Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Taiwan's Independence

Here's is my latest for Foreign Policy in Focus
to which you should subscribe for its eminently rational look at foreign affairs.

Self Determination - It's the Law!

China's arguments against Taiwanese self-determination are not particularly legal or ethical. They boil down to the fact that Beijing has over a billion people, a huge economy, and over 900 missiles pointing at the nearby island.

The latter figure, growing by 50 rockets a year, should give a clue to the weakness of Beijing's arguments. In the modern world, few governments can pledge with a straight face to “liberate” an island full of people it pretends are compatriots by blowing them off the map. Equally, while China's “one nation—two systems” transition period for Hong Kong has not been a total failure, Beijing's clumsy interference in Hong Kong's politics and refusal to allow democratic reforms have not done much to reassure the Taiwanese.

There is scope for wrangling on historical and legal claims. But the real question is what status the people of the territory themselves want. Do the people of Taiwan and their democratically elected government have a right to decide their own fate? And will they use that right to get politically closer or more distant from the mainland?

According to modern international practice and the principles of democracy, the Taiwanese do indeed have the right to “declare” what is manifestly already true: that they are an independent, sovereign state. It is also clear that the Taiwanese, on the political level, do not want to be ruled by Beijing. If the threat to the island's (and the islanders') existence were removed, a very strong majority would support outright independence.

This is not just romantic nationalism. The Taiwanese pragmatically believe that falling under Beijing's thumb would be a major step backward for a prosperous democracy of 23 million people, with its developed economy, developed social democracy, and amenities such as a national health system.

Taiwan at the UN

Taiwan has long been trying to shore up its global position by joining international bodies, notably the UN. For the first decade or so of the UN's existence, the “universality” of membership was not at all evident. But now UN membership is generally regarded as a sort of certificate of sovereign statehood. Indeed, after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, every last microstate came rushing for membership precisely to get anti-annexation insurance. Some members barely qualify for sovereignty. For instance, the former U.S. trust territories in the Pacific, such as Palau, the Marshal Islands, and Micronesia, have constitutions that entrust the United States with their defense and with consultation over foreign policy. Such contingent sovereignty is reflected in their lonely UN votes supporting Washington over Israel. Indeed, at the time of their admission to the UN, British diplomats, for the record, queried the degree of the islands' sovereignty.

Add economic autonomy, and Taiwan clearly has more attributes of sovereignty than many UN members. If not for the continuing threat from the PRC, Taiwan's leaders might realistically accept their anomalous status. One only has to think of avian flu to realize that it is not in the global interest for Taiwan to be outside the World Health Organization or any of the other institutions of international standard-setting.

By blocking Taiwan's entry to the UN, China is ignoring the same right to self-determination it proclaimed in its more revolutionary days of anti-colonial struggle. This hypocrisy explains in part why the nagging consciences of the non-aligned at the UN impel them to ensure that the admission of Taiwan is not even on the agenda for discussion, despite clear rules to the contrary. In any debate they would have to acknowledge that Beijing's obdurate stand contravenes not only of the right to self-determination but also of the inviolability of colonial boundaries that most African countries accept.

It is worth considering why the Chinese are so unbendable on this issue. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the Communist Party of China has all but abandoned any social agenda other than the maintenance of power, and that leaves only nationalism as a ruling ideology. The “reunification” with Taiwan is a token over which the cadres in Beijing can jostle for leadership by out-shouting each other.

However, Beijing's claim to sovereignty over the island is not well founded at all, unless you accept it as the successor state to the Middle Kingdom that claimed to rule the world. In historical terms, the mainland's one unquestioned period of control over Taiwan lasted between the end of the Second World War and the ouster of Chiang Kai-shek from the mainland. The islanders were never consulted, and Chiang's Kuo Min Tang (KMT) made sure that their views went unheard by massacring some 30,000 of them beginning February 28, 1947. Even when driven from the mainland in 1949, Chiang's regime maintained its increasingly tenuous claim to be the legitimate government of China, which included Mongolia as well.

Only after Chiang's death did the island move toward democracy and into the real world, by dissolving the all-China shadow government structures maintained by the KMT. Strangely, the comrades in Beijing were happier with an island claiming to represent the whole of China than they are with one that currently purports only to represent itself.

Definitions of Imperialism

In the modern world, with a few notable and messy exceptions such as in the Balfour declaration, irredentist claims based on ancient history have been unsuccessful in the face of popular sovereignty. There is more to a nation state than a shared language, common ethnicity, or certainly former imperial sovereignty.

