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A clarification about China and Taiwan


Norman Realname, 5 Aug 22,

I’m grateful to a reader for providing this explanation.

I still think that it’s a pretty bad idea for USA and Australia to start a probable World War 3 over Taiwan.

The Republic of China (ROC) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are NOT synonyms and should not be used as such. The ROC has NO control over Hong Kong; it’s a semi-autonomous territory ruled by the PRC under the “one country, two systems” arrangement, as per treaty. Thus, grumbling about democratic subversion aside, there was no question of the PRC’s sovereignty over it.

The ROC, however, DOES have control over Taiwan, and the PRC does NOT. As to why this is the case, the most oversimplified answer is that the Chinese Civil War never fully ended and both governments claim to rule the territory of the other, but since the PRC has the de facto control of almost all of it, it’s recognized as the “real” China. The more complicated answer is that since democratization the ROC government no longer wants to rule the mainland and sees itself as a separate Taiwanese nation but is forbidden to relinquish its territorial claims (under threat of invasion) by the PRC who view Taiwan as integral Chinese territory and would interpret any movement away from them as secession (even though the PRC has never actually ruled over Taiwan).

The US and China differ over their interpretation of the situation. The PRC’s One China PRINCIPLE states that there is only one China, and Taiwan is a part of China. The US’s One China POLICY states that they *acknowledge* the PRC’s position on the matter, without actually saying whether or not they agree that Taiwan is part of China. In other words: the US generally agrees there is only one China, but they’re not sure (read: deliberately ambiguous) whether Taiwan is part of it.

Fundamentally, while the PRC has been successful in preventing international recognition of the ROC (Taiwan), they do not control the territory and cannot control the territory without:

1. The ROC (Taiwanese) government agreeing to hand over power peacefully to the PRC.
2. A full-scale military invasion of Taiwan aimed at the surrender and/or destruction of the ROC (Taiwanese) government.

To compare the situation to Hong Kong, – the crucial difference is the People’s Republic of China did not need to roll in their military to fight some theoretical Hong Kong military in order to be able to tell Hong Kong what to do.

August 4, 2022 - Posted by | politics international, Reference, Taiwan

2 Comments »

  1. Yeah, I am worried about the escalation as of late. That region is a powder keg waiting to go off. Even if neither side wants war, the potential for a “misunderstanding” escalating into something that cannot be walked back is high.

    Comment by Norman Realname | August 5, 2022 | Reply

  2. Jeff St clair
    I suppose there are more risible politicians on the scene today than Nancy Pelosi, but few come clad in her power accessories or with as much potential to inflict carnage on a global scale. Even the banshee of the backwoods Marjorie Taylor Greene is a mere pipsqueak compared to the malevolent lunacy we’ve seen lately from Pelosi.

    Some may say that Pelosi, now 82, has entered her second childhood. If so, it’s a delinquent one. Certainly her political inhibitions have dissolved, allowing her natural inclination to foment trouble to run rampant. One looks in vain for a rational motivation behind her ad hoc trip to Taiwan, an act of belligerency that might have sparked a war with another nuclear power. But to what end? China is not going to relinquish its entirely legitimate claims to Taiwan. Far from a model democracy, Taiwan is a former gangster state, whose repressive government was shaped by Chiang Kai-Shek, who retreated there in 1949 with his battered gang of CIA-financed KMT thugs, where he promptly instituted a violent crackdown on leftists known as the White Terror, a vicious form of martial law that lasted for the next 45 years.

    Sure Pelosi represents many rich Chinese exiles, who have made fortunes in San Francisco and now fantasize about sticking it to the CCP from the safety of their Nob Hill mansions. But Pelosi doesn’t need their money or support. She’s well beyond that now. (Though her husband Paul is surely watching with avaricious eyes the reaction of the markets to this junket of the damned.) Pelosi’s trip seems more personal, an almost pathological assertion of her autonomy. It’s the act of a playground bully and the Mad-Eyed Lady from Pac Heights has come to see the world as her playground–provocation for the sake of provocation. Damn the consequences.

    The Speaker’s hubris has been accreting rapidly in the last decade. Once a capable, if not very creative, machine politician, she has now become baked by her own sense of power and runs the House like her own private autocracy, the leadership ranks stacked with her claque of senescent loyalists.

    Now the second most powerful figurehead in the US government has gone rogue, enacting her very own Asian Pivot, flouting decades of US policy and even ignoring the requests of the increasingly feeble Joe Biden to scrub Taipei from her inflammatory itinerary. Nancy is the “Karen” of global geopolitics, a loose cannon intoxicated by her own self-righteousness. Like RGB, Pelosi apparently sees herself as an indispensable figure in American politics, even as a trapdoor slides open beneath her feet and that those of her party and country.

    Why Pelosi picked China as her target du jour is no mystery. Like Biden (and Bernie Sanders, for that matter), Pelosi has always been a Cold Warrior. It’s the way she chooses to understand the world, even if it’s a world that no longer quite exists. The political economy Pelosi has done much to help engineer over the last 35 years needs perpetual enemies to justify the trillions sunk into the weapons-and-surveillance complex. And not ephemeral scrub units like Al Qaeda and ISIS. Big ones like Russia and China. But more sophisticated politicians, from Nixon to Obama, have understood that the trick is to keep the threat elevated without actually risking a war. Pelosi seems to have lost this inhibition, as well.

    Thus the brazenness–one is tempted to say, desperation–of her Taiwan excursion is a pretty clear sign of imperial (as well as mental) slippage. Far from a show of strength, Pelosi’s antics in Taipei revealed the frailty of the US hegemon in the Pacific. Sure, China postured a bit in response with naval exercises encircling Taiwan, but Beijing, a much more reflective (if equally lethal) government than our own, must have viewed Pelosi’s frantic finger-wagging as little more than a parody of power, a shrill manifestation of America’s political decrepitude

    Comment by Edin callo | August 5, 2022 | Reply


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