Wednesday, March 16, 2005


The Marxist and the Money Tree

Things have apparently been heating up around the Taiwan Strait. My cross-strait relationship A.D.D. will kick in here eventually, but I think I kind of understand, in a limited way, just what is going on over there. China and Taiwan are two very different places. Taiwan was part of China, until Japan took it away. Eventually it was returned to China, but still maintains a de facto independence, despite the fact that any attempts to secede will surely be bloody. Taiwan is very much a capitalist society, and is one of the "tigers" of East Asia. From what I can tell, it has it's own government. It used to be recognized by the U.S. as an independent nation, but China convinced the U.S. that it was not in 1979. Therefore, it can't be a part of the U.N., but it can participate in the WTO, and other organizations that don't require statehood for membership. To oversimplify, it remains part of China, but it kinda does it's own thing.

China recently adopted an anti-secession law, which says attempts to secede by Taiwan will be met with forceful resistance for the Chinese. As State Dept. Spokesperson Richard Boucher says it "only serves to harden positions." Washington and the White House have come out against it, seeing it as mostly unnecessary and counter-productive to it's position of avoiding war with China at all costs. (U.S. maintains warm "unofficial" relations with Taiwan, including military weapons trade.) China claims the bill only serves to reach a peaceful reunification of China, and the Taiwan Affairs Office blames the Mainland Affairs Council for spinning it into a move to change the status-quo.

Obviously if war breaks out, the U.S. would be in a dill pickle. The GOP once promised that their president will defend Taiwan if they were attacked by China. The position of Bush, and the U.S. these days is primarily peace, and seemingly no public back-up plan if peace is not an option. Bush has wisely chosen Clinton's path, by throwing in his support for one-China, and speaking out against an independent Taiwan. It is a flip-flop, but I don't think Americans are ready to die for Taiwan's symbolic independence. Secessionist forces in Taiwan want their independence for several reasons, and Taiwan's president is calling for a protest to the new Chinese law. In my opinion, they are doing just fine under the current system. If they just keep the big cranky giant happy, and they should be able to continue to do whatever they want. I'm not sure how long the status quo will last for Taiwan, but if they hold on peacefully, things should work out for the best. After all, China can't hang on to SEZ's and hybrid Capitalism forever. Eventually, they will become more secure in "The Golden Straitjacket" as Thomas Friedman puts it, and according to Friedman, all they need is a free press. Until then the rest of us will continue to scratch our heads and wonder what the heck is going on over there in Taiwan.

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