Michael T on Taiwan-US defence policy

Michael Turton makes some fair criticism of Ted Galen Carpenter’s inability to see or unwillingness to discuss the trouble the US has caused in the saga of Taiwan defence policy, whilst also correcting some rather ridiculous comments about Taiwan doing nothing on defence.

I also found an interesting comment.

It is dubious enough for the U.S. to risk war with an emerging great power like China to defend a small client state of comparably modest strategic and economic significance.

Sorry – “client state”? Since when was the U.S. an empire? Doesn’t it respect the right of other countries to sort out their own affairs? Maybe part of the problem is that jerks like Ted Carpenter expect to be able to call the shots in Taiwan and don’t respect its right to make its own destiny, despite comments about it being a democracy.

Read Michael’s thoughts here:

The View from Taiwan

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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: 43 Comments

Like it or not. That is the reality. Taiwan needs US’ protection. Taiwan has to buy those weapons whether it needs them or not. US can dump those outdated weapons to Taiwan.

Small countries and areas have to seek balance between large countries. It is proved by history and will be it in the future.

April 26, 2007 @ 3:38 am | Comment

Sorry – “client state”?

Well, Taiwan is under the U.S. security umbrella.

Since when was the U.S. an empire?

Since the end of WWII and the beginning of the Pax Americana.

Doesn’t it respect the right of other countries to sort out their own affairs?

Because U.S. foreign policy has never been interventionist.

April 26, 2007 @ 3:59 am | Comment

US can dump those outdated weapons to Taiwan.

fatbrick, you’re telling me that P-3C Orions, PAC-3, AIM-120s and SSKs capable of firing UGM-84 Harpoons are outdated? They’re certainly better than what China has.

April 26, 2007 @ 4:02 am | Comment

Of course from US angle, those are outdated. Those order from Taiwan really saved lots of jobs and some politican’ butts.

April 26, 2007 @ 4:09 am | Comment

Of course from US angle, those are outdated.

That’s a ridiculous comment. They are the top systems available in the US at the moment in the jobs that they do. Do you have any knowledge of military affairs? Obviously not from such ignorant comments.

The only thing on the list where the US uses something better is the SSKs, but that’s because the USN uses SSNs exclusively (and Taiwan couldn’t afford nuclear submarines). Even then what is being offered is the best of the best when it comes to conventional submarines.

April 26, 2007 @ 4:13 am | Comment

Talking about military affairs, lol.

What does Taiwan need P-3C Orions and SSKs for? The only use of P-3C Orions for Taiwan is to be shot down. I doubt there is any chance that those SSKs can leave harbor in wartime.

PAC-3 might have some use, if the radar can still work. About AIM-120s, you should check the conditions that US agree to sell Taiwan AIM-120s.

As I said, the prodection from US is the only thing Taiwan can count on.

April 26, 2007 @ 4:33 am | Comment

I see you’ve chickened out of trying to keep disputing the systems Taiwan has been offered are outdated.

What does Taiwan need P-3C Orions and SSKs for?

Hunting Chinese submarines, and in the case of the latter attacking Chinese shipping. Anyone with the faintest smattering of knowledge of such things would know that.

The only use of P-3C Orions for Taiwan is to be shot down. I doubt there is any chance that those SSKs can leave harbor in wartime.

You’re wrong on both counts. But I’m not surprised given you think they’re “outdated”.

PAC-3 might have some use, if the radar can still work.

That applies to any anti-missile system, so why bother mentioning it?

About AIM-120s, you should check the conditions that US agree to sell Taiwan AIM-120s.

No conditions were attached to the recent authorisation to purchase from Washington. Conditions attached to the first order were that China purchased BVR missiles itself, so that’s irrelevant now.

fatbrick, if you want to keep digging yourself a hole, feel free. But my advice to you is to quit before you look like a real fool.

