Hu Jintao picks up the phone and chews bush’s ear on Taiwan

Hu Jintao was so irritated over bush selling $18 billion ins weapons systems to Taiwan that he picked up the phone yesterday and gave bush a personal call, sure proof of just how hot and bothered this issue is making him.

Chinese president Hu Jintao has phoned President George W Bush to warn the US against selling more military technology to Taiwan.

Washington is negotiating a deal to sell missiles and other weapons systems worth $18bn to the island – which China regards as a renegade province.

Mr Hu said Beijing would do its utmost to resolve the Taiwan issue peacefully. But he said China would never tolerate the island’s independence, or allow anyone to split it from China.

Spokesmen in Washington and Beijing said Mr Bush reaffirmed his backing for the one-China policy – which does not support Taiwanese independence – while reasserting America’s commitment to help Taiwan defend itself…..

President Bush says he opposes Taiwan independence. But from China’s point of view, his willingness to sell the island such advanced weapons is sending a very different message, our correspondent says.

I’d love to know what bush said to reassure Hu that there’s no cause for alarm. Actually, I suspect there was nothing bush could say, and that this has the potential to become yet another festering wound. Every day, a new source of fuel seems to be added to this bonfire.

The reader who clued me into this article sent me his own observations on why Chen continues to get under Hu Jintao’s skin:

President Chen wants a new constitution by 2008 – why? Unless
planning to go independent!

· Aims to modernise political institutions, increase efficiency,
enshrine human rights and review role of National Assembly – is a completely new constitution necessary?

· Though China says plan is the ‘biggest threat to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait’, Chen insists the changes will not touch sovereignty issues – is he double-talking again?

These seem like valid questions, and they reinforce my own belief that, however much I’d like to see an independent Taiwan, Chen is being provocative to the point of playing with dynamite. I mean, what’s his strategy, and where does he really think this will all lead?

The earlier thread on this topic got more comments than just about any other post in the history of this site. Hopefully we can pick up the discussion here.

The Discussion: 35 Comments

Ah, another “China getting aggressive, so it must be Chen Shui Bians fault”‘ story! I’ve gotta respond to that 🙂

On the arms sales, assuming it all goes through, Taiwan will be spending about 3% of her GDP on defense … less than most countries (including China and the US), and probably too little to have a credible defense.

On the ‘new’ constitution – it’s still unclear (to me) whether the goal is a new constitution, or a heavily ammended constitution. I suspect, that it’ll end up being a large amendment to the current constitution – just to keep the trigger-happy people across the water happy.

The constitution *does* need a serious update – because something written 100 years ago which details the voting rights of the Tibetan and Mongolian representatives isn’t exactly relevant to modern day Taiwan. I find it amazing that the promise by Chen to explicitly exclude national sovereignty, territory and unification or independence from this review is seen as an example of him being ‘devious’ instead of an olive-branch.

August 2, 2004 @ 1:27 am | Comment

Actually, the Constitution isn’t nearly that old, and there are already several amendments added to it after the “exile period”. The current RoC constitution was adopted in 1947 in Nanjing.

Here is the problem with your analysis David on why it most certainly is Chen Shui Bian who is the agent provacateur in this scenario. Assuming Taiwan declares independence, what are the benefits to be gained? The name is changed from the Republic of China to the Republic of Taiwan. Beijing will likely increase the political pressure to make sure no one recognizes Taiwan’s sovreignty, except for the 26 or so nations which still recognize the RoC.

What are the possible losses if the call to independence goes badly. Well the worst case scenario for Chen is that Taiwan would be militarily occupied by the PLA. End of Taiwan independence, and most likely he and his government would spend the rest of their lives in prison or be executed.

Best case scenario for the PRC in the advent of a Taiwan independence declaration is that they are able to militarily seize Taiwan. In that case, it would damage their international image that they have been carefully cultivating for the last two decades and could have dire financial reprecussions. Worst case scenario for the PRC is a U.S. intervention and a military defeat, possibly causing dire political turmoil domestically, rabid anti-western nationalism, economic troubles, or even nuclear escalation.

It is obvious to any observer that the PRC has very much at stake in Taiwan, but it is also obvious that it does not desire to use force to reunify Taiwan considering the gamut of consequences(overwhelmingly negative win or lose). For Taiwan, the risks of declaring independence obviously far outweigh the benefits. The status quo was worked fine for more or less 50 years so far.

Here is another point I would like to make. I believe people are far too infatuated with western notions of “freedom” and “democracy” in the Taiwan situation to clearly see the all the perils inherent in the crisis. For the Taidu advocates, no one wants to seem to acknowledge that Taiwan already has these things, but instead focus on how China is being “belligerent”. The moral question I would like to pose is, are the egos (and that is what the Taiwan issue is ultimately about, a clash of identities between Chinese nationalism and Taiwanese nativism) of 20 million Taiwanese worth satisfying over the possible dangerous ramifications on over 1.3 billion Chinese? The communists may rule Beijing, but it is the Chinese people that bear the burden of any future conflict. Is it worth it for a few million Taiwanese to say, I am Taiwanese and not Chinese, at the cost of the welfare of an untold multitde of people on the mainland.

To take a quote from Star Trek(a font of wonderful sayings as any), I believe the needs of the many outweight the desires of the few.

August 2, 2004 @ 2:36 am | Comment


The key problem with any change in Taiwan’s constitution — even if I do agree that it’s overdue since the constitution dates back to around 1947 — is precisely the fact that China will, in all likelihood, take it as a provocative act and act accordingly. (Not very rational but certainly a very simple fact that we can take for granted.)

