Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Opposite of Ross

Thanks to a hat tip from Ernesto, I found this commonsensical article on Taiwan -- common sense is so out of fashion, it sounds bizarre to hear it voiced (compare this article to the Ross piece three posts below). While this section is manifestly untrue:

According to historians, there is no record of Chinese presence in Taiwan prior to 1947. Before then, the island was likely inhabited by indigenous peoples, and was often largely self- governing, even under Chinese colonizers.

...who could disagree with these sensible ideas:

Uprisings over social inequality will not go away, neither will China get away with a repeat of 1989 and send in the tanks. The party's problems are only aided by its foolish refusal to release its white-knuckle grip on Taiwan. That is why Taipei wins and Beijing loses.

The mainland has backed itself into an unwinnable corner on Taiwan and it is time Beijing woke up to the fact that policy mistakes made decades ago need not poison its future.

Beijing needs to put away its jet fighters, cotton wool its rocket launchers, drop the nationalist, militarist line and get over Taiwan.

As I often say, Beijing needs to grow up. There's nothing Beijing can get from owning Taiwan that it can't get from peaceful trade -- except the feeling of domination. But that need for domination is powerful that Beijing is willing to risk the lives of its people and the stability of its economy to achieve it. The blogger whose page I was directed to observed:

A slightly desperate but serviceable excuse would be that it’s [the 1947 date] a typo – the ‘9’ should be a ‘6’, referring to the island’s occupation by Ming Dynasty loyalists fleeing Manchu invaders in the mid-17th Century, before coming under Qing rule a few decades later. That still wouldn’t be good enough for patriots, for whom Taiwan is a sacred and inseparable part of the Motherland, and has been overflowing with Han people for every minute of the 5,000 years of non-stop civilization. But most objective historians would agree with it. It would also probably have been fine by Mao Zedong, who in the 1930s put Taiwan in the same category as Korea – a place under Japanese colonial rule whose people deserved comrades’ sympathy but no active involvement.

As the column’s writer points out, China’s leaders have painted themselves into an impossible corner over the one province where Communist Party rule has never reached. Everyone in the Mainland under the age of 60 has been brought up to believe with extreme passion that Taiwan is theirs and must be returned to the fold whatever the cost, while everyone who visits the place cannot avoid noticing that it’s an independent country. If the Taiwan Government wants a bit of fun, it should open the island’s doors to tourists from across the Strait and let them see that their leaders lost the place ages ago. Meanwhile, I will discreetly turn The Standard’s Opinion page and pretend I never saw what I just read.


Anonymous said...

ah, much better. you taking notes, ross?

Tommy said...

I noticed the editorial yesterday. And I too suspect that someone has simply made a dumb mistake with the 1947, only because it doesn't seem to correspond to 1) the end of WWII, or 2) The exact date that the KMT fled to the island. I think you are correct that the "9" is an error and I suspect that the writer is kicking himself now. That one detail is almost enough to discredit the whole piece, especially since it comes so high up in the article.

One other piece interested me today. It is on the BBC website at:

The article is about the UN torch relay in Taiwan. While I find the tone simplistic, I think that one major thing is admirable. The author has refrained from negative judgements of Taiwan's UN drive and of Chen who, while not perfect, is not nearly the rogue that some would make him out to be. The DPP is also not judged, nor is the KMT.

The writer could have gone into the whole recent UN fiasco, but has simply chosen to say that China wields a veto on the security council.

On the subject of the Olympic torch, the article doesn't say that the Taiwanese "refused" to allow it to cross the island. It simply says that the torch won't be coming here due to differences with China.

On the subject of the competing KMT relay, the article simply states that the relay will be taking place as well, although it will champion the ROC name.

In short, it is not a masterpiece, but it has a neutrality that I find refreshing.

Anonymous said...

Bush said yesterday: "Life will not improve for Cubans[...]if we seek accommodation with a new tyranny in the interests of stability."

Wish the US had the cajones to say that for Taiwan