Tuesday, March 31, 2009

BREAKING: Chinese, ROC military officials to meet in Hawaii

Reuters reports that Chinese and ROC military officials are meeting in Hawaii later this year:
Senior Chinese and Taiwanese military officers will meet for the first time since the end of a civil war in 1949 at a forum in Hawaii this summer, state media said on Tuesday, in a further sign of improving ties between the political rivals.

Officials from both sides will attend August's Transnational Security Cooperation forum organized by the U.S. Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies, an institute under the U.S. Department of Defense, the official China Daily said.

The newspaper said senior military officials in Beijing had confirmed that military personnel from the two sides would meet at the forum.

"Another military source in Beijing also suggested that some cross-Straits military exchanges may take place before August, but declined to reveal more details as yet," the report added.

A Taiwan defense spokesman said on Monday that military officials may meet in August.
Anschluss will be in the air this summer. Some have speculated that KMT heavyweights are aiming for formal annexation to take place in 2011, the 100th anniversary of the founding of the ROC. Things are certainly proceeding fast enough.... and we're certain to see another round of "warming relations between Taiwan and China" in the international media, when what are warming are CCP-KMT relations....

UPDATE: Here's another way I put it in the comments below:
In relationships where there are symmetrical threats -- USSR-US, Israel-Egypt, India-China, arguably mil-mil contacts help reduce tensions. In the China-Taiwan relationship the threat is all one-sided -- anyone genuinely interested in reducing tensions would focus on the problem of Chinese aggression. Taiwan is not a military threat to China in any way.

Arguing that mil-mil contacts between Taiwan and China -- carried out by picked pro-China mainlander officers on our side, without a doubt -- will reduce tension is like arguing that Wehrmacht-Czech contacts in 1938 would reduce tension.
At best, mil-mil contacts will simply enable China to obtain information, dull responses, and sow dissension; at worst, they provide a medium for active collusion between the pro-China portion of the mainlander officer corps and the Chinese military. In this case "trust building" simply facilitates Chinese dominance over Taiwan. Remember, Lawrence Eyton pointed out several years ago that over 3,000 retired military officers from Taiwan are currently living in China. What does that tell you about the ROC military?

Mil-mil contacts can genuinely reduce tension only when (1) officials on both sides are acting in good faith on behalf of their respective countries, and (2) the threat is symmetrical between them. I submit that we have good reasons to suspect (1) and that (2) does not apply at all.

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19 comments:

Anonymous said...

A recent KMT internal poll had DPP making strong gains in KMT areas. Taipei County was leaning DPP again.

The general public is obviously not on board with the KMT program.

Who is going to gain? KMT rank and file and organized crime.

Sound anything like China in the 1930's and 40's?

Anonymous said...

Michael and others, you may be interested:

http://www.wretch.cc/blog/billypan101/14375778

At a meeting of Taiwanese bloggers to commemorate Deng Nan-jung, police came by to ask some very peculiar questions. It looks like ever since Chen Yun-lin came to Taiwan, police powers have been expanded, and the Ma government is using it to keep tabs on political foes (Greenies!). In the days prior to the event, police kept calling the law firm (whose space was being used) to investigate...

Some fairly big names were at the event: Frank Hsieh, Freddie, Yang Hui-ju...

Not sure what the hell the Ma government is thinking, but maybe it's not such a bad bet that mainstream media will ignore this whole incident.

阿牛 said...

We are losing, and running out of time at that.

Arthur Dent said...

Think the Taiwanese will rise to the challenge and defend their de facto sovereignty or watch it slip away with a shrug and a 'mei ban fah'?

Raj said...

Do you think "annexation" will occur in 2011?

reeb said...

Michael, it would be interesting to read the draft of your "It's all over for Taiwan" article.

Maybe after the G-20 meeting?

Hans said...

Annexation in 2011? After all these disaster since his inauguration, this could very well be the saddest story I've ever heard. I can't believe this could even be a possibility! And NO, there's no "mei ban fah," that's what skeptics do. If the apathy residents of the blue-north have no way on it, I guarantee the die-heart southerners will make enough noise to paralyze the event.

Michael Turton said...

Reeb:

Been working on that article for ages, in my head. The brilliance of the KMT strategy is that there will never be a moment that calls it forth. Taiwan's potential independence, will be a will-o-wisp, always seen, but never grasped, receding like the green light at the end of Gatsby's dock...

Michael

Anonymous said...

Having direct communications between potential combatants is the best way to prevent them from becoming actual combatants. Lives are more important than politics.

reeb said...

There is one wild card in the Taiwan becoming the 23rd province issue. That is, if there is any truth to the theories going around that Brzezinski's plan is to destabilize China. If true, then Obama may need to keep the Taiwan/China issue cooking for awhile longer to keep the PRC off balance.