Whether, from our objective POV China’s actions are ridiculous or not is, to put it bluntly, irrelevant. We need to get into the heads of the PRC to figure out what they’re going to do about this. The PRC will be facing a crisis of significant proportions. Let Taiwan go free and they may well cease to be the government of the mainland, if what I’ve read of Chinese nationalism is correct. At best, even if they aren’t tossed out on their ear, they’ll be significantly weakened. They’re going to act according to their priorities, and we’re going to have to understand that.

China’s government, in my humble opinion (and i’m perfectly open to people telling me that I’m reading the situation wrongly, as I’m looking in from outside the glass house), considers this matter to be a question of vital importance. This is a dealbreaker. When they shout about going to war if Taiwan declares independence, I believe them. In the event that there is a war, China loses big time (financially and politically), but that’s going to be scant comfort for the thousands, if not tens of thousands of Taiwanese who will die in the process, not to mention the potential that if America intervenes, this could escalate past the nuclear threshold. (Unlikely but not something I’d like to rule out without knowing more.)

Perhaps the key question to ask is:

“Is President Chen thinking of the welfare of the Taiwanese people or not?”

What does Taiwan gain if Chen’s actions (however innocent they may seem) upsets some strategic/political balance in China and the PRC attacks? Even if America intervenes and Taiwan is rescued from occupation by the PLA (another event I’m not going to put any bets on), the consequences to the region would be significant, and mostly detrimental.

He’s playing with dynamite, as Richard has so aptly pointed out.

August 2, 2004 @ 3:16 am | Comment

Jing – yeah you’re right about how old the constitution is; I assumed it was from 1911. It still needs changing though 🙂

I don’t know why you bring up independence though – that’s been explicitly excluded from the proposed reforms. Whatever Chen does or says, China always interprets it as ‘a move towards independence’ (even in this case where that is explicitly discounted). “He is a troublemaker because we choose to interpret anything he says as trouble” isn’t a persuasive argument.

(I would contest your claim that 1.2 billion Chinese ‘need’ to invade Taiwan, but it’s irrelevant to this discussion)

One unrelated comment which may be relevant: in the current political climate in Taiwan, I think it would be a minor miracle to get agreement on how to change how Taiwan is governed – so there’s a good chance there won’t be any substansive changes to the constitution soon anyway.

August 2, 2004 @ 3:18 am | Comment

Lashlar: “China will, in all likelihood, take it as a provocative act and act accordingly”

If Chen proposed a change to the Taiwan banking system, then China would probably “take it as a provocative act”. My point is that the whole problem is China decided when to take offense (and then laying the blame on the victim). If they wanted to, they *could* note the promises by Chen and (as long as Chen keeps his words) reduce the rhetoric accordingly. As it is, when Chen says “I won’t declare independence” they say “You see? He’s going to declare independence AND he’s lying about it”

August 2, 2004 @ 3:30 am | Comment

I think the counter question that needs to be asked is: if Taiwan declared independence, what would the cost be to China? The answer is, nothing. Not one thing. What would the cost be to the Chinese communist party? Quite a lot … because they’ve invested so much time and effort into propagandising the issue that it would be a tremendous loss of face to let Taiwan go. It’s nothing to do with the good of the many, it’s got a lot to do with the good of the few … the leadership of the party can’t afford the public backlash.

I like comparing the situation to other parts of the world. How would it be in England threatened to declare war and invade if Australia became a Republic and quit the Commonwealth? It’s not more unreasonable than China attacking Taiwan for doing the same thing.

August 2, 2004 @ 6:33 am | Comment

The England vs. Australia analogy is a bit off, I’m afraid…

Maybe Australia vs. Tazmania
or perhaps US vs. long island…

I think analogies are generally rather silly in this regard as no other set of circumstances in the world at any point in history accurately mirrors the current situation between taiwan and china, which is far too complex to be compared meaningfully in such a manner.

As to why China (and some readers of this site) think everything A-bian does is a provocation, it’s basically a matter of staying consistent. Ever since his first election campaign, the mainland has villanized him as one who can do no good. As everyone is well aware, the party hates changing its position. As a result, there’s no way the CCP will ever admit that he did something good–or even that he did something acceptable.

The following then is my take on the US’s long term plans with respect to foreign policy and China, as well as one possible course of events in an infintude of such.

Regarding the present situation, the US has the short to medium term interests of keeping the rock from tipping over either way for as long as possible via perpetual fence sitting. China wastes precious resources on building and maintaining an invasion plan, US keeps a hot button with which it can threaten or reward China via tiny changes in its stance and minor policy decisions.

When the US finishes licking its chops of Iraq (then some or all of Iran, Syria, NK, etc…when, how, to what extent?), the US will be fully geared up and need another pariah of evil to perpetuate its foreign policy objectives and demand for arms and oil. To this end, China is the perfect candidate…large, powerful, nuclear capable, mysterious to the masses…a perfect cold war-esque “strategic competitor.”

To set up things up, a tipping of the scales to induce a Chinese invasion may occur. Boom, you now have the perfect event–the evil commies with no regard for human rights have conquered a hapless democratic society. See how evil they are. To really drive home the point of how dangerous China is, sacrifice a carrier group…THEY KILLED AMERICANS!

Now, the US has a strong basis upon which to start a new cold war…rally the UN or at least a coalition of the more-willing-than-not to impose severe sanctions.

