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June 16, 2005

China/Taiwan « China/Taiwan »

China will not allow Taiwan to officially declare its independency. That's for a whole host of reasons, not the least of which is the Asian concept of "Face".

But aside from the issue of logistically projecting enough power to take Taiwan militarily (and the damage that could do to Taiwan's infrastructure), there is one main issue blocking China's absorption of the island:


Hong Kong was subordinate to Britain. No one rising through the Hong Kong power structure ever had any hope of making it very high in the British power structure, and they always knew their position was at the behest of another power. That higher governmental power could be replaced by the PRC, and it was.

But Taiwan has its own power structure, with its own governance, and an undeclared independence...or autonomy at worst. How do you shoehorn that into the Mainland system?

Leaders have power from their position, but also from their supporters (I know that's a no-brainer...I'm going somewhere with it). Leaders do not give up power very easily. They must be forced to give it up, or enticed in some way. Someone who has been building a base and rising in power in Taiwan for their entire life won't be so willing to give it up just because a majority of the population in Taiwan wants to unite with the Mainland (assuming they ever do).

Simply put: The Chinese Communist Party must find a way to force the leaders out (probably through a costly war that would destroy much of what they want from Taiwan), or convince them to step down and support integration with the Mainland (an iffy proposition at best).*

We have the old parable about "not killing the goose that lays the golden egg", but we only cite it when it's obvious someone hasn't learned the lesson. Taiwan is certainly a golden-egg laying goose for Mainland China, what with all the monetary and technological investments flowing across the Strait.

Bottom Line: Maybe the Chi-Coms are smarter than most people give them credit for?

*I once played a scenario on the game "Superpower", the purpose of which was to get Taiwan to reunite with the Mainland. I did all the right things for two turns, and had made like 1% progress. Getting impatient, and wanting to see what happened, I put China's entire GDP ($4 trillion) into a bribe for Taiwan's leadership. They agreed to unify the very next round.

Think about that. $4 Trillion is enough to give every single family in Taiwan $360,000. If you gave each of the top four leaders a trillion dollars, they could give two thousand supporters $500,000 each (which isn't chump change) and still $999 billion left over for themselves.

Given a bribe of that stature, I can see where it might be more easy for someone to convince themselves that --just maybe-- reunification with China is in the best interests of Taiwan...

Posted by Nathan at 10:03 AM | Comments (0)
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