Inevitable calamity as China faces off against Japan, US and Taiwan?

A commenter directed me to Philip Bowring’s excellent article about China’s apoplexy over the Taiwan unification issue, and why, if China refuses to broaden its thinking, there will be an inevitable clash.

While Japan and the United States remain in principle committed to One China, emphasis on peaceful resolution inevitably means that unification can only come about when the people of Taiwan consider the price of de facto independence too high. That is clearly a long way off so long as either Japan or the United States is willing and able to prevent unification by force.

China has predictably reacted by denouncing the statement as interfering in China’s internal affairs – which, from Beijing’s perspective, it undoubtedly is. The question is how far China is now prepared to go in risking upsetting relations with the United States and Japan in pursuit of its nationalistic agenda.

The joint statement must be viewed against the background of increasing Japanese concerns at China’s strategic arms development and its military build-up opposite Taiwan. Indeed, as Japan emerges from hiding behind the skirts of U.S. power in the western Pacific, it may in time become the most important determining factor in the Taiwan strait equation. Japan already has a formidable navy and increasing military spending is clearly aimed at countering any attempt by China to control the vital sea lanes, the Luzon and Taiwan straits, into and through the South China Sea.

The Japanese are keenly aware that Taiwan lies as close to Japan’s southernmost Ryukyu Island as it does to mainland China, and is even closer to the northernmost Philippine islands. They also fret at China’s so-called “historic” claim to almost the whole South China Sea and its reefs and islands despite the size of the sea and the existence of other littoral states – Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia. Meanwhile, Japan and China are also at loggerheads over their seabed demarcation in the East China Sea, where there are also hopes for hydrocarbons.

Then the writer brings up a point raised in earlier posts by Jerome Keating, and one that always seems to elicit strong opinions.

As for mainland Chinese, they often prefer to forget that Taiwan was only settled by ethnic Chinese after the arrival of the Dutch in the 16th century, and that its current prosperity owes much to the education and infrastructure it received during 50 years of Japanese rule. China’s leaders in the past have not always given unification with Taiwan high priority. For Mao, it mattered because his enemies, the United States and Chiang Kai-shek, were there. For Deng Xiaoping, it was an issue to be resolved by history.

Unification should not be allowed to get in the way of China’s modernization and economic growth. But if now it is to be se seen as a symbol of that modernization, the fruit of economic and military power, a clash with the strategic interests of others is inevitable.

Reading the article, one walks away with the distinct impression that China is in the weakest position, still dependent on US and Japanese markets and in no position to discourage foreign investment. China’s also in a tougher spot, he says, because it’s been ineffectual in helping us negotiate with North Korea, making the US less dependent on the them.

Bowring warns that Europe should watch the unfolding situation carefully, as it indiates “the commercial benefits of advanced weapons sales to China carry long-term risks. For myopic Europe, Taiwan may be a small and distant place, but it has the potential to be the pivot of East Asian power relationships.”

The Discussion: 27 Comments

Taiwan was only settled by ethnic Chinese after the arrival of the Dutch in the 16th century

These writers really need to do better fact checking. The Ming dynasty may not had much control over Taiwan before Koxinga kicked out the Dutch, but there were plenty of Han Chinese living on the island at the time of the arrival of the Portugese (who preceded the Dutch).

February 22, 2005 @ 7:21 pm | Comment


I was surprised that you think that such article is brilliant. It is dangerous and blind adventurism on the part of Washington and Tokyo to declare Taiwan as their common strategic interest.

The Taiwan Straits is the most dangerous flashpoint in the Asia Pacific region and indeed in the Chinese context, an internal affair of the Chinese nation. In the first place the US and Japan had no right at all to be in the picture. In fact, Japan is the pretentious criminal here, she forgotten that she had stolen Taiwan from China in 1895 with the infamous and unequal Treaty of Shimonoseki, which marked the start of her imperialist campaigns on the Chinese nation right till 1945. So on what moral grounds does Tokyo has to poke her nose in cross-straits relations?

I long suspected that Tokyo’s strategic agenda was to undermine and split China. Japan has always regarded China as a long time foe and adversary in the East Asian region. With Korea being more inclined to China rather than Japan, she even felt more threatened and it seems there is no way to outlast the huge resources of the Chinese nation. So ultimately, Japan’s way to counter and contain China is to encourage splits and divisions within the Chinese themselves.

As the far-right, ultra-nationalist Tokyo governor Shintaro Ishihara once said that China is a giant empire that should be broken up into pieces and together with Japan’s recent comment on Taiwan, I have no doubt about the hideous intentions of Japan towards China. Tokyo definitely want to see a repeat of the collapse of China like that of the former USSR so that she could reassert her hegemonic position in Asia.