April 26, 2007 @ 5:13 am | Comment

@Raj
fatbrick may have chickened out, but you haven’t even made an attempt to address any of the objections raised by nausicca…i’d like to hear your thoughts

April 26, 2007 @ 5:50 am | Comment

sox, I’m sorry but you have to realise I don’t live on the blog – I can only deal with one point at a time!

nausicaa, it does in theory but then again the US has caveats as to when it would get involved. So it isn’t as easy to say it lives under the US umbrella. Besides many other countries still rely partially on US support – they would strongly dispute that they are “client states”. It was an improper term used by the author of the article.

Also although the US has intervened in some countries’ affairs, it would say it won’t do that for a true democracy. The US has no qualms about Taiwan’s democracy, so by its own rules it shouldn’t have the right to control Taiwan’s policies.

Anyway, those were asides by me – please focus on Michael’s comments/the issue of Taiwan’s defence policy and hte US.

April 26, 2007 @ 5:59 am | Comment

“Doesn’t it respect the right of other countries to sort out their own affairs?”
Nausicaa- Monroe Doctrine predates the end of WWII by over a century. (Remember Bay of Pigs? If anyone’s interested, find out what September 11 means for Chilieans) What about the German colonies the US accepted after the FIRST World War?
“Since when was the U.S. an empire?”
Richard- that was McKinley and T.Roosevelt’s foreign policy. (remember Philippines? Cuba post American-Spanish war?)

April 26, 2007 @ 6:21 am | Comment

Kidd-class destroyers , fighter jets, tanks…I can go on and on about outdated as you want Raj. US has sold weapons to taiwan for a long time, only recently they begin to send some fancy arms oversea.

Oh, before you call others fool, check yourself first please. And maybe you can use some some logic here. How would navy use their subs and ships? Are those subs for taiwan? Which targets would air force choose first? …Learn to read map and think about the battlefied situation for a minute.

April 26, 2007 @ 6:21 am | Comment

Taiwan has no chance of winning an arms race with the mainland. Reunification does not have to occur in a few years time, it could also happen after 50 years. Also, Ted Carpenter may offer a more objective and balanced view than the views of the apologists of Taiwan separatist quislings, like Michael Turton, John Tkacik or ‘Raj’, and a few more hand full names.It is funny that those apologists even dislike democratic Chinese, like the KMT, or anything that smells Chinese. Fortunately, the US has the policy of One China for many years, and insists that this issue needs to be solved by people on both sides of the Straits themselves, and that there is no role for the US.

April 26, 2007 @ 6:41 am | Comment

Nausicaa- Monroe Doctrine predates the end of WWII by over a century. (Remember Bay of Pigs? If anyone’s interested, find out what September 11 means for Chilieans) What about the German colonies the US accepted after the FIRST World War?

@Keir (long time no see, btw): Yes. Yes. Yes. Ha, and I stand corrected.

@Raj: Fair enough. I haven’t read the article yet, so give me some time. I’ll admit I’m prejudiced against the Cato Institute, though (for other reasons).

April 26, 2007 @ 7:00 am | Comment

P.S. @Raj: About the term “client state” – its usage might also have to do with the fact that at present Taiwan lacks full legal sovereignty, and is seen (by Carpenter, at least) as more of a protectorate. As for U.S. strongarming Taiwan – Keir’s comment demonstrates that norms and practices don’t always converge when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

April 26, 2007 @ 7:12 am | Comment

[quote]Kidd-class destroyers , fighter jets, tanks…I can go on and on about outdated as you want Raj.[/quote]

Sheesh, not again. The Kidds were not outdated but were the biggest destroyers in the fleet and got yet another upgrade before being sold to the US, who took a reduced price on them. The tanks were sold years ago. The F-16s were high quality export models.

The great thing about KMT propaganda is that knocking it down is so easy.

Thanks for the link, Raj. I’m going to write something for WaPo or the Washington Times today, see if I can get a longer commentary in there.

Michael

April 26, 2007 @ 7:51 am | Comment

fatbrick

Oh dear, your ignorance shows again! As Michael says, the Kidds aren’t outdated. The weapon systems, sensors, etc were greatly updated before they were sold. Taiwan received great multi-role destroyers for a good price.