Why would the US want to do such a thing? Polarization creates power stability (at least for the duration of the perceived threat). Sure, trillions of dollars of wealth will be lost around the world, but this is the only feasible way to prevent China from overtaking the US. From a political standpoint, as long as China’s slice of the pie stays smaller, it doesn’t matter if the entire pie shrinks. Keeping your people in perpetual fear of a distant enemy is the easiest way to maintain a base of power. Too much wealth among the population only gives people spare time to idle about and criticize the leadership (and post political blogs). As governments have long recognized (and as the CCP has long openly sought to curtail), the free exchange of ideas and knowledge is generally detrimental to preserving the status quo. Thus, the government can afford to make the nation a little poorer as long as the population sees it as justified and necessary.

The endgame?

1. China is able to maintain enough outside support to create a bloc of power and the world re-enters a bi-polar phase.

2. China’s leadership is unable to survive the sudden political and economic isolation as the already strained social conditions cause massive internal turmoil that leads to the overthrow of the current regime and plunges China into chaos. Foreign nations enter and begin to build a “Free and democratic” China (now consisting of indipendent states of Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang-istan, and of course Taiwan). Non-abundance of AKs, RPGs, and fanatical zealots makes this a lot easier than Iraq. Searing xenophobia and 1.X billion people don’t.

Whether any ofl this will happen or even if any of this is what the US has in mind is obviously purely idle conjecture. Of the jungle of branching possibilities, this reaches way into the canopy. Take it as you will.

August 2, 2004 @ 10:11 am | Comment

Ahh but filthy number 9, as everyone loves to point out, Taiwan is a democracy where people can decide their future whereas China is ruled by a communist dictatorship(well in actually an oligarchy of technocrats and party bureaucracy but we’ll use dictatorship for convenience). The Chinese people, even if they weren’t already willing to go to war to reunify Taiwan, would in all likelyhood be dragged into one by the communist party. “Taiwanese” have a choice, Chinese don”t, its as simple as that. (Well yes the Chinese can opt to overthrow their government, but thats not realistic at the moment)

I’m beginning to come to the conclusion that to argueing whos at fault in the Taiwan crisis is starting to sound like the whole chicken and the egg debate.

August 2, 2004 @ 12:12 pm | Comment

I happen to agree with those who have said that China is pushing this situation towards the brink. The CCP has made this into an issue of vital importance by appealing to notions of national strength and territorial control. They’ve been playing the Taiwan issue for so long that they can’t get out even if they wanted to. The moment they abandon their claim to Taiwan, they’ve given up their claim to being a “strong government” in their — and possibly in the eyes of the Chinese people — eyes. And we all know what happens when a government that is predicated on strength, economic competence, and national pride can’t deliver on any one of those areas.

They’re screwed if Taiwan goes independent and they don’t do anything about it. Thus, from their perspective, they must do everything in their power to keep Taiwan from going independent, at the least, and at best reclaiming Taiwan “peacefully” by using more subtle forms of coercion.

The headache for the CCP is that Taiwan is not playing into their hands. This isn’t a colonial government (as Hong Kong and Macao were), this is the sole other political entity (in the 20th century) to have actually governed China. And Taiwan is unlikely, being a democracy and certainly no friend of the CCP, to meekly submit to the CCP in Beijing.


Do you, then, think that if 1.3 billion people were to need you to put on a collar and become a slave, that it would be a case of the “needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few?”

Because that is what your logic, if taken to the extreme, would suggest. Taiwan should choose:

a. To keep the status quo even if it is detrimental to their interests.

b. Unify with a government that will strip them of the rights and liberties they fought so hard against the KMT to gain.

After all, we all know what the “1 country 2 systems” policy really means.

The price of liberty, I daresay, is beyond mere questions of utilitarian balancing of “many” and “few.”

Taiwan has that choice. Whatever decision they make (status quo, independence, unification), they’ll make it, I hope, as free men and as rational actors.

I don’t know if the Taiwanese themselves are — largely — advocates of formal independence. I haven’t read much on that issue. I do know that Mr. Chen should, perhaps, consider the strategic and political rammifications of having a rather larger neighbor whose political situation would necessitate some dramatic (and unpleasant) actions should they feel the situation is slipping out of their control.

August 2, 2004 @ 5:14 pm | Comment

Of course, there is a third option about where to lay the blame: it’s not China, it’s not Chen, … it’s the media. Check out this report of the same story:

(the Taipei Times is pro-independence, but that just means they don’t usually miss a chance for a bit of China-bashing)

It was Bush who called Hu (not the other way around) to talk about Taiwan *and North Korea*. All quite amicable and both sides just repeating their existing positions in this version …

Jing: I’m sure you’re right that noones going to change their position radically – but it’s an interesting conversation none the less.

Lashlar: A vote on independence tomorrow in Taiwan would almost certainly fail massively (maybe 20-30% voting for?) – the majority may want independence, but they’re not stupid.

August 2, 2004 @ 8:46 pm | Comment

Can the CCP survive images of it raining missiles down on the heads of fellow Chinese who have democratically decided that they don’t want to live in a one-party state?

And if the US gets involved, that’s it, game over for the Party. They will lose because, once in, the US both can and MUST win and, “losing Taiwan” would be a fatal blow the the CCP’s claim to “patriotic” legitimacy.

This is why I suspect all of China’s recent bluster is intended to deter Chen from going to far, and not an actual prelude to war.

Attacking Taiwan would be like betting one’s entire net worth and future earnings on one roll of the dice, with a lousy payoff for success. The Party ould have to be insane or seriously deluded to try it.