So you and the rest have been telling us to forgive Japan? Before Tokyo has exorcised the ghosts of the past, she had already embarked on another campaign to undermine China.

And please do not blame China for North Korea’s recent belligerence. It is just that the US is simply incompetent in dealing with Pyongyang. Note that only Beijing can exert pressure on Kim to talk, so Japan and the US should keep to their side on the bargain on Taiwan before they expect Beijing to push Pyongyang to soften her stance.

February 23, 2005 @ 5:51 am | Comment

I believe Hui Mao stated the same thing earlier in a comment about Jerome Keatings offering on the subject.

I have questions for him on this.

Are there any sources you know about (preferably in English and not Chinese research material) that make the claim you assert, i.e., Taiwan was inhabited in substantial numbers by Han Chinese before the Portugues gained control of Taiwan?

When you say there were plenty of Han Chinese on Taiwan when the Portugues came, do you mean as a result of the Portugues going to Taiwan or prior to that?

Were these Han Chinese in control of Taiwan? If in control, was it in the name of “Zhonghua” or in the name of the existing dynasty (I am a little short on Chinese history)?

Did the Han out populate Taiwan at that time over the indigenous population?

Did these Han people claim soverignty over Taiwan?

I don’t expect Mr. Hui to research all of this, but if he has some knowledge along these lines it would be good of him to comment on my questions. This is the type of information I would like to know if I were to have a vote on whether China should have sovreignty of Taiwan.

On another threat the other day, I suggested it might be beneficial for Taiwan to allow non Chinese (Han) to immigrate to Taiwan, so the population would not be by a large majority Han. Then it would be harder for BJ to claim it represents all of the population of Taiwan as Chinese compatriots.

February 23, 2005 @ 6:02 am | Comment


And yes about the lifting of the EU arms embargo on China. The US objection is just plain hypocritical and fallacious. They say that it would unfavourably altered the strategic balance in the Taiwan Straits. But Taipei’s proposal for large scale arms purchase from the US seems to be entirely erased off the mind of the US. Never mind that it would embolden the DPP government and further encouraged Chen Shui Bian’s lurch towards a formal break with China.

Th US herself had sold arms to “outposts of tyranny” like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan. Washington should just shut her trap and stop telling others what to do. We are sick of Yankee paternalism.

February 23, 2005 @ 6:02 am | Comment

The balance of power in the Taiwan straits has in my opinion has always been an insulting mockery. Why exactly should mainland China be beholden to Taiwan, a renegade province of 22 million? Military parity, as much as it still exists today, should not exist at all.

As for the Chineseness of Taiwan, the author of this article simply echoes other Taidu separatist monkies in their cries to desinicize Taiwan. It is all part of a broad agenda to manufacture a new historical reality to provide ideological grounding for splittism.

February 23, 2005 @ 1:16 pm | Comment

“Taiwan was only settled by ethnic Chinese after the arrival of the Dutch in the 16th century”

Yeah? So? More than 400 years, correcto? And…that’s not long enough?

“As for mainland Chinese, they often prefer to forget that Taiwan was only settled by ethnic Chinese after the arrival of the Dutch in the 16th century, and that its current prosperity owes much to the education and infrastructure it received during 50 years of Japanese rule.”

As for people like the author, they often prefer to forget that Taiwan was never settled by ethnic whatever they are, and probably will never be for a few thousand years, and the current prosperity owes nothing to the deligent effort of the Taiwanese.

I don’t know what the point of this article is, but I’m sure people from both sides of the straits have a good enough reason so slap this stinking mouth.

February 23, 2005 @ 3:18 pm | Comment

Tetsu, if it’s in the International Herald Tribune, it must be true. It’s owned by the NY Times, which is never wrong.

February 23, 2005 @ 3:24 pm | Comment

And sp, I agre about the US hypocrisy when it comes to arms sales. But I still think the EU ban should remain.

February 23, 2005 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

pete, I don’t understand what you mean by sending in other Chinese, as China would place as much a claim if its Han Chinese or any of the other 55 nationalities. Plus, it would caue major problems on Taiwan as they have problems with difference between Han and the “indigenous” people.