According to its arguments based on former control, Beijing could seize Vietnam or parts of Korea. Indeed, if reunification of the former Chinese empire is the issue, then China should really consider the examples of Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the United States. Luckily, there has been no British call for reunification. Austria and a large part of Switzerland speak German, but Germany has not revived calls for anschluss. Spain has learned to live with the absence of most of Latin America.

Historical claims are essentially worthless. In a modern, civilized world, the views of the people themselves matter most. For example, no British government, not even one as control-minded as Tony Blair's, could force Scotland to stay in the United Kingdom if a clear majority of its people wished otherwise. The Chinese leadership, on the other hand, often confuses “terrorism” with “secessionist activities,” which includes simple advocacy of autonomy and independence. As such, the Chinese equivalent of the Scottish Nationalist Party in Beijing would serve time in jail, not in parliament.

Potential Compromises

Although it is not helpful in the adjudication of modern sovereignty claims, history does offer some examples of pragmatic solutions that could produce a degree of mutual satisfaction. For example, if the PRC had demonstrated more trustworthiness over Hong Kong, then something like the “compacts of association” between the Pacific trust territories and the United States would have been conceivable. But it would be a foolhardy Taiwanese leader who would accept even a token garrison from the People's Liberation Army in view of Beijing's recent threats.

Perhaps a more exiguous form of association could be developed on the model of the dominions of the British Commonwealth, where the British head of state is also head of state of Australia, Jamaica, Canada, and New Zealand. For the last half century at least, this arrangement didn't imply any degree of British control and left the various parties harmoniously linked but independent.

However, for all these imaginative solutions, the Taiwanese need reassurance that some powerful members of the global community have the spine to argue with Beijing, to educate its leaders that their eccentrically Sinocentric view of the world is wrong, and to persuade those same leaders that threats of military action are completely counterproductive as well as unacceptable.

Why should the rest of the world care? Last year, the “Responsibility to Protect” accepted by the UN heads of state codified the instinctive feelings of many. The world should not stand by and watch military action crush a vibrant, successful democracy. And in terms of self-interest, Taiwan has wisely and morally eschewed the nuclear option. Faced with a United States in economic thrall to China and increasingly unlikely to back up its security guarantee against China's developing military capacity, Taiwan certainly has a case for pursuing such a deterrent. But the world is dealing with enough threats to the current arms control regimes and does not need another nuclear power.

Taiwan should take the initiative and propose some such pragmatic solutions to the mainland. Although rejected, such proposals would at least have the effect of putting the onus on Beijing. In fact Taiwan could learn some lessons from Cyprus, where the leaders have for years suggested reasonable-sounding solutions they know are, for some obscure reason often barely discernible to outsiders, completely unacceptable to the other side. At the same time, Taiwan should abandon some of the more ritualistic restrictions on trade and travel across the Strait. And Taipei should make plain that it does not hold a “Two China” policy but rather a “one China, one Taiwan” policy. Like Austria and Germany, or Australia and Britain, Taiwan is close to China—but separate.

Ian Williams contributes frequently to Foreign Policy In Focus (online at www.fpif.org) on UN and international affairs.

19 comments:

Iris said...

Bravo, Mr.Williams! Every point you presented in your article, esp. the promotion of self-determination, "One China, One Taiwan" policy, is exactly what my organization and myself advocate on Capitol Hill. I wanted to cry when reading your article out of happiness. Finally someone with mainstream media credential understands the struggle of my people and of Taiwan and is willing to speak the truth!!! I thank you sincerely for your article that publicized the reality of the Taiwan Strait.

Is there any other way we can reach you other than leaving this public comment on your blog?

www.fapa.org
http://fapaypg-diatt.blogspot.com
http://ypg.fapa.org

Anonymous said...

I strongly agree with Mr. Williams and maybe to everyone's suprise I'm black/Native American and even I support such. Especially Taiwan's independence. China has no right to isolate Taiwan, but the answer to Taiwan's isolation is that both parties, the KMT and the DPP need to get together and the KMT especially, needs to abandon the "future reunification", and the United States needs to stop playing games with China and just support Taiwan period. Taiwan does not want to be like Hong Kong and it doesn't deserve to be. Taiwan is a SOVEREIGN country with a strong democratic foundation that is expanding almost faster than even China's economic rise. Unfortunately, President Bush only cares about China's economy and Iraq more than he does with Taiwan. Even though he stated, "we will do whatever it takes to defend Taiwan," he has not even payed a scant attention to China, not once allowed President Chen to visit Washington D.C. (he allows a dictator, President Hu to do so). China has illegally occuppied the territories of Tibet, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang, and now it claims Taiwan, Northern Korea, and even part of North eastern India. Also, China has taken advantage of Bush's war on terror and used that theme to persecute Turkish Muslims who are the majority in Xinjiang Province.

