Friday, March 17, 2006

Chen and Taiwan: One View

A great article on Taiwan from commentator Tom Plate that generally recognizes how great Taiwan is, and that the ultimate problem is Beijing. But still too Chen-focused......

However, multiparty systems can produce unpredictable and even unwanted results. In control of the island's presidency is Taiwan's Democratic Progressive Party. Formed during the extraordinary and historic political ferment of the late '80s, the DPP is the party that lionized the independence streak of many of the island's inhabitants and by 2000 got its man, Chen Shui-bian, elected president.

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Whether the United States should or would do so depends on a number of factors. One is the cause of the clash. Washington does not formally recognized Taiwan as an official government, accepting a technical one-China policy, and from time to time asks Chen to pipe the anti-Beijing rhetoric down. Getting involved in a military mess with the mainland should Beijing lose its cool with Chen is not exactly an enticing thought.

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Americans characteristically root for the little guy -- the David over the Goliath -- but not if the little guy gets the reputation for being nothing but a ton of trouble. And so Chen's continued spats with the mainland only serve to dominate the news about Taiwan, with the result that the larger, important story gets lost in the noise. This is really too bad. It's hard to think of a country that has a better story to tell than Taiwan. But that this is so infrequently heard may over time undermine American sympathy for Taiwan should China in fact decide to act. This is what Chen, it seems to be, is risking.

Poor Chen, the unwanted result, like a foundling baby in a Dickens novel (hint: in democracy there are no "unwanted" results by definition). Plate recognizes that Beijing is the problem, but thinks Chen ought not to rock the boat. But Tom -- if Chen doesn't speak up for Taiwan, who will? And how can he do so without causing a ruckus, since Beijing hates Taiwan's democracy and freedom? The NUC issue was composed of two problems -- Chen's decision made without consulting his most important allies, and the wild US overreaction that simply encouraged China.

5 comments:

Jonathan Benda said...

No unwanted results in a democracy? Hmmm... It depends on who's doing the wanting, I guess.

Tim Maddog said...

Michael, here's my comment from your other, nearly identical post (replying to STOP_George's "rocking the boat" comment), in case you delete that post:
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If, by "rocking the boat," they mean, "Pirates attempting to board! Repel attack!" then, by all means, rock away.

Unfortunately, we know from the cut-and-paste context of such "news" items that the pushers of such nonsense mean something else entirely.

I'm of the opinion that under the current so-called "status quo," if Chen Shui-bian had "consulted" anyone before moving forward with his NUC plans, the situation would have only continued to move in China's favor. Just as with Feingold's resolution to censure Bush, the topic is now out in the open for discussion instead of being continually swept under the rug.
- - -

[Full disclosure: I typed the other one, but I copied-and-pasted this one.]

Eric said...

Not a bad article on Taiwan, but I would have to severely disagree that Taiwan's media is something to brag about. The media doesn't only tilt towards the KMT, it still is the KMT.

I heard a figure that China actually supports 80% of the news that comes out of Taiwan. That means a lot of the stuff coming out isn't news at all, it's just more propoganda.

STOP_George said...

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Tim:

I think you're absolutely right.

I'm also of the opinion that this "consulting the U.S. first" on such a matter could have made the situation even worse by defying what, inevitably, would have been the U.S. telling Chen that even "cease to exist" was too heavy.

The U.S. reaction was ridiculous. First, they let on that nothing has happened. And then, after a false VOA report of all things, they damage Chen's domestic political gains by making a statemtent saying, "you better not be fooling us".

When all is said and done, however, this move by Chen will definitely help the DPP domestically. If not now, then during the 2008 election. The foreign and American press can go f#$% themselves.

What really matters is that the KMT gets an ass-whipping in the next elections.
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Michael Turton said...

I'm deleting the other post, so here's the comments:


STOP_George said...

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(sigh)

This "Chen is rocking the boat" analysis is getting sooooo tiring.
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6:09 PM
Delete
Tim Maddog
Tim Maddog said...

If, by "rocking the boat," they mean, "Pirates attempting to board! Repel attack!" then, by all means, rock away.

Unfortunately, we know from the cut-and-paste context of such "news" items that the pushers of such nonsense mean something else entirely.

I'm of the opinion that under the current so-called "status quo," if Chen Shui-bian had "consulted" anyone before moving forward with his NUC plans, the situation would have only continued to move in China's favor. Just as with Feingold's resolution to censure Bush, the topic is now out in the open for discussion instead of being continually swept under the rug.