Taiwan: independence/(re)unification/status quo/referendum?


#641

The ROC still existing in a federation would still just be a super SAR anyway. The trick would be to hold onto as much autonomy as possible, as there doesn’t seem to be much gained by transferring powers to the PRC. This wouldn’t be the EU we are talking about!


#642

While the KMT has done well at the polls, this has little to do with their stance on unification. Voters choose the KMT for a myriad of reasons, unification being the least of them - if anything it has consistently been a negative for pan Blue politicians. In 2004, even the likes of Lian Zhan & James Soong felt compelled to change their stance on the issue from being in favor of unification to supporting the status quo, with any major decision the prerogative of future generations and independence being an option. Likewise, Ma Ying-jiu largely co-oped the DPP’s rhetoric on Taiwan identity during both of his campaigns, suddenly dropping all that Zhonghua minzu rhetoric he otherwise loves to spout. This reflects that support for unification was and still is an albatross for the pan Blue camp.


#643

Would you prefer a PRC yoke? :ponder:[/quote]

Yes. To be clear, I am explicitly stating I’d prefer unification under the PRC as a SAR rather than unification under some model where the ROC survives. I don’t see independence as supported by most Taiwanese or viable.


#644

Would you prefer a PRC yoke? :ponder:[/quote]

Yes. To be clear, I am explicitly stating I’d prefer unification under the PRC as a SAR rather than unification under some model where the ROC survives. I don’t see independence as supported by most Taiwanese or viable.[/quote]

Defeatist bullshit. Have a little faith. Taiwan can do better.


#645

There are many reasons for this, but I believe “it’s what the people want” is not one of them.

You are entitled to your opinion, and it’s great that you’re able to lay it out in a civil, non-argumentative way. Let me explain to you my reservations about Taiwan becoming an SAR.

Maybe it’s my upbringing in a very conservative American household, but I believe democracy and human rights are in fact all they’re cracked up to be.

When Chinese dissidents stop disappearing for exercising their constitutional right to free speech; when foreign journalists are not labeled persona non grata for telling the truth; when the state stops literally playing the part of god by putting its hands all over church affairs; when average people don’t have their land or other property expropriated with little to no explanation and little to no compensation; when the government is no longer actively preventing its people from learning about what’s happening in the rest of the world; when education is not primarily a tool for either economic growth or political propaganda; when disputes other countries over uninhabited patches of sea do not spark government-condoned riots against foreign companies; when the media keeps officials in check rather than empowers them; when citizens are allowed to leave their country at will; when leaders are answerable to their people; when the justice system is just; when the government is legitimized by more than just economic growth which it may not be able to keep going forever…

Then I would find unification to be a very agreeable choice. I may even, at that point, be in favor of it. But that’s a far cry from the way things really are in China.

These are all true. But couldn’t this same exact argument be put toward the founding of a Republic of Taiwan?

Alternatively, you could say:

Thanks for the thoughtful response.

I agree that many voters aren’t necessarily voting Blue because they want unification. However, the same voters also aren’t voting to pursue independence either. Votes have consequences, and I don’t think that the voters can continue to pick pro-unification candidates over the course of 18 years without tacitly expressing some endorsement or comfort with the idea of unification. Independence will be a difficult course and if the voters don’t have the courage of their convictions to vote for it then I don’t think it is important to them.

I’d agree that democracy and civil rights are important. I certainly prefer them. I think there are two important considerations here though. First, in any unification model, China is going to be the dominant party and whatever autonomy Taiwan might negotiate is going to be limited by whatever China wants to give (and they can take it away or limit it at heir discretion). ROC or SAR, China is going to be in charge. Second, I don’t think China is going to democratize anytime in the next 50 or more years. I could be wrong, but I think China is going to remain an authoritarian one party state for a long time. Neither of these points, to me, should be a surprise to you average Taiwanese person. Thus, I view their Blue unification votes as a tacit acceptance of Chinese limits on Taiwan’s democracy and civil rights.

