Thursday, July 15, 2010

Open Thread

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Commenter (D) left this on my blog a few weeks ago. How would you answer this question?
Question for Michael. I liked both Tsang's article (some muddy reasoning there but also some worthwhile leaps, like, although you hated it, trying to think outside the 'independence vs. unification' dichotomy) and your response. I especially liked reading the first one, trying to guess how you would take it on, then checking my guesses. It's really too bad Steve Tsang doesn't respond to your response. My guess (?) is that he might actually agree with a lot of what you say, while still insisting on some of his prospective remarks.

But my question, if I may. Let's say you were negotiating with the PRC. What would you be willing to give up, or what compromise would you be willing to make, if the PRC offered a peace treaty, ie, renounced the use of force against their Taiwanese brothers? I'm just curious. Will your answer be "none whatsoever, because the wrong is all China's", or will it be something else?
Leave your answer in the comments below.

UPDATE: (M) has stimulated an excellent discussion on identity below.

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67 comments:

Ben Goren said...

My position on the question would be to ask that the peace treaty recognise that Taiwan is an independent country which recognises the PRC as the only China and that as a concession, Taiwan agrees to a fifty year mutual and reciprocal defense treaty with China in which both defend each other in case of foreign invasion. This would facilitate joint military exercises and constant dialogue and cooperation on combating corruption and environmental destruction.

But since Beijing will never,whilst run by the CCP, renounce the use of force, its all a bit of an academic question really. You can't have a peace treaty without a mutually respectful state of peace and recognition between the two countries.

Anonymous said...

I'd keep the status quo - no independence - while letting other things take their course, which in practice means ever closer ties.

I live in Tainan and want to avoid war at all costs, but am also thinking about culture and the economy.

China is becoming more important in the region. Taiwan can't pretend that this isn't happening, any more than Cuba could or can ignore the reality of the US and it's alternative model.

In 10 years I wouldn't be surprised if young Taiwanese are drawn to China for adventure, education, business and so on, and I imagine a lot of resistance to closer ties will fall away then.

China is changing a lot, and if you talk to anyone who was there 10, 20, 30 years ago you'll find it hard to predict anything about the country in 2020, except a lot more developed and different. Still, the trend has been toward less government control and greater personal freedom [albeit starting from the Maoist hell of total control and zero freedom].

With regard to business, Taiwanese companies could go out and set up deals in India, and that would be great. But they'd be dealing with a totally different language and a culture, and flying a long way for the privilege, whereas in China a lot is already shared, and there is an infrastructure of firms already doing good business there.

With most western countries and companies scrambling for strategies on how to deal with China, facing problems with such basic issues as language and cultural practices, it seems ridiculous that Taiwan would give up the advantages it has in this area. I can't see a good future [i.e., no war] in which closer integration with China isn't inevitable.

Again, this is not what I'd want if I had the power to change the way that things are set up now - that'd be political and economic independence, no opposition from China - but just how I think things are and what the best outcome would be given what's most likely to happen.

Michael Turton said...

I think a lot of people are going to be very surprised when all the things you say come true, Anon, and yet Taiwan does not want anything to do with China as a political unit. All the things you mention are part of the US-Canada relationship, but few Canadians want to join the US.

Ben Goren said...

@ Anon,

No offense but whilst you answered in depth and with some thought I don't think you answered his question. eg what compromise would you make for a peace deal?

Aside from that, I understand why people buy into the inevitability theory but it simply doesn't take into account so many other factors such as peak oil, resource scarcity, internal PRC pressures from the PLA and PLAN on the CCP, Japanese and Indian fears not to mention US concerns with a hegemonic world order led by an authoritarian state. Additionally, Cuba has remained staunchly independent of the US and run its own system despite the US using every available means to bring it to its knees. Cuba is not paradise and the government there is guilty of very serious human rights violations but the difference is it does not claim US territories as its own and has not threatened the US since the 1963 missile crisis.

Finally, I understand why people wish to avoid war at all costs. That is sensible and right especially considering the damage it does to everything - human and environmental. However, Taiwan is dealing with a bully which wants the road to full economic and political unification well under way by 2012 - that pressure alone will mean Taiwanese have to make some pretty serious decisions pretty soon - burying your head in the sand or giving up to buy yourself a piece of peace won't cut it when the time comes - I simply don't believe that the PRC will look benignly upon all those in Taiwan who have opposed it over the years should unification become a reality - see the experience of the Tibetans and East Turkestanians as an example. Its my opinion that naivety is not an option - we saw that in Poland and Austria. What is it about the Taiwan - PRC situation that is any different?

I'm not saying provoke the PRC, just lets keep realistic about the outcomes of all the options on the table. Wishful thinking about change over generations ignores the immediacy of the problems ahead.

Thomas said...

I just wrote a long comment, but somehow the server had a problem, and I got an error message. The comment was lost.

Anyways, my point was that I think that it is a bit premature to ask the question that you have asked. The real questions are: 1) Will Taiwan really have the ability to negotiate; 2) Will the regime in Taiwan at the time be really willing to negotiate.

Remember that the 17-Point Agreement was arrived at through "negotiations", which were no more than having PLA and CCP bigwigs dictate the terms to the Tibetans.

I think that what BG proposes is reasonable, but it will never happen if the Chinese can help it. And, absent a setback for the KMT or a distraction for China, it is looking less and less likely that the Chinese won't have to concede.

Regardless, Anon's comment is problematice because it adopts the Cultural Revolution baseline, glossing over the fact that several human rights agencies have noted in the last few years that the rights situation in China seems to be getting worse, not better. He also overlooks the idea that Taiwanese already have unprecedented opportunities to work, live and study in China. Yet, outside of those who wish to find better job opportunities or visit factories, how many Taiwanese are rushing to get into China? The problem is that the two cultures are different. And, despite what some people believe, modernization does not "make them just like us".

STOP Ma said...

.
.
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A "peace treaty" that sacrifices who and what you are is a deal made with the devil.

China is nowhere near being trustworthy enough for Taiwan to even consider a handshake, let alone a peace treaty.

When is the time? When China starts to respect history and reality. When China starts to respect Taiwan.
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.
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Anonymous said...

Any specific things you think would be very surprising they came true? I think the list could be summarized as: a) Taiwanese will be more personally attracted / involved with China than they are now; b) the growth of the private sector will continue to reduce Beijing's control over the economy and people's personal lives; c) Taiwanese businesses and citizens will have an advantage over those from any other nation when it comes to engaging with China.

Canada and America have never both claimed to be the same country. No matter how absurd, Taiwan remains ROC, and this complicates things. There is, after all, a one China policy on both sides, and independence is likely to mean military action. Again, not something that'd like to see, given the KMT's thoughtful decision to place military bases in every major city. If America were to support independence, then that would clarify matters, but that doesn't seem likely, and I don't think it would reduce the causalities on the island. Do you think a war for independence would be successful?

With regard to what compromise I'd make for a peace deal, I thought it was pretty clear that I favor the status quo / wait and see, which is a pretty big compromise considering I'd like Taiwan to be independent and for China to give up it's claim. But, as Ben Goren noted, the question is fairly academic. We're dealing with a much larger country that's operating under the widely recognized 'one China' rule, so instead of pipe dreams I'm trying to work on a future that is both possible and doesn't see a significant proportion of the Taiwanese population killed in military attacks and / or ethnic conflict.

Things like 'peak oil, resource scarcity, internal PRC pressures from the PLA and PLAN on the CCP, Japanese and Indian fears not to mention US concerns with a hegemonic world order led by an authoritarian state' can't really be factored in or planned for. How would peak oil change your views on this issue? Not at all, I'd imagine.

Thomas said...

Correction: I meant "it is looking less and less likely that the Chinese will have to concede."

Thomas said...

"b) the growth of the private sector will continue to reduce Beijing's control over the economy and people's personal lives;"

Here is another mistake of yours. Check the data. The private sector is not gaining more influence over the Chinese economy. In fact, one of the hallmarks of the last two years is that state-owned companies have received most of Beijing's largesse and have used it to expand at the expense of the private sector.

"c) Taiwanese businesses and citizens will have an advantage over those from any other nation when it comes to engaging with China."

Taiwanese businesses and citizens already do have that advantage and they have had it for decades. How do you think Taiwanese businesses became so entrenched in China? They did it because they were offered preferential treatment within China, which recognized that increased investment by Taiwanese companies in China would lead to positive externalities for China. I said this in my previous comment.