August 2, 2004 @ 8:48 pm | Comment

Crazy, indeed. But you know, sometimes I think they really might do it. It wouldn’t be the first time they’ve acted in a manner that defies Western logic. I’ve learned that when it comes to Taiwan, a lot of the standard criteria for a good argument — rationality, facts, calm, etc. — are out the window, and you’re dealing with raw emotion. Maybe on both sides. Nitroglycerine, waiting to be shaken, not stirred.

August 2, 2004 @ 9:05 pm | Comment

David, let me say this: I may be wrong, but my experience has taught me that the Taipei Times is so biased, so pro-independence and anti-China, that I almost always overlook their articles on this subject. It’s like those pro-Tibet newspapers that glut the Internet with articles about the Dalai Lama and taking back Tibet from the Chinese. While their intentions may be good, I’ve spotted way too much fact-stretching and bias to allow me to take them seriously.

August 2, 2004 @ 9:10 pm | Comment

Richard – of course I agree that the Taipei Times has a very clear agenda, and that should be considered whenever reading it. However, you’re using that as an argument to discount a story (which is a reprint of an AFP story – not a TT original story) where the White House spokesman is directly quoted contradicted the BBCs (and your) claim about who called Hu (or Hu called who).

August 2, 2004 @ 11:00 pm | Comment

Frankly I don’t think anyone has even come close to offering a valid rebuttal to the point I made. The only player who would lose from Taiwanese independence is the Chinese communist party.

As for the counter-analogy: “Maybe Australia vs. Tazmania
or perhaps US vs. long island”

What a load of rubbish. I mean, really? The analogy of England and Australia is quite a close approximation of the China-Taiwan situation … both England and China have theoretical claims over the respective territories, both have close ethnic and historical ties to the lost territory, and in both cases, the “motherland” has not exercised any effective control over the “lost” territory for quite some years. How does Tasmania or Long Island come anywhere near the situation of Taiwan … the simple answer is, they don’t, not in any shape or form.

“I think analogies are generally rather silly in this regard as no other set of circumstances in the world at any point in history accurately mirrors the current situation between taiwan and china”

Again … what a load of rubbish. It defies the very meaning of international law. If no situation is ever comparable, and there are no universal rules of behaviour, then you can do anything you like without reference to internationally accepted standards of conduct.

Now, I challenge you to give me some good reasons why there would be any substantial difference between England attacking Australia, and China attacking Taiwan. I mean good reasons. Not nitpicking about details.

Let’s look at the similarities: close ethnic links. Check. Historical ties. Check. Theoretical legal ownership, recognised by both sides. Check. Centuries of rule by the motherland. Check.

Hell, Australia still has a Governor-General, the direct representative of the Queen, with full legal powers (in theory) to veto any legislation he chooses. Seems to me that England would have a better case for attempting to regain its lost territory.

Australia held a referendem about becoming a republic recently, and voted “no, keep the English monarchy.” Most English people I encountered responded with the question “WHY?!?!?” On the other hand, when Chen says he wants to hold a referendem to modify the constitution, explicitly excluding independence, the communists start frothing at the mouth and threating to rain missiles down on Taipei, or worse. The main problem with the Taiwan argument is that you simply can’t apply the Chinese standards anywhere else … because it’s immediately clear how stupid and unreasonable the PRC position is. Let every person stand up who lives in a territory that would not be under threat if all countries followed the Chinese pattern. What? No one is standing up? Someone? Anyone?

August 3, 2004 @ 1:28 am | Comment

I must admit, reading these posts are quite illuminating and I really have a lot to learn about this issue. Nonetheless, I’ll put my neck out on the block and say, “I believe they will take Taiwan by whatever means necessary”. I base this notion on the fact that China has regularly voted no or abstained in voting on similiar matters (internal situations of other countries) like the Sudan crisis. I think the CCP believes that because of their stance on issues like this, IF they were to “take” Taiwan, the rest of the Security Council members would not vote against their actions because it’s internal. If the U.S. were to get involved the U.S. would then be seen as the bad guy by the rest of the world similiar to what has happened to us over the Iraq war. The U.S. would have to go it alone, maybe, and that would be a killer – no support.
At any rate – no real winners, just a major loss of life.
Like I said, I’m sticking my neck out, especially on this issue so don’t beat me up too bad.

August 3, 2004 @ 2:46 am | Comment

England and Australia? Balderdash!

Australia is a farway strange land grabbed by English explorers during the Age of ‘who’s stronger gets to keep what they seize’. Taiwan has been part of China , geographically next to it.

Australia has its own constitution since January 1901. Many considered this as its official Independence Day, though technically, the actual date of independence has not been precisely identified. What it is today is that it is more close to the US than Mother England.

The PRC and ROC both averred they are one China. The UN, US and the majority of the world recognise this.

Australia keeps the Queen as its constitutional Head, to be advised by the PM of Australia, including the appointment of her representative in Australia, the GG. In other words, she’s a figure head borrowed for the purose. In fact the Queen’s title for Australia is NOT the Queen of England but rather the Queen of Australia.

Hey, Australia can borrow any Queen or King to be its constitutional Head, including Mary MacDonald, an Aussie girl who married the Crown Prince of Denmark and will be Queen of Denmark one day – already monarchists in Australia are so petrified of this popular suggestion that they have been badmouthing the Damish royalty as being “tolerant of homosexuality” – for crying out loud!!!