I’d further note that while democracy and civil rights are ideal, China has nonetheless managed to create a relatively pleasant and prosperous society. In my experiences there, admittedly limited, I didn’t feel like I was in a police state and felt pretty much free to do the same things as in the West. Reasonable people can disagree, but it doesn’t seem outlandish to me that Taiwanese might pick limited democracy in unification in light of the possible benefits of unification.

Finally, I’d agree that the PRC/CCP has done some pretty terrible things and many of the bad things that the ROC/KMT has done are analogous. A ROC driven unification model would thus subject Taiwan to two questionable regime structures. A SAR model would mean only one.

I know my views are unpopular. I’ll update later with “positive” reasons for unification.


#646

Or a house of cards built on a toxic waste dump. And Beijing is so pleasant it is considered a hardship posting by foreign diplomats.

People said the same thing about Stalinist Russia and Castro-era Cuba so such personal observations are I believe generally worthless. Reading widely we learn that internet is restricted; there is no right to protest; land theft is rampant; official corruption according to international agencies that study this is rampant and organized crime gangs are used to enforce government policy; civic organizations, even those pushing government policy on the environment, are severely restricted as the state fears any non-affiliated organization; media is officially censored and must print only the party response when instructed (usually they don’t even need to be told); regarding liberty, the state has the right to make you disappear for up to six months before informing your family; the court system is widely seen as biased and ineffectual in protecting the weak.

Freedom House, Transparency International, the UN, Reporters Without Borders, etc all give China a very low score on the freedom index. But yeah, they have Zara and Starbucks in every town now so I guess that makes it the same as the west.

Seems outlandish to me. There are no benefits to unification. Not economic (as we have seen from 5 years of ECFA) and certainly not in terms of liberties.


#647

This is where I disagree with you. There are a plethora of potential benefits for unification – but they all come at the cost of sovereignty and liberty.

Assume Taiwan became an SAR tomorrow. The Administrator of Taiwan could rely on Beijing’s help in:

[]Diplomacy. When a Taiwanese citizen abroad is shot, killed, arrested, etc., Chinese diplomats would be able to put pressure on the other country more effectively than Taiwan’s diplomats ever had.
[
]Defense. Taiwan’s biggest threat is China, but there is always the (extremely) small possibility that conflict could erupt with another outside power. Would Taiwan’s military be enough to defend it in all-out against, say, the Philippines?
[]The economy. China would likely be behind any reasonable economic agreement between the Taipengjinma Area and a foreign power, meaning other governments would no longer have to worry about ticking off the dragon by entering talks over trade with Taiwan.
[
]The market. China is a vast consumer market that would benefit Taiwan-based companies if barriers largely disappeared. Taiwan has a sophisticated middle class that would benefit from access to Chinese products. Doing this could also increase foreign investment as Taiwan would (once again) be the gateway to China.
[]Heritage sites. If Taiwan were included in China’s UN seat, it could get UNESCO funding for heritage sites through Beijing. No more out of pocket expenses could make local governments here more willing to put in the money to restore and protect historic buildings and areas.
[
]Transport. Assuming Taiwan were willing to be an unequivocal part of China, the process of allowing flights from Taiwan to Chinese cities could be made a lot easier than the current system.

Those are just a few thoughts, and as I’ve mentioned, they come at quite the price. It depends really on where voters’ priorities lie; given the Taiwanese tendency to 怕麻煩 and 避重就輕, I think these few benefits will become increasingly appealing in the future.

I disagree with a lot of Ma’s policies, but it’s clear that our priorities are in different places. The one thing I fault him for more than anything else is bringing Taiwan closer to China without bringing China closer to Taiwan. There is a point where the president of a country that prides itself on democracy should put his foot down and start making demands rather than just waiting for offers. For example: no more trade deals until you allow township or county elections. And once you achieve that, no political talks until city elections, all the way up to provincial.

