Charter Member of the Sub-Media

August 23, 2007

Taiwan is a Part of China...Just Not Part of the PRC « China/Taiwan »

Should I link the original article? Well, the main point of it is to blame China for something (pollution) that Taiwan already does to itself quite well (Damn those mainland Chinese, sneaking in and poisoning all of Taiwan's rivers!)...but the issue I want to respond to is at the bottom. Maybe easier if I link to the post that highlights the issue the raises my dander:

Reunification? [emphasis in original] For once, I would like to read an article that says, "China says the island is a breakaway province, but the PRC flag has never flown over the island." I bet we would start seeing a significant change in the way people view Taiwan if these two little paragraphs that are in nearly every article about Taiwan were more accurate. Making clear that, yes, China does claim sovereignty over Taiwan, but there's no talk of "reunification" -- only unification -- seeing as the PRC never controlled (to my knowledge) any part of Taiwan. Also, Nationalist forces fleeing to Taiwan does not divide Taiwan from "the Mainland," seeing as there were already people on Taiwan before these outside forces came to Taiwan.

To be fair, I get tired of the cut'n'paste journalism standard over-simplification of the cross-Strait issue, too. And it could be worded better.

But it doesn't help when the Taiwan side distorts the issue for their own purposes.

Here are the facts:

1) PRC does not equal China. The PRC is just the latest in a series of dynasties. China did not end when the Ming dynasty fell. China did not begin when Qin Shi Huang unified the Empire. Taiwan was not a part of the Empire at that time, but was during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The Taiwan independence movement cites the surrendering of Taiwan to Japan as fact, so I think it can be accepted: Taiwan was once a part of China.
2) The PRC government is aware of all this. They do not claim sovereignty over Taiwan. I challenge anyone to find me an official statement that claims such sovereignty.
3) Read the opening line of <>: "The Empire, long divided, must unite: long united, must divide." In Chinese history, what happens when the divided Empire unites? Most of the time, a new dynasty is formed. What happens when the Empire is divided? Competing nations squabble. The PRC would like for Taiwan to unite under the PRC governance, but that isn't what they are insisting on. They are pushing for an acknowledgement that Taiwan is Chinese.
4) Walk into any Taiwanese bookstore or DVD shop and look in the history section. Do you find books/movies like <>? <>? Poetry by Su Dongpo and Li Bai (Li Bo)? Is Lu Xun part of the national history? Why are mainland China treasures in the National Museum in Taiwan? What is the origin of the main language spoken in Taiwan? What is the origin of the 2nd most common language spoken in Taiwan? What isthe origin of the 3rd most common language spoken in Taiwan? (hint: if you guessed "mainland China" for all three of the language questions, you win!)
5) There were people already on the island when the mainlander KMT fled there in 1949. Which identity group is pointing that out? A mainlander group that fled there and took control when people were already there. If the mainlander, mandarin-speaking KMT descendents have no place in Taiwan, than neither do the Min-nan or Hakka. You won't see Chen Shui-bian apologizing and moving back to Fujian Province anytime soon and leaving Taiwan to the aborigines, will you?
6) Even though there were people already on the island when the mainlander KMT fled there in 1949, who was in charge of the island after the Japanese left until 1949? Why, I think...I was the KMT!! So the people in charge of the island before the flight were the same government that fled there. The government that was in charge over all of China (including Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Taiwan) contracted and withdrew, maintaining control over a smaller portion of what it once held...not staking a new claim over territory that was not under current control. Thus, nationalist China included all the mainland and Taiwan in 1946, but by the end of 1949, China was divided into Communist and Nationalist camps...but both were still part of China.

Bottom line: Taiwan independence advocates claiming that Taiwan is not a part of China because the PRC has never controlled Taiwan are using a straw-man argument.

No one in the Taiwan government may have agreed to the 1992 "Consensus", but that lack of agreement seems to be based on a misunderstanding of the PRC position. In my more cynical moments, I believe that misunderstanding is a deliberate political ploy.

UPDATE: As best as I can recall, in the history of mankind, no geo-cultural entity has ever split from a larger geo-cultural entity without either: 1) war, or 2) the popular consent of the entire geo-cultural entity.

...which does not mean the Taiwanese people should have to undergo a military invasion from mainland China. The tragedy is that an avoidable war is looming because a small group sees a domestic political advantage in provocation, and all for the demonstrated purpose of merely becoming the recipient of widespread graft.

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