What do you mean “how would their navy use the subs and ships”? I’m not privy to Taiwan’s battleplans, nor are you. Besides that is irrelevant to the subject here. You’re trying to change the conversation because you’re in a sticky situation. That’s what the coward does when under pressure.

April 26, 2007 @ 8:12 am | Comment

nausicaa, For me, your U.S. as Empire argument fails. Yes, McKinley et al were imperialists, and acquired territories, the largest of which was later dropped. Simply put, the imperial ambitions of one party clashed with the anti-imperialism of the other. Likewise, the U.S. constitution did not accomodate the concept of empire. Empires, by the way, don’t make requests, they dictate orders. Yes, there are nuances, particularly with protectorates and such, but the metropolis still holds the reins in specific realms, such as defence, budget, foreign policy, etc. It can argued, with some success, that the U.S. (as other great powers) is neo-imperialist in its foreign policy. But wielding the occasional big stick in foreign policy does not render it an empire. Empires govern directly through viceroys and other colonial officials. Thus the U.S. has no more control over Taiwan that it did with the Republic of Vietnam. (Or than China did with its “client”, the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.)

A minor point on the 11 Sep reference. The Chilean coup was planned and executed totally by Chileans, to overthrow a President who had been elected with 32% of the vote in a three-way election, and viewed that as a mandate to remake the country into Socialist state. Obviously, a significant number of Chileans disagreed. The coup would have occurred had the U.S. passed funds to the opposition or not.

The U.S. has valid strategic reasons for opposing a Chinese take-over of the island by force. However, our obligations under any bilateral agreement to come to the defense of Taiwan will be defined by internal U.S. politics contemporary to the moment that any such crisis emerges. Taiwan needs to remember that the U.S. was once obligated to come to the aid of the Republic of Viet Nam, and factor April 1975 into its defence budget.

April 26, 2007 @ 10:52 am | Comment

I think the ultimate question is that after Taiwan spent all that money for the kick-@ss weapons. How long could it last against China assult alone? Btw, even if Taiwan brought all the weapons, it won’t be delivered until…2015 the earlies? I thought US have done a study on that i.e. with or without?

April 26, 2007 @ 10:59 am | Comment

lirelou: “A minor point on the 11 Sep reference. The Chilean coup was planned and executed totally by Chileans, to overthrow a President who had been elected with 32% of the vote in a three-way election, and viewed that as a mandate to remake the country into Socialist state. Obviously, a significant number of Chileans disagreed. The coup would have occurred had the U.S. passed funds to the opposition or not.”

a minor point and but one with major mistakes and presumptions.

US as empire. Going to get all simplistic with you now. Purpose of empires:to spread influence (often God’s influence) and to secure commodities. Now, think again about US foreign policy and tell me if it is not worth rethinking the statement: “your U.S. as Empire argument fails”

and for viceroys and colonial officials – good lord, no-one said empires could not evolve – read oil company CEOs and US-installed presidents and prime ministers.

and raj, why you have to be so nasty when someone disagrees? Calling fatbrick a chicken was so unnecessary and a sign of weakness. It’d be like me calling you a tiresome know-it-all shit house sitting in front of a computer screen. No need.

April 26, 2007 @ 3:23 pm | Comment

“Is the US an empire?”

Let’s see…I’m going to go with, “Iraq for $100, Alex!”

We’re just not very good at it.

April 26, 2007 @ 3:35 pm | Comment

I am sorry but of the MANY important points raise by either blog post or the linked article, you take issue with the term “client state”?

Let’s see, quickly googled I found the Webster definition to be “a country that is economically, politically, or militarily dependent on another country.” Is Taiwan militarily dependent on US? YES, in the past, present and even more so into the future. Taiwan IS a client state of US.

In the crass and naked power politic that is the Taiwan strait 3-way match between Taiwan, China and US, it is more useful to recognize the important interests. While some people on this board still does not comprehend that, even the elementary school children can see the situation more succinctly. That is why people overwhelmingly prefers the “status quo” in any poll you can find.

Resorting to a moral stance is quite frankly counter-productive: Taiwan democracy->good, China communist->bad, US democracy->good, therefore US will unequivocally defend Taiwan? Does ANYBODY actually believe that. Not even the elementary school children in Taiwan believe that.