I hope the next president in my country will notice such and do a better job of standing up to China. Particularly on trade and military. The next President also should abandon the "one" China policy as China as already abandoned that policy by passing the so called "anti-succession" law against Taiwan. If not, America will be caught completely off guard while it is focused on a completely broken policy on Iraq. Taiwan unlike Iraq, is already a democracy and that is half the battle there should America have to defend Taiwan one day.

活龙 said...

"Is Taiwan part of China?"

The People's Republic of China's (PRC) Constitution and its Anti-Secession Law say yes. And the Constitution of the Republic of China (ROC), the residual state system having survived a four-year civil war (1945-49) with Communists still runs the island, also says yes. The very reason for the existence of the surviving ROC on the island is that the PRC's Central Government in Beijing has elected NOT to dismantle it after it assumed the role of ruling the whole of China from ROC in 1949. In the best interests of the Chinese nation, the Central Government wants a peaceful, "One Country, Two Systems" reunification with Taiwan.
To continue with the above discussion entailing complicated, contentious historical and legal points would require extensive research, which is not what I want to deal with in this posting. For example, a Western scholar even argues that China is a culture that pretends to a country. It might take months of research and study of historical, legal and social books for an amateur like me to challenge his conviction. My first-minute response to his point is that he says only half the thing. As I see it, China is a country that is united by one culture. Another startling assertion is that, according to some arrangement, Taiwan is a territory of the United States that puts the island in the hands of the occupying ROC after WWII ended with Japan surrendering the island to the Allied Forces in 1945. People of this opinion go on to say that the reason why neither PRC nor ROC owns Taiwan is that the arrangement did not specify to whom the island was surrendered. And that's why the U.S. has a relations act with the island and justifiably sells weapons to Taiwan, one of its territories, according to that frame of thinking. This is a word game: By one treaty, China lost Taiwan to Japan; and by another, Japan lost Taiwan to an unidentified entity, but not China. Who is it to be, then, if not China? China lost a piece of its soil to an enemy in a failed war and couldn't take it back even when the enemy was defeated?

Beijing has provided a good and operational framework into which Taiwan can again live under one flag with the rest of China: "One Country, Two Systems". To use force to reunify the nation is the worst choice that China has desperately tried to avoid. China has had enough of such internecine and wars with foreign countries in its history. Too much of them! But, this does not mean China will do nothing violent if its patience and endurance are tested to the extremes and it fears it would lose Taiwan again.

In my opinion, things have not changed too much since British-French forces burned down the Summer Place in Beijing in 1860 and European, American and Asian democracies invaded China and occupied Beijing in 1900. The rule of the game is still "might is right". Today's China has means, ways, resources, capabilities, will and domestic popular support (if reasonable) to have it all its own way, at least of keeping Taiwan part of its territory, which China is justified to do according to China's Constitution and the Anti-Secession Law.

活龙 said...

Hey, freedom of speech is being "moderate" here?

活龙 said...

Non-Chinese readers, please note: Your fingers in China's Taiwan pie are not welcome. Your corporal support of Taiwan's Independence from China will mean the death of you because China will try to kill any foreigners who meet us on the battleground of Taiwan's Independence which China violently opposes to. PERIOD

活龙 said...

Democracy cannot be a reason for Taiwan's independence from China. Do not mix the two things. Whether or not China is democratic has nothing to do with the fact that Taiwan is part of China.

Democracy and non-democracy are just twos forms of government. I'd like to say that democracy has at least two aspects: power and money. Don't tell me the U.S. is a democracy for every and each American. U.S. democracy is a game for the rich. And don't tell me free speech is also one for every American. In the media world where rich people rule, money talks. Of course, there is democracy in the world. But the problem is: who is the democracy you're talking about for? The rich? The poor? The middle class?

活龙 said...

A small point to ponder over: In a democracy, its constitution is something to be played with? Teng called his “country” Taiwan, yet its constitution calls it ROC.

