Sunday, September 04, 2005

Lee Teng-hui: His day is gone

he news media today reported on Lee Teng-hui's comments about Taiwan independence, the Republic of China, and Chen Shui-bian. Lee's speech at NTU showed the mix of insightful political thinking, morose bombast, factionalism, and inability to consider reality that haunts the wilder end of the independence movement. An excerpt from the Taiwan News article:

He insisted that the country is composed of Taiwan as well as Kinmen, Matsu and the Penghu island groups as evidenced by the government's control over only those areas in the last five decades.

The independence movement is on crack if it thinks it can hold Kinmen and Matsu. All that will do is provoke China. There's no question that the Penghu belong to Taiwan, but Kinmen and Matsu are Chinese and will have to be returned. There is no legal support for any claim that they belong to Taiwan. The unreality and inability to compromise of Lee's attitude is on display here. Lee's attacks on Chen Shui-bian are uncalled for. Chen is in a tough position and does not need attacks from his flank. Did Lee really expect that a Chen election would lead directly to independence? That isn't going to be in the cards until world opinion changes, Taiwan reduces its involvemen in the Chinese economy, and China grows up politically. In other words, not for a very long time.

One thing Chen could do is return the treasures looted from China that currently reside in the National Palace Museum, as well as enter into negotiations to return Kinmen and Matsu. They are a strategic liability, they belong to China, they are naturally oriented to China and the Chinese economy, and besides, they contain large numbers of people who vote against the DPP and want to unify with China. Negotiating for their return would also give the impression that progress on the China front is being made....

11 comments:

rmdazwdv said...

If the ROC had returned the palace museum relics to the PRC, the PRC might have destroyed them during the cultural revolution. They are safer in the caves here thank you very much.

Besides, the collection is growing... we replaced our air conditioner here recently and the workmen said they would take the old one to the palace museum...

Michael Turton said...

That was then. This is now. The relics belong to China, and returning them would be a clear statement that Taiwan and China are different. The independence movement needs to realize it cannot have its independence cake and eat treasures, Kinmen, and Matsu too.

Anonymous said...

If there's no legal basis for Jinmen and Mazu belonging to Taiwan, then what's the legal basis for Taiwan belonging to Taiwan, so to speak? (Please don't say the Treaty of San Francisco.) Jinmen and Mazu are extremely small potatoes compared to Taiwan. It's not like the PRC would tolerate Taiwan's independence but suddenly draw the line at Jinmen and Mazu's independence.

I agree with you that it'd pretty funny to see Chen Shuibian making a big hullaballo about returning the artifacts in the NPM to the country that they belong to. I'd almost think that the People's Daily censors' heads would explode.

77 UP THE WOLD said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
77 UP THE WOLD said...

Culture is a good business. Palace museum just authorise 60000 graphics to apply to ordinary stuffs, those will express the bauty of tranditional chinese art. I don't think PRC has the same brain to do that.

Michael Turton said...

The legal basis for Taiwan's sovereignty over Taiwan is the will of its people. But clearly any entity headed in Taipei has no sovereignty over Kinmen and Matsu. The Chinese permit us to hold them so that we still have some geographic link to China. We should give them up for that reason too.

Michael

Budding Sinologist said...

How about some popular sovereignty on Kinmen and Matsu? Oh wait, only one of the two sides allows their people to vote. I could not in good conscious turn free people over to a dictatorial government, but then again no one is asking me anything.

Michael Turton said...

That's the sticky problem, isn't it? And that's the second fork here....suppose that Taiwan tries to give them back, and they don't want to go. What does that tell the mainland? :) There's no downside to negotiations for handing them over....But my impression is that the majority of the islands, perhaps even a sizable majority, would support joining China. I posted an article on my blog a while back....


Michael

Anonymous said...

Michael - your link doesn't work for me.

As to Lee's comments: he's right. Taiwan *does* control Kinmen & Matsu, and so they are part of Taiwan. It's not a question of whether it can hold them against attack - not least because Taiwan (maybe) fails that criteria - it's about who exercises sovereignty.

As for the future ... well that's a question of self-determination isn't it? If any island (inc. Taiwan proper) decides it wants to unify, then it should be allowed to.

In general I enjoy LTH and his comments. Partly because he annoys all the nuts on the other side, partly because he represents the views of an important minority of Taiwan, but mainly because I don't take him too seriously. The TSU would be dangerous if they had more support - but they don't (proof that democracy works), so their opinions can be taken with a pinch of salt.

I bet his criticisms of CSB are a large part play-acting. He understands better than anyone the pressures CSB is under - but criticisms from the extreme don't do CSB too much harm, and make him appear more moderate ...

rmdazwdv said...

"The relics belong to China, and returning them would be a clear statement that Taiwan and China are different." Possibly, but in the real world of diplomatic negotiations do politician just give stuff away, and open themselves to criticism? Please cite concrete examples. What could the PRC do to reciprocate for the islands and relics to demonstrate they they too realize that "that was then this is now" or even that "ROC and PRC are different". Is simply accepting them enough? Both countries would put a lot of spin on it.

Michael Turton said...

rmdazwdv, politicians return cultural relics all the time from countries that looted them to countries of origin. Here an obelisk returns to Ethiopia. The Beeb reports on antiquities being returned to Egypt

There's plenty of precedent out there, and it would take some serious pressure. Why should the PRC "reciprocate" for the return of the islands and the artifacts? They don't belong to Taiwan, so we should return them because it is the right thing to do. About the only thing we can expect in return is goodwill.

Michael