Any real bust-up over Taiwan won’t be benificial for ANYBODY. It will have unbelievably damaging consequences to the US and Japanese economy (and of course China itself). A blow to the Chinese economy would be accepted by the populace if Taiwan was regained, but I don’t know if there would be popular support in the US for such a move. Let us hope that it will never come to this…

February 23, 2005 @ 4:15 pm | Comment

I don’t think that the distant past means much. I think what really matters is what most of the people in Taiwan think about the issue. (And it seems that even they are split.) Everyone born in Taiwan grew up without the Mainland Chinese government in their lives. They have never been exposed to it, and thus, it should not have anything to do with them. I believe that if Taiwan could gain independence right now without a war, it would do so in a heartbeat. And I believe that you should do what the people want. China, like the Soviet Union before it, is a hypocrite, because while it points its finger at imperialist countries, it has its own colonies, or would-be colonies. The only difference is that it incorporates those colonies into itself so they are not called colonies but rather “autonomous regions” or something like that. Tibet should have never been part of China because its people didn’t want to be part of China. Most (though not all) Taiwanese people don’t want to be part of China, either. So let the people decide. If you don’t do that, you are merely being nationalist and don’t care about the feelings of the people who actually live in that area.

February 23, 2005 @ 5:56 pm | Comment


As for a new historical reality, mainland New China government is infamous for its internal immigration of HAN people to Tibet and Xinjiang to establish its ruling power over those areas in fact by Hans. How is this different from the Taiwan government allowing immigration to Taiwan to change the racial mix and national backgrounds to furter its aim of being independent of the CPC and the mainland government? The CPC rests its assertion of authority over the mainland by force and power (which you can see on the streets daily if you look carefully, seeing the military and police vehicles asserting the vehicles’ rights of way against all traffic and rules of the road daily and in any city in China), not by the rule of all the people. Taiwan has change its approach to governance to one that is more open and democratic.

I don’t at all mean sending other nonHan Chinese to Taiwan, but to allow other peoples, from the Philippines, from the Americas, from Africa and others countries from where people would voluntarily want to go to Taiwan.

I am still looking for a response from Hui Mao to my earlier questions. I ask him again if he can provide some enlightenment or if any reader here can provide any information regarding my questions above. I think the discussion should be based on true historical facts, not on myths or wished for facts to support the national/CPC agenda.

February 23, 2005 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

Pete, if you’re interested in the pre-WWII history of Taiwan, there’s a pretty good summary here:

As it says, there was Chinese immigration from ~12th Century, but it was pretty small scale until the Dutch arrived.

Incidentally, I’m not sure that your plan to open up one of the most overpopulated places on the planet to random immigration is such a great idea … that said, nowadays about 10% of all marriages on Taiwan involve non-ethnic Chinese (mainly Vietnamese/Philippine brides).

February 23, 2005 @ 7:52 pm | Comment

Thanks David.

The idea for a population inflow to Taiwan is a bit tongue-in-cheek.

February 23, 2005 @ 10:28 pm | Comment

In a discussion that has featured such insightful tidbits as “separatist monkies” (sic) and “slap his stinking mouth,” I’m suprised that people have not spent more time on the Japanese side of this whole business. Bowring alludes — too briefly, perhaps — to Tokyo’s increasing assertiveness. As someone who knows next-to-nothing about East Asia, I’d like to hear what people think of the possible implications of Japanese power not only for China and Taiwan, but also for the Koreas and the United States?


during Wen Jiabao’s visit to the White House on December 9th, 2003, Bush said the following:

“We oppose any unilateral decision by either China or Taiwan to change the status quo. And the comments and actions made by the leader of Taiwan indicate that he may be willing to make decisions unilaterally that change the status quo which we oppose.”

I haven’t heard anything to suggest the US position has changed in that regard. How do you read the Japan-US declaration as an encouragement to Chen Shui-bian to declare Taiwanese independence? The US has always said China and Taiwan should resolve their differences. But does that mean we have to let an authoritarian government threaten a democratic one?

February 24, 2005 @ 8:36 am | Comment

Pete when I refer to manufacturing a new historical reality, I don’t mean changing the ethnic composition of Taiwan. What I mean is Taidu separatists reinterpreting history in tortuos ways. Case in point, the stressing of a contemporary multi-cultural society by citing the influences of the Dutch and Portugese. (Which today amount to jack squat. I’ve even had one separatist tell me that 87% of Taiwanese are multi-ethnic descendants of Dutch, Portugese, and Japanese)

As for entertaining the idea of migration into Taiwan, this is completly unrealistic. The Taiwanese are more xenophobic and racist than their mainland counterparts and operate under siege mentality. The economic immigrants from poorer countries already on the island are treated little better third class citizens if that.

As for Orson Mcbain’s about the question of Japanese power, I think people overestimate the Japanese ability to act. To be blunt, all this talk of a new Japanese assertiveness is in my opinion a lot of hot wind because I believe that Japan would never act on major foreign policy initiatives except in tandem and supporting the U.S.

