Friday, March 10, 2006

Peace as a Strategy to Curb TI

Sun Bin, via ESWN, hosts a post on peace as a strategy to curb TI. After listing the points the author makes on the advantages of peace, Sun Bin observes:

These are fairly obvious to mostly everybody outside the mainland. I am surprised that they have not been taken seriously until now. I am also surprised that CCP bureaucrats have not thought about it. After all, they are not dumb. They managed to lead China to what it is today. This continues to puzzle me.

One of the reasons that has led to the support of TI is the total disappointment in any government from the mainland, from Qing, to Chen Yi, to Chiang Kai Shek, to CCP. The light green would rather take their own fate into their own hands. This is perfectly reasonable and understandable. To reverse the trend one has to address the source of the "problem", i.e., to show them that mainlanders have learned, they can manage a country, and they will respect their compatriots in Taiwan like their own brothers. Unfortunately, many in the mainland failed to understand this. They still maintain that any "reconciliation" will encourage TI, which is exactly the opposite.

This unfortunately does not address the source of the problem, which is that Taiwan has a different identity than that of China, formed in colonial experiences under the Dutch, Qing, Japanese, and KMT. There are, I think, ways that the mainland can attack this identity and undermine it, but the Chinese are unlikely to realize them.

I used to think that the peace offensive was a viable option. Certainly Taiwanese have only a weak idea of their own nationhood, and have internalized many habits of thought taught to them under the KMT -- for example, referring to China as "the mainland" instead of as "China."

But now I can see several problems with the peace offensive idea. First, there are now two political parties, the TSU and the DPP, that have a vested interest in developing and expressing a Taiwan identity. Second, China has screwed the Taiwanese so often and so thoroughly, not merely by incompetent and corrupt colonial governments in the past, but also recently with the bird flu and SARS issues, the missiles, the intervention in Taiwan's attempts to join international organizations, the bloodcurdling threats, and so on, that it may well be impossible to regain the trust of the Taiwanese. Everyone here is aware that China's "conciliatory" gestures are lies. It would take year after year of sustained peace to change that. And even then...

....there'd still be the problem of China not being a democracy. For no matter how peaceful China is to Taiwan, every suppressed demonstration, every closed blog, every imprisoned dissident, is a reminder of what China is. Everyone in Taiwan can look at Hong Kong's eroding freedoms, and Beijing's blithe disregard of its promises and of the territory's desires, and see Taiwan's future. Unless all this is fixed, a peace offensive will be pointless.

The reason that the bureaucrats in China haven't turned to this is because they want to win on their terms, not accomplish certain goals. "Winning" to them means imposing their solution on the problem, demonstrating their power over other entities. It's just another variation, on a cosmic scale, of the old Chinese social rule that anything that can be bullied should be bullied.

7 comments:

Sun Bin said...

:) thanks for the link.

i disagree with you about the 'source of the problem'. my comments
1) the identity is really beginning to form after WWII. we can safely say the during Japanese occupation the majority are affined to china. even Lee Tenghui himself has joined an affiliate of CCP. he changed his mind (perhaps due to disappointment or giving up hope, or other practical reasons). i wouldn't trace this back to the dutch era, as hoklo has not even migrated there yet. you can also safely say that the first 2-3 generations are always attached to the home province.

2) even within Taiwan, a separate 'identity' exist only among some of the people (from 30-60%?? maybe, certainly less than 80%). to quote an example, even in malaysia and singapore today, many ethnic chinese still think they are chinese. i would expect similar sentiment on taiwan island. however, the affinity in taiwan is much less, mainly because of the failed stratety of CCP (intimidation/etc)
3) i agree with your '2 problems'. the political parties with vested interests, and the wound that is too hard to heal -- inflicted by CCP.
4) yes, "not being a democracy". however, that is not a stumbling block, as we know the mainland has changed significantly, and is going to change in the next 20 and 100 years
5) HK also has itw own identity. so does macau. it does not mean that it has to be completely separated. as we all know, 'independence' is only semantics, only CCP and DPP/KMT/TSU think they are big deals. In reality, it could be possible that nothing really changed (if they are wise enough as to not going to war or creating the excuse to go to war).
6) another reason for the CCP bureacrats: they really do not understand taiwan. the only way to help them to so is to let them visit Taiwan, and talk to people who are not pro-unification. there is really nothing to be afraid of, unfortunately DPP is too short sighted to do so.

Michael Turton said...

