The Joy of Be­ing Me

Mus­ings are thoughts, the thought­ful kind. For the pur­pose of these ar­ti­cles, a-mus­ings are thoughts that might amuse, en­ter­tain and even en­lighten.

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Michael Walker

It is hard to ar­gue that Tai­wan, the Repub­lic of China (Tai­wan) is any­thing other than a sep­a­rate, dis­tinct coun­try that should pos­sess all the rights that ev­ery other coun­try in the world en­joys. Cer­tainly, ev­ery time I visit the coun­try I am struck by the pride that its ci­ti­zens man­i­fest in be­ing ‘Tai­wanese' rather than Chi­nese, which is a very sig­nif­i­cant el­e­ment in the is­land's ev­ery­day life.

Tai­wan has its own demo­crat­i­cally elected pres­i­dent which means that the reins of power change hands in a peace­ful, reg­u­lated fash­ion ac­cord­ing to the wishes of the peo­ple. It has its own laws and its own armed forces, its mar­itime bor­ders, its own airspace, and yet, diplo­mat­i­cally, to the rest of the world the is­land does not ex­ist.

Tai­wan's sit­u­a­tion is a legacy of the Chi­nese civil war that re­sulted in the over­throw of the le­git­i­mate ROC gov­ern­ment by Mao Ze­dong in 1949. The de­feated ROC gov­ern­ment sub­se­quently fled to the Chi­nese prov­ince of Tai­wan, then called For­mosa, where it con­tin­ued to claim for it­self the gov­ern­ment of all China.

Since then there have been, in ef­fect, two Chi­nas, both claim­ing the same ter­ri­tory, but the like­li­hood of Tai­wan in­vad­ing and con­quer­ing Main­land China is lu­di­crous, and one would hope that China go­ing to war with the world over Tai­wan would be just as re­mote.

The dream world of the One China Pol­icy clearly ben­e­fits the United States, China, Tai­wan and ul­ti­mately the rest of the world, so turn­ing our backs on re­al­ity and hid­ing our heads in the sand would seem to be the best op­tion avail­able for the mo­ment.

In the 1970s, when Amer­ica wanted to es­tab­lish diplo­matic ties with Mao's Peo­ples Repub­lic, they de­vised a “One-China pol­icy” which was sim­ply to ac­knowl­edge that both sides of the Tai­wan Strait rec­og­nized the ex­is­tence of only one China with­out clar­i­fy­ing which side had the right to rule that One-China which also in­cluded Tai­wan. It was the most ex­quis­ite diplo­macy. Both sides rec­og­nized the prob­lem but they agreed to dis­agree about the so­lu­tion, or rather, they agreed not to let their dif­fer­ent views be­come a prob­lem, ex­cept for one small de­tail: Tai­wan would give up its seat in the United Na­tions to Main­land China and would there­after for­ever be ex­cluded from all in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tions ex­cept when par­tic­i­pat­ing un­der the guise of Chi­nese Taipei.

If Amer­ica were to aban­don its One-China pol­icy, and ac­knowl­edge Tai­wan's in­de­pen­dence, there is a risk that Com­mu­nist China would at­tack the is­land and that Amer­ica, feel­ing obliged to de­fend it, would be dragged into a war it never wanted, mak­ing World War Three in­evitable. One in­ter­est­ing quirk in the One-China sit­u­a­tion is that more than 2 mil­lion peo­ple from Tai­wan, one-tenth of Tai­wan's pop­u­la­tion, live and work in Main­land China.

The over­throw of China's last im­pe­rial dy­nasty, the Qing, and the found­ing of the Repub­lic of China (ROC) was one of the most im­por­tant events of the 20th cen­tury. How­ever, the an­niver­sary of the Oc­to­ber 10th 1911 re­bel­lion that sprang from the Xin­hai Revo­lu­tion, which ended 2,000 years of im­pe­rial rule and ush­ered the Chi­nese peo­ple into a mod­ern era, sees lit­tle men­tion of the ROC, ex­cept in Tai­wan, be­cause those in power in Main­land China had lit­tle or noth­ing to do with this revo­lu­tion and refuse to give credit to the Na­tion­al­ist Kuom­intang Party. The end of Im­pe­rial Rule was the big­gest event in China's 5,000-year his­tory and a ma­jor change in the po­lit­i­cal sys­tem by es­tab­lish­ing the first repub­lic in Asia. Af­ter the ouster of Im­pe­rial Rule, the two sides fought a bloody civil war that ended with the Kuom­intang flee­ing to Tai­wan in the late 1940s and re-es­tab­lish­ing the repub­lic there.

The One-China pol­icy vir­tu­ally rules out the pos­si­bil­ity of Tai­wanese in­de­pen­dence and en­ables China to claim po­lit­i­cal le­git­i­macy in the United Na­tions and other world bod­ies while ren­der­ing Tai­wan an out­sider, de­spite the coun­try's mirac­u­lous eco­nomic, po­lit­i­cal and so­cial suc­cesses.

This week Tai­wan cel­e­brates the 106th birth­day of the Repub­lic of China, which may be a lit­tle dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand as the na­tion es­tab­lished it­self on Tai­wan, then called For­mosa, in 1949, but ac­tu­ally it makes some sort of sense when you con­sider that the Tai­wanese date the birth of their na­tion as 1911 when the Na­tion­al­ist Gov­ern­ment last ruled all of China.

Happy Birth­day, Tai­wan. Cel­e­brate your in­de­pen­dence but, most of all, En­joy Be­ing Tai­wan!

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