If unification is an inevitability (I think it is), Taiwan’s officials should at least be striving to make China a better future home than it is right now. Taiwan has a huge symbolic importance to China, giving lots of leverage in negotiations. If the Chinese know Taiwan’s negotiators will sit down and talk, they will be willing to listen to demands – so long as those demands are phrased correctly.

Instead, the Ma government has been doing things the way KMT officials have for decades: short-term gains while ignoring the long-term. It’s visible in everything from the lack of sidewalks in this country to the way so many major businesses simply don’t care about future growth potential. Just make a road that cars can travel on. Just make a profit this year. With people like this in charge, I have little confidence that Taiwan can achieve the best conditions for unification (or even independence, for that matter).


#648

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]…Assume Taiwan became an SAR tomorrow. The Administrator of Taiwan could rely on Beijing’s help in:

[*]Diplomacy. When a Taiwanese citizen abroad is shot, killed, arrested, etc., Chinese diplomats would be able to put pressure on the other country more effectively than Taiwan’s diplomats ever had.[/quote]

Wrong. Most western countries will not extradite to China. Given China’s human rights record a Taiwanese abroad could ask for refugee status as several criminals from China have in Canada.

Taiwan has no enemies but China. This is nonsense.

Of dubious benefit. Free trade is not a panacea and has little to do with Taiwan’s current economic problems.

[quote]
[*]The market. China is a vast consumer market that would benefit Taiwan-based companies if barriers largely disappeared. Taiwan has a sophisticated middle class that would benefit from access to Chinese products. Doing this could also increase foreign investment as Taiwan would (once again) be the gateway to China.[/quote]

Nonsense. No one needs to go through Taiwan. Taiwan’s only benefit is stronger IP and legal protections. As an SAR people would rightly believe these standards had been eroded. Even now Taiwan’s clear agricultural advantage is being eroded by Fujian farms selling “Taiwanese” products.

[quote]
[*]Heritage sites. If Taiwan were included in China’s UN seat, it could get UNESCO funding for heritage sites through Beijing. No more out of pocket expenses could make local governments here more willing to put in the money to restore and protect historic buildings and areas.[/quote]

These sites would then be reinterpreted as nothing more than regional examples of a pan-Chinese cultural realm. In other words, they would be decontextualized and made lose value.

[quote]
[*]Transport. Assuming Taiwan were willing to be an unequivocal part of China, the process of allowing flights from Taiwan to Chinese cities could be made a lot easier than the current system.[/quote]

How is it difficult presently?

Ma does not value democracy.


#649

From the bottom up:

I’m not going to say I agree with you, but…

Well, transportation is not, to most of China, difficult, thanks to the reforms of the past six years that introduced the first regular flights over the Strait. The next step would be opening some sort of representative office here to improve communications, lower the chance of misunderstandings, and (from a selfish perspective) allow me to apply for a PRC visa without needing to go to Hong Kong first.

That is a risk. But is it better to let them disappear entirely to make way for new high-rises? Or to let less-than-qualified craftsman patch them up because the city government won’t/can’t afford to pay professionals to do the job?

That may be true, but stability, security, a sophisticated population, and relaxed laws are also very appealing. Meanwhile, homemade brands would have more ability to and more protections in selling products to China, and vice versa.

Free trade may not be a panacea, but when South Korea is sending parts to China for assembly and then shipping completed consumer electronics to Europe and North America without any tariffs, export-driven Taiwan will find things getting even worse.

A survey of world politics over the 20th century shows that allegiances change. It’s impossible right now to imagine Taiwan facing an external threat from anyone but China, but that doesn’t mean it will never happen. I personally think being defended by the PLA would be much more a burden than an incentive, but I’m just throwing this out there as a possibility. Who knows, 50 years down the line, if there will be a new empire looking for global expansion?

That’s not what I meant. In the Guangdaxing shooting, for example, Taiwan had a hell of a time convincing the Philippines to do anything within their own country. They’re likely to have a hard time getting Vietnam to do anything about compensating the factory owners who had their facilities looted. (Vietnam is, supposedly, contractually obligated to do so.) Again, Taiwan’s major enemy/rival is China still, but should that change, Taiwan might find it comforting to have a strong negotiator at its back when dealing with (future) hostile parties.

