“God is not with China”

That rather provocative headline is from an article in Israel’s Ha-Aretz, written by a reporter in Taiwan who wonders what th effects of the Blue victory will have on Taiwan’s future relations with China and the US.

I need to work through the weekend and won’t have much time to give this site, but I thought this article might provide some good food for thought.

To the equation of relations must be added the way in which Beijing will maneuver given the new situation, as well as the extent of support Taiwan will garner from the United States: In Israel, the United States’ blocking of the defense deals with China was a wake-up call for some regarding the the nature of the Israeli-American relationship. In Taiwan, too, despite the different circumstances, there are those who fear that American support is not eternal: On the one hand they believe here that the United States will never abandon Taipei; only recently United States President George W. Bush praised Taiwanese democracy, “which should serve as a model for China.”

But on the other hand, Bush is also no longer relating to China as “a strategic competitor,” as he did in the past. The breakup of the Soviet Union, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the events of Tiananmen Square did not lead to “the end of history.” A communist regime is in control of the economy whose growth is stirring envy around the world. The United States apparently thinks that China has gone beyond the point at which it is possible to prevent its dramatic economic and military rise. It realizes that in the end, the 21st century will not be “American,” or at least not entirely. Therefore it is no longer talking about containing China. Now is a time for “constructive cooperation.”

How does all this affect the eternal debate about the status quo that exists thanks to the American guarantees? Until not long ago the prevailing opinion in Taiwan was that “even if it takes 10, 50 or even 100 years, in the end China will become a democracy. Then, and only then, will we agree to unite the two countries.” Today there are already those who see their day of surrender on the horizon: More than a million Taiwanese are living in China, investing there, doing business, studying and sometimes even keeping a second wife there. More than 2 million Taiwanese (almost one-tenth of the island’s population) spend six months of the year or more there. About three-quarters of Taiwan’s exports are destined for China. Even though 700 Chinese ballistic missiles are aimed at them, many Taiwanese see China’s strengthening as less of a threat and more as an opportunity.

Does this mean that it is possible to argue that Taiwan is giving up its historic pretense to the title of “the real China”? Will it agree to become a victim of American acknowledgement of the existence of a second superpower?

Not so fast, say the analysts. As one of them put it: “[Apart from money] another two elements influence relations with China – the blood and the brain. The DNA of the 23 million Taiwanese is indeed almost identical to that of the 1.3 billion Chinese, but when you examine the brain, you discover that the Taiwanese think in a completely different way.” In other words, they will not give up their democratic institutions and values. On this matter, the consensus in Taiwan is total. “Time may be working in China’s favor,” they explain here, “but God doesn’t have much choice. Communism is anathema to him. He has to be with us.”

“God, you are either with us or against us….”

The Discussion: 11 Comments

I just returned from Taiwan after a one week stay and I can say that the difference in feeling after the Blue victory is palpable. There is a sense that corruption and greed are so out of control in the Green Party that only authoritarianism can clean house. This can be blamed on two parties — the Greens for their incompetence and the media who have an endless line up of right wing, Bill O’Reilly like talk shows that are highly KMT flavored.

The Blue idea is that power emanates from the barrel of a gun: and we should kow-tow to power. The CCP is powerful and growing more so everyday so everyone should just get in line.

Former supporters of Chen Shui bian on the other hand are in the streets exercising their democratic and hard fought right to protest his recent statements about civil servants and teachers retirement plans.

Chen has really painted himself into a corner. The irony however is that while the KMT celebrates the division in the Green Party, they look forward and back to a time when peaceful protests were violently put down.

December 14, 2005 @ 11:11 pm | Comment

Umm … where on earth does God fit into this? I’m confused. Because God hates communism? Talk about moving in mysterious ways!

As to the effect of recent elections on cross-Strait relations: zero. Local elections affect things like the amount of funding for museums in Taichung, or the rezoning of land in Taipei County – which I doubt are issues which keep Beijing awake at night.

Of course the election is having an effect on the DPP – but they needed to sort things out anyway, with or without an election loss.

December 15, 2005 @ 12:43 am | Comment

God vs Communism ๐Ÿ™‚
they were both trashed by 95%+ people in mainalnd China.

They do worship the money-god though.


btw, is he talking about the jewish god or christian god?

December 15, 2005 @ 1:35 am | Comment

richard,

i love your last line on “bushistic” dichotomy. ๐Ÿ™‚

December 15, 2005 @ 1:37 am | Comment

Dear TPD,

Actually the only country which belongs to me is Vatican City. But I’m a Libertarian, so I let them govern it in their own way – so don’t blame me for what the Cardinals do.
(Except in baseball. I DO intervene in baseball, because it’s SO much more interesting than church…)

Sincerely yours,
God

December 15, 2005 @ 5:06 am | Comment

Dear TPD,

And you know which country belongs to ME, don’t you?

That’s right. Canada. Canada is MINE! HAHAHA! It’s always the ones you don’t expect….

Sincerely yours,
Satan

December 15, 2005 @ 5:09 am | Comment

Catherine…you can tell that by one Taiwan election? That’s extraordinary lolol….

Don’t forget that just 18 months ago, there was talk of the KMT being disbanded…finished…done with. The Taiwanese public, like publics everywhere, is fickle. Who knows, in another 18 months, Ma Ying Jiu might be in jail for corruption. Annette Lu might be a serious contender for president (gasp)…etc. Unlikely….yeah. But mood fluctuates. Personally, I have gotten a different impression than you. My assessment of the mood is that many are disenchanted with the greens, and not thrilled with the blues either. (Remember that the approval rating for both camps is quite low.) People voted for what they saw as the lesser of two evils at the moment. The question is, who will the lesser of two evils be the next time. We just don’t know yet.

December 15, 2005 @ 10:23 am | Comment

But I do agree with you that the KMT wants to have the whole pie. It doesn’t seem to be in their nature to share.

December 15, 2005 @ 10:25 am | Comment

Thomas,

Anecdotal evidence gathered by me suggests high levels of demoralization and taxi cab drivers, who I use as a useful political guage for popular sentiment expressed resignation at reunification.

It was the first time in ten years i’ve heard such talk, but yes, all the KMT needs is a good scandal in its turn, but my grad students say the media has come under blue control.

December 15, 2005 @ 1:08 pm | Comment

Ms. Liu,
The media did not come under blue control; the media volunteered their support for the blue.

December 15, 2005 @ 7:05 pm | Comment

Israel’s interest is in unification. Haaretz is Israel’s left-wing paper, and pretty simpatico with communists and other progressive dictatorships, in general. Maybe it’s just seeing what it wants to see. (When the Bush administration nixed Israel’s export of the Phalcon AWACS-type project for China, Haaretz suggested that it was because the US wanted to sell AWACS to China directly).

Taiwan independence folks are going through a depressed phase because they got too optimistic previously about their future electoral prospects. A bit of realism is quite healthy. The DPP isn’t a fringe party by any means – it continues to hold the presidency and a narrow minority of national level seats.

December 17, 2005 @ 2:08 pm | Comment

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