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Jason Holliston
Thursday, July 22, 2004  
Good Primer on the Two Chinas

I read this column this morning, and while I've read a lot lately about Taiwan, this gave me some perspectives I hadn't seen. Donald Sensing, as always, knows his stuff. I trust his analysis more than most.

Boiled down, things are starting to heat up a bit regarding China's insistence that Taiwan is a rogue state, and must grow up and come home to daddy. Of course, there's always been sabre rattling regarding this, but this summer it's definitely been ratcheted up a bit. China is executing some military training that they admit are training for an eventual invasion of the island nation:

China is now undertaking large military exercises that its official organ, People's Daily, directly says has the purpose of threatening Taiwan, only 100 miles away. 

America and Taiwan are responding in kind, showing off their military might:

Oh, yeah, the US Navy is sending seven aircraft carrier battle groups to the region to remind the mainland it doesn't have free reign to invade Taiwan, with whose navy the Americans will hold combined exercises.

Note that we've never sent seven aircraft carrier battle groups to one place. Ever. It definitely sends a loud, unmistakable message. I think, though, that the best part of the column talked about what might be bringing this to a head, and relatively soon:

Neither have China nor Taiwan held the one-China policy as fully fictional, either. Both governments, and their populations, have said that reunification is their goal, although each sees itself as the winner for ruling both the mainland and the island.
But that may be changing. The generation that fled the mainland for the island is dying out. Taiwanese young people have no personal memory of the mainland. Increasing numbers of them are hewing to a sort of separatist position, seeing themselves as Chinese ethnically, but not nationally.

I hadn't thought of that, but I can see it. Every generation that goes by without reunification is more likely to consider themselves Taiwanese, rather than Chinese, and cares less and less about coming back to China's totalitarian arms. Consider yourself, if you come from a family that immigrated to another country a while back. My family -- both sides -- have been non-European for well over 100 years. My first ancestors that came over from the Old Country probably missed it a lot. After several generations, though, I'm certainly not Scottish, German, or French. I'm American, and any type of identification with my cousins across the ocean is just a hobby, more or less. So, I can completely relate to Taiwanese that are told stories about Grandfather coming over from the mainland to escape Mao's wrath, but don't feel any real attachment to the land he came from.

This is something to consider for the upcoming elections. Would you want a president that would defend Taiwan if communist China invaded? If you do, ask yourself which of the candidates is more likely to commit troops to do just that? Do we base our foreign policy upon economic concerns or ideological concerns?

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