Therefore, any ties with England/Britain are merely traditional and diplomatic rather than political. The Australian referendum was to get rid of a foreign Queen as Head of state, but the govt who was pro-monarchy, sabotaged the referendum by posing questions that historically were known to be fatal to any success for a referendum.

Aus and Tasmania would be the closest match, with a, say, Islamic Tasmania (ha! ha!) seeking secession from Christian Australia for religious reasons.

August 3, 2004 @ 7:30 am | Comment

typo – ‘purose’ should be ‘purpose’

August 3, 2004 @ 7:32 am | Comment

David, thanks for clarifying — so it sounds like the article I posted may have it wrong. That sure puts a whole different spin on the story….

August 3, 2004 @ 4:55 pm | Comment


“Australia is a farway strange land grabbed by English explorers during the Age of ‘who’s stronger gets to keep what they seize’. Taiwan has been part of China , geographically next to it.”

Taiwan is a geographically separate territory from mainland China, so much so that only one dynasty of China has ever ruled it. (You can hardly count defeated Ming dynasty refugees fleeing from the Qing). It was grabbed by China at about the same time as Australia was grabbed by England, through the same method. Both territories were ruled directly from the motherland for about the same length of time. They had the strength and desire to do it, so they did it. There was no consultation with local peoples, they just walked in and said “it’s ours now”. What was your point again???

“Australia has its own constitution since January 1901. Many considered this as its official Independence Day, though technically, the actual date of independence has not been precisely identified.”

And again, what’s your point? The government of Taiwan has never shared a constitution with PRC, and has a constitution not much younger than Australia’s (both of which have been subject to modification in subsequent years). As you point out, there is no date of independence, because the British monarchy is still the legal ruler of Australia, with far more recognition on the Australian side than Taiwan gives Beijing. Your point reinforces my argument, not yours.

“The PRC and ROC both averred they are one China.”

Same again. The comparison to Australia reinforces my argument. Australia recognises the monarch of England as its legal sovereign. No other country in the world challenges this … while a few actually do question Taiwan’s status. Taiwan recognises nothing about PRC.

“Therefore, any ties with England/Britain are merely traditional and diplomatic rather than political.”

Yup, about the same as China and Taiwan. Oh, once again, Australia and England are closer than Taiwan and China. Have you thought about your reply at all???

“Aus and Tasmania would be the closest match, with a, say, Islamic Tasmania (ha! ha!) seeking secession from Christian Australia for religious reasons.”

Now you’re just making yourself look stupid. As I have said repeatedly, any argument that ignores the fact that Taiwan has been operating as an independent entity since 1949 is either foolish or insincere. If Tasmania had a separate government, no direct transport links with Australia, and had been like that since 1949 … well then, you might have a point. You can take any example you like that roughly fits this equation … but you won’t find one that gives China the shadow of a justification for its claims. Try England and USA 55 years after US independence. Try Portugal and Brazil 55 years after Brazil broke away from the motherland. Oh, you want one where the territories are closer together? (not that it makes any difference). Try Turkey and any of the territories of the Ottoman Empire not currently within Turkish borders. Now I come to think about it, Russia has a far better claim to Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania than China does to Taiwan, and I’d say a claim that is about equal for Finland. Since the Chinese are fond of saying that the length of time they have been separated is immaterial, I think that allows me to include such claims as Norway’s to Sweden, not to mention Sweden’s to Norway. England to France, and France to England. Austria to much of the Balkans. And in the Balkans … well, they actually come pretty close to applying China’s standards for historical claims … that’s why they’ve been so mad keen to kill and “ethnically cleanse” each other. Needless to say, it’s obvious to all concerned that any of these claims are rubbish. So what makes the China-Taiwan case special? Nothing, except China is big and powerful and squeels like a stuck pig every time someone dares to question it.

Jacky, I know I’m being insulting in this post … most of the time I’ve found your posts to be interesting and informed, and even when I’ve been strongly disagreeing with you, I have nevertheless respected you and your views. But this time? What you have written is just too silly … virtually all your points seem to support my argument … that England would be more (not less) justified in attacking Australia (in the event of a declaration of independence) than China attacking Taiwan. Of course, the point I am making is that it’s just silly to suggest that England has any right to attack Australia … and the same applies to China and Taiwan.

August 4, 2004 @ 12:37 am | Comment

I agree with “Filthy’s” point of view.

There are other examples like England and India, India and Pakistan,two koreas..(should they all be “reunited”? I don’t think so), they can not claim one another’s territory either, though they may have more justification than China has over Taiwan.
Parts of India were overrun by the Aryans and later occupied or controlled by various powers, including the Moguls, European states, and local nawabs and rajahs. The British finally assumed authority over “the Jewel in the Crown” in 1857, although Queen Victoria did not assume the title of empress until 1876. In the 20th century increasing unrest led to Britain’s withdrawal and independence for the country (1947).

Pakisatan,after being conquered by numerous rulers and powers, it passed to the British as part of India and became a separate Moslem state in 1947. The country originally included what is now Bangladesh, which declared its independence in 1971.

PS: I have to admit I got most of the above “facts” from a dictionary, as English is my second language and I can’t write an article that is readable,unlike most of the people here,I can only use rudimentary writing and copying, forgive me.

August 4, 2004 @ 6:56 am | Comment


August 5, 2004 @ 12:53 am | Comment

Testing again

August 5, 2004 @ 4:27 am | Comment

Testing with more sentences – the quick brown fox jumps over the Taiwan Straits.