"Canada and America have never both claimed to be the same country. No matter how absurd, Taiwan remains ROC, and this complicates things. "

First of all, yes, they were both once a part of the British Empire, and many of the colonists at the time of the American revolution were royalists. And many Taiwanese DONT claim to be Chinese -- far more than claim to be Chinese. It is the KMT that maintains the fiction of the ROC, constitution or not.

"instead of pipe dreams I'm trying to work on a future that is both possible and doesn't see a significant proportion of the Taiwanese population killed in military attacks and / or ethnic conflict."

I have heard this before. It is the old, "Independence would lead to war, so we can't have independence" argument. Yes, a declaration of independence would probably lead to a war at this point. But this does not mean that it should be discounted. Frankly, you have already lost. Because if you are willing to rule out independence as an option, you have given into China's main wish. Negotiation is not necessary for you, so why are you commenting in this thread?

And ethnic conflict? Pray tell, who would stir up ethnic conflict that would kill off many Taiwanese? The DPP's position towards ethnicity is that all local ethnicities are a part of one Taiwan. It is the blues that maintain the idea that Taiwan will erupt into dangerous ethnic conflict without their wise tutelage.

"How would peak oil change your views on this issue? Not at all, I'd imagine."

Why should it?

Yep, it sounds like the propagandamachine is in full swing. Fear not, Taiwan, Anonaposter has your negotiations (capitulation) in hand.

Thomas said...

"b) the growth of the private sector will continue to reduce Beijing's control over the economy and people's personal lives;"

The public sector is gaining in China now, not the private sector. Read your business news please.

"c) Taiwanese businesses and citizens will have an advantage over those from any other nation when it comes to engaging with China."

They've had this for decades. Is the desire for unification any stronger now?

"Canada and America have never both claimed to be the same country."

They were both part of the British Empire, and they had overlapping land claims in much of North America for years after the American Revolution. And isn't it the KMT that maintains the fiction of the ROC. Or haven't you noticed that most Taiwanese are not falling over themselves to claim a Chinese identity.

"There is, after all, a one China policy on both sides, and independence is likely to mean military action. Again, not something that'd like to see"

You have already capitulated. Once you rule out independence, you remove your negotiating ace in the hole. If Taiwan would only agree to forego independence indefinitely, China would sign a peace treaty tomorrow.

"I'm trying to work on a future that is both possible and doesn't see a significant proportion of the Taiwanese population killed in military attacks and / or ethnic conflict."

Ethnic conflict? And who would cause such serious ethnic conflict that a significant portion of the Taiwanese population would be killed? Additionally, your future looks suspiciously like the old, "Well since indpendence would cause a war, we can't have that," argument. See my previous comment.

"How would peak oil change your views on this issue? Not at all, I'd imagine."

Nope. Why should it?

Don said...

You, D, have been sent to Beijing to negotiate a peace agreement for your country, which the PLA is poised to annihilate.

Do you convince yourself that the Communist Party of China can be trusted, despite its track record of murder and lies? Do you trade your country’s political self-determination, judging that this best serves the long-term health, happiness and security of your people? Do you reason that your country is so militarily and economically enfeebled, not to mention diplomatically isolated, that you have no better choice than to agree to the Communists’ terms?

It’s 1951. Do you go still go ahead and sign the “17-Point Agreement for the Peaceful Liberation of Tibet”?

Stefan said...

Well, you could give up:
* the claims to represent all of China
* the remaining islands which never belonged to Taiwan (that's going to be hard, but Taiwan has no legal claim there)
* the contents of the National Palace Museum (emotionally hard, but it does belong to China, really)

Problem is that China won't go for it - they want much much more.

Another alternative:
* give up independence altogether and become an autonomous region like Hong Kong, but with real democratic institutions which China can not overrule
* provided China holds free and fair elections in it's whole territory, guarantees freedom of press and divisions of power and protection for ethnic minorities

Of course China won't go for that either, they won't like the second point. :-)

Yet another alternative:
* give up formal independence and declare yourself part of China
* become an autonomous region
* have your own army, constitution, free elections

Even if China would go for that, you'd have to consider what the treaty is worth. Would it prevent China from demanding further rights to Taiwan a few years later? On the other hand it would likely harm Taiwan's ability to cooperate militarily with the US or Japan, since those countries would be less inclined to trust Taiwan.

That, I think is the core problem: your negotiations must not place you in a worse position than you are now - in the event that China decides to rescind their obligations. They are not a trustworthy partner.

I think you'd be better off to trying to negotiate with Korea, Japan, India and the US.

Anonymous said...

"Yes, a declaration of independence would probably lead to a war at this point. But this does not mean that it should be discounted."

Well, yes, if war is OK on the path to independence - and China is a lot closer to Taiwan than the UK was to America - then that's obviously a viable option for you. And what do you think the outcome of this war would be? A few million causalities on each side, then American bases on the island in perpetuity to enforce the ceasefire?

"one of the hallmarks of the last two years is that state-owned companies have received most of Beijing's largesse and have used it to expand at the expense of the private sector"

That would coincide with the US$ 586 billion economic stimulus / investment by Beijing to offset the global financial crisis [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China_economic_stimulus_program], develop infrastructure, and bring economic development to the provinces further from the coast.

What would you like to see in 2020, and what do you think is a viable way of getting there? Without the second part the first is just a dream.

Sage said...

"A nation or person which prefers to live with the loss of freedom rather than to live with some danger is ready to be enslaved and deserves it"
Alexander Hamilton

Having lived in China for 12 years does not make me an expert but it certainly gave me some insight into what freedom is and what freedom means. Many aspects that I took for granted.

Anyone who would advocate allowing this wolf into the hen house without a fight, is either a coward or a fool.

Anonymous said...

If I were Taiwan - what would I put on the table? Everything. And nothing.

Everything -- dangling them like carrots just to gull them into thinking everything is negotiable, and perhaps to expose some of their strategy.

Nothing -- because negotiating from a weak postion is foolish beyond belief, especially when the stakes are so immense. The goals is, I think, to make the PRC think they're gaining, and if you have some ace up your sleeve, you pull it at the right moment...

Anonymous said...

A suggestion touted by some EU academics has been the 3rd entity model, but this probably does not go far enough as a guarantee. Starting from the assumption that both sides will have to make compromises for a settlement to be durable and feasible, I would consider:

1) Taiwan acknowledges it is part of "China" - but not of the PRC. Both the PRC and Taiwan create a minimal supranational body with a ceremonial president and a foreign affairs body to coordinate, but not dictate, foreign policy.

2) The PRC immediately and by treaty renounces the use of force, signs a peace agreement, removes its missile infrastructure facing Taiwan and establishes a joint command with Taiwanese forces for the purposes of CBM and transparency.

3) The PRC evacuates its fleet and air force from the Taiwan Strait. As a CBM and a pre-condition for Taiwan accepting military cooperation with the PRC, the Taiwanese military is given the exclusive right to police and defend the Taiwan Strait under the aegis of the 3rd-entity China.

4) Taiwan can, by an entrenched clause in the PRC constitution, maintain its own constitution, army, currency and immigration policies.

5) Likewise, Taiwan will jettison the title Republic of China and adopt a mutually acceptable name, such as Chinese Republic of Taiwan or something to that effect.

6) Taiwan be given a seat in the UN General Assembly. Close cooperation between Taiwan offices abroad and PRC embassies, with no formal change in recognition, but the stipulation that each should be allowed to conduct the bulk of foreign policy independently of the other.

The above presupposes, of course, that China makes moves towards democratisation, though not necessarily be truly democratic - merely subject to a reasonable regime of rule of law. Otherwise, transparency and enforceability may be difficult to guarantee.

D said...

Thanks Michael. These answers are really interesting.

Carlos said...

imo, Taiwan is currently on track to become something like British Edinburgh.

The people will let it happen because it won’t change many things. Taiwan already isn’t allowed to call itself Taiwan in international events, use its flag outside of Taiwan, make treaties with other countries… the status quo is already one of not being independent, and most people are (grudgingly) okay with it. Taiwanese will call themselves Taiwanese just like the Scots have no trouble saying they’re Scottish. The difference is that, as the other commenters have said, China or China-identifying Taiwanese could turn Taiwan back into a police state hellhole on a whim.

I think it’s the best deal that could be reached through negotiation. I guess I could live with it - if China were democratic and far more respectful of its languages and cultural rights than it currently is.

I know some pan-blues who want a confederation between the PRC and ROC, but that sounds like a two-China position to me, and that’s not going to be allowed.

