Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Taiwan isn't a dirty word: we need to talk about Taiwan

Happy New Year from Taiwan, 1930. Formosa Vintage Museum Cafe vintage photo

Still on vacation in Borneo, but you're welcome to enjoy these links. The writer, Ben Moles, attended an Emerging Leaders Dialogue in Taiwan as a guest of Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Three blog posts:

Taiwan isn't a dirty word: we need to talk about Taiwan (Part One)(Part Two)(Part Three)
Don't miss the comments below! And check out my blog and its sidebars for events, links to previous posts and picture posts, and scores of links to other Taiwan blogs and forums! Delenda est, baby.


Lorenzo said...

I read Ben Moles's blog posts, all three of them. My conclusion is that
Mr. Moles is just another westerner who is willing to kowtow to Red Dragon in order to earn a few more bucks. The freedom of 23 million inhabitants on Formosa means nothing to that type of creature.

Lorenzo said...

I suggest Moles change the title of his blog post to 'Selling Taiwan isn't a dirty word'.

Benjamin Moles said...

Lorezo, thank you for your comments.

All I can say in response is that you can't have read the posts very well then. As to Taiwan’s 23 million inhabitants, the figures from MAC suggest a desire to maintain the status quo- and if that is indeed the case then the discussion (and the need for discussion is really what is at the heart of the series) needs to be centred on how this is achieved and this is what the posts examine and proposes some ideas by which discussion can be initiated and this might be achieved.

As to what kind of ‘creature’ I am, I’d say an Optimistic Realist 

Marc said...

Moles is a naive amateur of political science, ignorant as to the realities of what's going on in Asia. Come back and talk to us after you've lived another decade, boyo.

yankdownunder said...

I agree with Lorenzo's comments about BM's bs.

"A hangover from the Cold War, Taiwan ..."
Maybe BM never heard of WW2.

Just another kowtowing idiot of which Oz has too many.

youtube to mp3

ziyou said...

After reading the blog posts, I disagree with a lot of the presumptions made but I'll only mention one for now. I'm not sure that anything really needs to come to a discussion and ultimately resolved right this instant. It is true that most respondents to the studies stated that they prefer the status quo, but the more China pushes (e.g., Want Want nonsense, humiliating Taiwan at international events, etc.) the more the Taiwanese public seems to resist. If you were to force the Taiwanese public to choose right now independence or reunification, they would probably choose independence (just my opinion). However is this were to happen China would immediately react and place Taiwan in an even worse situation and potentially lead to war. If Taiwan had chosen another route many years ago this may not be the case, and if they wait for the Chinese government to implode (if it does), then they won't be in the same dangerous situation. Now when China in the middle of dangerous territorial expansionism it seems like the worse time to listen to the will of 23 million Taiwanese. But the author seems to think that any opinion other than "reunification" is not possible.

Brock Freeman said...

I'm not sure why Mr. Moles feels there is a need to talk more about Taiwan. If only to simply come out and state something along the lines of Henry Ford's famous statement, "Any customer can have a car painted in any colour he wants so long as it is black."

In effect, like many governments currently do, he tramples over the U.N. Convention on Human Rights and the section on the right to self-determination. What he proposes is telling the Taiwanese people that they can have self-determination, as long as they are willing to give it up to the authoritarian, anti-human rights regime in Beijing.

Lorenzo said...

@ Mr. Moles

The 23 million souls have the right to change the 'Status Quo', expell Chinese Government in Exile in Taipei, and build their own sovereign nation. That's their basic human right. The USA (mis)leads the western nations to believe that the Formosans are invisible humans, who don't have any right to own their own nation.

DC District Court, thus, declared that Formosans are still living in a political purgatory as a people stateless. Who created that political purgatory? The USA!

If the Aussie are afraid of a war in Taiwan Strait, so be it. Regional peace tastes like shit to those invisible living in a political purgatory.

Lorenzo said...

Don't give too much credit to a statistics from Mainland Affairs Council, or any political poll in Taiwan. Ask Turton why.

Mike Fagan said...

"I’ve just returned from Taiwan as a guest of the Taiwanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs taking part in a ‘soft-power’ trip that they host annually, inviting ‘Emerging Leaders’ from around the world..."

Oh Hubris - with this ridiculous you are spoiling us!

Benjamin Moles said...

Firstly thanks to anyone who has commented and anybody else who finds the time. It’s good to talk- Churchill himself said so: ‘to jaw-jaw is better than to war-war’- and starting a conversation was what the piece was about.

@marc, I always relish an opportunity to learn and eagerly await anything constructive you have to say concerning the posts or any insight you have as to what is happening in Asia- gleamed from you (many?) decades of life experience.