April 26, 2007 @ 3:49 pm | Comment

Mike, Having influence, and exercising it, does not make one an empire. Sorry, I never bought Lenin’s view of empire. And we could waste hours disputing the various theories of neo-empires. But why play Humpty-Dumpty? If it’s not Rome, or the British, French, Spanish, or other recognized empires which spread their power by extending their writ over subject peoples, why misappropriate the term. Other than lending a false patina of moral righteousness that detracts from reasoned discussion, it serves no purpose.

And yes, it would have been much better had Nixon kept our fingers out of Chile’s problems.

April 26, 2007 @ 4:44 pm | Comment

nausicaa said:
@Keir (long time no see, btw)
Indeed, Keir, long time no see and glad to hear from you again. I had hoped we could continue the conversation on the other thread where you asked: “Just curious- How many other laowei sign two contracts for their Chinese employers- the one that accurately outlines your pay and the one they show the Government?” I am really interested what you have to say about this topic.

April 26, 2007 @ 5:09 pm | Comment

don’t you go ‘our’-ing me lirelou :-) )

and please, let us not get lost on semantics.

if it looks like an empire and if it behaves like an empire, well, it’s probably an empire.

April 26, 2007 @ 5:09 pm | Comment

mike

and raj, why you have to be so nasty when someone disagrees?

I’m not nasty when someone disagrees. I’m nasty when they wheel out stupid, stereotypical comments that need to be trashed. If fatbrick had asked some reasonable questions I wouldn’t have had a problem with it – but he didn’t.

Calling fatbrick a chicken was so unnecessary and a sign of weakness.

No, it was a challenge for him to dispute my point or let it lie and show he was wrong.

It’d be like me calling you a tiresome know-it-all shit house sitting in front of a computer screen.

No, it wouldn’t. Because I haven’t been repeating tired, old crap and refusing to back it up without any facts (when they are readily available). fatbrick was doing the same as repeating the “fact” that China is an evil hell-hole run by baby-eaters.

This isn’t the first time you’ve made a post like this. If I see unnecessary comments they’re coming from you, not me. They’re the equivalent of me calling you a “bitter hyprocite sucking on sour grapes”.

I think it’s best if there are no more “it’s the same as me calling you X” comments from anyone.

April 26, 2007 @ 8:11 pm | Comment

When Chinese ask me about Taiwan, I tell them, “The more tension there is between China and Taiwan, the more money the U.S. makes selling weapons.” I mean it as a joke, to make fun how cynical Chinese are about the U.S. But so far I haven’t found any Chinese who think it’s funny. They put on their serious faces, like this is a major revelation: “Oh no! China outsmarted again by those clever Americans.”

I really don’t think a China/Taiwan war is at all likely. The backlash from the Hainan Island incident forced Jiang Zemin to resign and an attack on Taiwan would certainly have more serious consequences.

April 26, 2007 @ 8:12 pm | Comment

Thus the U.S. has no more control over Taiwan that it did with the Republic of Vietnam.

Exactly. The problem with the empire is that the satrapies were all independent. You only need to look at the flow of resources — all outward from the US to Taiwan. It’s not so easy to define or delineate the US Taiwan relationship, and it doesn’t fit into neat categories.

Michael

April 26, 2007 @ 8:43 pm | Comment

@peter
1) jokes, sarcasm in particular, get lost in translation (i once tried to teach lesson on sarcasm in china, and it was a miserable failure). culturally speaking, chinese people expect a serious response from a serious question. thus, the intent behind your response was rather inappropriate. given the looks on their faces that so bemused you, i think they gave you the benefit of the doubt.
2) i asked a friend of mine at tsinghua once whether or not china would actually attack taiwan if taiwan were to declare independence. he told me that the ccp would be forced to attack if they wanted to retain power.

April 27, 2007 @ 2:03 am | Comment

I really don’t think a China/Taiwan war is at all likely. The backlash from the Hainan Island incident forced Jiang Zemin to resign and an attack on Taiwan would certainly have more serious consequences.

