Bush Opposes Taiwan Bid for Independence
December 9, 2003 9:42 AM   Subscribe

Bush Opposes Taiwan Bid for Independence We invade Iraq to help bring about democracy to the region--the Middle East. The Far East? Forgettaboudit.
posted by Postroad (36 comments total)
How many times do we have to go through this? We only invade countries with inferior military capabilities, not ones with superior military capabilities. Is everyone clear? Good.
posted by tommyspoon at 9:49 AM on December 9, 2003

Taiwan is a democracy. China has indicated that it objects to Taiwan becoming a fully indpendent country -- not to maintaining the status quo (i.e., democracy). Don't get me wrong: I don't agree with backing China so explicitly on this point. My point is only that the premise of the post is flawed.

(on preview: tommyspoon, China does not have superior military capabilities)
posted by pardonyou? at 9:53 AM on December 9, 2003

China's military capabilities may have something to do with it, but from what I've read, China's politics are so byzantine as to make the Byzantine look transparent, and I doubt it gets much more complex than the relationship between Taiwan and mainland. One country, two systems is in fact the compromise between the "one country, our system" mainland China would like and the "two countries, let us do what we want" Taiwan would like. Taiwan gets to do what they want so long as they don't claim independence, China gets to save some face and keep some influence as long as they don't get heavy handed.

Bush was willing to play chicken with China three years ago over the spy plane thing. Whatever his reasons for supporting them now (possibly: needs help with NK, maybe an economic issue, support in U.N., or maybe he really feels stability is the best policy), it's probably a perceived political advantage.

(However, playing Chinese politics seems like a good way to get taken to the cleaners to me.)
posted by weston at 10:01 AM on December 9, 2003

IIRC it's always been U.S. policy (or has been for a while) that they'll oppose any attempt by Taiwan to declare independence, but will help defend Taiwan if it is attacked as a result of declaring their independence. So what's new exactly?
posted by gyc at 10:04 AM on December 9, 2003

How about the headline, "Bush opposed to war with China"?

Guess he isn't a warmonger after all.
posted by kablam at 10:13 AM on December 9, 2003

This post should be deleted.

It is naive, and expresses only your limited understanding of foreign affairs.

So, instead of allowing for news, or interesting link, you dictate to the readers what they must feel when reading your link.

And even that, I'm afraid, is sophomoric and embarrassing.
posted by the fire you left me at 10:14 AM on December 9, 2003

Sometimes the sophomoric ideas are smarter than the ones in Foreign Policy. Wouldn't it be democratic for Taiwan to choose its own destiny? Just asking.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:25 AM on December 9, 2003

I think this is what annoys me the most in this story:
"The Chinese government respects the desire of people in Taiwan for democracy, but we must point out that the (Taiwanese leaders) are only using democracy as an excuse and attempt to resort to defensive referendums to split Taiwan away from China," he said. "Such separatist activities are what the Chinese side can absolutely not accept."

So democracy just isn't in the cards for China. Nevertheless no US administration is going to go to war against the PRC as long as big business ties are present. China and Cuba illustrates the hypocrisy in supporting democracy as far as US goverment policy goes.

Taiwan's best hope is to keep moving economic ties to the mainland while continuing democratic moves on their island.

Obviously I am not sophisticated enough for an opinion on this issue though.
posted by infowar at 10:29 AM on December 9, 2003

Thank god we gave them those AEGIS Cruisers.

posted by thanotopsis at 10:31 AM on December 9, 2003

inksyndicate: Well, a large number of Taiwanese are pro-unification anyway, including the old KMT party which founded the country (and originally claimed to be the rightful rulers of all of china). It's a huge benefit for the Taiwanese to hold Chinese citizenship with china's economy going the way it is. If it wasn't for the idiocy on the mainland, most Taiwanese would probably be opposed to separation. Certainly "second wave" immigrants from the 1940s would want to stay "Chinese" I think.

