Tuesday, December 30, 2008

PRC-Taiwan alliance trial balloon floated

Taiwan News has a long analysis of the recent brain flash of Hsieh Ming-hui that PRC missiles facing Taiwan protect Taiwan from aggression by Japan....

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The confusion bred by the Chinese Nationalist Party (Kuomintang) administration of President Ma Ying-jeou on Taiwan's relationship with the Chinese Communist Party-ruled People's Republic of China reached a new peak of absurdity last week when the Taiwan Competitiveness Forum (TCF) Deputy Secretary General Hsieh Ming-hui declared it was unnecessary for the Chinese military to dismantle over 1,000 missiles aimed at our country before the initiation of cross-strait peace talks.

Previously, Ma himself has moderated his past demand for a dismantling of the offensive weapons before talks on a cross-strait peace agreement could begin to a meaningless call for the "withdrawal" of the medium-range missiles, most of which are loaded on mobile launching platforms that can be easily "withdrawn" from coastal provinces and just as easily redeployed when desired.

Ma's position may well have moderated due to Beijing's refusal to consider any concessions on removing missiles or abandoning its claimed "right" to use force to compel Taiwan to unify with the PRC.

Speaking for the pro-KMT TCF in a news conference December 24 calling for Ma to accelerate peace talks with Beijing, Hsieh turned a possible necessity into an absurd virtue by urging Ma to drop the precondition since the People's Liberation Army missiles could protect Taiwan in a possible conflict with Japan over the competing claims over the Tiaoyutai or Senkaku islets.

Hsieh said that without such "protection" from the Chinese military, Taiwan would be at a great disadvantage since Japan, which can rely on assistance from the United States under the terms of the U.S. - Japan Security Agreement.

There are naturally a host of logical and substantive fallacies in the TCF's position, not the least of which is that it should be obvious that PLA willingness to use its missiles to "defend" Taiwan from an improbable attack by Japan would constitute a military alliance not in keeping with the purpose of a "peace" pact.

Hsieh's statement is also historically false as it is well known that the PLA began to deploy medium - range missiles and other offensive military forces across the Taiwan Strait in the early 1990s (and continues to do so) and conducted numerous military exercises based on scenarios to attack Taiwan in preparation of military action against Taiwan and against the U.S. and Japan if they assisted Taiwan.

Even pro-KMT military analysts, such as current KMT Legislator Lin Yu-fang, incessantly emphasized in the 1990s that the PLA deployments were aimed at "preventing Taiwan independence" and made no mention of the notion that PRC military forces could be used to "protect" Taiwan.

Hsieh also apparently believes that most Taiwan citizens have forgotten that the PLA actually "test fired" missiles at targets near our major international ports of Kaohsiung and Keelung and over Taiwan in March 1996 as part of Beijing's rhetorical and military "intimidation" campaign against Taiwan's first democratic election and that the PRC regime has yet to retract its threat of force against Taiwan embodied in the March 2005 Anti-Secession Law.

Besides implying that Ma should make even more political concessions to Beijing, the TCA's position clearly aims to ease international pressure on the PRC, which has been expanding its military budget by double digits for nearly the past two decades, to dismantle its forward offensive deployments in the Taiwan Strait.

The floating of the possibility that the KMT government might drop even this feeble precondition reveals both the effectiveness of the "peaceful development" propaganda adopted by PRC State Chairman and CCP General Secretary Hu Jintao and the unseemly and short-sighted haste by the KMT camp to throw away all of Taiwan's bargaining chips and even international alliances in their impatience to strike a political deal with Beijing.

In the past seven months since Ma took office, the president and his KMT government have made a seemingly unending series of political concessions to the PRC beginning with openly accepting Beijing's "one China principle" in the guise of the so-called "Consensus of 1992," self-denigrating Taiwan itself from a "state" into "region," accepting the PRC's primacy on "party - to - party" negotiations and avoiding legislative oversight over cross-strait talks and, most recently, accepting Hu's "gift" of two pandas whose arrival signalled to the world Taiwan's acceptance of a status as part of the PRC.

Indeed, even though Hsieh's trial balloon has yet to be openly backed by Ma or senior KMT government officials, the TCF executive has now openly introduced the grave possibility of an alliance between the authoritarian Chinese Communist Party - ruled PRC and the betrayal of Taiwan's long-term democratic allies of the United States and Japan as the latest sacrificial offering to Beijing.

Whether such slavishness on the KMT camp's part will lead Beijing to respond with "goodwill" or by taking advantage of the apparent weak-kneed ruling KMT to intensify pressure on Taiwan remains to be seen, but the raising of the spectre of a PRC-Taiwan military alliance warns that KMT-CCP reconciliation may not bring "peace" into the Taiwan Strait after all.