I sure hope so. But China has rhetorically locked itself into war. I suspect in this upcoming election cycle in ’07 and ’08 there will be lots of Chinese money in Taiwan, to get the pro-China parties into power so that they can sell the island to China. Peacefully.

Michael

April 27, 2007 @ 7:42 am | Comment

bitter hypocrite I can handle, but sour grapes raj? Are you proposing that your intellect is the sweet tasting grape that I criticise because I can’t get to it? Is your ego really that big?

You really must explain your insults better. I mean, mine, after all, were very clear.

and from my neutral position, I would say that fatbrick occasionally makes some fair points. But as these points don’t fit in with your pseudo-intellectual world view, you quickly throw out the insults. very poor show.

it is the same as me throwing out unnecessary comments whenever I see your name.

April 27, 2007 @ 1:10 pm | Comment

@Michael

“I sure hope so. But China has rhetorically locked itself into war. I suspect in this upcoming election cycle in ’07 and ’08 there will be lots of Chinese money in Taiwan, to get the pro-China parties into power so that they can sell the island to China. Peacefully.

Michael”

Michael, i believed you have poisoned yourself with heavy doses of Pan-Green propaganda. Just use your brain to think: the Pan-Blue just want to retain the status-quo, which a majority of Taiwanese have wanted. The Pan-Blue are not puppets of the Communist China. Just exercise your logic: If Ma Ying-jeou becomes the President of the ROC, do you think he and the KMT would hand over the presidency and Taiwan’s armed forces to Beijing and downgrade himself into a SAR Chief Executive like Donald Tsang in Hong Kong? Lien Chan has already said that he would never accept “one country, two systems”. In actual fact, the KMT stands for de facto and not de jure independence of the Taiwan Area from the mainland. If you don’t rock the boat, you are pretty safe. Think hard, sometimes, you Pan-Greens only know how to shout slogans and exercise your mouth but not your brains.

April 27, 2007 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

Arty,

“I think the ultimate question is that after Taiwan spent all that money for the kick-@ss weapons. How long could it last against China assult alone? Btw, even if Taiwan brought all the weapons, it won’t be delivered until…2015 the earlies? I thought US have done a study on that i.e. with or without?”

I think Taiwan can never build up a force that could defeat the PRC entirely. But the message is, if the CCP violates the territory administered by the ROC, they will pay a very heavy price for that. The communist thugs were fucked really badly in the Battle of Kuningtou. Try taking Kinmen and Matsu, take it but be prepared to see that your coastal areas would be flattened and thousands of PLA troops dying on the beaches of Kinmen and Matsu before you take out the ROC troops.

April 27, 2007 @ 3:28 pm | Comment

Arty,

And in any event, the nuclear missiles that PRC boasts is irrelevant, at least in attacking Taiwan. just like the US could not possibly use nukes in Vietnam.

April 27, 2007 @ 3:30 pm | Comment

I can tell you what makes Chinese laugh — foreigners! Pantomime and funny voices work too. I read something about Macartney Embassy, the first British mission to Beijing in 1794. When it arrived, the crowds laughed like it was the funniest comedy act in town. The British assumed it was because their clothes were ratty after the long journey. I wanted to grab the author by the lapels and shout, “No, it’s not your clothes! It’s because you are are a funny-looking gweilo! A ghost-chap with pale skin and a ridiculous nose!” Some things just never change.

Your warmonging friend at Tsinghua isn’t alone, sox4life. Chinese all talk that way. But this isn’t equivalent to public opinion in a democratic country. They are parrotting the official line, a line which can change at any moment. A declaration of independence doesn’t change the military balence and the Chinese leadership remembers what happened when Deng invaded Vietnam. Taiwan was an non-issue in the 1980s before Tiananmen. The official position can turn around on a dime and Chinese public is so well-trained that it doesn’t even think of the obvious questions. Orwell called it “doublethink.”

