @ 6:08 am | Comment

Why do the arguments of so many mainlanders seem to come down to “Unite or Die”? Why is it apparently so difficult to see how counterproductive that is?

If I invited you to my home for dinner, and you turned it down, would you be more likely to visit me if I pulled out a knife and threatened to kill you if you didn’t come? Would that make you more likely to visit me — much less consider permanently joining my family?

My advice to mainlanders is to tell Taiwan something like “Brothers and sisters, we love you and want you to unite with us. Whenever you are ready, we are waiting for you with open arms. No matter how long it takes, the door is always open, the invitation is always valid.”

Don’t you think that would win over more Taiwanese hearts than “Join … or die”? :-(

February 1, 2005 @ 8:48 am | Comment

That’s exactly it. “Join or die” is the element of coercion that I’m talking about. I’m not making a direct comparison between the specific case of American revolutionaries and Taiwanese pro-independance politicians, but I AM saying that the Taiwanese politicians are identifying a threat, and for one reason or another, a lot of Taiwanese believe that there is a threat. That there is coercion.

If Taiwan and the Mainland got into a war, who do you think would win? Without outside help, of course Taiwan would be crushed. So what kind of a threat do you think the Taiwanese missiles are?

One assumption you are making is rubbing me the wrong way. Why is it that we must “forget about taiwan independance”? Why don’t we “forget reunification,” too–not just reunification through war, but reunification? What is intolerable to Chinese extremists is independance, and what is intolerable to Taiwan extremists is reunification. You are assuming a position closer to that of China’s agenda.

You often comment that “outsiders,” or foreigners, don’t know what it’s like within China. Well, I’m from within Taiwan. Are you saying that you know as much as I do what it’s like to be Taiwanese? I’m telling you honestly how I feel. And what I feel is that, from the ground up, the mainstream of Taiwan BELIEVES in Taiwan as an entity. Even if it were to become a province of China, it would an individual entity with a specific, unique history. And within that history, there is a sense of victimization at the hands of Mainlanders–even if it WASN’T the CCP. Within living memory, the Mainland has been a source of oppression and threat, and it doesn’t matter that it was the CCP during the KMT years. For better or worse, Taiwan has a postcolonial mentality.

So maybe those feelings are irrational. But can you deny that they exist? If you were to ignore them, you would be ignoring an important part of what is going on in Taiwanese identity politics. And then you will claim not to understand why Taiwan is being foolish, and irrational, and mad.

Let me ask one question: What kind of nationalism is rational? You say, “no intelligent and rational person who understand China well will believe that an independence of Taiwan without a war is possible.” Well, isn’t that because of “irrational” nationalism on the part of the Chinese people? Economically, not possessing Taiwan is not hurting China right now. Perhaps it’s strategically valuable in some sense, but come on. China doesn’t really NEED Taiwan. It just happens to WANT it. Because of specific historical reasons, China believes that Taiwan is Chinese. And because of OTHER specific historical reasons, Taiwan claims to be culturally, but not politically Chinese.

Look, national borders are random. The map of Europe in the 15th century is a far cry from what it is now, and China has changed even more since the original Qin dynasty. None of the reasons you have brought up are compelling enough to convince me, a Taiwanese, that Taiwan and China should be part of the same POLITICAL entity. I don’t want a war. But neither do I appreciate the biased ground assumptions that are being made internationally, and within China.

So convince me.