The lazy old dog blah blah blah

Tetsing testing testing

August 5, 2004 @ 4:40 am | Comment


Don’t worry about insults – you know, sticks and stones stuff – that I can tolerate/absorb. But non-facts and the illogic of arguments deserve some cruel pummelling. Standby for incoming!

Your fatal error was in not discerning the difference between the England-Australia relationships against that of China-Taiwan (or Australia-Tasmania).

Therein, you failed to acknowledge that the relationship in the 1st group was between a colonial power and a colony. The Brits had 3 classes of colonies, ranging from ‘Crown’, where they did everything themselves, telling the natives to shut up, to one where Mum-country exercised only veto powers on any local legislation or decision.

A colony might wish to break free of the colonial yokel – she achieved this through a number of means:
(1) Acceptance by the colonial master that she is of age to be independent, like the case of Australia (being of the same ethnic/political stock helped, though not always)
(2) Through peaceful negotiations as in the case of Malaya/Malaysia (promise of the locals not to nationalize British assets helped)
(3) SELF declaration of independence (UDI) as had happened in Rhodesia-now-Zimbabwe (again the same ethnic stock and political sympathy ameliorated the usual and expected retribution of a colonial master in an UDI)
(Note: I substituted SELF for a U-word that’s the opposite of ‘multilateral’, because the U-word contains a set of letters that had blocked my posting for the last 2 days – Thanks Richard)
(4) Passive resistance a la the Gandhi approach (they weren’t going to get anything useful or workable out of the colony then, apart from the fact that Britain was still licking her wounds and attempting to recover in that immediate period after WW II), or
(5) Very violent fight for independence as was conducted by Jomo Kenyatta and Menachem Begin (terrorist to the Brits but freedom fighters to their people – rings a bell today?).

That was what happened between England (Britain), a colonial master and her various colonies.

You mentioned that England has a right to attack and invade her colony Australia (hypothetically speaking of course). Balderdash once again – she didn’t/doesn’t have a RIGHT, though she certainly would attempt do so if she had been reluctant to “let go”. Remember the case of the 2 Georges? – King George III and a man named George Washington (in that case, same ethnic stock didn’t help).

I did not want to BS that there was a specific date of Australia independence because there is none, even though Australia celebrates her National Day on 26 January. The lack of a precise date has been one of those English quirks, where Britain doesn’t even have a written Constitution, codified set of laws or a National Day. Australia as a former British colony and sharing the same political ideology (Westminster parliamentary system) has inherited this English peculiarity.

Nevertheless, by 1901, Australia was on its own, standing as a sovereign nation, represented on the world stage as an individual political entity that was different from Britain. She slowly shrugged off all the emotional apron strings as the years went by. Some say that the Australian battle experience at Gallipoli in WW I gave Australia the soul of a sovereign nation, though I reckon Britain’s economic and commercial abandonment of Australia and NZ when she joined the European Common Market was the watershed for the two younger nations – Mum wasn’t going to buy their butter and lamb chops anymore so bugger her, cause she’s no longer Mum).

Australia as a sovereign nation is witnessed, for example, by her participation as a member of the 1944 Chicago Convention on Aviation and thus an original/founding member of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). For the last 100 years, she is Australia and her people are Australians. An indication of her sovereignty and independence had been her decision to join the US in Vietnam even though Britain did not. Unlike a colony tied to Mum’s apron strings, she equipped/equips her military not with the obligatory British gear, but instead with French (Mirage III aircraft) and US arms (F-18, Orions, F-111 etc). She buys stuff based on the competitive quality rather than, as mentioned, the mandatory loyalty to the colonial master.

That has been my point. In the world there is a sovereign Australia. She is not part of Britain, which is a different nation altogether. Whereas, there is only One China. And that’s acknowledged not only by world, UN, US but in fact by the PRC and ROC themselves.

Thus, your argument has collapsed rather easily like a house of cards.

Apart from the stark geographical proximity, the history of the Taiwan Island has never shown China and Taiwan having that relationship of master empire and colony. They are one and the same China, separated for the last 50 years not so much by the Taiwan Straits but more by irreconcilable ideologies – like the Communist Party of Malaya against the Malayan (now Malaysia) political parties – neither had ever claimed to be representing separate sovereign nations.

Both sides of the Straits have claimed legal leadership of one China. Both have taken turns to sit on each of the 2 sides of the divide.

Since the 6th Century there had been Chinese settlers on the Island. While there have been claims that many of these were criminals, pirates or refugees from the Chinese imperial govt, they were nonetheless Chinese who resided there.

Gavin Menzies wrote the best seller “1421 – The Year China Discovered the World” when a mighty Chinese armada circum-navigated the globe, years ahead of some better known Portuguese sailors/explorers such as Vasco da Gama, Magellan, Alphonso d’Albuquerque. After all, this shouldn’t be so strange as the Chinese were the first to invent or develop the compass, ship rudder, watertight hulls and sophisticated sails on multiple-masts ships. [Unfortunately, their nautical expertise eventually petered out over the centuries to just coastal capabilities – problem of the “Centre of the World’s” arrogance and inward looking policies]

It is therefore inconceivable that, given the nautical power and tradition then, the mainland Chinese in their teeming millions (even in those days) did not sail across the narrow Straits to Taiwan to explore, exploit, and settle there.

350 years ago when the Dutch occupied Taiwan-Formosa they did so from a treaty with the Chinese govt – what does this indicate insofar as the ownership of the island was concerned?

Zheng Chenggong, better known as Koxinga, subsequently kicked them out. Thus China reasserted ownership of the island. Following this, there were significant movements of Chinese settlers to the island.