It’s a lot like the situation in the 1700s with the US. England wanted to "get tough" with it's colonies in the US, and ended up getting fucked.
posted by delmoi at 10:35 AM on December 9, 2003

I think I'll just sit back and watch the real conservatives rip the neocons a new one over this.
posted by 2sheets at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2003

No oil? No democracy for you!
posted by badstone at 10:44 AM on December 9, 2003

I agree with pardonyou?, surprisingly enough. The stated foreign policy when we started the war with Iraq was that Iraq was a direct and credible threat to our national security; it had nothing to do with any internal factions within Iraq. Our stated foreign policy regarding Taiwan is that it is still part of China; no security issue obtains. The administration is simply choosing not to support Taiwan's bid for independence. Whether or not you agree with our stated foreign policy, that's what it is; these are two different policy decisions regarding two different situations. This post is comparing apples and oranges.
posted by RylandDotNet at 10:54 AM on December 9, 2003

Tibet’s Gamble
posted by homunculus at 11:01 AM on December 9, 2003

It's definitely an economic issue. We couldn't care less about Taiwan's independence.

Consider the limits the Bush administration recently put on certain trade with China. If we want them to not levy huge trade restrictions on us in return, we should support their interests againt Taiwan. We don't lose anything in the process, except international respect, which we lost some time ago.
posted by destro at 11:23 AM on December 9, 2003

lf you want to piss on President Bush, knock yourselves out, everyone's stopped listening except the converted. But you ought to do it in a way that doesn't make you look like ignoramuses. [I'm excepting the adults in this discussion: Ryland, fire, etc.]

That Taiwan is part of China has been US policy since 1972 and the Shanghai Communiqué and re-affirmed by every president, including President Clinton in his (in)famous Three Nos [Noes?] statement in 1998

Oh, and thanotopsis, Bartlett, excuse me, President Bartlett didn't sell the AEGIS destroyers to China, because, you know, he's a liberal and so smart and everything.
posted by mojohand at 11:31 AM on December 9, 2003

Taiwan is a democracy. China has indicated that it objects to Taiwan becoming a fully indpendent country -- not to maintaining the status quo (i.e., democracy).

Eh? so if it wanted to be independent, but also a monarchy, or a dictatorship, or an oligarchy, that would be ok by Beijing?

Could you elucidate, please, p-y?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:35 AM on December 9, 2003

Whassamatta? Youse guys never seen a elephant wearing ass's clothing before?
posted by mischief at 11:36 AM on December 9, 2003

pardonyou? - the US may have a technically superior army, but short of splitting the atom over there I think we might end up being undermatched. China can produce an army of several tens of millions in no time. Even Bush can't kill that fast. This is economic, but we don't want to pick this fight.
posted by jmgorman at 11:38 AM on December 9, 2003

My previous post came out all wrong.

I mean:
so if it wanted to be say, a province of China, but also a democracy, that would be ok by Beijing?

Could you elucidate, please, p-y?
posted by dash_slot- at 11:39 AM on December 9, 2003

Yeah...as much as I hate Bush and everything he and the neocons stand for, this one is a no-brainer. We have long-standing established policy that says we will not support any decision for Taiwan to declare independence from mainland China.

We can neither afford, nor desire a war of any type with China. Yes, we could probably eventually win one...but it would be ugly and would probably involve nukes...on both sides. Let's not forget that they have nukes and can hit the U.S. . We couldn't land forces on China successfully, any more than they could land troops here. It would cost an extraordinary amount of money and troops...both of which are in a bit of short demand at the moment.

But, the pertinent fact is that the US has said since the 70's that we won't get involved with Taiwan's desire for separation, so I don't see why this would come as a surprise to anyone.
posted by dejah420 at 11:41 AM on December 9, 2003

Your argument holds no water, mojohand. Osama and Saddam used to be great chums of ours. Now the wind was blowing in a different direction and we reversed those policies. The policy of condoning "one China" could just as easily change. The fact that it hasn't adds to the massive pile of suspicion regarding the notion that America is fighting for freedom and democracy in Iraq.
posted by badstone at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2003

no US administration is going to go to war against the PRC as long as big business ties are present.

No US administration is going to go to war against the PRC unless it wants to pretty much destroy two big countries.