Again, to clarify, I’m not a supporter of unification. But neither am I a supporter of independence. I just want to the Taiwanese people to set aside their visceral reactions to both of these concepts and think about them realistically, then make a rational decision. Whichever decision it is, as long as it’s based on reason and earns a large majority of support, I’ll be behind it.


#650

I don’t get how any western person could be for anything but independence or at the very last Taiwan’s right to self-determination.


#651

It would be good to have a visa office here. Not worth giving up freedom though.

You think they have qualified restorers in China? Have you been to China? They build fake walls there, and tear down real villages to make replicas that are easier for security to control. Taiwanese temples, as focal points of local identity would be censored and policed.

Again you fail to understand what ails Taiwan. It is not the small tariffs added to some of its goods. It is largely over-investment in China which would only worse under unification.

Are you out of your mind? Unify with an authoritarian government because in 5 decades you might have a threat that is at the moment completely unforeseeable but just might might possibly who knows tax your military beyond its limits? Sorry but I can’t scoff at this enough.

More likely a strong central government that says shut up and take one for the motherland, this dispute is not worth our time.

Why does it have to be based on reason? Reason would say give up your liberty for safety. Striving to built a vibrant free society is irrational but a beautiful thing to believe in.


#652

I would definitely not be at ease with letting Chinese masons come to repair Taiwan’s historic temples. What I meant is that, with UNESCO support and proper funding, Taiwan could actually find the most qualified technicians rather than whoever is available or, even worse, “my coworker’s aunt’s business.”

Over-reliance on China is a problem, but you can’t realistically blame that as the sole culprit for Taiwan’s stagnant wages, long work hours, and general malaise.

My comment about the military, again, isn’t based on the current state of the world. I recognize I wrote “if Taiwan became an SAR tomorrow,” but this one I suppose is an exception. Should a new imperial power emerge in the future, Taiwan, a small country with a questionable military capability, would be well served to have a bigger power backing it up. The US has made it fairly clear that it’s not into that so much these days, so if Taiwan were facing an existential threat from outside, it would make sense the partner with China to defend against an invading force. Again, hypothetical, unrealistic, but I just felt I’d throw it out there as a possible consideration.

It’s pretty absurd to shoot down reason in this context. You may say it’s beautiful to believe in freedom, but crazy unificationists would say it’s beautiful to believe in unifying the Chinese Nation. (Sounds rather like something a famous mustachioed dictator believed.) When neither side of the debate operates on rationality, what avenue for discussion is left? How can one convince the other? Or should Taiwan just abandon reason and decide its future either way based on the irrational beliefs of an impassioned minority?

I think even you don’t believe what you said. If reason were not a factor, you wouldn’t spend the time it takes to clarify and defend your positions. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of great reasons for independence, but there are also good reasons for unification. Again, it’s up to the Taiwanese voters to decide, though it astounds me that people to this date keep procrastinating on this issue.


#653

I know a lot about conservation in Taiwan and the problem is not money or even expertese as Taiwan has long had its own local schools of craftsmen doing work at the highest levels and also some highly trained conservators including my friend Leo Tsai who studied in Italy. The problem is government policy, which only allows construction companies (and only 3 I believe) to bid on restoration projects, which ensures the skilled workers make a pittance or are priced out entirely. There’s more to it than that of course but in general, like most issues in Taiwan, the problem is entirely solvable without any outside forces coming in.

[quote]
Over-reliance on China is a problem, but you can’t realistically blame that as the sole culprit for Taiwan’s stagnant wages, long work hours, and general malaise.[/quote]

Not over-reliance, over-investment. Other issues result from a lack of educational and legal reform, a lack of coordination between business and research departments, a general lack of R&D investment, and Taiwan companies refusing to upgrade but instead to chase cheap labor around the world. All of which are domestic problems which have solutions within Taiwan. No need for China to bail us out.