February 1, 2005 @ 10:32 pm | Comment

Oh, and that was me in the comment above =) As if you couldn’t tell.
–amethystjazz

February 1, 2005 @ 10:43 pm | Comment

amethystjazz,

I enjoy reading your arguments because I don’t have many chances to exchange views directly with a native Taiwanese. Well, to make my point more clearly. I would like to add more comments as a response to your questions, before coming into details, I have to clarify that I am not interested in arguments revolved around morality, because we are talking about a very serious political crisis happens in a real world, and this crisis may lead to the biggest bloodshed in the 21st century:
1. “Join or die”. This is a misrepresentation of today’s situation, the correct description should be “don’t announce independence or die”. The majority of mainland Chinese, although full of hopes about the grand cause of reunification which in their minds would be a starting point for the resurrection of the Middle Kingdom, have come to realize that it is but a dream in the near future. You could say they are misled or brainwashed by the govt. propaganda, but you could never deny or ignore this sentiment which is as real and strong as what you described as “a sense of victimization” among native Taiwanese, the difference between the two is that Taiwanese view themselves as victims of mainlanders, while mainlanders view themselves as victims of the humiliating history of the last 150 years, especially before 1949, to be specific, they view themselves as victims of foreign powers including UK, Japan, Russia, and in some cases US, who invaded their motherland, slaughtered their forefathers and split their country. The status quo across the Taiwan Strait is a living testimony to that bitter memory. So when we talk about Taiwan problem, we can’t simply regard it as a problem which should be decided by Taiwanese solely just because they are victims, we should bear in mind the sentiment of 1.3 billion people on the other side of the strait who are also victims. As Sam Crane wisely point out in his article “China and Taiwan — Polls Apart”, “The dilemma for Taiwan is the contradiction between its democratic development and its geopolitical context. China’s nationalist passions are real. For any mainland Chinese politician, President Hu Jintao included, to be seen as soft on Taiwan independence is to open oneself to charges of treason.” That is exactly why I say “no intelligent and rational person who understands China well will believe that an independence of Taiwan without a war is possible.”
2.”What kind of nationalism is rational?” In my view, the nationalism on both sides is irrational and there is no point in defending the sentiment of either side. The real problem is, should we be taken hostage by this tide of craze and ultimately be pushed into a war? Obviously the answer is no. But who is the driving force of this craze, Mainlanders or Taiwanese? Frankly speaking, I think Taiwanese, especially Taiwanese politicians like Li Tunghui and Chen Shuibian are mainly to blame, and they are the main driving force of this crisis. It’s crystal clear to everyone that it was not until Li Tunghui took power that the crisis became irreversible and not until DPP tower power that the war becomes imminent. Mainland China was simply provoked by the nationalism in Taiwan, which in turn led to the surge of nationalism among mainlanders. Had Taiwan side remained cool-headed and not continuously provoked the mainland, mainland China would not have paid so much attention to the politics on the other side, let alone building up missiles against Taiwan. After all, the policy adopted by mainland China since Deng Xiaoping has always been focusing on economic development and not being diverted by the international affairs. The reason why the situation becomes so hairtrigger is that DPP has stepped near the bottom line of mainland China, which is not “not allowing de facto independence of Taiwan”, but “not allowing de jure independence of Taiwan”. The CCP government can not let this bottom line be broken, because no government in mainland, be it elected/democratic or not, will allow this happen unless they don’t care about the legitimacy of their government or be brazen enough as to turn a blind eye to the surging rage of the general public.
3. “None of the reasons you have brought up are compelling enough to convince me, a Taiwanese, that Taiwan and China should be part of the same POLITICAL entity.” I am not trying to convince you this. I am just trying to tell you that the de jure independence of Taiwan is a disaster to both sides of the strait. The truth is, both sides view itself as victim of history, while Taiwan is more eager to change the status quo in order to heal the historical wound, ironically, the healing of your wound means the opening of my wound, the blood oozing from this wound will blur the sight of 1.3 billion people, which ultimately will lead to the bloodiest epoch of the 21st century. This truth is cruel, simply because the rage of 1.3 billion people, no matter how irrational and unjustified it is, has enough power to crush the dreams of 23 million people. This is the cold logic of the history-the mightier always win. So please let us face this truth and try to avoid the greatest tragedy that could ever befall our beloved land. Let us not be driven by the craze of the mass but become a constructive force to foster mutual understanding and long-term peace between the two sides. It is our duty, because we hate war and we love our land, our people.