活龙 said...

Don’t tell me the island is a democracy. His shameless “President” Chen refused to be booted from his office even though nearly half of the people who voted him into office wanted to fire him. He is truly proud of his Taiwan-make democracy? Come on! Does he believe what he says? His boss Chen Shuibian is rubbish, never keeps promises, is corrupt and has the nerve to stay in office! This is called “democratic”?

The reason for the survival of his state on the island after 1949 is that the Central Government in Beijing has elected NOT to unify it, by force if force.

Also, democracy should not be a reason for Taiwan Independence. Democracy and independence are two things. Mainland China’s non-democracy does not justify Taiwan’s Independence.

Moreover, I believe democracy is only of talks, not in practice. I’d prefer to say that democracy and non-democracy are two just two names used to identify a better and a less better form of government. All the fundemental rights belong to the rich and the powerful. In the West, the rich rules, and in China, the CPC rules. No fundemental difference between the two.

Last, but not least,all I have said above is rubbish. The supporting argument for the rubbish is simple: MIGHT IS RIGHT. China has that MIGHT to keep Taiwan within its territory.

To pro-Independence people in Taiwan: Your status quo is mercifully granted by the Central Government in Beijing. It is like air. If Beijing chooses to cut it, you will feel what China has justifiably claims over the island where you live. China will not hesitate to kill you if you put up corporal resistence against China’s advancing armies.

Saber-rattling? Of course, it is. That is the rule of the world. U.S. can invade Iraq and kill its people on dreamed-of mass-construction weapon grounds. What can and who will stop it? No one! Even what U.S. commits is crime!

To U.S., Japan, and small brothers: CHINA IS JUSTIFIABLY GUARDING ITS TERRITORY. ANY FOREIGN FINGERS IN OUR TAIWAN WILL BE SEVERED FROM THE PEOPLE WHO DARE TO PUT THEM THERE.

Force is China’s last choice. China has made it clear in its Anti-Secession Law.

One interesting point: If China is truly “democratic”, its voters will vote people into office who promise to unify Taiwan by force if its “president” continues to behave as he has been. The pro-I on Taiwan should thank un-democratic CPC for their corporal existence on the island.

Thanks you for reading through my ramble and thank the blog owner for his or her inspiring post.

Deadline Pundit said...

Well what a lot of commentary - tending to prove my point. Might does not make right. Self-determination is important, and no matter what entity claims a piece of land, it is the views of the inhabitants that matter most. If the Mongols get nuclear weapons and try to reclaim Jenghis Khan's empire, the people of China should really have a say in the matter despite the strength of the Mongol's historical claims

活龙 said...

To the Anonymous voicing about Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia: Both the Constitutions of ROC and PRC state clearly that Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia are part of China.

Unless the legal texts are changed, no one can change the fact that Xinjiang, Tibet, Inner Mongolia are part of China.

Deadline Pundit said...

YOu ares till missing the point. Constitutions can claim what they want. For 500 years, English Kings claimed France. The Irish Constitution claims Northern Ireland. israel claims Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

It is what the people want that matters in the end for international law. And state boundaries are a question for international law.

活龙 said...

Dear Ian, the reason why I wrote such a long comment on your post is that I recently found that, in the English speech cyberworld, there is too much sympathy for Taiwan Independence and too much neglect of China's rightful and justifiable claim over Taiwan. As a Chinese, I almost feel a moral obligation to voice my opinion in this cyberworld.

First, I think you are blurring the difference between the history and the reality. The governing Constitutions of both ROC and PRC state clearly that Taiwan is part of China. All the governments of the democracies and non-democracies, including U.S. and Japan, respect China's “One China” policy, except for only 24 banana republics. And all the international organizations (e.g. UNO) and standards organizations (e.g. ISO) treat Taiwan as part of China. As you can see from these situations, China's claim over Taiwan is a not a historical one. Rather, they manifest the fact that Taiwan is part of China. As part of China, Taiwan has no right for self-determination that results in its independence from China, as PRC's Constitutions states. If “Taiwan Independence” is a matter, it is one for the whole of China to decide, not only those on the Taiwan island. Contrary to what you believe, it is the view of the entire China ( China's Taiwan plus the mainland plus HK plus Macau) that matters most.