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US policymakers take note: this was the Horse you wanted in office, and it wants to make an alliance with the PRC -- that may not yet be formal policy, but it is clearly in the minds of many in the KMT, and the pressure for it will only grow. Taken together with Ma's "diplomatic truce" which signals that Taiwan is no longer going to take independent initiatives to gain international space, but submit to Beijing's decisions on such issues, and the Party-to-Party negotiations between what a friend of mine calls the two CCPs (Chinese Chauvinist Parties) that even now are sealing Taiwan's fate....well, soon the island will be in Beijing's orbit, and the containment policy that many in the US government think they are supporting will be annulled. Actually, it is already as dead as the Demilitarized Rhineland, only that history has yet to be written. But the first drafts of the script are already at the printer's....

China's been sending signals to Japan it wants to come to some kind of settlement on the Senkaku (Diaoyutai) Islands, which have been Japanese since 1895 but which China began claiming in 1969 after Japanese scientists announced the possibility of oil in the continental shelf around them. The US is committed by treaty to defend Japan and its associated territories, and in fact carried out naval exercises with Japan in the islands a few years ago. At some point, once Taiwan is safely annexed, China will begin to turn its attention to the Senkakus, along with other places, such as the South China Sea, where it is claiming territory no Chinese emperor ever owned.

But don't worry, there will be peace, just like there was peace after Munich (and we're going to get a better deal than the Czechs: 24 nuclear plants!). Because everyone knows that it is not in China's interest to have a war, just as it wasn't in the US interest to invade Iraq, or in the Japanese interest to bomb Pearl Harbor, or... yes, regional peace, too big to fail....

UPDATE 2: Hsieh's organization, the TCF, contains several ranking KMT politicians who serve at the Ministerial level. This should be taken seriously.

REF: Chinese military power projected itself globally this week as Chinese ships arrived to fight pirates off the Somali coast. Jonathon Adams has the call in CSM. Welcome to the future....

UPDATE: What do the people want? Commonwealth Magazine asked...from Slide 18 of its recent public opinion survey:



Who wants to be annexed to China? Less than 7% of the population! The US needs to support a valid, internationally overseen referendum of all the people of the island before there is any change in status.

17 comments:

Dixteel said...

With people like that in KMT...no wonder Taiwan's military is some what lagging behind. Most of the time KMT just don't get the point.

No wonder the KMT lost the whole China to CCP...after reading statements like those you start to realize KMT failure is inavoidable.

National and military strategy are a mess under KMT, past and present. Present KMT is even worse...I said it before and I have to say it again, Taiwan would be 10 times better without KMT. Some body, please, form something like a Republican Progressive Party to replace these KMT dinos and save Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Oh come on, it should be possible to accurately estimate Chinas stand towards Taiwan (which you do) and NOT compare them to the Nazis, no?

The "Island game" is well enjoyed and played by Japan, China, Vietnam, Southkorea and China alike, and even the Western Nations have some Rocks to quarrel over left.

Its absolutely ok to dislike China and to treat them as TAIWANS enemies, but on a global scope the just play the game like most bigger nations, including the US, do.

Anonymous said...

There needs to be a referendum where Taiwanese can freely choose their future free form the Chinese military threat. Remove the military threat and you'd have an overwhelming vote for independence. This is a factor which is often overlooked by the news media.

Thomas said...

Aiyo! What a stupid suggestion on the part of this KMT nutjob. So PRC missiles are needed to protect Taiwan against a country that has never threatened to attack Taiwan and whose military is constitutionally restricted from attacking other countries? Dumb.

I keep hoping people in Taiwan will wake up one day to recognise the nuttery of the KMT. Why hasn't it happened yet?

Your pie chart, by the way, wasn't necessary as it says what every such pie chart has said for a very long time. I also think that the real problem is domestic and not international. Taiwanese have to put their foot down and say NO to the dumber KMT initiatives in actions and in words. But that has not happened yet, and it doesn't look like it will happen anytime soon. The US can espouse whatever "containment" misconceptions it likes. The real power would come from a concrete actions by the Taiwanese.

Think about it. Really, the only ace that the KMT and the CCP have had in the hole until now has been that the Taiwanese have not said anything. Therefore the international community simply believes that the KMT is negotiating on behalf of the island. The moment the world begins to see acts of defiance on the part of the local population, conceptions will change. I am not holding my breath :(

Michael Turton said...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh come on, it should be possible to accurately estimate Chinas stand towards Taiwan (which you do) and NOT compare them to the Nazis, no?


I'm not saying the Chinese are Nazis. I AM saying that the geopolitical situation of now, here in East Asia, is similar to that of Germany's drive to swallow central and eastern Europe in the 1930s. As is the response from the western nations.

At present, should western nations continue on their current course, there is a good chance of a major war here.

Anonymous said...

In regard to the poll:

This wouldn't be the first time in Taiwan's history an administration/regime has so publicly disregarded public sentiments to embark on a China policy that was driven by a few party members and then packaged it as "popular'. Look at the 50's through the early 90's.

Jeremy said...

