I recently wrote an article on Taiwan and why it matters. Previously I had an inkling, but light research was most instructive. I wrote an article for
another literary paper I am a part of and figured it might be useful for ATS:
A Big Change in the China-Taiwanese Power Dynamic
Tomorrow, the 20th of March, is a 21st century milestone. Taiwan will carry out national voting for a referendum on independence. Taiwan will also
vote for president on the same day. These two events foreshadow increased tension and probable conflict between China and Taiwan.
From an American perspective, this changes the Far East security environment. Young Americans could face a draft in efforts to support a military
buildup in Japan and Taiwan. To understand why and how we must delve into history.
At the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War, in 1895, China ceded Taiwan to the Japanese. In the fifty years following, Japan undertook significant
effort (relative to other countries they had invaded) and developed Taiwanese economy and infrastructure.
In 1943, at the Cairo Conference, the allied powers agreed to hand Taiwan over to China, upon Japan's surrender. In 1945 Japan surrendered. That's
where agreement between China and Taiwanese independence advocates ends.
The allied Taiwanese agreement never invoked the Cairo Declaration, nor did it directly cede Taiwan to another entity. However, since Taiwan was
"originally" taken from the Republic China by the Japanese, there exists some Chinese wiggle room: The UN Nations Vienna Conference on Succession of
States in 1978. It is by this conference that the People's Republic of China claim legitimate government, with general mandate, over the people of
Taiwan. The conference advocated "states rights to territorial integrity," and keeping China whole is more integral than letting Taiwan be
But there's another side to this story. The surrender of Japan, it is argued, did not transfer title of Taiwan (retroactive agreements hold no water,
especially when Taiwan doesn't get a say). It is argued that by the UN Charter (which existed at the time, unlike the 1978 Vienna conference), that
self rule returned to the People of Taiwan.
Following the People's Revolution in mainland China, the Kuomintang (KMT) installed a repressive and corrupt government in Taiwan. The KMT carried
out classic land re-distribution, which allowed others to convert their land into capital and become Taiwan's first entrepreneurs. These brutal
efforts converted Taiwan from an agricultural economy to an industrial one.
From here we enter so called modern history. Chiang Kai-Shek's son, Chiang Ching-kuo, liberalized Taiwan's political system. In 1986 martial law was
finally lifted and an opposition part was created. Two years later Taiwanese history and culture was stressed over Chinese counterparts. It is here
the true seeds of "rebellion" grew in Chinese eyes.
From here I will detail the sequence of events and what may happen tomorrow. Realize that the United States diplomatically supports Taiwan as a
democratic country. Taiwan also serves as a convenient military depot.
1988 - Chiang-Kuo died. His successor, Lee Teng-hui continued to hand governmental control back to the Taiwanese. Previously, martial law had been
lifted. Banknotes were printed from the Central Bank rather than the Chinese controlled counterpart.
1991 - Chinese mainland legislative representatives were forced to resign and their organization was disbanded. Restrictions upon use of Taiwanese in
media broadcasts and schools were lifted.
Lee ran for president, which prompted the People's Republic of China (PRC) to conduct missile tests in the Taiwanese Strait. President Clinton
invoked the Taiwan Relations Act and sent an aircraft carrier to the region for surveillance.
Lee asserted on German radio that the PRC and Taiwan were separate and unique states. A Chinese reply was given in the form of large military drills
in Fujian and an intentional island-wide blackout (cut the power).
2000 - The KMT were voted out of office. Chen Shui-bian won majority vote.
Now here we stand. Tomorrow is another presidential Taiwanese election and national voting on the defense (missile) referendum. The referendum
officially solidifies Taiwan's defensive posture by calling for a missile defense shield and more missile silos.
March 19, 2004 - Chen Shui-bian and vice president were shot. Both survived.
What happens March 20, 2004? The United States supports Taiwan and its self rule, but opposes Taiwanese independence. If Taiwan "provokes" China,
China may unleash a torrent of missiles. From there, China would directly occupy Taiwan, again, ultimately changing the delicate balance of power in
the Far East region. It is here the Far East hangs in balance. It is for this reason young Americans could face a draft in efforts to support a
military buildup in Japan and Taiwan.
I speculate with the following (from a previous discussion):
"Well, I see this as a case of status quo. Say Taiwan does declare their independence officially. Then what? Does that give them more tanks, missiles
This only has meaning diplomatically. Since the two countries (oops) are separate anyway there's no transfer of power or separation of industry. I
don't think the declaration is worth the paper it's written on, unless it can be backed up.
The missile referendum commits Taiwan to an heightened aggressive posture. Sadly, Taiwan is assuming more American support where it's not. If push
came to shove (over the smoldering crater of Taiwan), the US would try to resolve the conflict diplomatically, instead of fighting a war with China.
To take China head on is just insane.
Look at what Bush did with North Korea and Iraq. See the difference? If the country can fight back, he goes a different route."
A) Chen Shui-bian was voted into office today.
Chen Shui-bian was voted into Taiwan's presidential office today. He ran against rival Lien Chan, who is friendlier towards China.
Lien Chan refused to accept results that he nearly lost the election. He has demanded that all 13,000 polling stations be impounded and recounted.
"This is an unfair election with a lot of question marks," Lien Chan, the Nationalist Party candidate said to his supporters. Chan beliefs that,
similarly to Spain, the attack upon Shui-bian in the races final hours created more support. Mr. Lien had been winning the election by six percentage
points, until results from many other precincts were delivered.
The assassination attempt from a day prior is fraught with many oddities and investigation continues.
B) Taiwan's Missile Defense Referendum failed
Taiwan's Missile Defense Referendum failed to pass today, with only 45 percent turnout. The two questions on the ballot where:
1. Should Taiwan beef up missile defense in the face of China increasing buildup, and;
2. Whether Taiwan should negotiate with China.
New President Chen Shui-bian, survivor of yesterdays assassination attempt, stated that many Taiwanese did not know the significance of this missile
referendum. He pledged to listen to Taiwan's voice by strengthening national defense and pursuing peace negotiations. He also asked China to
dis-orient it's many missiles pointed at Taiwan.