The Korean people sometimes complain that their country could be described as "a shrimp between whales." Throughout the nation's history, Korea has found itself at the mercy of large foreign powers. Like Korea, Taiwan might also be described as a shrimp between whales. For centuries, the island's fate has been shaped largely by external events and outside pressures.
Beginning in the 1500s, European imperialists sought to occupy Taiwan. From 1683 until 1886 it was loosely administered as a prefecture of Fujian Province, and then it became a province of its own. In 1895, following China's defeat in the first Sino-Japanese War, Taiwan was formally ceded to Japan. Efforts by local inhabitants to resist the occupation and establish an independent republic were brutally crushed by Japanese troops and received no support from the Chinese government or other external powers. The Taiwanese were then enslaved by Japan. No outside power seemed to care.
In 1943, the Allies issued the Cairo Declaration which stated that Taiwan should be returned to the Republic of China. Several years later, Chiang Kai-shek's (
Taiwan's anticipated fall to the People's Republic of China was prevented by the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950. The US did not "neutralize" the Taiwan Strait to save Chiang. Rather, strategic calculations led the US to protect Taiwan.
Several decades later, shifts in the international system led US president Richard Nixon to patch up relations with China. According to declassified documents, the president made many concessions to Beijing. In fact, Henry Kissinger assured premier Zhou Enlai (
Since the 1970s, external events beyond Taiwan's control have continued to exercise an inordinate degree of influence over the island. The end of the Cold War yielded some dividends. But more recently, the war on terror has led Washington to move closer to Beijing.
Like the proverbial shrimp caught between whales, Taiwan must chart a careful course in the troubled waters of international politics. In order to survive and prosper, it must avoid antagonizing Washington, its chief ally, and Beijing, its only adversary. This is not an easy task. And it is complicated by the fact that some Taiwanese politicians are determined to play politics with the nation's defense.
If the Taiwanese people hope to have any say whatsoever in the future of their country, it is imperative that Taiwan maintain a defensive capability sufficient to deter aggression by an external power. In the interest of national security, Taiwanese lawmakers should put politics aside and pass the arms procurement bill designed to purchase diesel submarines, maritime patrol aircraft and Patriot anti-missile batteries. While politicians dither and delay, China is deploying additional missiles directly opposite Taiwan and building up its military.
Taiwan may be a shrimp between whales. As a small island, that is reality. But it should not degenerate into a pitiful, spineless jellyfish. There is much that this proud island can do to influence its future trajectory in the global community. One crucial step is to approve President Chen Shui-bian's (
Dennis Hickey is professor of political science at Missouri State University.
China took advantage of the vacuum left behind when US carriers stayed out of the western Pacific Ocean due to COVID-19 outbreaks on several US Navy warships. The Chinese government is solidifying its hold on artificial islands in the South China Sea by moving in missiles and surveillance equipment, and formalizing its occupation by creating two municipal districts in the region under Hainan Island’s Sansha — Xisha District on Woody Island (Yongxing Island, 永興島) to administer the Paracel Islands (Xisha Islands, 西沙群島) and Nansha District on Fiery Cross Reef (Yongshu Reef, 永暑島) to administer the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島) —
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) yesterday wrapped up its annual party conference-cum-national decision-making forums in Beijing: the National People’s Congress (NPC) and National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), known colloquially as the “two meetings.” They are normally tightly choreographed affairs, designed to project an image of stability and unassailable strength, but several events leading up this month’s sessions provided strong indications that all is not well in the state of Denmark. The first sign of major discontent came in March, at the height of the COVID-19 crisis in China, when an article by real-estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a