January 7, 2018

A PEOPLE WHO THINK THEMSELVES A NATION ARE ONE:

Taiwan isn't China, and Taiwanese aren't Chinese (Jeff Jacoby, 1/07/18, The Boston Globe)

On the rare occasions when Taiwan attracts media attention in the United States -- for example, when then-president-elect Donald Trump made a point of taking a congratulatory phone call from Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan's president -- there is always much talk of the "One-China" policy, the old dogma that Taiwan and the mainland are inextricable elements of a single country.

The Communist regime in Beijing clings fiercely to that claim, in effect maintaining that Taiwan is a renegade Chinese province and not a unique country. During the decades when Taiwan was an authoritarian state under Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Party, Taipei's government echoed the "One-China" fiction, claiming that it was the sole rightful ruler of all China.

Taiwan abandoned that delusion when it became a democracy in the 1980s. But relations with China still cast a giant shadow over Taiwanese politics and society. Beijing goes to great lengths to blackball Taiwan in international forums, reacting menacingly to any suggestion that Taiwan be treated as sovereign. At times China has resorted to naked intimidation: In 1995 and 1996, as Taiwan prepared to hold its first freely contested presidential election, China launched missiles at Taiwan's shores -- a warning to voters not to support the pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party.

At the same time, China and Taiwan are economically intertwined. China is Taiwan's biggest trade partner, absorbing 40 percent of the island's exports. Some 2 million Taiwanese live and work in China, and Taiwan's foreign direct investment in China has surpassed $10 billion a year. Moreover, millions of tourists from the mainland visit Taiwan each year.

But neither China's military threats nor its economic pull -- nor the fact that 95 percent of Taiwan's population is ethnically Han Chinese -- induces my dinner companions to describe themselves as anything but Taiwanese. None feels any emotional affinity for China. None wishes to see China and Taiwan reunited. All three reject the "One China" posture.

There's no such thing as race.

Posted by at January 7, 2018 10:10 AM

  

« AND THE PAST FOUR YEARS HAVE BEEN EVEN BETTER: | Main | THE FACTS ARE A STUBBORN TASKMISTRESS: »