February 2, 2005 @ 2:50 am | Comment

Dear Mainlander,

Just as a disclaimer, I am from Taiwan, a friend of amethystjazz in fact, so you can add another person on the list of your Taiwanese contacts. I appreciate your comments, and I agree that Taiwanese politicians have engaged in unnecessary games of brinkmanship for political gain. However, at the same time, China has for many years employed cheap, under-handed international political ploys to obstruct Taiwanese entry into even the most basic international organizations, such as the WHO. During the SARS crisis, WHO abandoned Taiwan because of political pressure from China. When you talk of blood oozing from wounds, Taiwan literally has shed blood due to unnecessary Chinese political ploys. China already has blood on its hands, and by that I do not mean the 228 incident of 50 years ago. To take away any major blame from Chinese politicians is unfair, to say the least.

I do wonder what you mean by quote:”the healing of your wound means the opening of my wound, the blood oozing from this wound will blur the sight of 1.3 billion people, which ultimately will lead to the bloodiest epoch of the 21st century.” Perhaps this is the crux of the misunderstanding between Taiwanese and Mainlanders, but from the Taiwanese perspective, all the CCP has to lose is a matter of “face.” While to the people of Taiwan, the blockage of entry into an international arena literally means the death of citizens, aka SARS, it seems like China has nothing to lose from letting this island, which the current political government in China has not had control over for over 50 years, go free. Please enlighten me on what you mean by this quote. Please describe the “surging rage” of the mainland Chinese people to me.

And also, may I remind you, that “the cold logic of history” does not necessitate that the mightier military force wins. There are numerous examples in which the stronger military power lost control. You should know this as the Communist party was able to oust a stronger KMT military force from China in 1949. Also see the Vietnam War, the colonial struggles between Britain and its colonized countries. In America, the Civil Rights Movement effectively transformed American political structures without the use of military force, instead winning with appeals to a higher morality. This is not to say that China will not crush Taiwan in an armed conflict, but my main issue is with your mischaracterization of the “cold logic of history.” Any serious study of history reveals that there is no “cold logic” that guides historical progression, and the course of human events is always unpredictable, producing events beyond that of human comprehension.

February 2, 2005 @ 8:23 am | Comment

It is clear that Taiwan cannot declare independence. To do so would obviously goad China, perhaps to military action of some sort (I suspect a full scale invasion and occupation is not really possible). So, Taiwanese people run up against a hard reality that limits the full political expression of their nationhood. On the other hand, China must recognize that it is running up against a hard reality that Taiwan is not now what it was when the Shanghai Communique was signed. If Chinese people want to maintain some possbility, however slim, of reunification in the future, perhaps they must back off the simplistic assertion of “Taiwan is a part of China,” recognize the reality of historical change, and think in terms of a commonwealth of places linked to cultural (and not political) China. Could there be a cultural and maybe economic unification without the extention of formal political sovereignty?