The more things keep happening "according to plan" such as the increased pressure on breaking up Pakistan, the Israeli jet strikes on Sudan, the creation of AFRICOM and the 4th fleet, etc., the more I believe there is some truth to this goal. (Break up Pakistan, push the PRC out of Africa, thereby forcing the PRC to invade Russia for the oil resources in the Far East).

Michael Turton said...

Having direct communications between potential combatants is the best way to prevent them from becoming actual combatants. Lives are more important than politics.

ROFL. There are already direct communications between the CCP and the KMT, and have been since the mid 1990s when the first secret envoy visited Taiwan. Mil-mil contacts are simply about exploiting the laudable sentiments you express as cover for promoting China's ongoing annexation of the island.

Michael

cfimages said...

Having direct communications between potential combatants is the best way to prevent them from becoming actual combatants. Lives are more important than politics.

Well said. Anything that lowers tensions and makes conflict less likely is a positive step.

Anonymous said...

What is this "Brzezinski Plan"? I suppose this refers to Zbigniew, National Security Advisor during the Carter administration. Is he still around? It would be nice if SOMEBODY out there had a plan. (Other than the Chinese, of course.)

So...he wants to trick them into invading Siberia, a la Napoleon and Hitler. But what if it works this time?

Anonymous said...

Never mind--I found the "Brzezinski Plan" on some conspiracy sites about the Trilateral Commission. The guy who thought it up predicted that the US / UK would sponsor a Uighur attack on the 2008 Olympics. Guess that's off...

Michael Turton said...

Ah Craig, if only that were the actual purpose of these talks. But they have little to do with "tension-lowering" since tensions are caused by China's desire to annex the island, not by some conflict between the two militaries.

reeb said...

@anon,
If you don't know the connection between Brzezinski & Obama then you don't have a clue to what is really happening in the world.

Likewise, if you think the Trilateral Commission is just conspiracy theory material, then you need to get informed. Who do you think put Obama in power? Why can't Obama and Geithner do what is necessary to save taxpayers and the US$? (force banks with trillions of dollars of toxic derivative exposure to go bankrupt) Why? Because Wall St. (financier class) paid for Obama.

Raj said...

Mil-mil contacts are simply about exploiting the laudable sentiments you express as cover for promoting China's ongoing annexation of the island.

But, Michael, just about all countries aim to have military-to-military contact if they want good relations. It can help avoid military clashes because it cuts out the middle-men, aka the politicians, when time may not allow for them to find out what's happening. Why should that be any different between China and Taiwan?

I'm not saying there is no potential for anything harmful, but I don't see why the assumption should be that it is harmful.

Michael Turton said...

There's already a system for that, Raj, and the politicians are connected by phone across the Strait. Mil-mil contacts aren't about tension reduction, that can only occur when China reduces its military threat to Taiwan.

In relationships where there are symmetrical threats -- USSR-US, Israel-Egypt, India-China, arguably mil-mil contacts help reduce tensions. In the China-Taiwan relationship the threat is all one-sided -- anyone genuinely interested in reducing tensions would focus on the problem of Chinese aggression. Taiwan is not a military threat to China in any way.

Arguing that mil-mil contacts between Taiwan and China -- carried out by picked pro-China mainlander officers on our side, without a doubt -- will reduce tension is like arguing that Wehrmacht-Czech contacts in 1938 would reduce tension.

Michael

Readin said...

Having direct communications between potential combatants is the best way to prevent them from becoming actual combatants. Lives are more important than politics.

You seem to believe that all conflicts are caused by misunderstandings. Yet some of the bloodiest conflicts are those in which the combatants understand each other perfectly.

I would note that the Jews and and Germans who killed them were in daily contact, speaking the same language, for years before the Holocaust.

In the case of Taiwan and China, misunderstanding may be desirable. If the Taiwanese are determined to maintain their freedom even if it means war, and if the Chinese are determined to snuff out Taiwan even if it means war, then a clear understanding will lead directly to war. But so long as China believes there is hope that Taiwan may willingly commit suicide for China's benefit, then China has reason to wait.

Are the differences between China and Taiwan irreconcilable? Is it true that China simply wants to kill Taiwan and Taiwan simply wants to survive? I don't know. But if that is the case, and both sides understand it, how can they avoid war?

See the middle east for a parallel. Who has done more talking than Israel and the PLO et al.? Yet conflict continues because both sides have made their positions perfectly clear. Israel wants to survive, and the PLO wants Israel destroyed. There is no misunderstanding. It is simply an irreconcilable difference.

Meanwhile, the poor Babel fish, by effectively removing all barriers to communication between different races and cultures, has caused more and bloodier wars than anything else in the history of creation. --Douglas Adams The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy