Does the ROC have a future?

You make some very good points. CKS was a problem insofar as he was a loser, in every sense. The ROC army was not bad at all, and had many find commanders. They did score some notable victories against the Japanese, and fought well in many battles. I believe the US did try hard to get a Nationalist victory, but the ROC government at the time was corrupt–CKS did not have a grip over his team at all. And yes, by 1979, Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, etc. etc. So in the end, the bigger picture swung it as well as perceived short-term gains. And yes, Taiwan under CKS and the KMT was not a pretty democracy, so the US probably thought, what the heck? After all, Deng Xiaoping put on a cowboy hat. And who could have known how strong communist China would become? CKS knew it, I’ll give him that.

What notable victories? You mean Taierzhuang? ROC with 100,000 men, fighting against the Japanese with less than 30,000 men, and the ROC having double the Japanese casualties?

Or do you mean the subsequent deliberate breaching of the Yellow River at Huayuankou, ordered by CKS himself, and killed tens of thousands of people and triggered a famine that killed even more? Mind you, Taierzhuang took place in March of 1938, and the breaching of the yellow river was ordered in June of 1938. If Taierzhuang was such a tremendous victory, the KMT probably shouldn’t be so desperate to do something so stupid.

Or do you mean Sun Li-jen disobeying orders to retreat back into China, and instead retreated into India with the British, then returned to Burma under the direction of the US and the British to defeat the Japanese? I think the ROC and the KMT had very little to do with Sun’s success.

The only thing that comes close is the repeated defence of Changsha, but eventually that failed as well.

Korea and Vietnam were the US trying hard. Had the US thrown in half the material and men power they did in Vietnam, perhaps things would have been different. The lack of effort shows the US have had enough of CKS’ bull crap by the end of WW2.

The US was hoping that economic progress will lead to a greater degree of freedom. They were right about that. However, the moment China ran over students with tanks was the time to realize it’s no longer going to happen.

And why should Taiwan care about being a republican model for China?

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For someone that talks about nuance you don’t seem to grasp what they mean when they say they are Taiwanese and not Chinese. It’s not a geography question it’s a national identity question, everyone with the smallest knowledge about Taiwan politics can see that.

England didn’t have a strong national identity separate from France when the 100 years war began, when it ended they had become one of the most nationalistic on earth. Things change fast during conflict, especially when you want to distinguish yourself from the enemy. I’ll give Taiwan another 20-30 years before it is inarguably separate from China in terms of national identity.

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Given the number of old guys I’ve seen in Taipei hanging around not wearing masks, it may arrive sooner than that.


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Absolutely true. Only after a fight will Taiwan have its national heroes, and a much stronger national identity, as opposed to consciousness. Remember about 40% of the people here identify themselves as “Chinese”, no doubt with some unreported caveats, but still it’s a surprisingly high percentage.

I noted with interest today Gerome Keating’s plea for a new Constitution in the Taipei Times.

Where does that come from?

Survey in the above thread. Probably included those who also thought they were both Taiwanese and Chinese. The survey you have posted is interesting. The Taiwan identity is quite new. The question itself is leading and limited in what it tells us, as I’ve said before. The question should be what are you prepared to do for Taiwan.

Interesting that in an important photo op “R.O.C.” appears prominently. This is undoubtedly aimed at an international audience.

An overseas investment company is advising me not to keep too much money in Taiwanese banks (don’t worry, I’m not listening) based on this geopolitical strategist (Matt Gertken) outlook for conflict with China. You don’t have to agree, but it’s worth reading:

Subjective Probabilities:

1. War over Taiwan this year – 5%-17%. So far this year I have argued 5% but this could easily be upgraded to 17% or higher if conditions deteriorate sharply.

a. I give it low odds this year because (1) China did not act during the tumultuous transfer of power in the US (2) China wants to determine if the Biden administration will reverse course from the Trump administration on tech restrictions and Taiwan. (3) China has benefited from moving gradually and overtaking enemies at a point when there is little resistance, as with Hong Kong. The amount of resistance for Taiwan today is unknown but could well be excessive for China.

2. Crisis short of war over Taiwan in 2021-22 – 60% chance. While China may avoid war, it is still likely to impose economic sanctions which would prompt the US to use economic measures.

a. There could also be a miscalculation in the surrounding seas due to high pace of drilling and posturing.

b. China may wish to test the US’s resolve in order to determine whether to take more drastic action.

3. Eventual war over Taiwan – very high, say 75% chance. The Chinese have shown via Hong Kong that they are determined to assimilate Taiwan. Meanwhile the Taiwanese do not see themselves as Chinese anymore but as independent. See long-term public opinion trend below. The two systems of governance are irreconcilable. Taiwan is an island with defense forces and therefore more capable of defending itself at least somewhat.

The three red flags I’m looking for to upgrade the risk of war are:

1. China’s economy or political regime becomes internally destabilized.

2. The US attempts to transfer a game-changing offensive military capability to Taiwan.

3. Taiwan declares independence.

One or more of these factors occurring would cause me to upgrade my odds of war sharply.

The attached report has a game theory analysis comparing a US weapons transfer to Taiwan to the Cuban Missile Crisis. The conclusion is that China would attack Taiwan. It shows that the probability of 50%+ makes sense. But note that the US is not currently attempting to transfer offensive weapons to Taiwan, or to impose a total tech blockade on China. China is currently benefiting from its political and economic status quo and it won HK by biding its time. And Taiwan is not actively seeking independence.

Bottom Line – High risk of a diplomatic crisis over Taiwan this year or next. Lower risk of a full-scale war immediately. High-risk of full-scale war eventually. The current market exuberance is a good time to begin building safe-haven positions. Gold and TIPS are the best safe-havens at a time when inflation is also a rising risk.

Chilling read.

I generally like Foreign Affairs, but there seems to be nothing new here.

It is worth noting that just because the Global Times has a poll that says Chinese citizens support a military takeover, or if US war-games are publicized as showing China winning, this doesn’t mean that these things are true.

I notice the analysis doesn’t include regional actors such as Japan, who obviously play a role. Economic risks for China are briefly mentioned, but I didn’t notice anything about the existential threat the to CCP if there is an unsuccessful or overly bloody invasion.

It seems safe to say that when China is sure they can retake the island they will be likely to do so, on this point I agree with the author. I will be more worried closer to 2030.

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