February 2, 2005 @ 5:47 pm | Comment

Dear Albert,
I have make clarifications before I argued my case, that I am not interested in “moral debate”, because claiming one side moral the other immoral is pointless when we are discussing such a grave issue, after all we are living in a real world consisting of states, sovereignties and powers. If we are so moral, what are those political entities for, why not just freeing the border and let everybody go in and out as they wish, take out and bring in as they like?
Yes, I agree with you that mainland China has tried every means to “obstruct Taiwanese entry into even the most basic international organizations”, as one of the measures to maintain the status quo, that mainland China still have a nominal sovereignty over this island. But don’t forget the WTO, Taiwan is already a formal member, right? How come mainland became so flexible on this case? The reason is very simple, the WTO is an economic organization which does not have much political implications. As to the WHO case, I feel sorry to mention it because this is perhaps the biggest mistake mainland govt. has ever made, and I understand that this event deeply hurt Taiwan people. However, the blockade of Taiwan’s entry is due to WHO’s status as a UN branch. Having said that, this does not mean that I agree with this blockade, personally I have no problem seeing Taiwan join the WHO, especially during the crisis of SARS when human lives were at stake, I just want to help you understand the logic of mainland govt.
When you say “all the CCP has to lose is a matter of ‘face’”, I got a feeling that you just regard Taiwan issue as an issue between CCP and Taiwan people, between “tyranny” and “free human”, and you don’t even want to think about the sentiment of 1.3 billion mainland people, simply because they are puppets, they are brainwashed so shall not be counted. Ok, if you are so disgusted with CCP, fair enough, let’s deduct 68 million CCP members from the 1.3 billion, which still comes to at least 1.2 billion, right? 1.2 billion souls and flesh, should they be taken into consideration? You can even go on claiming that those 1.2 billion souls have nothing to lose but their faces, but come on, what your 23 million souls have to gain are more than faces? Are “faces” or “faces +” so important that you want to risk perhaps tens of thousands of people’s lives? When you are raising the SARS issue about which I felt great sorrow, you regard it as a scenario that Taiwan people truly “shed blood due to unnecessary Chinese political ploys”, but when SARS is over, what blood are you shedding now? Being unable to join UN or any other international organizations will cause bloodshed so unbearable as you are willing to shed more blood to avoid the former? I don’t know if I understand your logic correctly and I am afraid perhaps I never will.
“the ‘cold logic of history’ does not necessitate that the mightier military force wins” and you liken the case of Taiwan independence to “CCP against KMT”, “Vietnamese against Uncle Sam”, “Martin Luther King against George Wallace” and this list can go on forever. But I have made my point clear in previous comment that Taiwan is not suffering from the suppression from mainland of this kind, even if you regard the international face-losing as one type of suppression, does it tantamount to the KMT suppression in mainland China, Uncle Sam’s invasion in Vietnam and George Wallace’s iron hand in Alabama? Please, please give me just one case in human history that a people go to war simply for the sake of international face-losing, saving the case of Helen in Troy.
“Please describe the “surging rage” of the mainland Chinese people to me.” I have explained to you the psychology of most mainlanders and if you want to find proof, please visit any website of mainland China and check the BBS there. I myself as a mainlander living on this land for 28 years have known enough to say that a war is inevitable if Taiwan announces independence and I am reluctant to tell you that when I argue the case for long-term peace across the strait I was often being blamed by my hot-blooded friends as “brainwashed by the western media” and “sounding like a Hanjian (which literally means traitors of Han Ethnicity)”.
I am sorry if I sound ironic, but my suggestion is, not be led or blinded by the nationalism on either side, let’s be constructive and work for the peace. For the time being, being constructive is to maintain the status quo and don’t make any radical political move. Let time heal the wounds; let time decide the future, OK?

February 2, 2005 @ 8:13 pm | Comment

I’m not sure I can give you an example of a major power going to war to save face. But relatedly, Hitler lost WWII to a large extent due to his insistence on saving face (though he would never have used that expression) by refusing to fall back from Stalingrad after the 6th army was in the process of being surrounded. General Paulus begged him to do so, but Hitler had to show his resolve and his fortitude — even if it destroyed his empire. Face — or pride or whatever we call it — can have a powerful effect on us, usually to our detriment or even destruction. it’s unhealthy in every way.

February 2, 2005 @ 8:19 pm | Comment

Dear Mainlander,

I agree with you completely that the number one agenda in cross-strait relations should be keeping the peace and status quo. I think we agree in principal on many things, but again, I have several misunderstandings of your argument.

