Thursday, December 15, 2005

Whoa! East Asian Not Integrated Enough vs. Taiwan to be Swallowed

Not time for posting, but did want to draw attention to juxtaposed a complaint from the International Crisis Group in the Financial Times:

Japan, China and South Korea should separate diplomacy from public opinion to try to advance regional co-operation regardless of nationalistic concerns over war crimes or territorial disputes, the International Crisis Group will recommend on Thursday.

Calling north-east Asia one of the world's least integrated regions, the influential think-tank said Beijing, Tokyo and Seoul needed a forum to focus on their mutual problems and to co-operate on areas of joint interest, such as energy and security.

"It is possible that the ongoing six-party process aimed at solving the North Korean nuclear crisis, if ultimately successful, could be transformed into a regional security dialogue," the report said.

Read carefully; the news report makes no mention of Taiwan. No wonder it can call for regional integration. This is interesting because the Japan Times published a totally overblown reading of the local elections here in Taiwan that argued that China will "integrate" Taiwan in the future. I'm sure David at Jujuflop will have great fun correcting the misapprehensions here:

The resounding defeat of Taiwan's ruling party in recent local elections means that China may soon be able to take Taiwan by a combination of enticement and threat. That could occur after Taiwan's March 2008 presidential elections, in the leadup to the Beijing Olympics.

The "peaceful return" of Taiwan, and the outpouring of Chinese nationalism that it fostered, would do much to strengthen the Chinese Communist Party's grip on power in the face of rising discontent. No doubt, Beijing comprehends how Hitler used the 1936 Berlin Olympics to entrench himself in power.

Thus China probably hopes to checkmate the United States. If China brings Taiwan back into the fold by "peaceful" means, America can do nothing. And China will be able to plant its foot more firmly on Japan's sea lanes.

All the buttons are there baby -- resounding defeat, Hitler and the Olympics, and so on. No mention of the slight fact that there's a difference between the local and national levels here (note to Lim: they even use different words for the two levels). I think lots of Chinese would realize, that once Taiwan was back, they got nothing out of it. In fact, Taiwan is far more useful to China as a place untaken than as a territory to be absorbed. As the former it generates sympathy and support for the government, as the latter, it generates a stream of negative publicity about the regime, like Hong Kong does.

Some parts of the article are quite perceptive, though:

Until now the KMT has been not quite able to decide whether its main adversary is the government in Beijing or Chen's government in Taipei. Now the KMT seems to have concluded that the DPP is the main enemy. Moreover, the KMT is playing the anti-Japan card against the DPP and its ally, the Taiwan Solidarity Union, which is led by pro-Japanese former KMT President Lee Teng-hui. A large photograph of an anti-Japanese war hero is displayed outside KMT party headquarters.

The author is an ICAS member whose roll of speakers is a hit list of right-wing luminaries. Take with NaCl.

UPDATE: And don't miss this one from Ha'aretz: God is not with China

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."

Thanks to Richard over at Peking Duck for that little gem. Gott mit uns, eh?


Darin said...

Yea, I wouldn't take the Japan Times seriously, I consider it to be a joke. The forums are a place for English teachers in Japan to pretend like they know what they are talking about, and the news paper is for Japanese people to hold in-front of the their face and pretend they are studying English. There are plenty of much better ways to accomplish both that don't involve pretending.

Sun Bin said...

"A large photograph of an anti-Japanese war hero is displayed outside KMT party headquarters."

who is the person?

Tim Maddog said...

Sun Bin asks:
who is the person?

Could it be 莫那魯道 (Mona Rudao)?

Anonymous said...

Hi, do you just feature Taiwan-based blogs? I have a China-related blog at and I'd be delighted if you provided a link to it on your excellent site.

cheers, Richard

Michael Turton said...

Taiwan only, sorry. Otherwise my sidebar would quickly expand to fill the known universe.