It's a fascinating scenario in the abstract-- the US and PRC at war. I just wouldn't want to live through it.

on review: what Dejah420 said.
posted by Mayor Curley at 11:43 AM on December 9, 2003

the post is a bit misguided, in terms of comparing Taiwan to Iraq, but it's not necessarily apples and oranges. the U.S. should be consistent in its promotion of democracy. we can't (rather, i think we shouldn't) force Iraq to become a democracy, and then say "sorry, Taiwan, not only do you not deserve an independent democracy, but we'll work against any efforts for it because we're better served by the status quo." disgusting.

it's just another example of u.s. exceptionalism which will surely bite us in the ass one day. you'd think we'd learn that realpolitik is a disastrous long-term policy. you've got to stand for something ...)

i've been in a "democratic" society under a totalitarian regime. it was called "student government," and it was fairly powerless in regard to the running of the school. perhaps not the best analogy, but it sprung to mind ...

on preview: Clinton was/is an ass. more on the Three Nos.
posted by mrgrimm at 11:45 AM on December 9, 2003

And yes, an actual war with China would be a very very bad idea. Yes, the US could probably "win" it, but at massive cost. (And don't forget, we still haven't even "won" the war in Afghanistan yet.) On the other hand, a more enlightened administration (hopefully the one that's just around the corner) would realize that we have exert leverage in the world through channels othern than bullets and bombs.
posted by badstone at 11:48 AM on December 9, 2003

so if it wanted to be say, a province of China, but also a democracy, that would be ok by Beijing?

Could you elucidate, please, p-y?

I'm kind of confused, but if I understand your question, I think that's what it essentially is now. So, yes, I guess that would be "ok" by Beijing. I'm sure China doesn't love the fact that it's a democracy, and would prefer that Taiwan simply assimilated into their system, but I think they realize we wouldn't sit idly by and let that happen.

There's no question that it's a slightly diluted democracy to the extent that Taiwan is not free to simply declare itself independent, and China no doubt exerts influence. That doesn't mean that Taiwan's political structure isn't a democracy, which negates the hypocricy implied in Postroad's post.
posted by pardonyou? at 12:11 PM on December 9, 2003

I'm with Mayor Curley.....and dejah420....and Kablam and, and....

I hate to say it, but I'm with the Bush Administration on this one, for purely pragmatic reasons - and I suspect the Bushies are also being pragmatic here. God knows, they have to snap out of ideological overdrive sometime and come up for air.
posted by troutfishing at 12:15 PM on December 9, 2003

No. Osama and Saddam were never "great chums of ours." At best, they were enemies of our enemies, sort of like the USSR in WWII, and aiding them against the Soviets in Afghanistan or the Iranian mullahs was one of those things that Seemed Like A Good Idea At the Time.

All governments do this. Sometimes it works out, often it doesn't. How it's a mistake is usually much clearer after the gates of Hell have slammed shut behind you.

Why this is relevant is that the 1972 rapprochement with China was motivated by the same impulse. So far the tightrope walk over Taiwan has worked out. So far.

But to single out President Bush over this is just silly.
posted by mojohand at 12:18 PM on December 9, 2003

badstone: historically, I think most people tend to think a war is won when the government of the losing side officially cries, "Uncle!" This hasn't happened in Afghanistan (or Iraq, for that matter) because the governments of both countries basically melted away as soon as the shooting started and a guerilla war began. This is much less likely to happen with China (and not just because the U.S. could never occupy a significant portion of the country for said guerilla war to be a possibility.) A war with China that didn't go nuclear would almost certainly end with a more formal surrender by one of the two sides.

Of course, the big hope is that you never have a full-scale conflict between nuclear powers, because it's awfully dicey to rely on the good nature of a soon-to-be-defeated nation to fight the temptation to use everything they've got.
posted by Cyrano at 12:18 PM on December 9, 2003

That island is already independent in all practicallity. Declaring "independence" officially stand to serve nobody whatsoever.

China and Cuba illustrates the hypocrisy in supporting democracy as far as US goverment policy goes.

There is no hypocrisy in this at all. Let's be honest, the US should only supports promoting democracy when it is in their best interest to do so. In case of Iraq, it is advantageous to have democracy spread in that region so the dicators will fall and the terrorists will have less countries to hide in. In case of Taiwan, pissing off China has little to gain but a lot to lose in terms of trade and the N.K. situation.