It’s interesting that you accuse me of bringing in the “moral debate” and claim to be disinterested in the “moral debate,” when you yourself appeal to consider the “1.2 billion mainland Chinese souls and fleshes.” I cannot agree that the “real world consisting of states, sovereignties and powers” is devoid and detached from issues of morality. Governmental structures and institutions, in their purest, ideological form, are created so that its citizens can live a good life. The definition of the good life is then tied in with the moral ideals to which the government adheres. The CCP in China was formed on the noble moral promises and utopian visions of what constituted the good life. Whether that has translated into reality is a different issue, but my point is that morality and politics are not separate, but rather go hand in hand in many issues.

I am not saying that all 1.2 billion mainland Chinese souls and fleshes are brainwashed and should be discounted. I am trying to figure out what the general consensus on the Taiwan issue is among these 1.2 billion souls and fleshes. Given the current political status quo, I cannot understand why the “1.2 billion mainland Chinese souls and fleshes” have such a staked interest in Taiwanese independence. Of course, I understand that if we go to war that is a completely different issue. What I don’t understand is, barring the threat of war, why would the mainland Chinese people feel any sort of affinity to Taiwan?

What I don’t think you understand is, Taiwanese view the blockage of Taiwan into an international arena as a form of oppression and suppression. It is not just a matter of losing face or saving face. To Taiwanese people, there is an acute fear that our jobs, our livelihoods, our economic competitiveness are all slowly being overmatched and overtaken by China’s rapid ascent in the world. Adding onto China’s rapid acsension, Taiwan is not even allowed a fair playing ground in many international areans. Countries are unwilling to trade with us, form alliances with us, or even visit us without explicit permission of the CCP. To many Taiwanese people, the current status quo is an unjust and unfair system.

You must understand that there is huge debate among Taiwanese people over the question of independence. Among the people, nobody wants war, that is for sure. You must not take the unnecessary brinkmanship of political leaders to represent the whole of the people, just like how you say the CCP does not represent the 1.2 billion souls and fleshes of the mainlanders. However, you must also understand that the general consensus among Taiwanese people is that China is an oppressive government employing all of their tactics to prevent Taiwan from entering into the international arena.

February 3, 2005 @ 8:27 am | Comment

Richard,

You claimed that trying to fuse Taiwan and China back together is against nature because both sides have been separated for so long that they are so different. Then being an American yourself, you have been living in a country that is reunited in the Civil War unnaturally.

I do not have to lectured you about the North-South divide in the States, it persisted up till today and glaringly in the voting patterns of NorthEastern and Southern States. In the American Civil War, the South declared their secession because they felt oppressed by the North, the issue of slavery was a reflection of the deep run division in culture, values and economics between the North and the South. But did Abraham Lincoln and the US government let the South to be independent? Military force was immediately applied to crush the separatist forces of the South. Even in democratic America, the right to secede is not a right of democracy, the deep division and all encompassing differences between the North and the South did not make the Federal government to have second thoughts about using military might to crush the independence of the Confederation.

My whole point is, no leaders, be they democrats or not, would willingly allow the sovereignty of the nation-state to be threatened. You do not see India giving the referendum in Kashimir, nor Indonesia to allow Aceh or WestPapua to secede. Spain also did not allow a vote in the Basques provinces. Lincoln showed that being a democracy does not obsturct him in crushing separatist tendencies in the South.

The Taiwan issue was dramatised by the DPP and Chen’s govt as a conflict between democracy and communism in which the reality is a conflict of sovereignty. This drama of good and evil was conveniently used to cloak his real separatist agenda. Of course i would have supported a loose confederation solution instead of Beijing’s one country two systems formula.

February 3, 2005 @ 9:24 am | Comment

The American Civil War is a false analogy. The US was joined as one under a single constitution and had about 80 years of a common democratic political life, the most potent symbol of which was the national election for President, that happened numerous times before 1861. Have China and Taiwan ever jointly participated in an election for a single national leader? Have they, under their current constitutions, shared a common democratic political life? How much direct political connection have they had in the past 110 years?

February 3, 2005 @ 4:09 pm | Comment

A couple of things, directed at several comments. First of all, I’d just like to say that I’m really enjoying this chance to exchange ideas with you all. I think being forced to defend my own ideas sharpens my vision of the situation.