February 24, 2005 @ 9:13 am | Comment

Asia by Blog

Asia by Blog is a twice weekly feature providing links to Asian blogs and their views on the news in this fascinating region. Previous editions can be found here. This edition contains a funny Singaporean morning show, repopulating Hong Kong, reverse o…

February 25, 2005 @ 12:47 am | Comment

Another View on China, Japan, Taiwan and the US

Interesting read: The Peking Duck: Inevitable calamity as China faces off against Japan, US and Taiwan? (read the comments, too).

February 25, 2005 @ 10:28 am | Comment

An interesting article on NYTimes today.

” Taiwan Open for Unification With China

Published: February 24, 2005

Filed at 2:52 a.m. ET

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian told an opposition leader Thursday that he would not shut the door on eventual unification with rival China if Beijing expressed goodwill.

Chen and People First Party Chairman James Soong signed a joint declaration at the end of the meeting, their first formal talks since Oct. 2000. Chen has been hoping to smooth over differences with Soong because his PFP is a key partner in an opposition alliance that controls the majority in the legislature.

The two leaders have held widely diverging views on how to handle China, which claims the self-ruled island is part of its territory and threatens to go to war if Taipei declares formal independence.

Soong has accused Chen of lacking a consistent China policy and of provoking Beijing, while the president has accused the opposition of being too accommodating toward the communist giant.

But in their joint declaration, they promised that they would “not rule out the possibility of any model of relationship evolving on the basis of goodwill.”

Chen repeated previous assurances that he would not declare independence, change the island’s official name of “Republic of China,” nor hold any referendums on those issues during his term, which ends in May 2008.

Chen’s more ardent supporters want to drop the reference to China in the island’s name, a move likely to provoke China.

Soong welcomed the president’s stance in favor of the status quo, but still rejected Chen’s supporters’ enthusiasm for independence.

“The Republic of China is our biggest point of agreement,” Soong said. “Taiwan independence will only bring war and disaster, so it’s not a political choice,” he said.

The two politicians also promised to cooperate on the restoration of full direct links with China. Taiwan temporarily ended a 56-year-old ban on direct passenger links with China to allow Taiwanese working on the mainland back for the Lunar New Year holiday over the past month.

Direct transport links were severed after the communists won a civil war and took over the mainland in 1949. Passengers have to stop at a third point, usually Hong Kong, before flying into Taiwan from the mainland.

Taiwan has expressed the hope that the experience gained by organizing the passenger flights could form the model for talks on having permanent cargo flights.

Chen and Soong’s PFP also differed over plans to buy arms from the United States worth $18 billion, but opposition lawmakers — and the PFP in particular — have held up a special budget for the weapons for months. They say that buying the submarines, Patriot missiles and anti-submarine planes could spark an arms race with China that would bankrupt Taiwan.

At the meeting, Soong recognized the need for a strong defense but indicated more negotiations were needed before his party could agree to the arms deal. ”

February 25, 2005 @ 4:41 pm | Comment

It was an odd article – saw it yesterday. The headline is quite misleading, making you think Chen has finally seen the error of his ways and is chomping at the bit to unify with the PRC. Not quite.

February 25, 2005 @ 4:51 pm | Comment

Chen is a pragmatist politician. I think he is trying to send mixed signal to the mainland, but the CCP didn’t help the moderates in Taiwan by remaining stern. The harsh rhetorics against Clinton’s visit to Taiwan and Taipei mayor visiting South Korea are counter-productive.

February 25, 2005 @ 6:01 pm | Comment

Actually, the article is not odd at all. While “independence” remains a part of the DPP platform, members of the DPP have repeatedly stated that they would defend unification if China underwent a true political transformation and if the Taiwanese people supported it. This is not the first time the DPP has taked about unification “under the right circumstances.”

Regardless, those who are truly familiar with Taiwan understand this for what it is. Chen does not have a legislative majority. Soong is the head of a mainland-sympathizing party that is increasingly marginalized due to the evolving attitudes of the Taiwanese who don’t understand his views. In short, they need each other. There has been much talk about this in Taiwan. Many suspect Soong will give support to weapons purchases in the next legislative term. Why? Because the People’s First Party risks a complete eclipse by the KMT….which in itself has been vastly changed by the success of the DPP. Remember…in these talks between Soong and Chen, they both agreed that maintaining a strong defense against China was necessary.