For your geographical information: Taiwan is a geographical term used to identify an island off the mainland Chinese coast. There is no country called Taiwan or the Republic of Taiwan in the world. It is the Republic of China that the 24 tiny states have diplomatic relations with. To call Taiwan a country is both a geographical mistake and constitutionally wrong according to the Constitutions of both PRC and ROC. The future reunification with the rest of China is embedded in the Constitutions of ROC and that of PRC.

Finally, dear Ian, I hope you understand that, in the world where the rich and powerful rule, might does make right, or at least make those silent who oppose it. For example, it is mostly your bosses and the capital they represent who decide what to publish or not to publish on your publications. If you do not want to keep silent about what you want to say, you will lose your job, as long as the bosses and the capital decide what you want to say, in exercising the right of freedom of speech, is against their interests and profits. As a media man in the U.S., you quite understand me when I say “you've got to understand who is the boss”. I'm sure about this: it is the rich and powerful who control the media in the West, and it is the CPC that controls the media in China. Also, there is only an easily accessible resolving door that connects the rich and the powerful.

活龙 said...

First, you have to note that there is no country called Taiwan and “All the governments of the democracies and non-democracies, including U.S. and Japan, respect China's “One China” policy, except for only 24 banana republics. And all the international organizations (e.g. UNO) and standards organizations (e.g. ISO) treat Taiwan as part of China.” (a repeat of what I said)

I agree with you. Since Taiwan has never ceased to be as part of China, its independence from the rest of China requires the permission of the entire China, not only those on the island. And for international laws and other rules, they do not apply to one of China's internal issue, a domestic one. It is governed by China's laws and rules.

活龙 said...

Ian, if you argue that Taiwan is not part of China, when do you think its independence from China started?

Deadline Pundit said...

I publish what I want without constraint.

The mere assertion by a government, elected or not that it has sovereignty over a territory does not create a fact. The PRC has never controlled Taiwan. And the only reason the Taiwanese have not declared a Republic of Taiwan is because the PRC has close to a 1000 missiles pointed at it which it has threatened to use. That shows how much Beijing thinks that the Taiwanese people want unity!

I am British, although based in New York. As I said, no British government could keep Scotland agains tthe will of the Scottish people. In fact Britain, then a Superpower that ruled the biggest empire in the world, had to get out of Southern Ireland once it became clear that its claims had no legitimacy.

Self determination is the rule.

活龙 said...

[In your blog, you can write without constraint. But, in the publications owned by media conglomerates, I strongly doubt you can write and publish as you wish. It is your bosses, advertisers and shareholders who will directly or indirectly decide what to publish or not to publish on the publications; not you, a mere employee or freelance working for them and depending on them for your livelihood.]

China is asserting the fact that Taiwan has been part of China at least from 1683 when China under the Qing Dynasty reclaimed Taiwan from rebel forces or from 1945 when Japan surrendered Taiwan back to China, a Chinese island colonized by Japan through an arrangement forced upon China that neither ROC nor PRC recognizes based on the grounds that the treaty dictating the arrangement was totally unfair.

Your examples of Scotland and Ireland are interesting. [First, Scotland's independence from the UK is a mere hypothesis, rather than a fact or an impending something that matters in our debate. Second, GB annexed Ireland as a colony in 1801. This was mistake on the part of GB. Under this arrangement, immigrants with Protestant beliefs from GB colonized Ireland and came to constitute about 60% of the Northern Ireland's total population. Yes, GB surrendered southern Ireland, but only because of GB's greatly reduced power as a result of WWI and because of that fact it was no longer able to control the entire Ireland. You should well know that GB retained the six counties in Northern Ireland that were justifiably Ireland's. It was GB that colonized Ireland and divided the Ireland into North and Southern parts. And you argument is “self-determination” because the majority of Northern Ireland people want N.I. to be part of UK though they are historically latecomers and squatters or their off-spring of them and should not have been there in the first place. I'd like to ask that: “is this the British way of militarily occupying a place, flooding it with settlers and then through these people via “self-determination” calling the place Britain's? ]

Great Britain was a colonizer that used to run the biggest empire. Taiwan is a province, not a colony in the British way, of China both by the ROC's and PRC's administrative divisions that run as an unbroken continuum of the two Chinese historical periods. It is clear that self-determination is not the rule for China if it results in the island's independence from China. And for that matter, China will not allow it to happen and it will be one of the triggers that will start war on the pro-I people on the island to bring it direct under PRC's government, according to China's Anti-Secession Law. [In this case, GB failed its war efforts in keeping the entire Ireland part of its territory. China will not.]