Ben Goren said...

I agree with Stefan's first list of concessions. They would signal to the world that Taiwan is serious about making peace. Except that you'd have to have a plebiscite on Matsu and Kinmen on whether the residents would like to be reunified and become PRC citizens.

Making much much better friends of Korea, Japan, Vietnam and India would also be a good step. As for the US, not much Taiwan can do except make itself as strategically useful to the US as possible and deepen economic ties.

As for peak oil. Yes, its a 'bigger picture' consideration that will likely have little visible immediate impact on negotiations but it is a background element that is likely to slowly ratchet up tension around the world as energy supplies begin to drop. China will want what it regards as its fair share but that will bring it into conflict with other developed nations - primarily the US then India, Brazil, Russia and the advanced carbon heavy economies of Europe. I think it deserves mentioning even if it doesn't play a direct role in the short term.

green sleeeves said...

If indeed more and more Taiwnaese were to be "drawn" to China like Anon predicted, it became a moot to "negotiate" with China.

The anology of Cuba vw US to that of Taiwan vs China is the biggest joke, as Ben rightfully pointed out.

Under Chiang's KMT regime that brainwash, an identity toward Taiwan still developed over the past decades, it's hard to imagine that Taiwanese are willing to foresake the freedom they have earned and side with China.

I would suggest Anon to read "Road 312" to get a good look of the real China other than that portrayed by the KMT administration.

The question remained, why would Taiwan need to "negotiate" with China? Did Isarel negotiate with other Arabic states? Obviously NOT.

It's NOT that I want to pretend China doesn't exist, but we shouldn't limit our thinking to: seek for approval from China!

Dixteel said...

I think the question is a bit hyperthetical because in reality Taiwan and China is not currently at war therefore peace treaty cannot be signed. The talk of "peace treaty" is from the point of view of KMT and CCP which like to think they are still at "civil" war, which would imply that Taiwan is part of China.

A more practical question might be a treaty that "normalize" China and Taiwan relationship:
1. Complete political seperation between Taiwan and China. Taiwan will not claim to be ROC, and China will not claim Taiwan and its territory as part of China.
2. Kinmen and Matsu area should hold referendum to determine whether they want to be part of PRC or Taiwan Republic. If they choose to be part of PRC, those that don't to can move to Taiwan. And vice versa. (Given 10 years window).

That is a fair trade. I also want to emphesize that it won't be anything fair if Taiwan has to give up something for China to remove or renounce use of force against Taiwan because that is like giving money to a robber so he/she won't stab you with a knife. While practically you save your own life, but you have been robbed of course. Also, there is no guarantee that China won't try to rob you again.

Therefore, I think a normalization treaty is more practical and useful than a "peace" treaty.

Anonymous said...

I don't know if Israel – a dubious historical claim imposed over the objections of much of the territory's population, with residents of the non-favored ethnicity driven from their property and still denied equal rights - is the best example to cite if you want to take Taiwan's side.

Hans said...

Dixteel, I think you have a great point. Why sign a peace-treaty with China when it is the provocative side? A "normalization" treaty would be much more practical, reasonable and... unlikely since it's the PRC that we're dealing with here. Nevertheless, the future of Taiwan, including Kinmen and Matsu should really be decided by a democratic process. I've met someone who denied being a Taiwanese because he was from Kinmen. These internal issues have to be solved before any form of discussion with the PRC I believe. ROC should definitely be placed in history; it's like the PERSIAN EMPIRE of the middle east to me...

mx said...

The original question can't be answered.

First of all, everything is going to change once the US/EU/JP (Wall St/Trilateralists) financial system crumbles into pieces. The world as we know it will probably not exist in a short amount of time. Taiwan will be left on it's own with no power to negotiate anything. China will crumble too as there is no such thing as decoupling from my POV. Will they subvert attention away from their own banking crisis by making a move on Taiwan? I don't know.

A good read is Currency Wars: Selling the Rope by Jesse Cafe Americain. (One of the three best market websites besides Market-Ticker and Zerohedge, imho).

Which brings up: Why was the ECFA pushed so hard these past few months? I think it has to do with the upcoming November G20 Summit in SKorea. I believe China wants to use Taiwan's PM resources (gold) to change the weight of a new reserve system (SDR). The Chinese really want nothing to do with the G20, but they have to put up with it for now. With control over Taiwan's and Hong Kong's gold reserves, they have more ammunition to take on the BIS. I'll bet there is some secret clause in the ECFA that allows this.

Anonymous said...

I will use the same logic that the progressives used against Iraq:

China is a sovereign nation - you cannot willy nilly advocate freedom for either Iraq or parts thereof, without their approval, i.e. Beijing.

UN says that Taiwan does not exist. Ignoring Cowboy nations that might attempt to fight such status quo, Taiwan must be part of China (see Global Test from J. Kerry.)

Democracy counts for nothing....well, maybe if Dems are in control, but even then...forget it - we can't go negative on alternative cultures and political philosophies - that would be NEO-CON.

Michael Turton said...

I have to admit, anon@5:13, that your post made absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Ben Goren said...

I have to agree with you Mike, I don't understand what anon5:13 is saying ...

I always find huge problems when discussing what 'China' is. For example, pre 1949, both Tibet and East Turkestan were self governing and Tibet had a government even if it was notionally under British colonial control. After 1949 both these countries were annexed by force by China creating a new 'status-quo'. However, what exactly gives this status quo any more legitimacy than the situation before 1949? Simple because the US says so? Simple because the CCP dredges its history books to cook up a supposedly historical precedent for the claim? Same goes for Taiwan. By that same token vast parts of Korea and Vietnam are also Chinese territory.

Why is it that no-one seems to want to consult the Taiwanese, Tibetans and East Turkestanians about what they want? Because China will throw a fit and claim 'tensions' are being raised? I say again, can we please learn from the experiences of Poland and Austria facing the Nazis in 1939? Chamberlain's 'peace in our time' showed us exactly how far you can trust a nation driven by xenophobic nationalism built on crude social darwinism (Check Sun Yat Sen's San Min Ju Yi for this ideology at work and remember that that thought still lies at the heart of the ROC and PRC states and constitutions).

As for my own country, England, I am of the belief that the UK should be a federation of equal states - Scotland, Wales and England. I find no threat in my identity nor national sovereignty or territory in such an arrangement (and that's a tiny federation compared to the CCP empire).

I agree with Mike - Taiwanese do not want to be politically unified with China but without support and recognition from other countries their desires may well be sacrificed as tribute for Beijing to dissuade it from further aggressive expansion. The sad part is it is a strategy that will very likely fail.

Since when is it ok to give legitimacy to a claim under the duress of a bully?

How can negotiations be undertaken when Taiwan has a gun pointed at its head?

M said...

I've met someone who denied being a Taiwanese because he was from Kinmen.

Often on this blog people claim that any ROC citizen who does not admit that they are Taiwanese must be "brainwashed", or "in denial of their own identity." The comment above has again exposed the absurdity of this position. Why should someone from Jinmen County, Fujian Province, an island hundreds of miles from Taiwan think of himself of Taiwanese? The people of Jinmen don't even speak the same dialect as the Taiwanese. They in fact share little in common except for the historical accident that the ROC retained control of both areas after the Chinese civil war.

The position is also ridiculous because Taiwanese nationalism is a relatively new phenomenon. During the Japanese period, the colonial resistance movement emphasized their Chinese cultural heritage. One of the leading figures, Jiang Weishui was inspired by Sun Yat-sen. Taiwan independence was not an issue when KMT troops arrived in Taiwan (they were actually welcomed as liberators) or even during the 228 incident. It only emerged in limited form after 228 by regime opponents overseas who had escaped Taiwan.

I think it is clear that Chinese identity pre-dates Taiwanese identity in Taiwan. Beneath the greater Chinese identity, people identified with various sub-groups (for example whether they migrated from Zhangzhou or Quanzhou in Fujian). They did not think of themselves as "Taiwanese" in any kind of nationalist sense, if at all. Aboriginals identified with their various tribes. Even today, Aboriginals do not self-identify as "Taiwanese", and in everyday conversation are not identified as "Taiwanren."

Taiwanese identity is not as natural or unprobelmatic as many contributors to this blog think.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least anon@5:13 has made me [1st, 2nd, 3rd posts anon posts in this set] decide to log in with an ID in future.

On another subject, a link for Mr Turton:
http://newyork.seriouseats.com/2010/07/the-best-taiwanese-shaved-ice-in-new-york-flushing-queens-chinatown-manhattan.html

Michael Turton said...