For example, when I talked to Chinese about the bombing of the embassy in Belgrade in 1999, they all say, “It was deliberate.” Well, wouldn’t that make it Clinton’s fault? But no, they are unable make logical deductions of this kind. Clinton visited Shenzhen soon after he left office, he got big fee, and got treated him like hero. Chinese propaganda besmirches the current U.S. leadership regardless of policies or personalities because the CCP needs an enemy.

April 27, 2007 @ 5:06 pm | Comment

Are you proposing that your intellect is the sweet tasting grape that I criticise because I can’t get to it? Is your ego really that big?

Mike, you are turning into a parody of a paranoid, outraged Chinese ultra-nationalist. I suggest you calm down, stop getting excited and not assume the worst. You threw an “insult” my way, I did the same. Don’t make yourself look any more bitter by implying things I never said. That’s what a cheap man does – or one with a big head.

and from my neutral position, I would say that fatbrick occasionally makes some fair points. But as these points don’t fit in with your pseudo-intellectual world view, you quickly throw out the insults. very poor show.

mike, this is not the “fatrbick commentary thread”. I was responding to comments he made here. So I wonder if you possibly can be neutral.

April 27, 2007 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

@peter

clearly, your conversations with chinese have been very superficial due either to your lack of fluency or interest in what they have to say. it seems to me that you engage in these conversations with a preconceived notion of what they have to say based on any ill-conceived stereotypes that you may have conjured up a-priori. a few points:

1) you mischaracterized my friend at tsinghua. he is by far the most progressive chinese university counterpart that i have ever met. how is that warmonging anyway? he merely said what he believes the ccp would do in that scenario, not what he believes should be done. would you even want to know what he thinks or does it not matter, since in your mind all chinese are humorless, nationalist xenophobes?
2) you didn’t read my post carefully enough. the official party line dictates that a declaration of independence by taiwan will be met with physical force, but it has never been to attack taiwan if they declare independence in order to quell overwhelming nationalist sentiment that would bubble over the top in such a scenario.
3) i agree that many chinese suspect it was deliberate, but that does not logically lead to the deduction that the blame falls squarely on clinton’s shoulder’s. in fact most people, if you pry further, will tell you that they think someone in the military undermined clinton to orchestrate it.

April 28, 2007 @ 2:02 am | Comment

Try taking Kinmen and Matsu, take it but be prepared to see that your coastal areas would be flattened and thousands of PLA troops dying on the beaches of Kinmen and Matsu before you take out the ROC troops.

This is my personal opinion: If Taiwan ever declears independence. I think Kinmen and Matsu will actually defect to China. Some how I think the odd is very good for that to happen. Also, I THINK use of a neutron warhead is highly likely since the fall out is far less than the thermal one. However, if China and US are fighting, I am 100% sure nuclear weapon will be used, acutally, it could be end of the world.

Oh btw, last time I was in Taiwan and walked pass by the entrance of a military base, the guards were actually talking and laughing with each other. The only thing that they had not done is lighting up a cigarette. Are you telling me those guys can put up a fight? When I was a kid, I remebered those guards don’t even move much less talking. Of course, that just my personal opinion and observation.

April 28, 2007 @ 5:48 am | Comment

Arty, those islands wouldn’t “defect”, because the population there is too small to overwhelm any garrison. They might put up with a Chinese occupation force, but the troops would fight or withdraw. Already the ROCA has withdrawn several of its units from the outer regions to strength Taiwan’s defences – the islands would be given over to the PLA if necessary.

As to those soldiers you saw at the gate, I remember some years ago there was controversy when the guards at Edinburgh Castle were seen taking pictures with tourists (the rule being you shouldn’t even move). Does that mean in a war we shouldn’t put the Scots anywhere important?

I think you’re reading far too much into one event. Taiwanese soldiers are still fairly well trained, and when fighting for their homeland I’m sure their resolve would increase greatly.

April 28, 2007 @ 7:16 am | Comment

It is my hope Ma wins the next election and that he and Hu discover a path to cross-strait harmony. However, each year there are fewer and fewer Taiwanese who describe themselves as Chinese, so it is likely that Taiwan will declare independence at some point. China needs to think of a more realistic response than, “I’m going to go berserk if you do that!” There is no point in talking this way to a Chinese — they get too excited. This is why I do not a give a candid answer when Chinese ask me about Taiwan.

