Wednesday, March 09, 2005


In February this year, Central Intelligence Agency Director Porter Gross issued an assessment that reported the highly noticeable build-up of the Chinese mainland military arsenal, especially the increase in the number of missiles pointed at Taiwan’s direction. The CIA analysis of the tension between China and Taiwan seemed to be prophetic to say the least as we hear now the latest news on this ever-reverberating conflict across the Taiwan Strait. Yesterday, the Chinese Parliament in Beijing began to roll a proposed enactment that could become the justification for a military action against Taipei. The bill banners the “One China Policy” that China wants the international community to maintain. It would mostly reinforce its claim of sovereignty over Taiwan and would include provisions that call for “non-peaceful” solutions if peaceful means could not stifle the growing secessionist sentiments in Taiwan. Meaning to say, once the said bill is enacted, China would by then have the enabling mechanism to validate its initiation of an armed attack against Taiwan if all “negotiations” or “peaceful means” fail.

For me, this is one big step closer to a full-blown war. In 2003, the Taiwanese parliament had initiated moves to hold national referendums calling for among others, the dismantling of all Chinese missiles aimed at Taiwan. China called those initiatives as a veiled move towards Taiwanese independence. The rising tension that resulted from that particular heated exchange from the two adversaries was fortunately cooled down when U.S. President George Bush had implored Taiwan not to proceed with the planned referendums. President Bush had warned Taiwanese nationalists that holding referendums at that time was highly flammable and may escalate the tension to unprecedented levels.

Ever since the year 1949, Taiwan had always been considered by China as a renegade province when the nationalists forces of Chiang Kai Sek was drove towards the shore of Taiwan after the red soldiers of Mao Tse Tung had finally put a clamp on every territory in the mainland China.

Should China really pursue reunification with Taiwan? Does China really have the proper and sufficient claim over the island of Taiwan?

Contrary to popular notions, Taiwan had not always been a Chinese territoriality. Its original inhabitants were aborigines of the Austronsian race, just like Guam or Saipan. Its first conquerors were not even from China but Portugese seafarers who established a trading station there in 1517 and proceeded to name the island as Formosa. Dutch traders took their turn in using the island off the coast of Mainland China in 1624 and soon after, Spanish soldiers had in turn put up a fort somewhere in its northern regions. It was only in 1661 that a fleet of Chinese soldiers under the Ming Dynasty set foot on Taiwan and took control away from the Dutch colonizers. In 1895, Japan wrestled the island from China and ruled it until the end of World War II.

What I am trying to say here is that Taiwan had not been a Chinese region by origin in the first place but more of an Austronesian island that is separate and distinct from China mainland. Its first people and primary culture were not of Chinese roots. Due to these historical facts, China might not as easily brandish the most perfect of title over its claim on the island formerly known as Formosa. Its hold over it was initially by conquest and then by mere legal fiat afterwards when Japan ceded back the territory to China by virtue of a treaty after World War II.
If China insists on reunification with Taiwan, it would just become a modern day colonizer subjugating a people that are not willing to be under a governance not of their own liking and China would then be pressed to rule the island by means of repression and aggression. It’s not worth it. I think China should hear the desire of the people of Taiwan and give them the self-determination that every people deserve.

Conquerors and colonizers in history have always learned their lessons only too late. The Taiwanese people may not as easily fold up to a power it long considers as a bitter enemy. If China would eventually overcome the whole island by sheer military might, a prolonged rebellion could possibly ensue and things there might get so ugly. It’s not worth it I stressed again. China is faster becoming the largest economy in the world but choosing to become a despised aggressor might just jeopardize this great potential.


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