Taiwanese identity is not as natural or unprobelmatic as many contributors to this blog think.

Thanks for the history lesson. There's no such thing as an unproblematic identity.

Taiwan independence was not an issue when KMT troops arrived in Taiwan (they were actually welcomed as liberators) or even during the 228 incident. It only emerged in limited form after 228 by regime opponents overseas who had escaped Taiwan.

You should check your history, BTW. Taiwanese independence was already alive and well and living in Taiwan prior to 2-28, and the formation of a separate identity on Taiwan well under way by the end of the 19th century, the inevitable result of Qing colonial processes, the island's incorporation into outside trade networks, and the emergence of families with generations on the island. It's not surprising that Chiang Wei-shui might find inspiration in SYS but then many people did.

The Chinese were welcomed as liberators but they soon taught the locals that they were incompetent looters. Great work for the glory of China, there.

In short, nationality is what you think it is. Good luck convincing the Taiwanese that they are Chinese.

Michael

Zaphoid B. said...

If the threat of hostility is truly removed, then everything should be on the table. Peace is a lot more important than ideology, national identity etc.

Of course, no one really trusts China now, so an agreement to maintain the status quo, lower tensions, start dialog and so on, with the political issues to be left (by mutual agreement) for the next generation is the best we can ask for at this point. As China's middle class grows, so should political freedom (although more slowly) and in another 20-30 years they may well be democratic and it will no longer be an issue.

Citizen said...

[@ M continued from previous comment]

Furthermore, it is quite unclear what you mean by "Chinese" identity. In common English use, "Chinese" identity can refer to either 漢人 (Han) – an ethnic identity – or 中國人 – a political (national) identity. Not all 中國人 are 漢人. In the PRC national registry and as printed on all PRC ID cards, there are no 中國人, only 漢 (Han), 回 (Hui), 壯 (Zhuang), 維吾爾 (Uyghur), etc. Neither are all 漢人 also 中國人. The majority of Singaporean nationals identify themselves as Singaporean but also ethnic Chinese (華人); in most of Southeast Asia, "Chinese" is a racial/ethnic classifier, not a political one. Thus, from an identity perspective – and here I am only looking at the issue from an identity perspective – there is nothing to suggest that self-identified ethnic "Chinese"/漢/華 people in Taiwan should gravitate any more toward the PRC than those in Singapore, Malaysia, the US, Argentina, or anywhere else.

Taiwanese identity is not as natural or unprobelmatic as many contributors to this blog think.
Chinese identity, or any political or ethnic identity at all, is not as natural or unproblematic as you imply.

Sorry for the confusing grammar and jumbled thoughts, it's been a long day.

Citizen said...

@ M:

I think it is clear that Chinese identity pre-dates Taiwanese identity in Taiwan. Beneath the greater Chinese identity, people identified with various sub-groups (for example whether they migrated from Zhangzhou or Quanzhou in Fujian). They did not think of themselves as "Taiwanese" in any kind of nationalist sense, if at all. Aboriginals identified with their various tribes. Even today, Aboriginals do not self-identify as "Taiwanese", and in everyday conversation are not identified as "Taiwanren."

"Chinese identity" itself is not that old. In the region now confusingly referred to as Great China, neither ethnic nor political identities really predate the late Imperial period of Chinese history. Ethnicity and nationhood are both concepts that only became salient after the spread of industrialization, print capitalism, and other technologies that made long distance communication and information sharing (and the uniformization/standardization of language) possible – refer to classic works by Benedict Anderson (1991) and Ernest Gellner (1983) on the topic. In both the East and the West, ethnic and political identities were mutable and constantly fluctuating until the age of political "modernity," with the nation-state as a. The identities that exist today are the result of conscious efforts of identity creation by governments seeking to consolidate their nation-state territories. See Weber (1976) and Tilly (1975) for Western European cases, Brubaker (1996) and Laitin (1998) for Easter European ones. Most relevant to the topic at hand, Crossley et al. (2005), Duara (2009) and Fogel & Zarrow (1997) describe well the origins of ethnic and national identity in late imperial China. What makes the "Chinese" identity that you describe more legitimate, more salient than the "Taiwanese" one that you claim to be younger?

Thus, in response to your statement:
Beneath the greater Chinese identity, people identified with various sub-groups (for example whether they migrated from Zhangzhou or Quanzhou in Fujian). They did not think of themselves as "Taiwanese" in any kind of nationalist sense, if at all
It is true that the early ethnic "Chinese" settlers of Taiwan thought of themselves as Zhangzhou or Quanzhou, etc; however, it is not clear whether they thought of this identity as something below a "greater Chinese identity" in an ethnic sense.

[continued in next comment due to size]

Arty said...

In short, nationality is what you think it is. Good luck convincing the Taiwanese that they are Chinese.

Actually it is very easy. Manchurian did it. Japanese did it, and ROC did it. Pointing a gun at Taiwanese works very well historically. Heck, some of Taiwan still want to be ruled by Japan today, and use their Japanese names. Btw, the early Taiwan independent movement is promoted by Japanese during Manchurian rule. I guess the movement didn't end up well once Japan moved in (cough history...).

Okay, I have my post for the month :).

M said...

"Chinese identity" itself is not that old. In the region now confusingly referred to as Great China, neither ethnic nor political identities really pre-date the late Imperial period of Chinese history. Ethnicity and nationhood are both concepts that only became salient after the spread of industrialization, print capitalism, and other technologies that made long distance communication and information sharing (and the uniformization/standardization of language) possible – refer to classic works by Benedict Anderson (1991) and Ernest Gellner (1983) on the topic. In both the East and the West, ethnic and political identities were mutable and constantly fluctuating until the age of political "modernity," with the nation-state as a. The identities that exist today are the result of conscious efforts of identity creation by governments seeking to consolidate their nation-state territories. See Weber (1976) and Tilly (1975) for Western European cases, Brubaker (1996) and Laitin (1998) for Easter European ones. Most relevant to the topic at hand, Crossley et al. (2005), Duara (2009) and Fogel & Zarrow (1997) describe well the origins of ethnic and national identity in late imperial China. What makes the "Chinese" identity that you describe more legitimate, more salient than the "Taiwanese" one that you claim to be younger?

Yes, I am aware of the literature on nationalism. I don't think that Chinese identity is necessarily more salient than Taiwanese identity. I was simply trying to clear up some misconceptions. The category "Taiwanese" is often held up as some kind of primordial identity which the Taiwanese were forced to exchange for a Chinese identity after the KMT arrived in Taiwan. An examination of the anti-colonial literature from the Japanese period shows clearly the salience of Chinese identity long before the KMT arrived. I recommend chapter 2 of Leo Ching's excellent "Becoming Japanese".

The expression of Taiwanese identity is often associated with a denial of Chinese identity, which is why the previous poster was confused that someone from Jinmen should "deny" that they are Taiwanese.

It is true that the early ethnic "Chinese" settlers of Taiwan thought of themselves as Zhangzhou or Quanzhou, etc; however, it is not clear whether they thought of this identity as something below a "greater Chinese identity" in an ethnic sense.

Agreed, but it also seems likely that they thought of themselves as Chinese before they thought of themselves as Taiwanese.

M said...

(cont.)
It is true that the early ethnic "Chinese" settlers of Taiwan thought of themselves as Zhangzhou or Quanzhou, etc; however, it is not clear whether they thought of this identity as something below a "greater Chinese identity" in an ethnic sense.

Agreed, but it also seems likely that they thought of themselves as Chinese before they thought of themselves as Taiwanese.

Furthermore, it is quite unclear what you mean by "Chinese" identity. In common English use, "Chinese" identity can refer to either 漢人 (Han) – an ethnic identity – or 中國人 – a political (national) identity. Not all 中國人 are 漢人. In the PRC national registry and as printed on all PRC ID cards, there are no 中國人, only 漢 (Han), 回 (Hui), 壯 (Zhuang), 維吾爾 (Uyghur), etc. Neither are all 漢人 also 中國人. The majority of Singaporean nationals identify themselves as Singaporean but also ethnic Chinese (華人); in most of Southeast Asia, "Chinese" is a racial/ethnic classifier, not a political one. Thus, from an identity perspective – and here I am only looking at the issue from an identity perspective – there is nothing to suggest that self-identified ethnic "Chinese"/漢/華 people in Taiwan should gravitate any more toward the PRC than those in Singapore, Malaysia, the US, Argentina, or anywhere else.

