Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Despite the fondest wishes of Taiwan independence advocates and
Republic of China boosters alike, Taiwan's fate will not be decided by
the people of Taiwan alone. It will be decided partially in Taipei, per-
haps, but certainly in Beijing as well, and perhaps also in the corridors
of power in Tokyo, Washington, New York, and Brussels. Taiwan has
often felt swept along in the strong political currents flowing through
the Taiwan Strait—currents it cannot control and does not always fully
understand. Taiwan's helplessness in the rough neighborhood in
which it lives often elicits sympathy from outside observers and expa-
triate residents alike, but for the island's own good, sympathy must
not trump reality. If foreign sympathy implies hopes for concrete
outside support for formal independence, it weakens the island's secu-
rity rather than fortifying it. In their na ¨ ve political ineptness, people
who advocate the formalization of Taiwan's current de facto indepen-
dence seem to assume that they can heedlessly pursue their headlong
course and that the United States will, in the end, come to the island's
rescue when the chips are down. Independence advocates on the Inter-
net do not fully understand that they are playing an exceedingly
dangerous game, one that could very quickly draw China and the
United States into a war over Taiwan's fate and destroy the very
democracy on the island they seek to defend.
Many Green-leaning supporters seem to live in their own world,
and it is not unreasonable to state that many of them do not really
understand the rest of East Asia, much less the realities of the broader
international community. Advocates of formalizing Taiwan's indepen-
dence seem to assume that if one has a full and nuanced understand-
ing of the domestic political climate on the island, one has
understood the Taiwan problem. This is not so; at most, they have
understood exactly one half of the Taiwan problem. The other half is
the other side of the Taiwan Strait: the communist People's Republic
of China on the mainland and its unflagging resolve to bring Taiwan
back into China's embrace—even a death embrace, if push comes to
shove. Mainland China simply will not allow Taiwan to go its own
way, and op-ed pieces in the pages of the Ta i p e i Time s belittling the
rationality or sanity of the mainland Chinese ruling authorities do
not alter or attenuate this adamantine fact.
Taiwan grossly underestimates the mainland's determination and
commitment to bring Taiwan back into its grasp, by force if necessary.
The mainland rulers are well aware of, and distressed by, public opin-
ion in Taiwan that favors independence for the island. But public opin-
ion on Taiwan will not alter their plans to absorb the island because
they have an even more awesome consideration in mind: the
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