Soong knows his party is doomed unless it can make a stand against the KMT and DPP together. He is creating a niche for his party. Chen and the more rational DPP members know that they can only benefit from compromise short of dropping their demands for independence. Chen is a smart guy. Believe me…he knws very well what he is doing.

The talks between them will help both parties. The DPP stands to gain more Taiwanese moderates….thus reduce the power of the KMT in future elections. The PFP stands to maintain a separation from the KMT…thus maintaining its existance as a separate political party that would otherwise disappear due to lack of support. (No, there really is not a big support base for unification in Taiwan…Sorry mainlanders…it does not exist no matter how you rant! Soong knows this as well…his political party is in danger of disappearing. Actually, in this last legislative election, despite the conservation of an overall legislative majority by a slim margin as a whole by the pan-blues, the biggest loser of seats was who? Yes…the PFP…James Soong’s pro-unification party–if you don’t believe me, check the results. There is no shock there since there is little love for the idea of unification in Taiwan.).

The result can only be beneficial for the DPP. Sure Soong’s party will survive, but the more moderates the DPP wins over, the more they will dominate the legislature. And despite what many in the media have said, the recent legislative election, while not the victory the DPP had hoped for, was not a total setback. They still gained seats despite a massive campaign directed by the pan-blue camp…just as they have done in every legislative election since the political reformation.

In short…no the article is not bizarre. It is exactly what many here were expecting. In addition, for those who truly read Taiwanese news, this article was rather ho hum in the sense that this result was predictable. Look for more collaboration between these parties in the future. Both will gain from taking potshots at the KMT.

February 26, 2005 @ 1:41 pm | Comment

The island of Taiwan is an independent country. It is a self-governing modern capitalist democracy with a reasonable level of political freedom. This is reality that everyone knows, but is afraid to say for some reason.

I’m sure that a lot of people in Taiwan would wish to be re-united with China, much like the people of West Germany wished to be re-united with East Germany.

But you may have noticed, the people of the independent modern capitalist democracy of West Germany did not seek re-unification with the backwards communism dictatorship of East Germany until East Germany had a political reform.

I’m certain that when mainland China ends its period of being a dictatorship with limited political freedom, and eradicates the worst remaining elements of its previously communist economic infrastructure, Taiwan may very re-unite with it – if the Taiwanese people are not turned off by the beligerant war-mongering of mainland China.

I’m also sure that the people of the world who value political and economic freedom will help Taiwan maintain both, even if mainland China invades Taiwan.

February 26, 2005 @ 3:48 pm | Comment

Those last two commenters each get a gold star for intelligence and rationality. Thanks.

February 26, 2005 @ 3:53 pm | Comment

Nice point of view but obviously the best selling (right wing) Taipei Times disagree with you on Chen.

“President Chen betrayed the voters

By the Liberty Times editorial

Sunday, Feb 27, 2005,Page 8
As a result of the meeting between President Chen Shui-bian (’Â?…?G) and People First Party Chairman James Soong (‘v‘^àï), a joint statement containing ten points of consensus was signed by the two. Those ten points included accepting the definition of the country’s status in the Republic of China (ROC) Constitution and a reiteration by Chen of his “five noes” commitment. Acting in a manner suggesting willingness to engage in a heart-to-heart dialogue, President Chen even gave Soong a piece of paper with the word “sincerity” written in calligraphy. However, the so-called ten-point consensus was essentially a sharp blow for voters who elected Chen in this past presidential election. Now many of them may be asking this question — President Chen, where is your “sincerity” toward us?

Everyone ought to still remember that during the campaigns for presidential and legislative elections last year, President Chen loudly called for referendums, rectification of the names of Taiwan businesses and government offices abroad and the adoption of a new constitution — triggering much international concern as a result. Those voters who supported him knew perfectly well that such campaign promises cannot necessarily be implemented immediately. However, at least they believed in Chen’s determination to uphold Taiwan’s sovereignty and security. In a country where Taiwan consciousness heightens by the days, many so-called moderate voters naturally cast their votes for Chen and DPP legislators.

Unfortunately, after Chen’s successful re-election, and especially after his appointment of Frank Hsieh as the new premier, those campaign platforms were one by one labeled “controversial” and then swept under the rug. At the time, most people did no more than criticize Premier Hsieh for deferring discussions of issues such as name rectification and the adoption of a new constitution. Now people finally realize that these changes were closely linked with President Chen. Both Chen and Soong are happy with the ten-point consensus reached during their meeting. However, those people who support nativization are deeply disappointed.