Yes, this is an obvious problem. The Taiwan independence movement has deliberately conflated the notion of being Chinese with being a part of the PRC. A Chinese Malay has no problem saying (in English) "I am Chinese". No one thinks that because of this he is a part of the PRC. But in Taiwan if you say you are Chinese, you are immediately suspected of having pro-PRC sympathies. In Malaysia, Chinese is understood to mean 華人, but in Taiwan is is often taken to mean 中國人, and because the Taiwan independence movement must reject the notion of the ROC, then 中國becomes中華人民共和國.

Chinese identity, or any political or ethnic identity at all, is not as natural or unproblematic as you imply.

I don't think I ever implied that.

Sorry for the confusing grammar and jumbled thoughts, it's been a long day.

Not at all. You expressed your thoughts very clearly. Interesting topic!

M said...

"Chinese identity" itself is not that old. In the region now confusingly referred to as Great China, neither ethnic nor political identities really pre-date the late Imperial period of Chinese history. Ethnicity and nationhood are both concepts that only became salient after the spread of industrialization, print capitalism, and other technologies that made long distance communication and information sharing (and the uniformization/standardization of language) possible – refer to classic works by Benedict Anderson (1991) and Ernest Gellner (1983) on the topic. In both the East and the West, ethnic and political identities were mutable and constantly fluctuating until the age of political "modernity," with the nation-state as a. The identities that exist today are the result of conscious efforts of identity creation by governments seeking to consolidate their nation-state territories. See Weber (1976) and Tilly (1975) for Western European cases, Brubaker (1996) and Laitin (1998) for Easter European ones. Most relevant to the topic at hand, Crossley et al. (2005), Duara (2009) and Fogel & Zarrow (1997) describe well the origins of ethnic and national identity in late imperial China. What makes the "Chinese" identity that you describe more legitimate, more salient than the "Taiwanese" one that you claim to be younger?

Yes, I am aware of the literature on nationalism. I don't think that Chinese identity is necessarily more salient than Taiwanese identity. I was simply trying to clear up some misconceptions. The category "Taiwanese" is often held up as some kind of primordial identity which the Taiwanese were forced to exchange for a Chinese identity after the KMT arrived in Taiwan. An examination of the anti-colonial literature from the Japanese period shows clearly the salience of Chinese identity long before the KMT arrived. I recommend chapter 2 of Leo Ching's excellent "Becoming Japanese".

The expression of Taiwanese identity is often associated with a denial of Chinese identity, which is why the previous poster was confused that someone from Jinmen should "deny" that they are Taiwanese.

Michael Turton said...

Yes, this is an obvious problem. The Taiwan independence movement has deliberately conflated the notion of being Chinese with being a part of the PRC. A Chinese Malay has no problem saying (in English) "I am Chinese". No one thinks that because of this he is a part of the PRC. But in Taiwan if you say you are Chinese, you are immediately suspected of having pro-PRC sympathies.

Upside down and backward. it's the PRC/KMT that has claimed the Chinese identity as an all-embracing one that must include, politically, everyone it identifies as "Chinese" -- a number of peoples and places that increases as time goes on. The purpose of identifying a people as "Chinese" is to annex their land and absorb their population. Hence the reaction of pro-Taiwan, pro-democracy types to PRC/KMT colonialism and aggression.

The category "Taiwanese" is often held up as some kind of primordial identity which the Taiwanese were forced to exchange for a Chinese identity after the KMT arrived in Taiwan.

That's because they were. Any Chinese identity they held prior to KMT arrival, as well as the Taiwanese/Japanese identity, had to be given up when the KMT arrived in exchange for the racial-based "Chinese" identity the KMT promulgated. The issue is not just that emergent Taiwanese identities were crushed. It was that all other identities were crushed.

One of the KMT games (also played by the PRC now) was then to attempt to assimilate prior Chinese identities to the modern KMT version of "being Chinese". That's the same game you're playing here in this discussion of pre-1945 identity.

Leo Ching's book is excellent.

Michael

M said...

Upside down and backward. it's the PRC that has claimed the Chinese identity as an all-embracing one that must include, politically, everyone it identifies as "Chinese" -- a number of peoples and places that increases as time goes on. The purpose of identifying a people as "Chinese" is to annex their land and absorb their population. Hence the reaction of pro-Taiwan, pro-democracy types to PRC colonialism and aggression.

Maybe, but I have clearly shown that "Chinese" identity in Taiwan pre-dates the arrival of the KMT and the founding of the PRC. It also exists in places that the KMT has no intentions of "annexing" such as Malaysia, Singapore, and the United States.

That's because they were. Any Chinese identity they held prior to KMT arrival, as well as the Taiwanese/Japanese identity, had to be given up when the KMT arrived in exchange for the racial-based "Chinese" identity the KMT promulgated. The issue is not just that emergent Taiwanese identities were crushed. It was that all other identities were crushed.

One of the KMT games was then to attempt to assimilate prior Chinese identities to the modern KMT version of "being Chinese". That's the same game you're playing here in this discussion of pre-1945 identity.


I party agree with that. One of things that the KMT did was to define Minnan culture in Taiwan as somehow not "Chinese".Being Chinese was all about speaking Mandarin, the palace architectural style and Peking opera. By excluding Minnan culture from the broader notion of being Chinese, they inadvertently created a basis for the emergence of Taiwanese nationalism.

However, they did not crush other identities - at the local level they were simply not powerful enough to do so. I also disagree that their version of Chineseness was about racial purity. Remember that the KMT emigrees to Taiwan included many non-Han people.

Citizen said...

@M:
But in Taiwan if you say you are Chinese, you are immediately suspected of having pro-PRC sympathies. In Malaysia, Chinese is understood to mean 華人, but in Taiwan is is often taken to mean 中國人, and because the Taiwan independence movement must reject the notion of the ROC, then 中國becomes中華人民共和國.

I'm not sure I understand you here. The term "Chinese" does not exist in the Chinese language – there are more specific, exclusive terms, one for a political identity – 中國人 – and another for an ethnic identity – 漢人/唐人/華人/other regional variant. I mean "exclusive" in that in Taiwan, in Anhui, in Singapore, in Penang, in wherever a Chinese language is spoken, 中國人 is understood to refer exclusively to a political identity, not an ethnic one. Of course, then, if you "in Taiwan, if you say you are Chinese [– '我是中國人' –], you are immediately suspected of having pro-PRC sympathies," then I of course agree, and rightfully so, as to claim that you are a 中國人 is to claim you share a political identity with the residents of Beijing, of Heilongjiang, of Anhui, of the PRC. If you say you are a 華人 – "我是華人" – that is certainly not the case; to say so would, for the majority of the residents of the island of Taiwan, of the islands of Kinmen and Matsu, be the statement of an obvious fact.

M said...

I'm not sure I understand you here. The term "Chinese" does not exist in the Chinese language – there are more specific, exclusive terms, one for a political identity – 中國人 – and another for an ethnic identity – 漢人/唐人/華人/other regional variant. I mean "exclusive" in that in Taiwan, in Anhui, in Singapore, in Penang, in wherever a Chinese language is spoken, 中國人 is understood to refer exclusively to a political identity, not an ethnic one. Of course, then, if you "in Taiwan, if you say you are Chinese [– '我是中國人' –], you are immediately suspected of having pro-PRC sympathies," then I of course agree, and rightfully so, as to claim that you are a 中國人 is to claim you share a political identity with the residents of Beijing, of Heilongjiang, of Anhui, of the PRC. If you say you are a 華人 – "我是華人" – that is certainly not the case; to say so would, for the majority of the residents of the island of Taiwan, of the islands of Kinmen and Matsu, be the statement of an obvious fact.

Sorry for not being clearer. I was referring to the use of the word "Chinese" when the speaker is speaking English. In Malaysia or Singapore this is generally taken to mean 華人, but in Taiwan it is taken to mean 中國人. That is why when a Malaysian citizen or an ROC citizen proclaims "I am Chinese" it can mean very different things.

I also think it is possible to identify as 中國人 without identifying with the PRC. Or should people from Jinmen, Mazu, and the mainland immigrants after the war be forced to chose between "admitting" they are Taiwanese or being accused of having pro-PRC sympathies?

Anonymous said...

First of all, you should do this from a position of strength.This is the key whether you want independence or unification with autonomy.