Second, to answer sp’s post. It’s interesting that you bring up India and Kashimir…how does your argument apply when you look at the history of the Partition between India and Pakistan? This was a secession based literally in ideological differences. There wasn’t even a history of separateness, like there is across the Taiwan Strait; the country split, simply because there were two separate nationalisms. Now, whether that is good or not is another question; there is obviously still tension in the region. But my point is this: Secession is not impossible, nor is it always a bad idea. And the nation-state is not an essential absolute. Just because all those governments don’t allow their regions to vote on secession, doesn’t mean that they are RIGHT.

It’s true that the Chen presidency characterizes the Mainland as a threat, and a communist threat. But I think the greater part of their rhetoric is about sovereignty.

One of the main DPP slogans during the past presidential campaign was “Yes! Taiwan,” which is an assertion of Taiwan, not a direct put-down of China. Their platform is about being Taiwan-centric, and thinking from the point of view of Taiwan. And from the point of view of Taiwan, they are saying, China is an imminent menace. And it is. Do you think China truly has the best interests of Taiwanese citizens at heart? If they do, they sure don’t show it.

But what else does the DPP advocate? They advocate reaching out diplomatically in the Pacific Rim, because of Taiwan’s geographic location, and rewriting history books to focus on specific Taiwan history. I will be the first to say that there is a difference between what they say, and what they actually do–they’re not the most efficient party. But look at the effect this rhetoric has had on Taiwanese politics. The KMT/DPP candidates, Lien Chan and James Soong, kissed the ground during the final days of the campaign to show how much they loved Taiwan. Obviously, they feel threatened enough by the DPP’s claims that they feel they have to perform such theatrics for their constiuency. The politics have become, at least on the surface, about who has Taiwan’s best interests at heart.

So, why, to answer Mainlander’s question, do we think that Taiwan is being suppressed by the Mainland, other than diplomatic suppression. Well, first of all, if you think from the point of view of Taiwan, international suppression is the same as direct political suppression. If you don’t believe Taiwan is currently a part of China, then petty actions like not allowing Taiwan to show its national flag at the Olympics, and forcing it to go under the name of “Chinese Taipei” when the government is in effect completely sovereign is just petty bullying. SP, Mainstream Taiwanese are highly sensitive to these encroachments upon sovereignty–precisely because Taiwanese feel embattled over the issue of sovereignty.

I hate to bring up old arguing points, but I also want say that the treatment of Hong Kong is a pretty clear warning about what would happen to Taiwan in the event of reunification. There is not current suppression in a direct way, but the threat of becoming the second Hong Kong is, believe it or not, a compelling reason to be afraid of reunification. Whether or not it is true, Taiwanese perceive the handling of Hong Kong as a manifestation of political suppression and tyrrany. There is real fear. And there is a real question of whether Beijing can be trusted to do anything according to agreement; to most Taiwanese, they have pretty bad credit right now.

To add on to Albert’s point, I’m also unconvinced that people all over China believe Taiwan should be a part of China so strongly that they feel it is a matter of national pride. Maybe you can help me out here with examples. But, for instance, do people in Xinjiang, Yunnan, and Tibet feel that Taiwan needs to be a part of China? Do people in remote mining towns believe in reunification? In other words, how do you know that the full 1.3 billion feel this way?