China has every justification to deploy armies and weapons to guard its national unity and deter pro-I forces from making Taiwan a legal separate entity from China. As China has made it clear those armies and weapons are aimed at pro-I people there, not the general Taiwanese people. Another reason that the island did not claim independence is that its Constitution prohibits it. And for that matter, as polls done by Taiwanese show, the overwhelming Taiwanese people want to retain the status quo or unify with the mainland. Thought what this “status quo” means is much disputed, it is clearly defined in the Constitution under which ROC functions. The fact that China (P.R.) has “never governed” Taiwan does not mean China has lost lost its sovereignty over the island that China has enjoyed from the days of an unbroken, successive continuum of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), ROC (1911-1949) and PRC (1949-). China (PR)'s government of Taiwan manifests itself in other ways: UN kicked ROC out of its organization, no international organization whose members all sovereign, independent countries include ROC as its member (Note: there is no country called Taiwan; to use Taiwan to refer to the ROC is a common-sense, political, geographical mistake. Taiwan did not, does not and will not exist in the list of countries. ), all countries with diplomatic ties with China must respect China's “One-China” Policy.

Also, that fact that almost springs at you is that it is not only the Constitution of PRC but also that of ROC claims Taiwan as one of its entity. So far, no one has changed (in this sense, no one dares!) the two constitutions so that Taiwan became independent from China (PRC or ROC). And the Constitution of ROC still works on the island and governs the government of the island. Until now, no substantive efforts have been waged against the Constitution of ROC that dictates Taiwan as part of China (ROC).

活龙 said...

While arguing Taiwan's Independence from China, can you kindly answer the following questions?

1) The governments of nearly all the countries around the world voice publicly or in their diplomatic documents with China that they recognize, acknowledge, or take note of [China's assertion] that Taiwan is part of China. Isn't it clear that the international community does not challenge that China's “One-China” policy assertion?

2) Why do you think the UNO decided to replace ROC with PRC to occupy the China seat in the UN ? Doesn't it make it clear the PRC now represents the whole of China?

3) Why do you think international organizations only with sovereign countries as its members refuse to enroll ROC or what you call Taiwan? Isn't it clear that the international community regards Taiwan as part of China?

As I've said, China has the might to KEEP Taiwan part of its territory. I believe this might what backs China's claim, not what I've said above. Let the world wait and see if China has the will, capabilities and resourcefulness to deliver its promises on the Taiwan island.

活龙 said...

China's arguments against Taiwanese self-determination are not particularly legal or ethical. They boil down to the fact that Beijing has over a billion people, a huge economy, and over 900 missiles pointing at the nearby island.
0.1 Ian, you made a wrong start by paralleling China with one of its provinces Taiwan. You jumped the gun by first fabricating a mutually exclusive situation across the Strait where the two entities exist: Taiwan and China. But, this is not the fact. In every legal, cultural and political sense, “Taiwan” is a subordinate term to that of China. No country by that name exists in the world. Even the entity's own governing Constitution says the state on the island is called the ROC and the ROC has constitutional claims over the rest of China: the Chinese mainland. With a little knowledge of Chinese history between 1945-1949, you can see that the surviving ROC on the island is a result of the Chinese civil war that does not technically ends today. As a quality journalist, you should be well aware of the importance of accuracy in your language use and should not make obvious geographical, common-sense, legal and political mistakes. For more information that can make you see the fact the there is no country called Taiwan and Taiwan is part of China, I advise you to consult your government in the UK and ROC's Constitution to see whether or not there is a country called Taiwan. Your government is elected by you Britons to represent the will of your people. Your government respects China's “One-China” policy. Whether you like it or not, that is the GB's official standing. Before you Britons can vote a new government into office that disrespects the policy, your government can see no country called Taiwan through its eyes.
0.2 “The over a billion people, a huge economy, and over 900 missiles pointing at the nearby island” are just part of China's power to back ROC and PRC's Constitutional claims over Taiwan. With the 1.3-billion Chinese people's support, strong financial resources and the brave Chinese People's Liberation Army, Taiwan has a fat chance of “separating” from the rest of China.
0.3 By using “ethical”, you try to assume a higher moral point over China. But, contrary to what you said, to try to sever Taiwan from the rest of China is unethical.
0.4 I understand that UK is a colonizer, a past master at at “divide and rule”and creating disputes when being forced to leave its colonies. When the UK left India, it created a Pakistan and an India, later a Bangladesh. When the UK left the Middle East, it resurrected out of nowhere an ancient country Israel. The UK also created a separated Cyprus. When the UK handed HK over to China, it also had tried to sow some bad seeds in the name of democracy between HK and the mainland. But it failed this time because its rival was China who can have everything its own way and frustrate UK efforts to create a troubling HK for China. Remember this all the time: China is powerful, not a country to fool with.