Then in latter years, the very fact that China ceded the island to Japan indicates that the island had belonged to China before she had to surrender the isle under duress. The property was returned to China after the defeat of Japan, and rightfully so in the eyes of the world.

Filthy, even in your posting you grudgingly acknowledged that there had been further Chinese movement to the island, though you tried to brush this off by saying Ming refugees don’t count. They ran there because there were sympathetic Chinese settlements loyal to the House of Ming and willing to accommodate them. Come, come, you were really stretching and being desperate when you have to discard facts not in your favour.

Most irrefutable of all has been the acknowledgement and indeed claim by the ROC govt on the Island that there is only ‘One China’. Thus, your comparison of China-Taiwan with a colonial master/power and her colony (like England-Australia) has been utterly faulty and riddled with non-facts.

Basically, you have suffered from ‘capture’ hangover (or a prejudiced state of mind) – you have been, maybe still are, ‘captured’ completely by your bias against China and wish/preference for Taiwan to have no such historical inclusion within the Chinese Empire. It’s one thing to be sympathetic to a cause but another entirely to distort history.

Sorry to disabuse you of your dream notion with plain cold facts.

That Chen and the DPP want to turn away from the ‘One China’ policy because the ROC now sits on the unfavourable side of the fence, and Taiwan has been getting the wrong end of the stick (which, if I may add, she had frequently used to poke at the Mainland in the earlier pariah days of the PRC) does not mean that Taiwan has not been or is not China, or that the historical record can be automatically and conveniently revised to support their wish.

Whether she can eventually become independent is another issue, which I am personally NOT against. I have always upheld two points – the historical truth of the relationship, and the fact that Chen’s timing to be provocative right now is damn lousy and damaging to the Chinese people on both sides of the Straits. Yes, the fact remains that Chen is actively advocating secession, and how that has been viewed by a still-under-confident but blustering China is the current problem.

Chen is not Jomo Kenyatta, Menachem Begin, Mahatma ‘Mohandas’ Gandhi or George Washington fighting to free themselves and their settlements from a colonial power. Unlike KMT leaders, he is saying, “I don’t want to be China or part of her anymore, cause I don’t have even a snowflake’s chance in hell of ever assuming leadership of the Chinese Empire”.

Thus, he pushes his personal agenda on the basis of ideological differences, that he is Taiwanese rather than Chinese and that there is a 100-mile span of water between the mainland and Taiwan (What about Hainan then?). He appeals to both pro-Taiwan and anti-China lobby groups within the US, and tries to manoeuvre and manipulate the US govt towards his desired directions.

The case of Taiwan wanting to secede from China can be illustrated by a Tasmania wanting to do the same from Australia. Tasmania is an intrinsic part of Australia as Taiwan is of China.

Your argument that “If Tasmania had a separate government, no direct transport links with Australia, and had been like that since 1949 … well then, you might have a point” is worse than feeble for you have based your entire case solely on the Taiwan picture – remember what I said about your ‘capture’ hangover. There can be no more striking example of your ‘capture’ problem (or political proclivity) than this statement.

There have been different reasons for secession – violent ones like Serbia-Kosovo or peaceful ones like Czech-Slovakia. That’s why I provided a hypothetical case of an Islamic Tasmania wishing to secede from a Christian Australia, presenting a notional situation of irreconcilability.

As wannabe secessionists, Chen and his party aren’t even like the Kosovo people – the Taiwan case lacks the ethnic cleansing tragedy to justify world intervention, though he certainly hopes by provoking China into the unthinkable, he may get his wish.

Your ‘capture’ error has been further reflected in your continued insistence that Elizabeth Windsor is the Queen of England with respect to Australia. She is not! Liz Windsor wears two different hats – one as Queen of England that has nothing to do with Australia, and the other as Queen of Australia as the constitutional Head of State, but without any power or any linkage to Britain’s govt.

That’s why I wrote that the Aussies have been joking about recruiting a real Aussie girl, Mary MacDonald to be Queen of Aus when she becomes Queen of Denmark – she can be the one to wear the 2 hats because what does it matter whether Australia borrows a royalty from Britain, a foreigner, or one from Denmark, who happens to be born and bred an Aussie.

Your argument “Taiwan recognises nothing about PRC” is undeniably wrong, as the ROC also has a “One China” policy that of course had envisaged the Island’s politicians ruling China one day. That Chen realizes the near impossibility of this dream and wants to abandon it does not hide that fact of the historical ‘One China’ policy and fact.

Sorry once again, Filthy, your points have been more emotional than factual.

August 5, 2004 @ 6:15 pm | Comment

I feel the comparison still applies.
Hong Kong has been handed from one colonial ruler to another.

August 5, 2004 @ 9:27 pm | Comment


Feeling about something is one thing and no one has any right to stop you.

But historical facts are historical facts – HK island was ripped from China under unequal treaty when the world’s first drug cartel, backed by the most powerful navy in the world at that time, the Royal Navy, was shoving Bengali opium from British India down China’s throat, and needed a permanent Chinese base. After the 1st Opium War, HK was ceded to the all powerful British in 1842. Kowloon followed next into British hands in 1860 after the 2nd Opium War. 40 years later the Chinese had to ‘lease’ the NT to Britain for 99 years.

Visualize if you would, the USA ceding the Florida Keys and Miami to the Columbian govt/military/cocaine cartel after the 1st and 2nd Cocaine War, and leasing to the drug conglomerate the State of Florida. To add insult to injury, visualize also the Head of DEA being beheaded for daring to burn Columbian cocaine stockpiles illegally stashed at Miami.

