Touting his achievements while addressing the Central Advisory Committee of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) on Sunday, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) turned to rhetoric that sounded far more like wishful thinking than statements of fact, which raises questions about his vision for Taiwan’s future.
The first bump occurred when he said that thanks to his policy of rapprochement with China over the past three years, war in the Taiwan Strait “has already become history.”
Not only did this ignore the massive military buildup that is taking place across the Strait, it also purported to read into a future that remains rife with uncertainty. Whether there is war in the Strait will be contingent on a number of variables over which Ma has little control, including political developments in China and the choice of 23 million Taiwanese as to whether they would accept being ruled by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Although Ma has vowed not to seek unification, Beijing has repeatedly made it clear that its patience on the matter is not infinite.
Furthermore, the current stability in the Strait — Ma’s only yardstick by which to claim there will be no war — will only hold as long as Taiwan remains hostage to the threat of war. In other words, the so-called peace is the result of intimidation and blackmail, hardly a solid foundation for lasting peace.
Pushing the rhetoric further, Ma told the committee it was “the great fortune of the Chinese race/nation [zhonghua minzu, 中華民族]” that “we can use peaceful methods to resolve conflicts.”
It is hard to tell which period from Chinese history Ma was drawing from, because the use of peaceful methods to resolve conflicts was rarely observed by rapacious emperors from antiquity up to Yuan Shih-kai (袁世凱), an autocratic general who declared himself emperor, the first abortive steps of the Republic of China, Chiang Kai-shek’s (蔣介石) KMT and the CCP that replaced it.
Rather than using peaceful means to resolve conflict, the Chinese nation has been cursed with predatory rulers whose preferred instruments were mass murder, cataclysmic social engineering and systematic repression of their own people. Although autogenocidal campaigns appear to be a thing of the past, it can hardly be said that today’s China is blessed with a leadership that has given up violence to resolve conflict. In fact, China today is embroiled in what is possibly the largest campaign of repression since the student protests in 1989.
The majority of people in Taiwan who are of Chinese descent are here because, over different periods of history, they chose to leave behind a land divided by war and oppression to seek a better life for themselves and their offspring. Even the 2 million or so Chinese who crossed the Taiwan Strait after the KMT’s defeat in the Chinese Civil War in 1949 were given a new start in Taiwan. Had they stayed behind, most would have been imprisoned, if not purged.
A flippant Ma then quoted from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms, saying: “There must be division after long unity and there must be unity after long separation.”
What should be clear to Ma, were he not so locked into his own notions of Chinese nationalism, is that the “separation” is the product of far more than accidents of history or a family feud. It is a choice, one that should be made democratically, without the shadow of coercion that, despite his three years of rapprochement, continues to loom threateningly over Taiwan.
There is no doubt that Taiwanese of every persuasion want peace. However, few seek the “unity” envisioned by Ma, as it is one that narrows their ability to choose their own destiny.
In September 2013, the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) quietly released an internal document entitled, “Coursebook on the Military Geography of the Taiwan Strait.” This sensitive, “military-use-only” coursebook explains why it is strategically vital that China “reunify” (annex) Taiwan. It then methodically analyzes various locations of interest to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) war planners. The coursebook highlights one future battlefield in particular: Fulong Beach, in New Taipei City’s Gongliao District, which it describes as “3,000 meters long, flat, and straight,” and located at “the head of Taiwan.” A black and white picture of Fulong’s sandy coastline occupies the
Early last month, China’s rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress (NPC), officially approved the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan. The strategy was supposed to demonstrate that China has a long-term economic vision that would enable it to thrive, despite its geopolitical contest with the US. However, before the ink on the NPC’s stamp could dry, China had already begun sabotaging the plan’s chances of success. The new plan’s centerpiece is the “dual-circulation” strategy, according to which China would aim to foster growth based on domestic demand and technological self-sufficiency. This would not only reduce China’s reliance on external demand; it would also
Interrupting the assimilation of Xinjiang’s Uighur population would result in an unmanageable national security threat to China. Numerous governments and civil society organizations around the world have accused China of massive human rights abuses in Xinjiang, and labeled Beijing’s inhumane and aggressive social re-engineering efforts in the region as “cultural genocide.” Extensive evidence shows that China’s forceful ethnic assimilation policies in Xinjiang are aimed at replacing Uighur ethnic and religious identity with a so-called scientific communist dogma and Han Chinese culture. The total assimilation of Uighurs into the larger “Chinese family” is also Beijing’s official, central purpose of its ethnic policies
In studies of Taiwan’s demographic changes, the Institute of Sociology at Academia Sinica has found that a mere 36.5 percent of men and 19.6 percent of women think getting married is an important life event. The institute also found that the government spending money or amending laws and regulations in order to encourage families to have children is having no impact on the birthrate. Opinions differ on whether this kind of change is a matter of national security, as Japan faces a similar situation, without having a negative impact on its economic strength. Fewer women are willing to marry and the divorce