The latter figure, growing by 50 rockets a year, should give a clue to the weakness of Beijing's arguments. In the modern world, few governments can pledge with a straight face to “liberate” an island full of people it pretends are compatriots by blowing them off the map. Equally, while China's “one nation—two systems” transition period for Hong Kong has not been a total failure, Beijing's clumsy interference in Hong Kong's politics and refusal to allow democratic reforms have not done much to reassure the Taiwanese.
1.1 Chinese rockets are aimed at pro-I people on the island and their bosses in the US and Japan, not the general public on the island. China did not pledge to blow the island off the map. It is YOU who said so. The GOVERNING Constitutions of both ROC and PRC state TW is part of China. In this sense, Taiwanese are of course Chinese compatriots.
1.2 If you are not that blind or not that nostalgic about the British colonial days in HK, you can see the “One Country, Two Systems” is a COMPLETE SUCCESS in HK and Macau. Check the SAR Governments in HK and Macau for yourself. HK's politics operates within the Basic Law. China has the legal and constitutional rights to govern HK, one of its local areas. HK's democratic reforms have been prescribed in its basic law. Check it.

1.3 Taiwan's democracy has lost its glamor. Do not mention it again on which to base your arguments. If what happens on TW is called democratic, then people will have to re-define what the hell democracy is. Corrupt Chen Shui-bian still sits on top of the authorities there by manipulating TW-make democratic mechanisms. TW is still in the process of realizing democracy. It will not have democracy established in its true sense before getting rid of their lying, corrupt and crafty “president”.

There is scope for wrangling on historical and legal claims. But the real question is what status the people of the territory themselves want. Do the people of Taiwan and their democratically elected government have a right to decide their own fate? And will they use that right to get politically closer or more distant from the mainland?
2.1 What people want means nothing. You want the world to to yours, but it is that of the rich and powerful. You want democracy is for each and every citizen, but it is also only for the rich and powerful. In the foreseeable future, nothing can change this reality. By asking questions in your way, you are implying the answers. But, how do you know “the people of Taiwan” want independence from China? You polled? You counted them by head who said yes or no to Independence? No-one's rights are unlimited. The rights of the people of TW and its authorities are governed by ROC's Constitution which does not allow the island's separation from China and dictate the eventual reunification with the rest of China. Until the ROC's Constitution changes, nothing happens that can make TW separate from the rest of China.

According to modern international practice and the principles of democracy, the Taiwanese do indeed have the right to “declare” what is manifestly already true: that they are an independent, sovereign state. It is also clear that the Taiwanese, on the political level, do not want to be ruled by Beijing. If the threat to the island's (and the islanders') existence were removed, a very strong majority would support outright independence.
3.1 The claim that TW is independent is not true. Its ROC Constitution says it is not. Whether or not the Taiwanese want to be ruled by Beijing means nothing that can make the island independent from China. The international community has voiced clear messages to TW that “TW is part of China”.

3.2 The hypothesis you gave confirmed my idea that TW is still a piece of Chinese land because its “independence” is something in the future. (To to continued)

Deadline Pundit said...

Dear 活龙

You really seem to be operating in a parallel universe. I point out that China's claim to Taiwan rests, in the absence of Taiwanese popular consent, on "might is right." And then you trumpet this as a reason why Taiwan has to be part of China. You clearly do not accept my other point, that in the modern world, military force without popular consent has no moral or even legal validity - the PRC itself voted for "The Responsibility to Protect" in the 2005 UN summit and it has trumpeted the right to self determination across the world.

The PRC's mishandling of the SAR's Two Systems policy is one of the major reasons that Taiwanese will not trust Beijing. Unlike you, most people in Hong Kong deplore the PRC's refusal to move to a democratically elected government - despite its promises. The SAR has not been as bad as many people feared - but it has not been as good as the PRC promised.

In view of such wildly different versions of reality, I am not really inclined to continue assisting you in your monologue. I regret that your further comments on this will not be published on this site. But please feel free to publish your thoughts anywhere else that you care.