It's also significant that according to the chart less than one fifth of the population want independence with peace. So even if the threat of war was removed, the majority wouldn't want an independent country. Most people either just want to maintain the ambiguity about their own national identity or are unsure about who they are!

Anonymous said...

Yeah, while I am allergic to yelling Nazi at every little injustice, I do agree that there is continual appeasement on the part of the US without any real, substantive gains, and that IS a true parallel with pre-World War II Nazi Germany. It's a dangerous game when you never draw the line.

If you look at the younger generation in Taiwan, no one even identifies as Chinese anymore. When the baby boomer generation fades, everyone is just Taiwanese. That 6% is a dying 6%.

Red A said...

Sadly, I have heard such pro-China views from KMT types as well. I recall when some talking heads on some show were bitching about how expensive US arms were and suggested they should buy arms from China instead.

This is not totally new though. I read somewhere that KMT officers were actually proud that Communist Chinese forces pushed back US troops in Korea in 1951 (or '52?)

I think the presumed US defense of Taiwan has created a moral hazard for Taiwanese voters -or- Taiwanese supposed support for the status quo simply means they want to unify with a democratic China. Thus they are simply waiting for that.

Dixteel said...

Red A brought up an interesting point. How do you interprete the intention of those supporting status quo? Certainly no one in their right mind consider Taiwan's current status as "normal", because of all sorts of different reasons and difficulties, which I am sure everyone with some knowledge about Taiwan's situation is aware of.

I don't think they are waiting to unify with a democratic China though because they can just pick "unification under some pre-condition" option. One possible interpretation I have is they simply try to pick a path of the least resistance, even in the long term, unaware of keeping a status quo also have its own price. You might say they are like those people who keep borrowing and think they can pay off the loan overtime, unaware of the hidden interests and risks.

But no one can be sure what really goes on in their mind, so I think it would be real nice if the survey can include a second question that eliminate status quo as an option. The question is regarding "long term," so eliminating that option is reasonable. This will force them to make a "real" choice. I ask a few friends and relatives this way before, they usual answer indepedence, but I would like to see a general survey on it.

I am not sure what you mean by "moral hazard for Taiwanese voters" though. Yea, I can see a presumed US defense creating moral hazard for Taiwan, but not just the voters. It's similar thing regarding do you teach someone fishing or just give him/her fish. I would like to see more "teaching" than "giving fish." But it goes both ways though I guess. Taiwan has to show more determination and self reliance to defend itself, and the US has to show more support for Taiwan's de fecto indepedence, and make it easier for Taiwan to acquire necessary equipments and training for its arm forces.

Anonymous said...

I have always interpreted "status quo" to mean independence. This would be a defacto independence without China getting upset.

Anonymous said...

I think the status quo probably reflects uncertainty more than anything, and rightfully so.

But I also think Taiwanese often regard themselves as Chinese when convenient for their psyche. I'd like to know their opinion of Yao Ming for example. Or if China were playing Japan in soccer for example. I don't think they'd be "neutral" at all. I think status quo means having their cake and eating it too.

Moral Hazard for Taiwanese voters is very simple. If you know you have a US defense guarantee you will tolerate the KMT's antics about weapons buying, etc. If you had to defend Taiwan by yourself, you probably would be more serious about defense as an issue.

Red A

Anonymous said...

I have seen as much identification with Yao Ming as I have with Ichiro. They are "yellow" playing in games with very few "yellow" people.

Dixteel said...

Indeed, can't speak for all Taiwanese, but a lot of people I know, even the one whose political stance is ambiguous, don't care much about Yao Ming or Chinese soccer team. They don't even care much about 2008 Olympics.

Also Red A, you should know a lot of Taiwanese feel uncomfortable or anger when Chinese media called someone like Chen-Ming Wang Chinese.

readin said...

Oh come on, it should be possible to accurately estimate Chinas stand towards Taiwan (which you do) and NOT compare them to the Nazis, no?

Well, yes it is possible. But it is very difficult to ignore the similarities.

readin said...

I'm not saying the Chinese are Nazis. I AM saying that the geopolitical situation of now, here in East Asia, is similar to that of Germany's drive to swallow central and eastern Europe in the 1930s. As is the response from the western nations.

You give to little credit to western powers of the 1930s. At least they extended diplomatic recognition to countries in eastern Europe.

At present, should western nations continue on their current course, there is a good chance of a major war here.

You're such a geocentrist. You only care about Taiwan it seems. Don't you think it is worth noting that the same policies that lead toward war in Taiwan will lead to other wars in the Pacific as China continues to expand? It's not like Germany stopped with the Sudetenland. (oops, there we go with the Nazi analogies again. Well if the shoe fits...).

Michael Turton said...

Yes, readin, of course I realize that China will extend its warmaking to other nations. But this is not a Burma or Vietnam or Korea blog. Nor is it a hack on China blog. Regrettably, I have to draw firm boundaries or it will sprawl all over the place.

Michael