Some Taiwanese politicians have been saying that tensions in the Taiwan Strait are the result of provocations by the US and other Western countries supporting Taiwan and vilifying China.
A democracy guarantees freedom of expression, but it also has the right to protect itself, so here is a reproach to those politicians.
When domestic politics functions normally in a democracy, it is worth paying attention to public opinion polls. It is unlikely that the view of those politicians has entered mainstream public opinion.
However, the nation’s situation is unique, and politicians’ actions and statements often have a significant effect.
My US friends, fellow professors and students are not very sensitive to Taiwanese opinion polls and instead put a lot of weight in what the Taiwanese elite say. The following views are common among them:
First, if China attempts to invade Taiwan and Washington decides to get involved, the US military would need time to mobilize before it can provide assistance. If Taiwan does not fight the Chinese People’s Liberation Army or gives up halfway, the US might also revoke its decision to avoid war.
This scenario assumes that the US decides to intervene, but in contrast to corresponding views in Taiwan, it assumes that the response would not be immediate.
Second, there is a wide variety of opinions among US officials and academics as to whether the US would enter a war to protect Taiwan. Assuming that most US leaders are observing the developments in the Strait, Taiwan’s actions would influence the US’ decision.
In other words, the smallest detail could have a butterfly effect. Small changes in some parameters could potentially prompt the US to make early contingency preparations.
Third, if the US leans toward intervening, its military simulations and political preparations should have already begun. Before preparations are complete, it would organize a show of force by its navy and air force in the Strait and the South China Sea — precisely what is happening now — to deter China.
It would also organize allies — note recent statements of the G7 — to contain China and prepare for war to prevent war.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) leaders often have a diametrically opposed interpretation of these actions — they call them provocations.
I could of course be mistaken and all the knowledge I have gathered through my thorough studies over the years could be wrong.
A universal concept in international relations is that “if you want peace, prepare for war,” although this kind of deterrence is not acceptable to the general public.
Fourth, if the US decides to abandon Taiwan, it should already have started lobbying East and South Asian countries to build acceptance of that decision.
Washington would also have started encouraging Taiwan and China to reconcile to save the US from the difficult dilemma. Is that what the US is doing right now?
The question is whether US actions are more in line with the third or the fourth point. If Taiwan clearly shows that it is afraid of war, the US might grudgingly accept it, retreat and instead focus on protecting the second island chain to prevent an even greater loss.
As to this conclusion, I will not further discuss Taiwan’s irreplaceable position in the first island chain with my overoptimistic Taiwanese friends.
Many US politicians and academics seem to sense that Taiwanese society’s fighting spirit is weakening. This could be a misunderstanding on my part, and they might still hope that there is room to turn things around.
In any case, whether Taiwan wants war or peace (or perhaps surrender?), it must prepare in time. If some Taiwanese politicians want to talk peace with China, they should muster the courage to admit that and publicly lay out a concrete plan.
Much of history depended on tiny factors. These opinions might be thoughts on paper. The final decision rests solely with Taiwanese.
Simon Tang is an adjunct professor at California State University, Fullerton.
Translated by Perry Svensson
Local media reported earlier this month that the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) criticized President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) for referring to China as a “neighboring country,” saying that this is no different from a “two-state” model and that it amounts to changing the cross-strait “status quo.” I find it quite impossible to understand why civilized Taiwan continues to tolerate the existence of such a deceitful group that believes its own lies. The relationship between Taiwan and China is the relationship between two countries, and neither has any jurisdiction over the other — this is the undeniable “status quo.” Those who believe in the
The National Immigration Agency on Monday confirmed that the majority of foreign residents in Taiwan would once again be excluded from the government’s stimulus voucher program. The NT$5,000 Quintuple Stimulus Voucher would be available to 140,000 foreign spouses of Taiwanese and 16,000 Alien Permanent Resident Certificate holders, but about 870,000 Alien Resident Certificate (ARC) holders would be excluded from the program, regardless of whether they pay taxes. The government has not offered any explanation, but some have speculated that the intention is to prevent migrant workers from receiving the vouchers. Many migrant workers are from Southeast Asian countries and work as
On Thursday, China applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) — a regional economic organization whose 11 member countries have a combined GDP of US$11 trillion. That is less than China’s 2019 GDP of US$14.34 trillion, so why is China so eager to join? China says there are two main reasons: To consolidate its foreign trade and foreign investment base, and to fast-track economic and trade relations between China and member countries of the CPTPP free-trade area. China’s bilateral trade with these countries grew from US$78 billion in 2003 to US$685.1 billion last year, mostly because of China’s 2005
US President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) talked on the telephone on Thursday last week, the first time the two leaders have done so since Biden assumed the presidency. While each side sought to put their own gloss on the content of the conversation, some common ground did emerge. Biden reportedly said that both sides have a joint responsibility to ensure that competition between the US and China does not spiral into conflict and that there is no reason that the two nations are destined to fall into this trap. The day after the phone call, the Financial Times reported