February 3, 2005 @ 6:07 pm | Comment

Sam:

As to your argument that in order to validate Taiwan’s belonging to China, they have to share a common democratic history. But China never had the chance to enjoy a real constitutional republican democracy. So where can there be a common democratic history? But you simply cannot deny both sides of the straits share the same culture, the same Sinic way of life. The historical link and evidences of ownership cannot be denied. Holland stole Taiwan from Ming China in the 1600s then Japan stole Taiwan from China under the Treaty of Shimonoseki. The subsequent Cairo and Potsdam Declarations affirmed China’s sovereignty over Taiwan. They are internationally legal binding. Taiwan and China had shared a common Constitution before, that is the ROC Constitution of 1947. They had a common President, Generalisso Chiang Kai Shek. It was the civil war that split the two sides but up till the advent of Taiwanese separatism, both sides agreed to the “One China” principle as outlined by the Wang-Koo negotiations in Hong Kong in 1992. Koo Chen Fu, representing Taiwan, acknowledged it in his memoirs which was published recently. Can you deny all these cold hard facts?

Back to the American Civil War, you say that the North and South shared a common constitution, had a common president etc etc. But when the South wanted to go, it meant that they don’t wanna share all these with the North anymore, they felt that they were marginalised. They DID NOT want to be part of the Federation anymore. The very fact that the civil war dragged for a few years showed how determined the South wanted to go its way. Going by your argument, they are just exercising their democratic right of self-determination. Separatism is Separatism. I do not see how different Lincoln’s action is very different from those leaders in Beijing. Lincoln, being a democratically elected president, did not see secession as a form of democratic right, to him, it is destroying the Federation. The South had declared independence almost immediately after the election of Lincoln, perceived as a pro-North Republican unsympathetic to the interests of the South. So much for a common president and a common constitution that they decided to separate. See how fallacious your argument was?

February 3, 2005 @ 10:04 pm | Comment

former East Germany and West Germany, which were under the rule of TWO DIFFERENT constitutions, later reunified again into ONE country.

so, Sam’s argument that two political entities of one nation can not be reunified seems not convincing.

February 3, 2005 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

amethystjazz,

I think you got a bit clumsy with your facts. I am not talking about India and Pakistan, I am Talking about India and the state of Kashimir and Jammu, effectively still part of the Republic of India. Kashimir has been part of British India, with its Hindu prince but a majority being Muslims. When the partition occured in 1947, the Hindu ruler chose to be part of India while his people, being Muslims, wanted to go with Pakistan. Kashimir became part of India up till today, the insurgents were fighting against rule from New Delhi. Islambad had time and again demaded a referendum in Kashimir but despite being the largest democracy in the world, India never allowed such a vote to take place. First, you seem to mix up Pakistan with Kashimir. Secondly, i am not judging separatism as being right or wrong, i am trying to prove a point that the Taiwan crisis is not a dramatic fight between democracy and totalitarianism, its about national sovereignty. India, Spain and Philippines ie democratic states, are no less ruthless in guiding their sovereignty and territorial integrity than undemocratic regimes like the PRC. Its advisable to revise facts before any debate to avoid embarrassment.

I can frankly tell you that i do not like the CCP regime. Tell me whether the Chinese people had a choice in the first place? Do you think they wanted to live under an authoritarian regime? The CCP’s wayward behaviour is not defendable, but to link the CCP’s crimes and mistakes with China’s rights over Taiwan is plain unfair to the Chinese people and the nation-state of China. Just because their govt is totalitarian, the Chinese nation is to be deprived of sovereignty over a rightful part of China. Thats why a lot of moderates say, as long as Taiwan does not go independent, they will leave it indefinitely, even the CCP understand that. They all tacitly acknowledged that reunification is quite impossible at this stage. The problem is that you do not see the Chinese people and nation-state separate from CCP and communism. A lot of right wing dictators in Asia like you never bothered to treat Chinese and communism as two separate entities, in fact you lump them together like Siamese twins, thats why the Chinese people suffered though the actions of Red China was no fault of theirs.

