China Hand Ross Terrill on Taiwan’s Chen Shui-bian

Ross Terrill’s a brilliant historian and his look at Taiwan’s election and its ramifications offers a condensed primer on Taiwan politics. Anyone interested in what’s going on over there has to read it.

I enjoyed especially his closing paragraphs.

Beyond Chen’s second term, many possibilities will arise. Taiwan will never depart from China. Geography dictates it; to a degree cultural roots also dictate it. To be independent of China is not necessarily to be hostile to China.

For the moment, however, a regime exists in Beijing that is myopic about democracy. It says “Hitler was produced by democracy” and this led to the destruction of the Jews. It hints that Russia’s turn toward democracy is regrettable.

To all this there is one answer, which, alas, no party-state has ever accepted. Democracy is a method for a free people to handle its differences. It doesn’t guarantee a fully happy outcome each time. But the self-realization of the individual — the highest value in politics — can ask nothing less than just that freedom to choose.

Fifty years ahead no one can say where China’s boundaries will lie. One China can live on as a gleam in the eye for some. Washington must say Taiwan’s future is an open question subject to the free choice of all the people involved. I believe it should add that for now the extension of Beijing’s party-state rule to Taiwan is not feasible or in America’s or East Asia’s interests.

I hope we all agree.

The Discussion: 3 Comments

Amen to that. If Taiwan chooses, of its own free will to join a single Chinese nation, that is one thing. But if it is being coerced into “re-unification”, that’s quite another.

I certainly hope that the [censored] in DC don’t decide to sell out Taiwan. It may not be much, but it’s the only functioning democracy the Chinese people have made.

June 17, 2004 @ 10:09 pm | Comment

When one is not a lover of Chinese communism, the main problem is Taiwanese separatism, not democracy. Chen knew very well that under the cover of democracy, he could slowly but surely led the island towards de jure independence. Anyone who knows Beijing well will know that the regime is actually the most reluctant to go to war over Taiwan since it would cause severe repercussion for mainland China itself. Chen wanted to turn the cross straits conflict into a crusade for democracy but even Washington is not deceived by him. Taiwan may not have de jure independence but it already enjoyed de facto independence ironically but claiming to be the Republic of China for the past 5 decades. Now Lee Tenghui and Chen, because of their own political gains would led taiwan towards conflict. The people of Taiwan would have to suffer because of their selfish political opportunism.

June 18, 2004 @ 5:16 am | Comment

If the people of California voted for a New Californian Republic, would there be good graces from all sides? I think not.

Democracy is not a simple matter of what the people want. I say this while fully aware of my words.

August 31, 2004 @ 11:29 am | Comment

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