So I would suggest an increase of defense spending from the current risible levels in Taiwan to much higher levels. Say 5% of GDP or Israeli levels whichever is higher. I would mandate that no one could serve in higher office unless their children served in the military...sorry Lien Chan but its unseemly to have your kids ensconced in America. I would offer to pay above "market" price for arms, because let's face it, China punishes anyone who sells to Taiwan. I would strongly crack down on Taiwanese spies who sell our foreign allies' secrets to China. Death penalty.

Secondly, I would decide that maybe instead of antagonizing the one country that has basically stood by Taiwan (except for some unpleasantness under Jimmy Carter), I would unilaterally declare a zero tariffs on all made in USA products, including cow meat. We will take our chances with mad cow vs. Chinese missiles. If other countries were to offer similar defense agreements, they too could trade and invest freely. And I mean freely - no turning down Warner cable because some KMT dude owns the cable monopoly. No limit on bank branches to protect Taiwanese consumers from seeing a Citibank sign (okay, that might sell better in 2007 than now...)

Thirdly, I would have a referendum on unification - that would state that unification could only be done with a referendum of 55% majority vote and 75% turn-out. This provides a bar for any Chinese unification plan to pass. This will anger the independence people who don't realize that it creates an incentive for China to be friendly, creates a problem for the "global test" concept of international relations, and offers a legit way to unify in case that someday becomes desirable. You can change percents as you wish.

Now we have a better position to deal with China, including a carrot, not just sticks.

I would also encourage tourism from China - here Ma is correct. It will do far more to undermine the CCP and help Taiwan to let Chinese people actually see Taiwan.

Anonymous said...

Let's see how should you negotiate with China?

Well, first of all, you should do this from a position of strength.This is the key whether you want independence or unification with autonomy.

So I would suggest an increase of defense spending from the current risible levels in Taiwan to much higher levels. Say 5% of GDP or Israeli levels whichever is higher. I would mandate that no one could serve in higher office unless their children served in the military...sorry Lien Chan but its unseemly to have your kids ensconced in America. I would offer to pay above "market" price for arms, because let's face it, China punishes anyone who sells to Taiwan. I would strongly crack down on Taiwanese spies who sell our foreign allies' secrets to China. Death penalty.

Secondly, I would decide that maybe instead of antagonizing the one country that has basically stood by Taiwan (except for some unpleasantness under Jimmy Carter), I would unilaterally declare a zero tariffs on all made in USA products, including cow meat. We will take our chances with mad cow vs. Chinese missiles. If other countries were to offer similar defense agreements, they too could trade and invest freely. And I mean freely - no turning down Warner cable because some KMT dude owns the cable monopoly. No limit on bank branches to protect Taiwanese consumers from seeing a Citibank sign (okay, that might sell better in 2007 than now...)

Thirdly, I would have a referendum on unification - that would state that unification could only be done with a referendum of 55% majority vote and 75% turn-out. This provides a bar for any Chinese unification plan to pass. This will anger the independence people who don't realize that it creates an incentive for China to be friendly, creates a problem for the "global test" concept of international relations, and offers a legit way to unify in case that someday becomes desirable. You can change percents as you wish.

Now we have a better position to deal with China, including a carrot, not just sticks.

I would also encourage tourism from China - here Ma is correct. It will do far more to undermine the CCP and help Taiwan to let Chinese people actually see Taiwan.

Zaphoid B. said...

@Anon 4.45

Your first point about massive increases in military spending sends completely the wrong message, not just to the mainland, but to the world in general. Peace does not come from military might.

taiwanese said...

People in Taiwan have never accepted the One China Policy. That’s plain stupid, why would we do that? If it weren’t for the KMT and Ma, we didn’t have to go with the CHINESE TAIPEI name. Ma’s inability to fight for his country is truly embarrassing. Are people from Kaoshiong or Taichung not a part of Taiwan? Chinese Taipei is only representative of the people living in Taipei but not representative of other people who are living in other parts of Taiwan. But what do we expect from a KMT president? We should’ve seen this coming sooner or later. I just wish that Ma would continue his role as coward rather than a traitor who sells Taiwan to China.

Another thing: If China wants to claim Taiwan as a part of China just because ethnically we’re all Chinese, why don’t they try to take over Korea or Japan as well? Sure, I admit ethnically I’m Chinese but I recognize my nationality as Taiwanese. This is a simple fact people in China must get over. Just because we have the same ancestors, doesn’t mean that we have to be a part of your country. If people around the world keep letting China act like a big bully, sooner or later there will be a war. Watch the PRC go around reclaiming territories they had lost to other countries during WWII and the Chinese Empire will rise.

The last thing I want to say is that…people from other countries laugh at us when we say we are Taiwanese because they think we are Chinese. I said to my South Korean friend, “It’s like you claim you’re from South Korea, but I don’t see the difference between you and the North Koreans from North Korea. You think I’m insulting you with what I’ve just said. But that’s what I feel like when you think Taiwanese is an identity that I’ve made up for myself.” My American friend also found it funny when I said Taiwan is not a part of China. So I told him “What you’re saying to me right now is like if I said to you the United States is a part of England.” Which it clearly is not.
Taiwan has its own flag, currency, constitution, government, and president. So who are you to say that we are not independent?

taiwanese said...

The PRC has continuously argued that Taiwan has always been a part of China. However, unlike Macau and Hong Kong that had a legitimate treaty declaring the transfer of sovereignty from Portuguese and British rule to the PRC, Taiwan has never signed such treaties.

We must not forget that before the KMTs lost the Civil War in China and fled to Taiwan, there were already a lot of Taiwanese people living on the island.

My grandma told me when the KMTs arrived to Taiwan, they had nothing on them. No money, no clothes, and no land. All they had with them were guns. And guess what they did? They took lands from the Taiwanese people. They forced the Taiwanese people to exchange their Taiwanese currencies for useless new currencies they had created. And you might wonder why KMT has so much party assets…because they stole a bunch of land from the Taiwanese people!

Taiwanese people were also forced to speak Mandarin Chinese and not their native language, Taiwanese. You would get fined and beaten if you spoke Taiwanese in schools. This is why not many kids from the newer generations in Taiwan know how to speak Taiwanese anymore. And just like Mao Ze Dong, Stalin, and Hitler, the KMTs also started to recruit people to the party when they were still students. Those who joined the party, like Ma, were able to go study abroad in the United States because KMT help paid for his tuition and living expenses. The ROC is nothing but a military regime ruled by Chiang Kai Shek who was no different from Mao Ze Dong.

Ironically, the KMT who once wanted nothing to do with the PRC is now leaning towards reunification with China. If you come to Taiwan and ask the people here if they support reunification, most of them will tell you no or they want to remain the current status quo. If you ask the people here do you recognize yourself as Taiwanese or Chinese, most of them will tell you Taiwanese. You will find out that people who support reunification and recognize themselves as Chinese here are people from KMT. These people who support reunification only stand for a minority of the population in Taiwan. What I would want to advise them to do is that, if you want reunification so much, pack your bags and go back to China. People here want independence and freedom. We’re talking about China here – A place where the government controls a lot of things. A place where corruption is everywhere but are not publicized (but surely they had decided to publicize Chen’s allegations of corruption to turn public sentiments against DPP). A place where the government blocks a lot of things that it doesn’t want you to see or know (books, internet, news, and the television). A place where the income gap is tremendous between the haves and the have nots and that’s why a lot of Chinese people tries to illegally immigrate to Taiwan.

Dixteel said...

Zaphoid B.

What you say might be true, but peace does not come from military enfeeblement neither. Anon has a point. Just imagine Taiwan without any military. We have to be practical. Unless you invent something that can physically move Taiwan away from China, military defense is essential.

Furthermore, Taiwan's military spending is way less than its neighbour, in both actually funding and as % of GDP (comparing to South Korea for example). With this kind of spending maybe even Malaysia and Philipine military can crush Taiwan's in 10 years. On the other side of scale we have China, which has been spending like crazy into military ans space program.

We are not talking about arm race here, but at least Taiwan needs to give itself a chance for potential allies to arrive. Without such capability, Taiwan would be in an extremely bad situation, both politically and on the negotiation table.

Dixteel said...

Anon,

I have to disagree with you on 2 points.

First one is the mad cow thing. If there is such danger, Taiwan should not allow the import, and the US should not force to export such thing anyway. Doing so will not only endanger Taiwan's children, but can also generate anti-American sentiment in Taiwan. It will not work out well for both sides. Furthermore, is cow-exporting really that important to the US...I mean the mighty USA has nothing more valuable to export other than cow-organs?