February 3, 2005 @ 10:32 pm | Comment

“I’m also unconvinced that people all over China believe Taiwan should be a part of China so strongly that they feel it is a matter of national pride. ”

99% mainland chinese strongly support the reunification, this was the result of a research conducted 1996 by a marketing reserch firm. the sampling is well balanced and large enough to represent the people here. i didn’t see the detailed tabulation analysis, but from common sense, this sentiments among people in rural areas are much more stronger than people in big cities. i myself can tolerant any kind of reunification as long as it brings peace and keeps taiwan and mainland in the same chinese nation, but many others don’t think in the same way.

in short, we should feel fortunate that mainland government was not kidnapped by this strong nationalist sentiment, and on the contrary, taiwan’s chen shuibian and DPP seems did everything they can to please voters and therefore in fact be kidnapped by the “tyranny of the majority”.

February 3, 2005 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

“I cannot understand why the “1.2 billion mainland Chinese souls and fleshes” have such a staked interest in Taiwanese independence. Of course, I understand that if we go to war that is a completely different issue. What I don’t understand is, barring the threat of war, why would the mainland Chinese people feel any sort of affinity to Taiwan?”

simple, because taiwan is a chinese soil.

mainland china almost went to war with former ussr for a tiny and wild island, it’s impossible for chinese to lose such a territory like taiwan without doing anything to keep it.

February 3, 2005 @ 10:48 pm | Comment

amethystjazz,

You also said that you are not sure whether China had Taiwan’s interests at heart and protray the DDP’s pro-independence agenda as being pure innocent Taiwan centric. I am afraid you are really a green horn to Taiwanese politics.

DDP and Chen time and again would play the Taiwanese identity card prior to elections to discredit his opponents as “not loving Taiwan”, “sell-outs” and question the loyalty of Taiwanese with Mainland parentage, creating dvide and hence garner support. At the same time Lee Tenghui also provoked China into action prior to elections so that the speparatist parties would get sympathy votes. In the end, it is the Taiwanese society that suffers, creating tensions between native Taiwanese and Taiwanese with mainland parentage. The DDP, Chen and Lee are definitely not the altruistic angels and saints that you were duped into believing.

And as to the issue of DPP’s revisionism of history, it is deeply bias and politically motivated. It is not just about being Taiwan centric, it about shameful distorting of history. They started Taiwan’s history in books as a dependency of Holland, never mind the fact that Chinese presence and ownership was way before the arrival of the Dutch. Then they left out Qing China’s sovereignty over Taiwan till 1895. Again they also choose not to mention the Cairo and Potsdam Declarations. So is this being just Taiwan centric? They are carrying a Fascist-like campaign of De-Sinicisation and removing every traces of Chineseness on Taiwan. Their tactics is not less shocking than the history texts printed in the time of Stalin.

February 3, 2005 @ 10:52 pm | Comment

taiwan separatists even call Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the father of Repulic of CHINA, a foreigner to taiwan.

some top-ranked separatist officials asserted that the former taiwanese sex slaves were not forced by japanese army, they did that for money and were not harmed by japanese.

and lee, who claimed he was a japanese when he was young, insisted on introducing the japan’s high-speed train system, when taiwan has decided to introduce the european system.

February 3, 2005 @ 11:52 pm | Comment

SP,

Two points.

1) Cultural similarity, even shared cultural roots, is not sufficient to define common nationhood. Austria is not Germany. Argentina is not Chile.

2) In the US, the southern states freely decided, upon ratification of the constitution, to join a union, from which there was no mechanism for succession. Has this ever happened between Taiwan and China; or, to recognize the political realities of the 20th century, between the CCP and the KMT? No, the two parties never agreed to a common union. The more apt analogy, it seems to me, is the US revolution. In the China-Taiwan case, the revolution was never completed; there has never been a prior union, politically. While we may argue about whether there should be a succession mechanism in the US constitution (I personally think there should be – I live in Massachusetts and would be quite happy to let Texas go off on its own), it seems to me the historical circumstances prior to the US civil war are fundamentally different than the China-Taiwan situation.

February 4, 2005 @ 10:09 am | Comment

i don’t really understand why you’re so possessive, bingfeng. and insulting…tch.

February 10, 2005 @ 9:24 am | Comment

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