@yankdownunder, I have heard of WW2 (I omitted to say but I also have an Honours degree in History), during it, in 1942, the Cairo Declaration was signed. In it, was agreed the return to China of Taiwan post a Japanese defeat. I am guessing but might be wrong, that you are an American living in Australia? As you brought up history, you should very well know that the US was ready to give up on the ROC prior to the Korean War and that Taiwan only became strategically important to the US because of it. You are entitled to your opinion concerning ‘kowtowing idiots in Oz’ of which I wouldn’t include myself- sadly idiots are not confined to Australia or being Australian- sometimes other Nations see it fit to send us over their own.

@ziyou, I agree, nothing needs to be resolved right now, however, talking about Taiwan and being able to talk freely about Taiwan might be instrumental in preventing miscalculation- from all parties concerned. I certainly don’t think re-unification is the only solution, the status quo is working for the time being but the third option (independence) will require time- talking with clarity might just provide the time needed and prevent miscalculation. (in my opinion) if Taiwan was to declare independence today, I don’t think there is any ‘possibility’ in it, China would go to war with Taiwan. I would be interested to hear any other points you mentioned you had should you find the time.

@Brock Freeman, I like your use of Henry Fords classic quote, however, I feel it has been inappropriately used in relation to what I have said, and actually think. ‘The customer can have a car painted in any colour they want providing it isn’t black (yet!)’- would be better. As I have said above, I don’t believe re-unification is the only solution (I said this in the post and nowhere in it did a say reunification was the solution), but strongly believe that a declaration of independence (now) would be a bad move. As previously mentioned, I am an IR realist, but an optimistic one. Sadly, history often shows that the strong act as they will while the weak suffer what they must- this doesn’t mean to say that ‘might is right’ so to speak, or the international system and way the world works is fine- but I think, sadly, this is a good reflection of the realities of the world. You mention self determination, and the important word there is ‘self’. The key question in relation to self determination is would Taiwan be prepared to stand by its self (alone) in determining its own future? If the answer to that is yes, then by all means you are right- no discussion necessary. However, if the answer is no, and Taiwan has certain expectations regarding the actions of others, then in order to prevent miscalculation- ‘we need to talk’.

@Lorenzo, I actually said that the US, and its allies (including Australia), need to state with clarity their will to defend Taiwan should China seek reunification or alteration to the status quo through military force- not abandoning Taiwan or kowtowing to China. Any resident of the region should fear a war in the Taiwan straits, it would signify a quantum (and worrying) shift in current Chinese policy.

Jerome Besson said...

Mr. Moles,

Suggesting to your government and its senior ally a clarification of their positons on their policies toward China is a shrewd gamble as you are contemplating from academia your career opportunities.

Regretably, and in light of the recent thawing of tensions between the two civil war factions, I found nothing ground-breaking in your attempt at influencinf the principals.

There is good reason why your government would not help you with fleshing out your academic papers, and it's calledd “strategic ambiguity". And in conflating “(exiled) Chinese Taipei on Taiwan“ with the real Taiwan - here, think Formosa - you are only plagiarizing those drones, your seniors in academia and think tanks. It plays right into the hands of the decision makers with a stake in pumping more smoke on the water to prevent morons from setting the place afire. It also elicits mirth and condescention among those more experienced in the matter.

Thank you Mr. Moles, for having bothered reading this far my varition of Marc (upstairs)'s advice to you.

Lorenzo said...

[b]The key question in relation to self determination is would Taiwan be prepared to stand by its self (alone) in determining its own future?[/b]

Indeed it's the key question, and a very hard one for those Taiwaneses who want self-determination. For those who don't want Taiwan to stand by its self, they enjoy the status quo. IMHO, a house so divided as Taiwan probabily couldn't stand by its self for long.

Benjamin Moles said...

@Mike Fagan, that’s hilarious- I remember the advert from when I was a kid. You will note that I did put ‘Emerging Leaders’ in inverted commas- sadly the same expense and Ferrero Rocher was not lavished on us for our reception ceremony (I should note we were very well looked after by MOFA), although I did deliver the rousing St Crispins day speech from Henry V at the events closing ceremony to give it a certain essence of Britishness (as per your link)- the speech was in no way connected (and no parallel drawn) to Taiwan’s ‘situation’.

@Jerome Besson, I didn’t profess to have anything ground breaking to offer- just a suggestion to talk, with clarity. I know what strategic ambiguity is, I mentioned it (and why it is unlikely to succeed looking ahead) in one of the posts- which you would know if you had read them. You make reference to @Marc above and I direct you to my response to @Marc above.

yankdownunder said...

"in 1942, the Cairo Declaration was signed"

The following communique is for automatic release at 7:30 P.M., E.W.T., on Wednesday, December 1, 1943.

"was agreed the return to China of Taiwan"

idiotic statement - The Cairo communique is nothing but propaganda by the "Three Great Allies".

"As you brought up history ..."

No you did.

Nations should be nations.

Honors student can be idiots.