Taiwan: Mutually Agreeable
In the touchy realm of Sino-American-Taiwanese relations, there is rarely a news story that is considered mutually agreeable to all sides. However, this can be considered as one of those stories. Ma Ying-jeou is a member of the conservative Kuomintang party, which is the historic party of the Republic of China and Chiang Kai-Shek.
The Kuomintang is conservative on most economic and social issues, is anti-Communist, and receives the support of most Taiwanese ethnic groups, including the aboriginal Taiwanese. The single most contentious issue, however, is Taiwanese independence. Independence has so many definitions in Taiwanese politics that it is an utterly confusing concept. The Kuomintang favors an eventual reunification with mainland China, but under the banner of the Republic of China and not the People’s Republic of China. The opposition party, the liberal Democratic Progressive Party, favors Taiwanese independence, but de-jure. Taiwan is already de-facto independent, and there is a growing support among Taiwanese towards the status quo.
Independence is not as easy as it looks. If Taiwan were to declare de-jure independence, it would undoubtedly spark a Sino-Taiwanese war, especially under China’s recently enacted Anti-Secession laws. Under this circumstance, the United States would be drawn into the conflict under the Taiwan Relations Act, and Japan would be drawn in as well. Due to the fact that China has M-9/11 missiles pointed directly at Taiwan, and has surpassed Taiwan in military and defense spending and volume, the situation must be handled delicately.
Following the Kuomintang ideological timeline, at some point in the future, it is possible that, due to economic and free-market liberalization in China, the People’s Republic of China will see the need to make some larger steps in a democratic direction. It is logical that, in such a situation, they would consider opening relations with Taiwan, which would be mutually economically beneficial for both sides. After a period of time, China may eventually consider abandoning its PRC roots and embracing the ROC as their political system and form of identification. Such a situation would render a Taiwanese Independence movement irrelevant. Even when Chiang Kai-Shek was fighting against the forces of the PRC for a unified ROC, as President of the ROC, he envisioned a future of eventual reunification.
President-elect Ma Jing-yeou defines “One China” as the Republic of China, not the People’s Republic of China. As president, he is considering opening up travel and tourism between China and Taiwan, which could result in an economic benefit for both sides of the Strait. He has threatened a boycott of the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the event of an escalation of unrest in Tibet. During the election, his DPP opponent, Frank Hsieh, accused him of having a U.S. green card, and questioned his loyalty to Taiwan. Mind you, the DPP is Taiwanese Nationalistic, and, it appears, so much so, that ties with the US are considered disagreeable by the DPP. By democratically electing Ma Jing-yeou, the people of the Taiwan have made the right decision, for Taiwan, for China, and for the United States.