Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leaders intensify their rhetoric on the need to “unify” China by bringing Taiwan under their control as “sacrosanct mission of all the Chinese people. “
Since 1949, the difficult status quo in relations between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has allowed both to build their societies, and even to cooperate, without leading to open conflict. But Beijing is now threatening to attempt a military solution that could lead to a devastating world war. In this situation, a sober examination of historical facts is appropriate.
A right to territory is generally based on historical precedent, cultural and ethnic affinity, political consensus or military conquest. China’s claims on Taiwan are unconvincing when measured against the first three of these criteria.
First, let’s look back in the story as far as possible. The continental authorities have on several occasions claims that âTaiwan has belonged to China since ancient times. The Chinese people first developed Taiwan. In fact, Taiwan was the first installed by the Austronesian peoples 6,500 years ago, members of the same cultural group that settled in a number of territories in South Asia; some current citizens of Taiwan retain this identity.
Mainland China’s first official government agency in Taiwan was not established until 1281 AD, when the Yuan Dynasty placed a patrol and inspection unit in Penghu, an island between mainland China and Taiwan. From 1624, Taiwan is busy by the Dutch. The first Han Chinese diet has been established in Taiwan in 1662.
China ceded Taiwan to Japan in 1895. In 1945, after the end of World War II and the Japanese occupation, Taiwan was income to the Republic of China (ROC). In 1949, after the government of the People’s Republic of China was driven from the mainland by Communist forces victorious in the Chinese Civil War, it established itself in Taiwan. Historically, mainland Chinese regimes have thus only fully controlled Taiwan for 237 years of the island’s recorded history. Taiwan was never part of the state created by the Communist Party in 1949. There is no rational justification for a demand for Taiwan’s “reunification” with the PRC, either on the basis of history. old or recent.
Today, more than 95 percent of Taiwan’s 23.5 million people are Han Chinese, the result of waves of migration from the mainland over the centuries, and therefore share a root identity with the dominant ethnic group in the PRC, in the same way as many white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant Americans share a cultural identity with most citizens of the United Kingdom, where their ancestors immigrated centuries ago.
However, in the decades since the establishment of the Republic of China in Taiwan, its people have developed a unique and independent political and national identity. Originally a very authoritarian state, the Republic of China has become a model of peaceful democratic transformation. While the continental regime is totalitarian, Taiwan is a of the freest and most democratic countries in the world.
Public sentiment in Taiwan is overwhelmingly opposed to assimilation into Communist China, and favors Taiwan as an independent and democratic state. Before Xi began threatening Taiwan, many Taiwanese supported a “One China, Two Interpretations” policy and wanted closer economic ties with the PRC. But with increasingly hostile signals from Beijing, these views have retreated.
One wonders if most mainland Chinese could support a status quo with Taiwan, while their leaders unleash irredentist aggression through ruthless media manipulation. Taiwan and the PRC have much to gain from peaceful cooperation, just as the PRC and Hong Kong have benefited from their economic cooperation.
But Xi Jinping and the CCP, without clear historical or cultural foundations, or political support for Taiwan’s merger into Communist China, aim to justify their territorial claim by militarily conquering Taiwan, creating a fact on the ground by force. The regime is preparing for a war to take control of Taiwan by injecting resources into nuclear and conventional military reinforcement in the face of an almost total lack of support for unification on the part of the Taiwanese people.
An attempt to occupy Taiwan by force could lead to war with the United States, Japan, Australia and other countries, a war with devastating social, economic and environmental consequences. Even if an invasion were initially successful, China’s “reunification” would require long-term brutality that would destroy not only countless lives, but also the reputation and authority that China attempted to build within the community. international. It would halt China’s economic progress.
Irredentism has long served fascist regimes, like those in Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s Italy, which used the dream of reclaiming “lost” territories to fuel aggressive ethnic nationalism and bolster their own fragile legitimacy. Xi Jinping’s plan to overthrow democracy in Taiwan is not only historically, but also morally indefensible.
Aaron Rhodes is Senior Fellow at the Common Sense Society and Chairman of the Forum for Religious Freedom-Europe. He is the author of The Degradation of Human Rights.