Regarding the editorial in the Sunday Taipei Times (“The Liberty Times Editorial: Opportunities and independence”, Jul 16, 2017 – Page 6), and speaking of the U.S. position on Taiwan’s independence, the paper notes “Therefore, arms sales to Taiwan, but failure to support its independence is a curious mix-and-match of action and rhetoric.”
Actually, if one thinks about it, this is not so curious. Failing to support independence out loud is not opposing it, even if those words come out of some official’s mouth at some point, because at its root, opposition to independence is not the policy of the U.S., it is merely a tool aimed at defusing a flash point with an arch enemy with nuclear weapons.
However….there is a time to every purpose, and war between the U.S. and China is the potential result of a declaration of independence by Taiwan unless it is the right time, so it is a matter of great importance that the time be right.
What does that mean? It is not so easy to define the right time, or pinpoint. It does depend on the steady progress of Taiwan towards being de facto recognized around the world out loud as a democratic nation on its own, and it could also depend on the resolve of the people of Taiwan. Few believe Taiwanese are willing to take up arms and fight Chinese soldiers in the streets of Taiwan. They say, this is 2017, who does such things, or would want to?
In history, including recent history, there have been very few declarations of independence not accompanied by bloodshed – no country’s overseer will so easily give up its captive.
The U.S. fought a long and very bloody Revolutionary War 241 years ago propelling the U.S. into history and George Washington into the Presidency. In the course of the 8 years of war against England, over 30,000 civilians lost their lives, and there were over 200,000 military casualties. The result was “We the people of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” The bloodshed and resulting democracy has served as a beacon of freedom for billions in the centuries following. Are Taiwanese willing to shed their blood for this?
I think in civil society today, we do everything we can to avoid such conflict, though evil revels in blood and gore, as Tiananmen Square, the Cultural Revolution, the Great Leap and so many other horrific events in Communist China have shown. It also revels in intimidation.
The result? The “One-China policy” that acknowledges that this is what Communist China says, and that the U.S. has its own idea about that. And the purpose of the ambiguity is to allow the U.S. to stand behind Taiwan, firmly, and between Taiwan and Communist China, firmly, and protect Taiwan with the full power and beauty of the U.S. Constitution and the principles of freedom and democracy now inherent in Taiwan’s system of government, and wait for the right time to help bring Taiwan into the family of recognized democratic nations, which it truly already de facto is.
All of the machinations dealing with Taiwan’s de facto independence are designed to avoid a war between two nuclear powers, especially with a North Korean powder-keg sitting just a few clicks away. We have seen how Communist China deals with resistance historically, by its brutality in Tibet and Hong Kong. The U.S. did not stand behind Tibet and wag its finger, having just completed the Korean War a few years earlier. Genocide through eugenics has ensued in Tibet. The U.K. does not have the muscle to stand behind Hong Kong even though Communist China recently stated that the 50-year agreement between the UK and Communist China no longer applies – in other words, England has no power to enforce it, so too bad, Hong Kong’s One Country-Two Systems system is now One Country-One System.
But the U.S., recognizing the tremendously important role that Taiwan plays in ensuring Asia’s democratic existence, and the beauty and grace in having its democracy flourish, and having the same freedoms as exist in the U.S. in Taiwan for its 23 million people, does stand behind Taiwan and wag its finger at Beijing and say “don’t even think of it, buddy”. It has not yet become “Make my day, punk,” but it is implicit in the military presence in China’s neighborhood, and projection of the U.S. military might around the world.
Despite the bellicosity of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) generals, China’s military is no match for the battle-hardened U.S. military might, and for all those nay-sayers in the U.S. who complain about its defense budget, it is like the defense budget for the entire free world (because as we know well, Europe is not going to mount a military that can fulfill that role) and that gives the U.S. power to keep democracy vital and dominant, protecting the freedoms of the people of the U.S., and its friends, despite the efforts of the world’s worst totalitarian regimes, from Communist China to Russia, to Iran to North Korea to Venezuela to Cuba to those in the Middle East.
Were the U.S. to back off Taiwan, I don’t want to think of the consequences. Our law provides support for Taiwan, laws which always pass with overwhelming support in Congress. Presidents follow diplomatic niceties, but the U.S. Congress does not have to follow suit. Few in the U.S. speak glowingly of a unified Communist China and Taiwan. An overwhelming majority acknowledge that Taiwan is already a democratic nation whose own Constitution provides in Article One it is a nation with a government “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
That is the basic foundation of Taiwan today. And it is the basic foundation of Charter 08, offered in 2008 by Liu Xiaobo and his co-writers as the foundation for a future China. Imagine that. Taiwan is the example of what the people of Communist China can look forward to. No wonder the Chinese Communist Party is so damn afraid of tiny Taiwan. And no wonder the Chinese Communist Party is so damn afraid of India, a great U.S. ally and a democratic nation of more than one billion people – demonstrating that the Chinese Communist Party’s argument that China is too big for democracy is nonsense.
To answer the question inherent in the editorial, the democracy and independence dance is not only a dance between Communist China and Taiwan, truly of necessity for Taiwan’s benefit and survival. If it were, it would be a very short and painful dance. It is a very complicated dance and the dance floor is quite crowded, and Communist China is by far not the dancer with the biggest footprint and most destructive kick, and while the U.S. is dancing far from home, Communist China knows that doesn’t mean a thing after over 100 years of projecting power for good across the oceans and seas to stand behind freedom against oppression whenever and wherever it is found.
Also, while the dance is going, and it is going, Taiwan is evolving, and as the pro-Communist China KMT is in steep decline, Taiwan is edging closer and closer to fully realizing the power of those words above…life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in a nation “of the people, by the people and for the people.”
Assimilate that, Chairman Xi and your Chinese Communist Party, anachronisms of despair from the 20th Century, and hollow wraiths in the shadow of Taiwan’s massively free and beautiful society.