Among the ten points, those related to the ROC Constitution and the commitment to not touch upon sovereignty and territorial issues in constitutional and political reforms have essentially sentenced Taiwan to death. Taiwan will continue to live under the shadow of the ROC Constitution, which was imposed by an alien regime. What a sad story for Taiwan’s democracy. As Premier Hsieh once indicated, the ROC Constitution recognizes “one China.” So long as Taiwan lives under this “one China” constitution, Taiwan remains vulnerable to to the People’s Republic of China’s “one China” principle. This also gives China even more justification for drafting its anti-secession law. Bluntly put, the conclusion reached between Chen and Soong will only make Taiwan’s survival in the international community even more difficult.

Pushing for cross-strait economic exchanges and direct cargo links — or even direct passenger links based on the charter flights during the Lunar New Year — will jeopardize Taiwan’s survival. In the past four years, Taiwan has eased restrictions on investment in China, intensifying the speed of the flow of capital and technology to China and giving rise to serious unemployment and other industrial problems. United Microelectronics Corp’s (—ü“d) alleged smuggling of investment and know-how into China indicates that the government lacks even a basic ability manage and control investments in China. Nor is it able to uphold the law. Under the circumstances, pushing for cross-strait economic and trade exchanges will only create even more serious problems. In addition, with comprehensive direct links, it would become even more convenient for Taiwan businesses to leave Taiwan. In the future, as vast numbers of people head to China for vacations, the nation’s service sector will probably have trouble just staying alive. All talks about increasing tourism will become a joke.

Ironically, the ten-point consensus went on to say that any change to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait will require the consensus of the 23 million people of Taiwan. However, the points regarding the ROC Constitution have already ordered euthanasia for Taiwan’s sovereignty, while those regarding cross-strait trade are euthanasia for Taiwan’s economy. Aren’t these all changes to the status quo in the Taiwan Strait? Have Chen and Soong asked for the consent of the 23 million people of Taiwan? In particular, the president did not even bother to check with the voters who elected him, let alone the 23 million people of Taiwan. How is this different from conning the voters? The level of popular support for the ten-point consensus will be reflected in future elections.

After the ten-point consensus was released, the PFP could barely hold back their smirks. Some PFP lawmakers said the ten-point consensus incorporates all the ideals of pan-blue voters. Other PFP lawmakers said that all ten points reflect genuine and pure pan-blue ideals. Soong even explicitly pointed out that Taiwan independence is not an option. In other words, the ten-point consensus signified President Chen’s surrender to the pan-blue camp and to China. Chen, who was elected by a majority of the people, has become the executor of the campaign platforms of his defeated election opponents. This is rarely seen in a democracy. No wonder everyone who support nativization feels enraged and is unable to understand Chen’s betrayal of his campaign platforms.

The ten-point consensus also raised the issue of easing ethnic rivalry and promoting ethnic harmony. This, of course, is laughable. Over the years, through marriages and other personal and business relationships across ethnic groups, so-called ethnic tension has long ceased to be a real issue. Ethnic frictions within society are not an issue at all. The so-called ethnic or racial problems nowadays are generated by politicians in order to further their own interests in elections or power struggles. In terms of this issue, both Chen and Soong have much self-examination to do.

In a nutshell, with the ten-point consensus, there seems to be no need for China to draft the “anti-secession law” anymore. The consensus between Chen and Soong is the equivalent of Taiwan’s own version of the “anti-secession law.” Now that President Chen has destroyed Taiwan’s sovereignty, why should China bother to dirty its own hands? Countries such as Japan and the US have taken a series of moves in recent days to caution China against playing with the fire by enacting its “anti-secession law.” However, the leader of this country has willingly accepted the curse of the “one China” constitution just because he needs a legislative majority and in order to facilitate the passage of bills.

According to the ten-point consensus, mutual peace is the supreme guiding principle in this phase of the cross-strait relationship. Peace is of course everyone’s hope. However, in order to pursue peace, embracing the “one China” constitution and freezing Taiwan’s sovereignty is extremely problematic. As pointed out by a declaration of the Taiwan Presbyterian Church, “inter-party negotiation and cooperation must be preconditioned on the independence of Taiwan’s sovereignty” and Taiwan should draft a “Taiwan and China Relations Act.” Therefore, the ten-point consensus is indeed very disappointing.