Let's be honest, the US will only intervene when it is in their interest to do so. That's the way it always have been, and that's the way it should be. Why does the US have to be the only country in the world to not act according to their own self-interest?
posted by VeGiTo at 12:26 PM on December 9, 2003

"he US should only supports promoting democracy when it is in their best interest to do so"

And here I thought that the US should support democracy because it IS in its best interest to do so.
posted by jmgorman at 1:06 PM on December 9, 2003

In case of Iraq, it is advantageous to have democracy spread in that region so the dicators will fall and the terrorists will have less countries to hide in.

If this were true, we would have invaded Pakistan first. Democracy has nothing to do with it.
posted by destro at 1:07 PM on December 9, 2003

This subject is actually more complex than it looks. I thought an independent Taiwan was an artifact of the Cold War, dating from 1949.

Wrong. Taiwan has been separate from China for almost 100 years. It was ceded to the Japanese after the Sino-Japanese war of 1895 in the Treaty of Shimonoseki.. The Twaiwanese briefly and defiantly rejected the treaty, but were suppressed by the Japanese.

Unlike other occupied territories, it was not allowed its independence following the Japanese defeat; its nascent independence movement having been crushed by the Nationalist Chinese in 1947.

Mao and Chiang Kai-shek could agree on something, it seems
posted by mojohand at 1:15 PM on December 9, 2003

All this talk of war with China in defence of Taiwan is pretty academic.

China has a few hundred missiles pointed at Taiwan at all times. Taiwan would have to surrender.

The double-standard does piss me off, but in this case it's imposing 'democracy' on Iraq that was the wrong thing to do - not failing to officially support Taiwanese independence.
posted by cell at 2:13 PM on December 9, 2003

I find a disturbing note, here. Several people talk about "The U.S. declaring war on China", but did the opposite ever cross your mind, that is, "China declaring war on the U.S."?

For years now, both the Chinese and the U.S. militaries have worked on the assumption that there will be a war between the two nations. Almost an inevitability, distracted for the moment by 9-11.

The Chinese situation: their economy is based on international trade. For this purpose they had to, and did, build an enormous merchant marine. To protect this merchant marine, they had to, and are, building an enormous deep-water navy. However, unless they control Taiwan, their entire southern coast and the South China Sea can be dominated by that island. If they rule Taiwan, they rule over Oceania and their half of the Pacific.
They know that the U.S. has only two major Pacific ports capable of repair, refit, refuel and rearmament. Bremerton, Washington and San Diego. If these two ports are "disabled", through some means, the Chinese own the Pacific ocean.
The Chinese military has already written two major "white papers" outlining how to "distract" the U.S. long enough to seize Taiwan. "Unconventional" means are specified. A Chinese corporation manages the Panama Canal and is building a deep water port in the Caribbean.

Most likely, an invasion of Taiwan would be initiated by the enormous number of short-range missiles stationed on the Chinese coast, whose numbers are incremented each month. This would be followed by an air attack designed to neutralize any hostile (Taiwanese, U.S., and possibly Indian) navies in the area, followed by an enormous flotilla of military and civilian craft transporting entire corps of Chinese soldiers. Once they had taken Taiwan, they would seek to "internationalize" the situation, calling any efforts to free Taiwan "interference in their internal affairs."

The U.S. situation: to counter the Chinese threat, and concurrent with other Asian war scenarios, a complete redesign of the Navy, Army and Air Force has been ongoing for several years. The most radical changes are in the Navy, with new and innovative ship design, and the creation of the littoral, or coastal force ships of the catamaran and Streetfighter type.
These are seen as effectively neutralizing any Chinese invasion flotilla.
The Army and Air Force mission are first to prevent any conquest of Taiwan, and if necessary to take the battle inland. Since the major cities of China are predominantly coastal, the emphasis will be to isolate them and their government from their rural military units.
Force multipliers and advanced weaponry/communications are the trump cards of the US.

Now, this is ONE POSSIBLE SCENARIO; however, in analyzing future news, another scenario could be a China-India war, another kettle of fish entirely. But it is important to consider either of these situations when the future of the region is considered.
posted by kablam at 3:03 PM on December 9, 2003

Those who don't think the U.S. should go around preaching self-determination and democracy, and then not back the talk up, have more than a point - regardless of the realities involved here. Morgenthau would certainly agree, although he'd say the lesson would be to stop the preaching, and maybe lead by example, etc.
posted by raysmj at 3:18 PM on December 9, 2003

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