To conquer Taiwan, China would first have to defeat the Taiwanese air force, then the navy, then make an amphibious landing, and finally defeat the Taiwanese army. The only one of these steps China has a realistic chance pulling off is last one, i.e. if a fully-equipped Chinese army was to magically appear on Taiwan, it might be able to defeat the Taiwanese army. The war senarios that are presented in public are about launching missiles or using submarines to attack Taiwanese shipping. This is harassment rather a war winning strategy and can work only if you assume both that Taiwan would never retaliate and that the U.S. would not get involved. Attacking Taiwanese shipping creates a “freedom of the seas” issue that even a pro-Chinese U.S. president would not be able to ignore.

To argue that the Chinese have such strong feelings about the Taiwan issue that will attack anyway is to portray them a nation of psychotics. Is this how a real friend of China would describe the Chinese people? In any case, the feelings of ordinary Chinese have no influence on government policy. The leadership of the CCP and PLA are not going to be bullied by a bunch of hotheaded students.

April 28, 2007 @ 7:08 pm | Comment

Peter

To argue that the Chinese have such strong feelings about the Taiwan issue that will attack anyway is to portray them a nation of psychotics. Is this how a real friend of China would describe the Chinese people?

The problem is that it is very difficult to find Chinese that rule out war to regain Taiwan. I have come across some, and it is a pleasure to meet people that insist unification (or “re-unification” as they say) must be peaceful. However they are, as far as I can see, a minority at the moment. So it is the Chinese themselves that create this image because they either are so nationalist or allow the nationalists to take up all the “air-time” and won’t stand up to them.

In any case, the feelings of ordinary Chinese have no influence on government policy. The leadership of the CCP and PLA are not going to be bullied by a bunch of hotheaded students.

If only they would, but as I said feeling over Taiwan is across the board in China. It isn’t just students, but lots of people. It’s like the Falklands and Argentina. Just as the military junta was kicked out of power there after they lost the war in 1982, I think if the CCP didn’t take military action against Taiwan after something like a Universal Declaration of Independence, they believe they would be overthrown. It is something I hear time and time again from Chinese people – it would take a very brave Chinese President to say war wouldn’t be worth it. Sadly I see no such men or women with that kind of character and honour in the CCP now, nor can I imagine one rising to the top.

This this situation is the CCP’s own fault, because they have exploited the Taiwan problem for their own ends by whipping up nationalism to bolster their support. Anyone who tries to publicly argue a moderate line in China is silenced, fired, etc. Now it would be almost impossible for them to back down if Taiwan did openly declare its independence, even if they wanted to.

April 28, 2007 @ 8:51 pm | Comment

Something I have ran into on my more recent trips to Mainland China is the conversations about Taiwan and Hong Kong – people talk about Taiwan in a much more detached sense than they do about Hong Kong (This could be because of the area I am in – PRD.) A political conversation would go on about HK and someone would bring up Taiwan, you’d see some blank faces and an acknowledgement would take place for courtesy purposes but not much in-depth debates about them.

April 29, 2007 @ 7:45 am | Comment

Here is a project for you, Raj, since you seems to be so passionate about it. Can you sum up the Chinese version of the modern history of Taiwan, and what makes China so stubborn about Taiwan?

April 30, 2007 @ 2:56 pm | Comment

Can you sum up the Chinese version of the modern history of Taiwan, and what makes China so stubborn about Taiwan?

I can, but I think it would be best if that was saved for a blog entry another day. As it is not the subject of this blog entry, I won’t be going into that here.

Also it’s somewhat misleading to say I’m “passionate” about Taiwan. I am interested and concerned because how China relates to it affects its own future – I don’t think the current aggression and boycotting of talks with the Taipei government is good for future stability. Boycotting talks with Sinn Fein didn’t help the Northern Ireland peace process one bit. Of course I do care about what happens to and in Taiwan, just as I do with China.

April 30, 2007 @ 10:27 pm | Comment

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