Tue, Jun 26, 2018 - Page 8 News List

Taiwan must prepare for blockade

By Strobe Driver

On June 14 I made a presentation at the “New Southbound Policy Workshop: Global Perspectives II” gathering as one of a group of academics that are part of the Taiwan Fellowship 2018 and as part of the Center for Chinese Studies cohort. My presentation was entitled “From possible to probable: the Dynamics of a Taiwan — China war.”

Here is a precis of what it entailed:

From the diktat of a Western perspective, observing history shows that empires and now countries, as they unify and grow, take on an expansionist role, or in simpler terms, they tend to invade the land of others.

This is true of, in relatively accurate order, the Roman Empire; the unification of the elites of Europe and their subsequent papal backing, which eventuated in the Crusades; the monarchies of Portugal and Spain embarking upon conquering missions, with perhaps the most accomplished in terms of subjugation being Christopher Columbus’ incursions into South America; France invading czarist Russia; England ruling the known world from about 1700 through 1945; and the US exiting World War II as a superpower and retaining its grip on much of the world.

Acknowledging that this type of power play also happened regionally in the Asia-Pacific region with various Chinese dynasties and Japan after the Meiji Restoration, and especially with Japan winning the 1904-to-1905 Russo-Japanese War, is to suggest that expansionism is not a monopoly of the West. However, it is necessary to state that the West excelled in the practice of domination.

In my presentation, I referred to China’s path of expansionism, and suggested that it has been taking place since about 1995 and is ongoing. The critical question that emanates from the acknowledgement of expansionism remains: How has this happened and why does it continue to happen?

In broad yet accurate terms, there is a critical confluence of events that takes place, and while they often merge and develop more arbitrarily than what is stated, they are the cornerstones of power. Notwithstanding this factor, the critical matters are as follows:

An industrial revolution begins to take place and with the input of cutting-edge science and technology — which once produced sailboats, and now produce submarines and missiles — a strong military is formed. Unification accords with domestic stability, and with these two components in place a military is able to exit their homeland without fear of government and governance disruption.

A burgeoning middle class is also required. This group provides steady taxes, produces an increase in population and has what sociologists refer to as a non-subsistence living standard. Very few are starving, and therefore society as a whole can prosper and become a potent force of ongoing development.

Cosmopolitanism increases and a greater awareness of the world is created, as well as of its machinations. This awareness further creates a notional understanding of one’s region and a “place” within it that, in turn, drives a political will that can, if needed, be backed up with a threat of force or direct force.

These six elements further enhance what international relations specialists refer to as “irredentism.” This involves a claim — whether real or imagined — that is based on a historical, political or strategic understanding and often a “realignment of history,” and the regeneration of cultural, racial or ethnic claims. The claim can be a single issue, or a combination of the aforementioned.

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