We would like to make a public appeal, as the Presbyterian Church had already done: As the leader of Taiwan — whose sovereignty awaits reinforcement — your inevitable fate is to face challenges and difficulties of all kinds. Nevertheless, President Chen, you should be strong and persevere in order to pass the test. Do not seek simply to peacefully complete your term. ”

February 27, 2005 @ 8:07 am | Comment

From Asia Times, a great article analyzing the Neo Cons/ Right wingers wet Dream~

“Cornering the dragon
By Conn Hallinan

(Posted with permission from Foreign Policy in Focus)

When newly appointed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) director Porter Goss recently warned that China’s modernization of its military posed a direct threat to the United States, was it standard budget time scare tactics, or did it signal the growing influence of hardliners in the administration of President Bush who want to “contain” China and reinstitute the Cold War in Asia?

A day later, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld delivered a similar message to the Senate Armed Services Committee. Rumsfeld claimed that within a decade the Chinese navy could surpass the US navy, and that China was “increasingly moving their navy further from shore”.

The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review will reportedly take a similarly alarmist view of China’s military.

The CIA and Pentagon assessments offer nothing particularly new in their military analysis of China. However, both specifically excluded any mention of US-China cooperation around North Korea or last year’s CIA analysis that growing economic ties between China and the US made military conflict less likely.

“It is a little surprising,” James Steinberg, former national security advisor in the (former president) Bill Clinton administration told the Financial Times, “that it [the CIA assessment] didn’t say anything about the enormous emphasis China places on a stable international environment and constructive relations with the US.”

But not so surprising if the long battle between those in the Republican Party who favor engagement with China has begun to tip in favor of those who advocate confrontation and encirclement.

As Nation defense correspondent and Hampshire College professor Michael Klare pointed out in 2001, this division in the Republican Party goes back to the earliest days of the Cold War. For some two decades the hardliners, with their close ties to Chang Kai-shek on Taiwan, dominated US-China policy. But lured by the potential of China’s markets, and anxious to widen the Sino-Soviet division, the engagement wing of the party seized the initiative with secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s trip to China in 1971, establishing relations with Beijing.

The old confrontationist “China lobby” was hardly dead, however. Using the immense wealth of the Scalife, Olin and Carthage foundations under the umbrella of the highly influential American Enterprise Institute (AEI), the “lobby” recruited a group of well-placed, powerful political figures.

AEI members include neo-conservative icons like Lynne Cheney, Charles Murry, Michael Novak, Irving Kristol, Ben Wattenberg, Frank Gaffney and Michael Ledeen. The AEI is closely aligned with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), the group that successfully lobbied for “regime change” in Iraq and argues that it is a strategic necessity for the US to control the world’s oil supplies.

PNAC, the brainchild of the AEI’s Kristol, includes among its members Vice President Dick Cheney, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, former State Department officials Richard Armitage and John Bolton, and other leading administration figures like Elliot Abrams, Richard Perle and Zalmay Khalilzad, presently US Ambassador to Afghanistan.

The confrontationists’ goals are much the same as they were in the opening years of the Cold War: ring China with military bases, support Taiwanese independence, and, in Kristol’s words, “Work for the fall of the Communist Party oligarchy in China.”

In short, corner the dragon.

Recent events suggest that the confrontationist wing is back in the driver’s seat.

Containment redux?
Goss’ and Rumsfeld’s characterization of China contradicts last year’s conclusions of the administration’s Independent Task Force on Chinese Military Power headed by former defense secretary Harold Brown and retired admiral Joseph Prueher. The panel found that while China is modernizing its military, it is 20 years behind the US and that “the balance between the United States and China, both globally and in Asia, is likely to remain decisively in America’s favor beyond the next 20 years”.

China’s military budget is less than one tenth that of the US and it does not have a massive arms industry, preferring to purchase submarines, destroyers, aircraft and high performance anti-aircraft missiles from Russia and Israel. In spite of Rumsfeld’s grim forecast, the Chinese navy is designed for defending its territorial waters, not projecting force elsewhere. While the US has a dozen aircraft carriers, China has one, and an old obsolete Soviet one at that.

While China has deployed large numbers of intermediate-range ballistic missiles facing Taiwan, most observers see this more as an attempt to intimidate the Taiwanese than as a prelude to invasion or a threat to US forces in the region. The missiles are far too inaccurate to pose a military threat, on top of which Taiwan has become so central to China’s economy that any actual attack on the island would be an act of economic suicide.

Jonathan Pollack, director of the Strategic Research Department of the US Naval War College, told The New York Times that while China did have the largest standing army in the world and was in the process of modernizing, “I don’t see these capabilities as the leading edge of a more comprehensive, long-term plan to either supplement US military power in the Western Pacific or challenge US power on a global scale,” adding, “Let’s not make them out to be 10 feet tall.”