1) the identity is really beginning to form after WWII. we can safely say the during Japanese occupation the majority are affined to china. even Lee Tenghui himself has joined an affiliate of CCP. he changed his mind (perhaps due to disappointment or giving up hope, or other practical reasons). i wouldn't trace this back to the dutch era, as hoklo has not even migrated there yet. you can also safely say that the first 2-3 generations are always attached to the home province.

This is clearly incorrect. An independent identity was already formed in the 19th century -- for the Taiwanese were ready to toss the Qing off the island, and did so once. Further, after the Sino-Japanese War of 1895, the Japanese offered free transport to anyone who wanted to go to China. Nobody went. Finally, as Kerr points out, it was Japanese colonialism that taught the Taiwanese that they were Taiwanese.

Also, the first "2-3 generations" go back to the Dutch era in many cases -- my wife's family has been here 300 years, and hers is not the only one. Lots of people came over in the 19th century and thus, have been in Taiwan for 6 generations. "2-3 generations" was long over by even the Japanese period....

2) even within Taiwan, a separate 'identity' exist only among some of the people (from 30-60%?? maybe, certainly less than 80%). to quote an example, even in malaysia and singapore today, many ethnic chinese still think they are chinese. i would expect similar sentiment on taiwan island. however, the affinity in taiwan is much less, mainly because of the failed stratety of CCP (intimidation/etc)

Well, CCP strategy failed, that's true. And identity is all mixed up. But I know very few ethnic Taiwanese who identify with China -- when they say "Chinese" they mean a cultural reference, not a nationalist one. After all, they had the KMT and the Japanese to teach them that they were different. And that's what they learned. It wasn't CCP policies, but KMT policies, that failed -- for the KMT's policy was to play ethnic politics, and thus, it ended up affirming identities it should have obliterated. The root of the modern problem is the KMT in the post-WWII era, when it had a chance to create a pan-Chinese identity here and failed.

3) i agree with your '2 problems'. the political parties with vested interests, and the wound that is too hard to heal -- inflicted by CCP.

Sad, isn't it? All the lost opportunities to live in peace.

5) HK also has itw own identity. so does macau. it does not mean that it has to be completely separated. as we all know, 'independence' is only semantics, only CCP and DPP/KMT/TSU think they are big deals. In reality, it could be possible that nothing really changed (if they are wise enough as to not going to war or creating the excuse to go to war).

Independence is not semantics, Sun Bin, but life. As long as Taiwan has no international status, it cannot join organizations that it needs to join, such as the WHO.

6) another reason for the CCP bureacrats: they really do not understand taiwan. the only way to help them to so is to let them visit Taiwan, and talk to people who are not pro-unification. there is really nothing to be afraid of, unfortunately DPP is too short sighted to do so.

I agree that the CCP is totally out of touch, but doubt that visiting Taiwan will do anything to change that.

Michael

Sun Bin said...

what is clearly incorrect? :)
i said many of them (over 50% or over 80%) have not even arrived in 1600s. and for each family, it takes at least a few generation for them to not thinking about 'hometown'. you agreed that most arrived in 19th century.

what does your 'japanese repatriation' mean? these are farmers, you are asking them to abandon the farmland and go to fujian to starve to death! there is absolutely no political statement regarding this event (or 'non-choice') are you serious about this japanese/TI propaganda?

again, japanese colonialism taught them to be japanese, not taiwanese. (LTH said so). but you are right that it is the corrupted KMT that alienated the benshengren. however, you are worng that they tried to play ethnic politics. there was no politic to play (it was not a democracy). it is purely discrimation by the ruling clan.
it is DPP that played ethnic politics.

DPP propogands is no less guilty than CCP's. this, in a way, provides ammunition for those who say they are not too different.

Anonymous said...

But do you think Hong Kong has a different identity than that of the rest of China? Or Xinjiang, or Tibet?

nostalgiphile said...

Great discussion, but a pity Sun Bin doesn't understand a thing about Taiwan though--it coulda been a fair debate if he had. As it is, looks like he's been solidly trounced.

Sun Bin said...

anon,

it is hard to talk about if a location (or the people) has an identity. one needs to go into what defines identity/etc.

in a way, HK, Shanghai, Beijing, Taipei all have their own identity. In that sense, every location/people or sub-location has its own identity.

now what you have in mind may be something distinctive enough to found a new nation. but i think it is quite irrelevant. even areas with no distinct identity can be a new nation. meanwhile, areas with different identity can merge to become one nation.
e.g.
1) Canada (english and french speaking provinces)
2) expansion of US in 1800s

to the rest:
i assume you are genuinely interested in a meaningful discussion. but if the purpose of the discussion is to trap me into your ideological propaganda. i think my time is better used somewhere else.