I also disagree with your last point. I don't see how Chinese people seeing Taiwan will undermine CCP. In fact, I think it will strength CCP's position.

First of all, the past evidence. Chinese tourism has been in Hong Kong long before Taiwan, but that does not undermine CCP. Furthermore, there are Chinese in Europe, the US and Canada etc before tourism in Taiwan. Again, those do not undermine CCP.

Secondly, if we think logically, why would Chinese visiting Taiwan undermine CCP? Tourism is just tourism, after they walk around, buy stuffs and service, sight seeing, visiting CKS memorial, which by the way, is a memorial of a dictator also, they went back to China. Why would that undermine CCP?

Also, tourism might increase friction between Chinese and Taiwanese. Already, there were the carving on cliff/stone incident, airport fiasco incidents (including Chinese tourists grabbing Taiwanese policemen in the airport), Chinese official stealing from 7-11, Chinese tourists showing flag in Ken-ding while Chinese government pressures other to disallow showing Taiwan's current flags....etc etc. All these create conflicts and tensions. Therefore, Chinese support for CCP will not change, it might even strengthen. (A good example might be how pre-WW2 Japanese empire taught their students etc how resource rich and wonderful China is...those are just good rationalization to take it over to "make things better.)

Readin said...

Excellent post from Anonymous 4:46 PM

I was going to suggest the zero tariffs on U.S. goods too. Not only would it be a way of rewarding the U.S. for occassionally sticking up for Taiwan and for selling weapons to Taiwan (assuming we do so sometime soon), it would also be a way of deeping ties with the U.S. in a way similar to the way the EFCA is supposed to deeping ties with China.

A U.S. that is able to sell a lot of stuff to Taiwan is more likely to want to see stability in Taiwan.

Anon is also right about Taiwan making a stronger commitment to military defense. The U.S. is more likely to support Taiwan's freedom if it believes the Taiwanese people actually care about their freedom.

The supermajority is another excellent idea, although I would make it both ways and require a greater margine of victory. Not only would I make unification with China require a 2/3 vote in favor in a referendum, I would require the same for a formal declaration of Taiwan's independence from China. And the requirement for both should be in the constitution and require a 2/3 majority vote to change that part of the constitution.

This would re-assure both friend and foe that no formal independence will be declared soon, and would make it difficult for democratic countries to support any unification that came without clear support of the Taiwanese people (i.e. one pushed on Taiwan an ideological KMT government). In the meantime, the status quote (de facto independence) would continue.

Actually, I'm a little annoyed with Anonymous 4:46 PM (not really). I've been reading this thread for days without an opportunity to respond. Finally I get a chance and I find he's stolen part of my thunder.

Readin said...

How to negotiate:

Someone suggested that the National Palace Museum treasures could be returned. That's a good idea, but I wouldn't give them up easily. While they shouldn't mean much to Taiwan, they should mean more to China for sentimental value and the price for getting them should be set accordingly. Also, they are not entirely worthless to Taiwan - they do put Taiwan on the map for some people who don't normally pay attention to politics. On the other hand, the NPM collection has the problem of being a "National" museum containing Chinese stuff. That needes to be fixed.

Getting perhaps unrealistic, and having a little fun, were I the dictator of Taiwan I would:

1. Rename the museum to something like "Museum of Stolen Chinese Art".

2. Announce an charity auction of a portion of the collection. It would be an "Auction to raise funds for the defence of the Taiwanese people". An "ABM Auction" for short, with the promise that all proceeds would go toward the purchase of Anti-ballistic Missiles for the country. Announce that anyone wishing to see a piece of art destroyed rather than owning it would get a 50% discount on their bid (i.e. their $50 bid would beat a $100 bid) and if they won the explosion would be conducted with a parade and public explosion. I'm sure there is some international treaty or something that prevents the destruction of such historical works of art, but I'm just about as sure that Taiwan has been prevented from signing the treaty. The inability of China to stop this would demonstrate the independence of Taiwan and any attempt to buy the art to save it would help Taiwan's ABM efforts (really sticking it to any Chinese purchasers).

Readin said...

More on negotiating with China: the referendum law should be passed anyway, but it could also be used as a bargaining chip. Offer to make a deal with China that Taiwan won't declare formal independence without a supermajority vote (to prevent the DPP from getting elected and "forcing" on an "unwilling Taiwanese compatriots") if China does something concrete and useful.

Another idea - a 50 or 100 year pause in the annexation vs independence debate during which:

The ROC is allowed to join international organizations along with the PRC just as both East Germany and West Germany were able to (a better example to use than N and S Korea when trying to entice China because E and W Germany eventually merged).

Taiwan uses the name "Republic of China" in all such organizations - perhaps even strengthening the connection by using "Junggwo" instead of "Junghwa". It would be hard for Taiwan to swallow, but it might be worth it to acquire peace. At sports events, Taiwan might be required to compete as "Taipei, China". Of course these are humiliating names to use, but if Taiwan's sense of identity can't survive a few years of misname, how could it be expected to survive anyway?

If possible, try to get the deal to include a referendum at the end where the Taiwanese would have to choose, without any threat of force, between independence and unification. Use the argument that if China has confidence in its future than of course the Taiwanese will vote for unification.

The key would be to guarantee that China would keep the promises. Sale of weapons to Taiwan would be necessary. China would need to agree to this as part of the deal, and the weapons would have to be sold at market prices. Or perhaps some other way of securing the deal could be found. But definitely it should not be left to the mere promise of China.

Some would argue that we would just be kicking the can down the road, and that is a valid point. On the other hand, Taiwan isn't like to survive that long anyway in the face of Chinese pressure unless China does change it's ways. And if China does change its ways in the next 50 or 100 years, the treaty will have done its job of keeping the peace until a real peace lasting can be made.

Michael Turton said...

The 100 year wait is a good idea. But can China be trusted? The problem is that if China could be trusted, a treaty would be unnecessary...... a paradox...

Zaphoid B. said...

Dixteel, any increase in military spending is sending a message that Taiwan wants an arms race. You can't increase it and think that it will send any other kind of message to China.

Michael Turton said...

But Zaph, military spending is stagnant under Ma and look -- Chinese military spending is rising rapidly. We have to spend to counter that, no question.

Zaphoid B. said...

You can't outspend China. If increasing Taiwan's military spend causes China to increase theirs in response, or to push cross-strait relations back to pre-2008 levels or worse, then Taiwan has lost. Doesn't matter how high it goes, China can always spend more, and there'll come a point where other nations stop selling to Taiwan in order to stop an arms race.

The only way to counter is for Taiwan to walk the path of peace, using negotiation, talks, diplomacy etc. Nothing is worth the risk of armed conflict.

M said...

I think that all options should remain on the table. If China can give a credible commitment that Taiwan's democratic system will be retained, then reunification in the future should be an option. In order for China's commitment to respect Taiwanese democracy to be credible, it would have to make significant democratic reforms itself. Until such as credible commitment is forthcoming, or some other major change in the situation occurs, Taiwan should maintain the status-quo.

This position is entirely realistic, in line with US policy, and puts the ball firmly back in the China's court.

Dixteel said...

ZB,

Tibet has walked that path and look where it is now. If Tibet had formed its own self-defense force properly, it will not be in the state it is in now. It has the terrain advantage (Tibetan much more used to high altitude than Chinese), and with proper trained unit it could have repel a Chinese invasion. And don't tell me forming military units is not possible for Tibet because the US and British supply China with arms through Hamalayas during WW2. Furthermore, it has potential allies (India and British). If it has its own forces, the scenario would be completely different. China might not even invade because it knows it cannot take it. But Tibet choose your so-called path of peace, and now many Tibetan live in exile and many more are killed in Tibet. Peace...for whom?

Also, there is always this false notion that Taiwan should just give up its military because it cannot outspend China. That is because people are looking at it too narrowly.

First of all, it is China that wants to invade and cross the strait, not Taiwan. Therefore, with properly planning, it is possible that China has to spend $5 to counter every $1 Taiwan spend. (That is why China has to spend large amount of effort in denying Taiwan access to needed equipments).

Secondly, Taiwan has potential allies while China has practically none. This means that China has to counter the spending of those potential allies as well (this is evident in Chinese spending on sea denial forces to counter the US). Therefore, each of the ally countries do not have to spend more than China but in total they could still outspend China. China has to mind its own limitation unless it wants to repeat the implosion of USSR.