The Bush administration has always had a somewhat schizophrenic approach to China, with one faction preaching engagement, the other confrontation. Early in his first term, Bush warned that the US would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan, changed the designation of China from “strategic partner” to “strategic competitor”, and initiated a campaign of aggressive military surveillance which ultimately led to the downing of a US Navy EP-3E spy plane on Hainan Island.

On the other hand, the administration has encouraged trade, welcomed China to the World Trade Organization, and up to recently, muted its rhetoric on Taiwan. Late last year, then secretary of state Colin Powell warned Taiwan not to seek independence and said that US policy favored its “peaceful reunification” with China.

Trade and Powell notwithstanding, however, any close examination of the administration’s actions vis-a-vis China suggests the engagement wing is in eclipse.

A central goal of the confrontationists has been to deploy an anti-ballistic missile shield (ABM) in Asia, which the administration is now in the process of doing. So far it has enlisted Japan and Australia in this effort, and it is wooing India as well. While the rationale for the ABM is alleged to be North Korea, the real target is China’s 20 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

The strategy of ringing China with US military bases is also well underway. Besides its traditional bases in Japan and South Korea, Guam has become, according to Pacific Commander Admiral William Fargo, a “power projection hub”, that will play an increasing role in Asia, with “geo-strategic importance”. The island already hosts B-52s, fighter planes, nuclear attack submarines, and the high-altitude spy drone, the Global Hawk. Since Guam is a US colony acquired during the Spanish American war, the military does not need permission for the buildup, as it would in Japan or Korea.

The US is also attempting to build bases in Southeast and South Asia. While Indonesian authorities deny the story, the Singapore Times reports that the US is presently negotiating to open a naval base on Sulawesi Island. It is also strengthening military ties to Thailand, Singapore, India, Sri Lanka, and Malaysia.

The encirclement has also spread to Central Asia, an important source of oil and gas for China. The US presently has bases in Kyrgyzstan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan, and military ties with Uzbekistan, which, according to Rumsfeld, are “growing stronger by the month”.

Several of these countries border China.

The Chinese response has been to increase their military budget, particularly in response to the US ABM system. “Once the United States believes it has a strong spear and a strong shield,” Sha Zukang, a leading Chinese arms expert told The New York Times, “it could lead them to conclude that no one can hurt the United States and they can harm anyone they like anywhere in the world.”

The Chinese currently have 20 CSS-4 ICBMs, but appear to be increasing that force to between 75 and 100 missiles, as well as upgrading the CSS-4’s guidance systems. It is also only a matter of time before China puts multiple warheads (MIRVs) on their missiles, a deeply destabilizing move. MIRVing is a cost-effective way to overwhelm an ABM system, but one that can also tempt an adversary to launch a first-strike attack.

China is also deploying missile-firing submarines to offset the US buildup in the Taiwan Strait.

The “containment” policies of the hawks have not damaged the growing Chinese economy – now the world’s third largest – or shaken the grip of the Chinese Communist Party. But they have accelerated an arms race in the region, fueled growing nationalist movements in both China and Japan, and raised the stakes of any potential clash over Taiwan.

The last time the “China Lobby” tried to contain China, it was a country devastated by World War II and its own civil war. Today it is a nuclear-armed giant, whose economic growth has lifted economies from Tokyo to Rio de Janeiro. Americans need to ask themselves: is it really a good idea to push that dragon into a corner?

Conn Hallinan is a foreign policy analyst for Foreign Policy In Focus and a lecturer in journalism at the University of California, Santa Cruz. ”

March 1, 2005 @ 10:42 am | Comment

Tensions appear to be winding down, for the time being at least, between the two Asian giants, China and Japan. But since one or the other is fated to control the region, this can only be a lull – unless (horror of horror!) they decide for some future reasons to form an anti-American alliance.

The move to open conflict seems to have been temporarily postponed for now, according to the stories on

There’s also a fascinating page of current news articles on the rise of China, the collapsing dollar, the declining U.S. economy, and the New World Order at, which makes for interesting daily reading!m”>, which I’ve been checking daily!

April 24, 2005 @ 2:25 pm | Comment

How do supporters of China’s claim to Taiwan respond the view that the matter should be decided upon peaceably in a referendum put to the people of Taiwan, organized by a UN-related body?

I bet the CCP party boys don’t want it because (a) its a vote they could not control; and (b) it would highlight the dictatorship at home.

If the mainland had held free and fair elections in the years gone by, there is no way the CCP would get elected. Remember this is the mob who brought you the 30 million famine deaths of the Great leap forward, and the Cultural revolution.

Sorry CCP party boys – holding onto power at the point of gun may give you “government” but it does not give you legitimacy.

May 16, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

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