Margaret Thatcher and Deng finalized a deal in 1984 where HK would be returned to China. Certainly Britain was a colonial power but to insist that China is too with regards to HK is to ignore history and facts.

On another but associated matter, I have been very cynical about Chris Pattern’s motive in his “efforts” to introduce “democracy” in HK. AS 1997 approached, the world was looking to see how Britain would “look after” her nationals. Many knew Pattern had been sent to HK with a secret agenda, to rid Britain of her responsibility towards her 6 million British subjects there, by selling them the idea of a free and independent HK. It was a very cruel trick to foist unrealistic and false expectations on 6 million desperate people.

Around that time, British citizenship and entry laws were also amended to deny those British subjects right of entry to Britain. But after 1997 when China took over HK including the 6 million people, the same British laws were re-amended to permit British subjects in places like the Falklands and other Caribbean islands the right that was denied to the HK people.

August 5, 2004 @ 11:09 pm | Comment

The ” historical ‘One China’ policy and fact” is most likely out of the fear of PRC’s power.

I thought Chen has said myriad times “one country on each side”.

“President Chen, after assuming the Democratic Progressive Party Chairmanship in July 2002, appears to be rhetorically moving to a somewhat less ambiguous policy, and stated in early August 2002 that “it is clear that both sides of the straits are separate countries.” This statement was strongly criticized by opposition pan-blue coalition parties on Taiwan, which support the one-China policy, but oppose defining this “one-China” as the PRC.

The One China policy became an issue during the 2004 ROC Presidential election. Chen Shui-bian abandoned his earlier ambiguity and has publicly rejected the one China policy. His opponent Lien Chan has publicly supported a policy of “one China, different interpretations,” as done in 1992, by which the PRC and ROC would each agree that there is one China, but DISAGREE as to whether that China is the People’s Republic of China or the Republic of China. ”

August 6, 2004 @ 12:38 am | Comment

The ” historical ‘One China’ policy and fact” is most likely out of the fear of PRC’s power.”???

I don’t think so 🙂

Even the ROC agrees to that consistently for the last 50 years, perhaps tweaking the policy here and there a wee bit. The KMT of course had (have?) dreams of reoccupying the mainland and relive their former power, otherwise why would they stay on hopeful course for half a century?

Of course Chen would say what he wants, but that doesn’t make him right – it just makes him more realistic. He realizes the near impossibility of the KMT’s dream, regardless of whether the CCP disappears from the face of the earth or not.

August 6, 2004 @ 5:08 am | Comment

Thanks you for the reply, I really enjoy your(and all of you guys’) discussions, though my English is too lamb too make any substantial debate, the feeling of participation is great.

As a Malaysian I should say Taiwan’s political future is none of my business, but I real don’t like Taiwan be “liberated” by China as long as CCP is in power. I mean, even if there are historical reason for China to unify Taiwan, in this 21 century, democracy and human right are more important. I know it’s against your national interests, but if you really see them as your fellowcountrymen, you know. There are so many mainland Chinese are suffering from the CCP government, I really think they are the ones who should be liberated, embrace freedom and democracy and lawful governing.
I really have no offence , if my countrymen are suffering from the government, I wouldn’t care about one part of the country wants to go independent or escape to other country. Of course I have to say my opinion is biased as I have been brainwashed by western media all my life. I have lived in China for four years though.
Again, no offence,I hope you don’t mind, afterall, it’s just my own opinion. I won’t post on this thread anymore though, I really can’t write a readable debate. Take care. 🙂

August 6, 2004 @ 10:08 am | Comment

passer by,

Communist Party, Kuomingtang, Manchu, Ming, Ching, DPP, whatever, they come and go. Maybe China in the future will be truly democratic. Maybe Taiwan will be an independent nation.

Who knows?

Only China the country, like Rome, is eternal!

August 6, 2004 @ 7:42 pm | Comment

passer by,
i wouldn’t be embarassed about your english, i think you express yourself well. i appreciate your reasonable and moving way of making your point.

August 8, 2004 @ 7:35 pm | Comment

I agree with Kevin; your English is excellent and yyou express your points well.

August 8, 2004 @ 7:37 pm | Comment

Assalam Alaikum.

In the name of Allah the most merciful the most magnificent.

I have been in the most miserable and terrifying state since the beginning of this year and am looking for any one who can assist me get out of this quagmire. My husband Majid Fizi a Muslim by faith has been leaving in a place called Pomeroy of south Tasmania Lot 63 for one year. I lost contact with him since January 2005 and had no permanent address the last time he wrote he said he was very sick. Am worried about his whereabouts. He had told me that he had been calling Adhan in a small mosque in the same area. He also told me that he had a friend by the name Sheikh Badat. If you can please locate the contact for the Imam of this small mosque or Sheikh Badat they might be in a position to tell me his whereabouts. Am worried about his safety. I leave in Nairobi Kenya (Africa) I have two children who are also very worried about their Dad. You may also contact Imam Salim Juma through this E-mail for clarification.

Waalahu fi aunil abdi maka nal abdi fi auni akhihi.

. . Allah, protect and help those in surrender striving in the way of Allah.
. . Allah, place Your justice on those who are denied it and place Your remembrance on all Muslims.

April 15, 2005 @ 8:11 am | Comment

I hate the Chinese Communist Party!!!! The fucking Dictators!!!!!!!!

June 2, 2005 @ 3:11 pm | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.