Not a rational consideration.

[quote]It’s pretty absurd to shoot down reason in this context. You may say it’s beautiful to believe in freedom, but crazy unificationists would say it’s beautiful to believe in unifying the Chinese Nation. (Sounds rather like something a famous mustachioed dictator believed.) When neither side of the debate operates on rationality, what avenue for discussion is left? How can one convince the other? Or should Taiwan just abandon reason and decide its future either way based on the irrational beliefs of an impassioned minority?

I think even you don’t believe what you said. If reason were not a factor, you wouldn’t spend the time it takes to clarify and defend your positions. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots of great reasons for independence, but there are also good reasons for unification. Again, it’s up to the Taiwanese voters to decide, though it astounds me that people to this date keep procrastinating on this issue.[/quote]

Not shooting down reason. Just saying it is not the only consideration. Yes, a few loons may think unifying with China is glorious (the way some perverts think sex with kids is great and this is equivalent to the consenting sex of adults because that too is great) but do I really need argue why I think it is not an equivalent glory to achieving a free society? In the first place, the former group immediately lose their voice once their goal is achieved and i doubt any of them would really accept this fate.


#654

[quote=“Hokwongwei”]
Instead, the Ma government has been doing things the way KMT officials have for decades: short-term gains while ignoring the long-term. It’s visible in everything from the lack of sidewalks in this country to the way so many major businesses simply don’t care about future growth potential. Just make a road that cars can travel on. Just make a profit this year. [/quote]

華人=差不多先生

Even Hu Shi said so.

Thats the way China largely thinks too. Housing bubble, environmental destruction, slave wages (while creating a token middle class for appearances), the aging workforce…there is very little forethought for the long term. Yes, of course, they have some long term economic plans, but the entire world knows they are not sustainable. This is the way the descendants of the Yellow Emperor do things. Not a KMT thing, a Chinese thing. Yes, of course, you can’t get more Chinese than the KMT. Just saying.


#655

You seem to be judging China based off a trip you made once. I also didn’t think things were all that bad my first time in China, but after living here for three years it is impossible not to notice the pitfalls of living in an authoritarian state - they permeate every aspect of life.


#656

Or a house of cards built on a toxic waste dump. And Beijing is so pleasant it is considered a hardship posting by foreign diplomats.

People said the same thing about Stalinist Russia and Castro-era Cuba so such personal observations are I believe generally worthless. Reading widely we learn that internet is restricted; there is no right to protest; land theft is rampant; official corruption according to international agencies that study this is rampant and organized crime gangs are used to enforce government policy; civic organizations, even those pushing government policy on the environment, are severely restricted as the state fears any non-affiliated organization; media is officially censored and must print only the party response when instructed (usually they don’t even need to be told); regarding liberty, the state has the right to make you disappear for up to six months before informing your family; the court system is widely seen as biased and ineffectual in protecting the weak.

Freedom House, Transparency International, the UN, Reporters Without Borders, etc all give China a very low score on the freedom index. But yeah, they have Zara and Starbucks in every town now so I guess that makes it the same as the west.

Seems outlandish to me. There are no benefits to unification. Not economic (as we have seen from 5 years of ECFA) and certainly not in terms of liberties.[/quote]

True, my personal views are just that and aren’t a sound, sole basis for public policy. I think though, that the collective personal views of millions of Taiwanese regarding the relative state in China, is driving such policy. I never went to Stalinist Russia and haven’t been to Cuba either, but am skeptical as to whether either society was as prosperous or open as modern China.

There’s nothing I disagree with in your description about the state of freedom and liberty in China. I just think that most people in Taiwan (and China) don’t care that much about it. Yes, there is a size-able Green/democratic constituency, but I think the Taiwanese majority is composed of regular folks who prefer prosperity and stability over liberty, and Chinese nationalists (who prefer empire over democracy).