Michael Turton said...

what is clearly incorrect? :)
i said many of them (over 50% or over 80%) have not even arrived in 1600s. and for each family, it takes at least a few generation for them to not thinking about 'hometown'. you agreed that most arrived in 19th century.


yes, but the Taiwanese identity, some kind of identification with Taiwan, began much earlier, for we know that the Taiwanese revolted against the Qing many times, one chasing them off the island completely, in the 18th and 19th centuries.


what does your 'japanese repatriation' mean? these are farmers, you are asking them to abandon the farmland and go to fujian to starve to death! there is absolutely no political statement regarding this event (or 'non-choice') are you serious about this japanese/TI propaganda?


Well, I'm serious about it actually happening. Do you not know that interesting little tidbit of history?

There were large numbers of people -- merchants, artisans, etc -- who could have returned to China after the 1895 handover. They chose not to. Why? lots of reasons -- Taiwan was their home, Taiwan was a better place to make money than China...who knows? But if the pull of China was so great, why did they stay?

Yes, it's quite true that lots of people came over in the 18th and 19th centuries. I have no idea how many go back 300 years. But that gives us 2-3 generations even before the Japanese period, when all those people from different parts of south China were forced to become "Taiwanese". You argued that it took 2-3 generations for feelings of homeland loyalty to fade. That's probably correct -- and more than that passed for most Taiwanese, prior to the advent of the Japanese.

But then, they didn't have a homeland. Remember? China was a holding of the Qing Dynasty, ruled by aliens. I think you should also explore the home identity more. It's not as monolithic or as strong as you think. Don't idealize it so much.

again, japanese colonialism taught them to be japanese, not taiwanese. (LTH said so).

I think, Sun Bin, you need to read some basic texts in the processes of colonialism. The colonialist, in order to rule, creates an identity for the colonized. Under the colonialist, the Indians discovered that they were Indians and not Punjabis, and Tamils. Similarly, pan-African identities are a response to colonialism, and among the North American indians there were many attempts at unity in response to colonialism from the US. Indeed, in many areas, like Taiwan, the "traditional" tribal structures are the creation of colonial administrations. There were many different aboriginal groups prior to Japanese colonialism.

Colonial identities are formed in response to colonialism. Yes, the Japanese tried to turn the Taiwanese into Japanese. Duh (and why the reference to LTH, Sun? It's a dead giveaway as to your own prejudices). But while doing so, they forced an ethnic unity on the disparate Chinese groups who had lived here prior to the Japanese, who in opposition to Japanese colonialism, formed their own identity. This process is normal and inevitable.

but you are right that it is the corrupted KMT that alienated the benshengren. however, you are worng that they tried to play ethnic politics. there was no politic to play (it was not a democracy). it is purely discrimation by the ruling clan. it is DPP that played ethnic politics.

Now it is clear you don't understand at all. The KMT is an ethnic coalition of the mainlander political identity, aborigines, and Hakkas, against the majority Taiwanese (Hoklo) population. The KMT rules by fear-mongering that if the Taiwanese are ever allowed to rule they will dominate the other groups (actually, just the opposite has taken place). The mainlander identity is a political identity whose function is to suppress local identities among both the Taiwanese and among the people who followed the Chiang Dynasty to Taiwan. It's purpose was to co-opt the old soldiers into a political structure that they should have opposed, for as an oppressed class they had far more in common with the Taiwanese than not. But by giving them privileges, and settling them in camps all over Taiwan and putting them on the government dole, the government forged an identity for them that connected them to the ruling elites who despised them, and sought to use them against the majority population. The KMT is a rickety ethnic coalition whose heart, the mainlander identity, is entirely an artificial construction and has no natural boundaries or definition at all (what is "mainlander" cusine? "Mainlander" songs? "Mainlander" epic poetry? "Mainlander" language? It's all the idealized Chinese construction of the Chiangs.

DPP propogands is no less guilty than CCP's. this, in a way, provides ammunition for those who say they are not too different.

Perhaps that's even true -- but then the goal of DPP propaganda is to create a free and independent state. CCP and KMT propaganda support murder and dictatorship.

Michael