This post appeared on the front page as a direct link to the original article with the above quotation.
TAIWAN’S RECOGNITION OF Kosovo’s independence made headline news in the newly independent state, the Liberty Times (the Taipei Times’ sister newspaper) reported. However, China insists that Taiwan is not a sovereign state, and has no right to recognize Kosovo. Loud complaints from Beijing compelled a Kosovo Web site to remove Taiwan from the list of countries that had recognized its independence. As a sovereign state, when will Taiwan’s international status and dignity be secured?
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) opposes Taiwanese independence because he promotes eventual unification with China. Faced with rising Taiwanese consciousness, Ma does not dare suggest unification directly. His anti-independence discourse is instead justified through Beijing’s threat of military attack as well as opposition from the US and the international community. Taiwanese independence supporters are depicted as troublemakers for the international community. But is international politics really so simple? Is Taiwanese independence really just a form of trouble making?
Zbigniew Brzezinski, former US president Jimmy Carter’s national security advisor, said in his latest book, The Second Chance, that the foreign policies of former US presidents George Bush and Bill Clinton and US President George W. Bush change with, rather than influence or lead, international developments. Furthermore, all three were or are frequently guilty of misjudging the situation and in the end rely mostly on chance to resolve issues.
Ukrainian independence is one such example. Bush senior underestimated the intensity of non-Russian nationalism, believing that a strong Soviet identity would prevent non-Russian nationalities within the Soviet Union’s borders from seeking independence.
During a visit to the Ukraine in August 1991, he indicated in a speech that the US would not support Ukrainian independence. While the US supported Ukraine in its pursuit of freedom, it did not support using ethnic hatred as a basis for those who promote suicidal nationalism, he said. He obviously misjudged the situation in opposing Ukrainian independence to maintain the Soviet regime. Four months after his visit, the Ukraine declared independence following a national referendum, delivering a firm slap in the face to the then-US leader.
Now, President Bush is treating the Taiwan Strait issue in a similar fashion. He also wishes to maintain the stability of the Chinese Communist Party regime, and understates the nationalistic desires of the Chinese. He believes that Beijing has firmly established a Chinese identity, that the Taiwanese public identifies with China and that nationalistic independence and nation building will bring instability to the region. His government has repeatedly declared its opposition to Taiwanese independence, and warns against its danger.
In reality, would Taiwan go the same way as the Ukraine? Ukrainian independence spurred a wave of independence among non-Russian ethnic groups. Would Taiwanese independence ignite the separatist desires in Tibet, Xinjiang, or maybe even Hong Kong?
Since Ukraine’s independence, Taiwanese have learned that although the US and the Soviet Union cooperated in blocking Ukrainian independence, and the Ukraine also had unification supporters similar to Ma, the Ukrainians courageously escaped the Soviet Union’s imperialist oppression through a national referendum and brought forth the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Would Taiwan’s independence also bring about China’s dissolution, or as Ma proposes, only cause China to attack Taiwan?
Allen Houng is a professor in the Institute of Neuroscience at National Yang Ming University.
TRANSLATED BY ANGELA HONG