#657

Interesting what people think… :laughing:


#658

[quote=“peger”][quote=“Zhengzhou2010”]
I agree that many voters aren’t necessarily voting Blue because they want unification. However, the same voters also aren’t voting to pursue independence either. Votes have consequences, and I don’t think that the voters can continue to pick pro-unification candidates over the course of 18 years without tacitly expressing some endorsement or comfort with the idea of unification. Independence will be a difficult course and if the voters don’t have the courage of their convictions to vote for it then I don’t think it is important to them.[/quote]

Your assumption that in voting for the KMT, voters are expressing some sort of comfort or endorsement with unification does not hold water. As has been pointed out before, a vote for the KMT candidate does not even mean voting for someone who supports unification - the KMT has stressed its support of the status quo at each national election in the last decade because it knows just how poisonous unification is to voters. Poll after poll has shown that the vast majority of people are in favor of the status quo, with TI garnering 20% or so while unification - both immediate and long term - consistently fails to register in the double digits. Had Ma gone on about zhonghua minzu and one nation two areas during the last election instead of bu tong bu du bu wu and stressing his Taiwanese-ness, he would not be president today.

[quote]I’d further note that while democracy and civil rights are ideal, China has nonetheless managed to create a relatively pleasant and prosperous society. In my experiences there, admittedly limited, I didn’t feel like I was in a police state and felt pretty much free to do the same things as in the West. Reasonable people can disagree, but it doesn’t seem outlandish to me that Taiwanese might pick limited democracy in unification in light of the possible benefits of unification.
[/quote]

You seem to be judging China based off a trip you made once. I also didn’t think things were all that bad my first time in China, but after living here for three years it is impossible not to notice the pitfalls of living in an authoritarian state - they permeate every aspect of life.[/quote]

Regarding elections and polls, I know that most Taiwanese aren’t always voting Blue because they want unification now. But I don’t see the “status quo” as a neutral position; the state (ROC) and the dominant party (KMT) both formally endorse unification and have taken some measures to advance that goal over the long run. Beyond elections and polls, however, Taiwanese are voting with heir feet and bank accounts. Greater economic integration and dependency on China makes independence harder. But the millions of Taiwanese who live in China, or work for Taiwanese companies that move their operations to China, or who invest in such companies, or who buy Chinese products or sell to China, don’t seem to have any problems with furthering such integration/dependency.

Regarding my limited experiences and perspectives on China, I’d agree that I don’t have a lot of depth and would note that my views are probably rose-colored by some family and other personal connections to China. Your experience there vastly exceeds mine, and I’ll concede that living in an authoritarian state has a lot of negatives that my casual experiences didn’t encounter. I can easily understand why Taiwanese people wouldn’t want to re subject themselves to an authoritarian regime after a century of colonialism and White Terror. But I can also see why many Taiwanese people seem to be willing to sacrifice aspects of their liberty and democracy to unite with an increasingly prosperous society in a way they might not if China was still in the same economic condition of 25 years ago.


#659

Interesting what people think… :laughing:[/quote]

That was actually a really hard statement for me to write, and I have lots of regrets about it in the sense that I wish I didn’t feel it was true. Most of my family is deep Green, and they definitely disagree with my views. But I’m struggling to interpret things differently. Independence will likely require war, or other significant economic and social disruption. I have no sense that most Taiwanese are willing to accept such hardships at this time or for the foreseeable future. If this was 1974 China, then sure. But 2014 China, while still needing great improvement, doesn’t strike me as too bad for most Taiwanese to accept.


#660

Zhengzhou2010:
The position you describe makes a lot of sense under the circumstances (threat of war on part of China). It is simply “choosing what one assumes to be the lesser evil” rather than “choosing what one prefers”. And as long as the rest of the world, especially the “free world”, cowardly submits to China’s bullying (possibly for the sake of the almighty buck, but i’m not really sure whether that is really the motive,) we can’t fault those Taiwanese who choose life over a seemingly doomed fight for liberty.