Therefore, proper military could aid Taiwan in negotiation and maintaning peace. We are not talking about Taiwan outspending China. We are talking about Taiwan maintaning proper military defense, so it will not repeat the mistake of Tibet.

Zaphoid B. said...

Dixttel, comparisons with Tibet in the 1950s are not really relevant to Taiwan in 2010. It is a vastly different world now.

Dixteel said...

The world is different but history could repeat itself. The situation between Tibet and Taiwan is different however lessons can be learned from Tibet.

The takeover of Tibet might be in the 1950, but the struggles and suffering continues to this day. (There are a lot of Tibetan exiles. 1980 and 2008 violence including Tibetan killed. Video record of Chinese soldiers shooting Tibetans trying to cross Hamalayas to India. Now Chinese outnumbers Tibetan in Lahsha...etc)

Dixteel said...

M,

What you say probably how the current situation and policy is...or at least what the US policy makers think probably. However, there might be a problem with it, because it fails to calibur the fundamental nature of CCP.

To CCP, democratic system means losing power. Democratic reform to CCP is a huge "sacrifice." Just imagine yourself as one of the CCP government official. Economis is going well, military is expanding. People are relative supportive of the central government. My kids is making a killing doing some big business in Shanghai. Why would I want to change this system? Just to take Taiwan with its democratic system intact?

That is like telling me to change my body, which I think is the sexiest thing in the world, in exchange of a candy that taste nasty in my mouth. Would you do it?

Dixteel said...

Also, M, as always, the choice of unification and indepedence should ultimently be place in the hand of Taiwanese, whether China is democratic or not. Personally I prefer Taiwan to be indepedent, that way Taiwanese has way more control over things. A democratic China would respect the choice of Taiwan to remain indepedent anyway.

M said...

To CCP, democratic system means losing power. Democratic reform to CCP is a huge "sacrifice." Just imagine yourself as one of the CCP government official. Economis is going well, military is expanding. People are relative supportive of the central government. My kids is making a killing doing some big business in Shanghai. Why would I want to change this system? Just to take Taiwan with its democratic system intact?

That is like telling me to change my body, which I think is the sexiest thing in the world, in exchange of a candy that taste nasty in my mouth. Would you do it?


No I don't expect that the CCP will engage in serious democratic reforms now. This position effectively kicks into the long grass any question of reunification. This was effectively Lee Teng-hui's position when he was president.

However in the long run, when the costs of continued repression outweigh the costs of democratic reform, we may see change in China. It is possible that the ROC can play some kind of role as an example of how democracy can work in a Chinese society. If China moves forward with serious democratic reform, then reunification can be considered.

Also, M, as always, the choice of unification and indepedence should ultimently be place in the hand of Taiwanese, whether China is democratic or not. Personally I prefer Taiwan to be indepedent, that way Taiwanese has way more control over things. A democratic China would respect the choice of Taiwan to remain indepedent anyway.

Reunification would have to be approved by the Taiwanese in a referendum. If China was a prosperous democracy and Taiwan was guaranteed a high degree of autonomy, then it might be an attractive option in the future. However, this is all highly speculative. For now Taiwan should simply bide its time.

Independence is not a valid foreign policy for the ROC. It is not supported by any other nation, and got Taiwan nowhere during CSB's 8 years in office.

Dixteel said...

"Indepedence" (for Taiwan, by the way, not ROC) is not supported by other nation because Chinese uses its economic and military weight as pressure on other nations. It is the so called "One China" policy (There is only one China and Taiwan is part of China) which every nation that wishes to have diplomatic tie with it has to at least acknowledge. If China does not care, others won't care neither. Thefore, indepedence itself is not invalid, it is "invalid" only because China say so.

Furthermore, in the current status, Taiwan is in practice, indepedent. CSB does not move Taiwan elsewhere, but it does not move Taiwan into China, like what Ma is doing right now. So in effect CSB is the one that maintane the status quo, not Ma. Also, independence is not a foreign policy. It is a political status and reality.

I agree all these discussion that depending on China's situation is too speculative. Maybe China will become a cheese cake, who knows. If we want to keep every option on the table though, ALL options should be considered.

Also, Taiwan cannot just "bide its time" I think. I am not talking about being confrontational, but Taiwan needs to be proactive because China is using all of its channel in forcing an annexation on Taiwan. Simply sitting there doing nothing will most likely result in annexation, that is not keeping all options open.

Anonymous said...

Dixteel: Mad Cow is not a serious issue. It was ginned up to rile up people against Ma. The DPP used it as a wedge issue. By the same token, the USA could point to defective Taiwanese machinery that cut someone's finger off and ban all imports of Taiwanese products - you know, for public safety.

Also, Chinese tourists definitely can bring back a different opinion about Taiwan and democracy from a visit. Otherwise why do countries like North Korea not allow people in or out? Because information flow is dangerous indeed.

@Zaphoid: I want you to wikipedia The Winter War. Keep in mind Finland had an immediate land border with the USSR at the time. Small, determined countries can defeat larger opponents. Taiwan is an island, even easier to defend. You know, mines are very cheap and would devastate any sea borne attack.

Actually, Taiwan's ideal national defense would be 2-3 nuclear ballistic subs.

M said...

"Indepedence" (for Taiwan, by the way, not ROC) is not supported by other nation because Chinese uses its economic and military weight as pressure on other nations. It is the so called "One China" policy (There is only one China and Taiwan is part of China) which every nation that wishes to have diplomatic tie with it has to at least acknowledge. If China does not care, others won't care neither. Thefore, indepedence itself is not invalid, it is "invalid" only because China say so.

Yes, but the fact remains that "independence" is politically impossible. It is also unnecessary because the ROC is already an independent, sovereign state. If the ROC is already sovereign, who does Taiwan want independence from? Is talking about independence not simply buying in the rhetoric of the PRC?

Furthermore, in the current status, Taiwan is in practice, indepedent. CSB does not move Taiwan elsewhere, but it does not move Taiwan into China, like what Ma is doing right now. So in effect CSB is the one that maintane the status quo, not Ma. Also, independence is not a foreign policy. It is a political status and reality.

Well I don't believe that anything Ma has done has compromised the political sovereignty of the ROC (I know you will disagree with me on this). There is also no evidence of any kind of secret plan to "sell out" Taiwan to the PRC (again you will probably disagree). I think the ROC should engage with the PRC when it is its national interest.

I agree all these discussion that depending on China's situation is too speculative. Maybe China will become a cheese cake, who knows. If we want to keep every option on the table though, ALL options should be considered.

Yes I agree, including formal independence. Finland had to wait for the opportune moment to gain independence from Russia. There may be an opportunity for Taiwan to become independent in the future, or it may have the chance to reunify. Whatever happens, the relationship with China will be critical to Taiwan's future. But there should be no ideological absolutes.

Also, Taiwan cannot just "bide its time" I think. I am not talking about being confrontational, but Taiwan needs to be proactive because China is using all of its channel in forcing an annexation on Taiwan. Simply sitting there doing nothing will most likely result in annexation, that is not keeping all options open.

China is nowhere near being able to "force an annexation". I think the green supporters are much to pessimistic on this front. Winding up the ROC would be much harder than you think...

Dixteel said...

anon,

North Korea disallow their citizens to leave because their situation is in the toilet. Many North Korean took a gamble to flee North Korea when they have a chance. So yes, any inflow of information will undermine Kim's regime.

China's economic situation is far better, by establishing a little nationalism, allowing the middle class and the rich to go out there will not undermine the CCP's hold of power. Also, unfortunately, there is now a well established notion within the Chinese community around the world (even some Canadian business community) that perhaps democracy does not suite Chinese society...etc. Singapore is a perfect example in which their citizens are free to travel but the city state is firmly in the control of the Lee family. Therefore I think tourism will not do any good.

M,
I might be pessimistic, but better safe than sorry. A lot is at stake for Taiwanese. Better plan for different scenarios, including the worst scenario, instead of imagining a rainbow in the sky. Proper engagement with China is ok, but not essential IMO. Furthermore, the engagement should be done with balace and dignity. Taiwan should also further engage its other neighbours in order to strengthen its position.

Anonymous said...

Mr X

I would argue for no peace and making no attempt at one. Quite the opposite.

Adopt a Cuban style position - fiercely patriotic, self-sufficient, arm yourself and seek regional and global allies.

Be prepared to fight. Work with China when they do what you want, reject everything else - and let them know that you're doing this.

Cuba is the model to follow, not Czechoslovakia in 1938.

Having a second Munich will solve nothing if you are the Czechs.