I was going to respond to John Copper's latest outburst in the Taipei Times with its bizarre opening sentence: "Liberals don’t like Asians." but the more I read it, the more distressed I got. It was not so bad it was stupid; it was so bad it was painful. How could anyone intelligent publish a piece that stupid? But having done that very thing myself before, I ended up feeling sorry for him rather than angered.
Far different is this piece by Jacques deLisle on Taiwan, statehood, and participation in international organizations. Most of it is quite good. I just want to comment a bit on this part:
There is the strong assertion, prevalent among some Taiwan independence supporters, that China may never have held sovereignty over Taiwan. The exercise of the powers of rule, according to this view, was very thin through the late nineteenth century—perhaps so thin that China never established sovereignty or, at least, that its weak and perhaps merely inchoate claim could be relatively easily extinguished. Assuming Taiwan initially was under Chinese sovereignty, a common view is that it left, coming under the sovereignty of the Japanese Empire with the Treaty of Shimonoseki that ended the war between China and Japan near the close of the nineteenth century. Following the period of Japanese rule, Taiwan was only very briefly and controversially (in light of the repression of a nascent independence movement) ruled by a central Chinese government from 1945 (when the Japanese forces on the island surrendered) to 1949 (when the ROC government lost the Civil War on the Mainland and decamped to Taiwan). According to this line of analysis, there has been no need for Taiwan to secede or otherwise take action to separate from a larger China in the years since.Lots of TIers hold the view that "China" never had sovereignty over Taiwan, not merely because Qing sovereignty over Taiwan was weak but because the Qing were Manchus who were non-Chinese, foreign rulers who incorporated Taiwan into an empire which included China. Thus, arguing that Taiwan should be part of China because it was partly owned by the Qing is like arguing that Kenya is part of India because both were part of the British empire. No Han emperor ever owned Taiwan, and for all of Chinese history down to the late 1930s, Taiwan was considered to lie outside China.
deLisle's position also risks legitimating Chinese control over Qing holdings, something which should be fiercely resisted since it is a direct source of legitimacy for the current phase of Chinese expansionism. Beijing no more owns Qing colonies than Ankara should control Jordan and Bulgaria because they were part of the Ottoman Empire.
Another argument I've often heard and read: the Qing never controlled the whole island. Until the 1870s the Manchus denied that they had control of the "savage" mountain areas and resistance to Qing rule in those areas, as well as the constant flow of revolts among the local "Han" population, meant that they never owned it.
The piece gets stronger as it explores the consequences for international participation for Taiwan:
The second aspect of the question of what “type” of international organization concerns the entity’s substantive focus. Subject matter matters. It matters in at least three ways. First, is Taiwan an important player in the regulated field such that it can claim that it serves the global interest to allow the ROC to participate in the regime in question? The answer clearly is yes for the WTO, given Taiwan’s stature in international trade. The answer would seem to be a strong yes for the WHA and WHO, especially after SARS and amid recurring fears of pandemics starting in the Chinese mainland and spreading via Taiwan. And affirmative answers would seem at least defensible for international organs that regulate financial institutions and other economic behavior, shipping, fishing, civil aviation, nuclear energy, potential dual-use technology—all areas in which Taiwan is a significant actor whose actions have substantial international consequences.Several things to take away here -- our democracy is a crucial selling point of the island's participation in international organizations, as is our importance as a trading state. Taiwan's foreign policy is right here in this sentence:
Second, is the regulated field particularly important to Taiwan? This is a fairness argument: Where Taiwan is being hurt by being excluded for no reason beyond Beijing’s political opposition, this can be attacked as fundamentally unjust. The rest of the world may be hurt as well, but, from this perspective, what matters is the unwarranted harm or risk to Taiwan in an area that really matters for Taiwan. SARS / public health, international trade and international regimes for cooperation on criminal law matters are areas where the answer to this second question is yes and where Taiwan authorities have so argued.
Third, has China wrong-footed it in seeking to exclude Taiwan, given the nature of the substantive issue and the character of China’s response? In other words, has China misplayed this situation in a way that has created sympathy for Taiwan and Taiwan’s position? This is, as events played out, very much the story with SARS and Taiwan’s pursuit of engagement with the WHA / WHO. It may turn out to be part of the story with human rights and Taiwan’s Beijing-enforced exclusion from participation in the relevant U.N. organs—especially if we juxtapose Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Prize and Beijing's reaction with Taiwan's strong human rights record and recent ratification of the long-ago-signed U.N. human rights covenants.
These developments concerning human rights also illustrate one further strategy available to Taiwan to pursue greater engagement with international organizations, including especially those of the difficult-to-reach U.N. system. Taiwan can, and sometimes does, pursue not membership, and not participation, but what I call “as-if participation.” Taiwan commits unilaterally but publicly and solemnly to acting as if it is (or as if it were) a member of an international organization or regime, pledging to live up to all relevant standards.
A high level of functional performance of the obligations that go with membership can strengthen Taiwan’s case for greater access to institutions and regimes from which it has been excluded. But much of the point of “as if” participation is about the question of Taiwan’s international status—the issue with which this discussion began: the more Taiwan can walk and talk and act like a member of a regime that is open primarily or exclusively to states, the more hope it has of securing the benefits of state (or nearly state-like) status in the international system.
the more Taiwan can walk and talk and act like a member of a regime that is open primarily or exclusively to states, the more hope it has of securing the benefits of state (or nearly state-like) status in the international system.The next president of Taiwan needs to be working on that, not on circumscribing our independent foreign policy like the current president.
- Massive corruption scandal in customs exposed. This kind of thing has been going on for years.....
- Blumenthal and Mazza argue for larger US defense budget for Asia. Actually we could reduce the defense budget but increase resources to Asia merely by stopping our stupid wars in the Middle East and focusing on what's really important: Asia. Fighting for oil is making the same error that the UK did when it traded the sugar islands for North America in the 18th century.
- The Diplomat with an excellent piece on China's local government debt.
- Hahahaha. KMT election ad numbers among the Ma Administration's accomplishments the Voucher program. Hahahaha.
- Excellent Taipei Times piece on the way the KMT killed and imprisoned among its own people. This little holocaust has largely gone unnoticed as a vast impenetrable silence encysts it. Hopefully more people will speak out on this sad chapter in Taiwan's history.
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