By Herman Tiu Laurel
The US is pestering Asia no end, exercising its residual sense of power long gone with the age of Imperialism.
Some of my fellow Filipinos are wrong to think the US is just aggravating China. It is actually making itself a nuisance to the whole of Asia using a variety of issues centering on China for being the bulwark of the Rise of the East and rejection of the era of colonialism.
The US had failed to boost the Hong Kong secessionist movement to success while its Xinjiang destabilization propaganda has been neutralized by China’s counter-information campaign that had helped the rest of the world to see the religious freedom, economic prosperity and social harmony now being enjoyed by that Chinese autonomous region.
Today, the US needles China on Taiwan.
As I check the reality of Taiwan one fact is illuminated: Taiwan’s economic and financial prosperity depends greatly on trade with China. 44% of Taiwan’s exports are absorbed by the industries of the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) and its hundreds of millions of consumers. It is doubtful that the majority of Taiwanese will look that gift horse in the mouth.
I looked around for surveys of the Taiwanese public sentiment, even if questions of sovereignty over territory can hardly be subject of surveys. While it is very hard to find a reliable survey as the majority of them would be highly politicized and partisan, I did find one that I thought would reflect an objective Western and American view; it came from the hybrid humor-cum-social-critic show Tonight with John Oliver, an American journalist.
The survey which John Oliver drew from German news DW and showed in after some humorous quips concluded that: “when they (Taiwanese) are asked about unification with China, some 1.5% want unification with China as soon as possible and about 6% (actually his chart showed 5.6%) want independence as soon as possible; however, the vast majority favor some version of the status quo – that is no declaration of independence.
READ: China Daily editorial – Taiwan secessionists and US must beware miscalculation https://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/201806/24/WS5b2fa043a3103349141de711.html
To my mind any declaration of independence by Taiwan will, be met with a rebellion from the population who know the disastrous consequences of such recklessness after the many, many decades of repeated warnings of the “red line” by the PRC. The PRC’s decisive action if the hardliners and dogmatists of the DPP would justify internal rebellion. I also think a vast majority of the Taiwan armed forces will just switch sides.
There are more than enough authentic Chinese nationalists in Taiwan who would not want to see the destruction of the island’s polity and economy for the selfish benefit of the “independence groups” and the delusion of “reconquering China” backed by Western Powers.
That was Chiang Kai-shek’s dream until his passing. To be fair, even Chiang never wanted a divided China either, only a unified under the Kuomintang –a delusion to the very end.
In saying that I expect rebellion inside Taiwan if independence were declared I cite the 1935 incident when a Chinese Kuomintang General Zhang Xueliang detained Chiang Kai-shek in Xi’an during a visit and forced him into an alliance with the Communist Party of China for unity against the Japanese. I can imagine a similar scenario of Taiwanese generals compelling fanatic secessionists to compromise for the sake of national welfare if push comes to a shove.
I had awareness as a 12-13 year-old schoolboy of fund raising amongst the Filipino-Chinese for the re-conquest of the mainland. I also served as a Boy Scout volunteer guard at the Chinese embassy on Roxas Boulevard during Double Ten celebrations. That was in the 60s when Taiwan was still in the UN and recognized by the Philippine government. I was naturalized when still a baby which Sen. Miriam Santiago said qualified me as “natural born” Filipino.
Physical conflict over Taiwan and in the Taiwan Straits will be disastrous for Asia too, and the Asian Century would been severely debilitated. What would happen to the 250,000 Filipino overseas workers in Taiwan in a devastated post-conflict economy there? QUAD members like the Japanese rightwing-militarists may be happy, the myopic Indian oligarchy may be happy, the US may rejoice, but Asia would be seriously damaged.
There is only a 0.1% chance of war over Taiwan by China. The U.S. already accepts that it cannot only not win a war with China in the Asian theater. It must also realize that it can ill afford – both economically and financially – to fight a peer-to-peer conflict.
Even an accidental conflict will not happen, contrary to some inane views that have claim that earlier US wars that had appeared “accidental” were actually deliberate (such as the USS Maine sinking, etc.)
READ: Xi stresses peaceful reunification https://www.globaltimes.cn/page/202110/1235838.shtml
That the U.S. realizes it cannot win against China is evidenced by the newest article of Graham Allison, the Thucydides Trap scholar, “Could the U.S. Lose a War with China Over Taiwan”, which was published October 29, 2021 in reaction to Biden’s “Yes” answer to a Town Hall meet question if the U.S. would defend Taiwan if attacked by China. Allison cited Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks and fellows of the National Defense Strategy Review Commission in 2018:
“If in response to a provocative move by Taiwan, China were to launch an attack to take control of that island that is as close to its mainland as Cuba is to the United States, it might succeed before the U.S. military could move enough assets into the region to matter.
“As former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral James Winnefeld and former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell wrote last year, China has the capability to deliver a fait accompli to Taiwan before Washington would be able to decide how to respond.”
Former Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, who served under three Secretaries before retiring in 2017, has been even more explicit. Work has stated publicly that, “in the most realistic war games that the Pentagon has designed to simulate war over Taiwan, the score is eighteen to zero. And it is not Team USA who owns the eighteen score.”
So why does the U.S. persist in harping about Taiwan as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken did in his latest meet with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi?
I call Blinken’s U.S. diplomacy the “Taiwan Bubble Tea” geopolitics, Taiwan being the origin of the new junk drink.
Taiwan Bubble Tea geopolitics is all about selling the bubble of Taiwan Independence for the sweet profits of billions of $ in arms sales, while the Tsai Ing-wen political carpetbaggers make hay.
UNDERSTANDING THE STRATEGIC AMBIGUITY OF THE US POSITION OVER TAIWAN
UNDERSTANDING THE PRESENT STATUS OF THE ‘CIVIL WAR’ IN CHINA