- A plea to the American media. . .
- Stop repeating the following phrase:
- "Taiwan, which is regarded by Beijing as a renegade
province. . ." Wrong.
- Communist China has never ruled Taiwan, so how can Beijing
claim it as a "renegade" or "breakaway" province? Taiwan
never broke away from the communists in the first place. For that matter,
it never broke away from anybody.
- Check the history. (See http://www.taiwandc.org/hst-1624.htm.)
In its 400 or so years as a recognizable society, Taiwan has been claimed
by the Dutch, a Ming Dynasty refugee (Koxinga), the Manchus, Japan, France
(northern Taiwan), and finally Chiang Kai-Shek and his nationalist (Kuomintang)
government. Today, for the first time, this multi-party democracy is governed
by a Taiwan-born group, the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP.) Its history,
in other words, is a crazy-quilt. Communist China contributed nary a stitch.
- Yet the western press persists in using the term, "renegade
province." Beijing must chuckle. It is, after all, free propaganda
for Chinese hegemony; free PR for China's bogus, bellicose claim to Taiwan.
You don't hear newspapers, radio, and television reporters balancing things
out by saying:
- "China, which is regarded as a separate country
by Taiwan. . ."
- The more the media repeats the "renegade province"
phrase---as they do in nearly every news article, radio and TV story about
Taiwan---the more people just hear the words, "renegade province."
It becomes accepted fact. In some cases, journalists have altogether eliminated
the "which is regarded by Beijing as" part of the phrase, and
merely refer to Taiwan outright as a "renegade province."
- Most irresponsible.
- Taiwan is an island, literally and figuratively. It is
barely even a part of Chinese history---technically only part of China
for about 200 years, under the Manchu Dynasty (which never bothered to
govern it.) It wasn't until 1887 that the Manchus officially declared the
island a province, strictly as a move to counter Japanese threats to take
it by force. The threats prevailed, though, and Taiwan was ceded to Japan,
which ruled from 1895 until 1943. It was at the Cairo Conference of the
Allies in World War II that Taiwan was turned over to Chiang Kai-Shek's
Nationalist China (without ever consulting anyone living in Taiwan, incidentally.)
In 1949, Chiang was defeated by the communists under Mao Tse-Tung, and
moved his government and army to Taiwan, renaming it "Republic of
- *Taiwan never rebelled against China.
- *It did not split from, or desert the Chinese government---communist
- *It was referred to as a province only once, at a time
of convenience, yet the residents of the island never agreed to that. (In
fact, the locals tried to declare Taiwan an independent Republic as early
- Today, the people and government of Taiwan consider the
island a sovereign state. And well they should! With a population of 23
million (larger than over two-thirds of the members of the United Nations),
Taiwan's economy is number 17 in the world, with an estimated gross national
product of $314 billion (U.S.) in 2000---according to Taipei Review. Only
two countries in the world have greater foreign exchange reserves ($122
billion U.S. in 2001.) Taiwan's citizenry is a mix of old refugees from
the mainland: largely the "Taiwanese," (descendants of immigrants
from the coastal Fukien province of China who came during the past 300
years); the Chinese who fled with the Chiang government; lesser factions
like the Hakka; and yes, tribes native to the island.
- Which brings up another distortion uniformly chanted
by the western press:
- "The tiny island. . ."
- Relative to what? "Tiny" suggests something
the size and significance of the Pitcairns---or one of them. But as islands
go, Taiwan is a whopper.
- Thirty-six thousand square kilometers isn't a flyspeck
(think Massachusetts and Connecticut), but size is not measured in area
alone. Aside from being an economic powerhouse---even considering the enormous
investment in the mainland---Taiwan is amazingly diverse, for a "tiny"
place. Consider the climate: the south is subtropical and sunny, there
are snow-capped mountains and lush forests in the central area, and the
north gets a deluge of rain. There are rollicking, modern metropolises:
Taipei in the north, Taichung in the central, and Tainan in the south;
renowned universities such as Taiwan Normal University and Fu-Jen Catholic
University, first-class train and city transit systems, and. . .
- Everything about Taiwan is big, from its ambition and
industry to the ren-ching-wei---roughly, the "spirit of the people"---the
enthusiasm which fuels everything from hospitality to occasional fistfights
in the Legislative Yuan.
- Yet the "renegade province" line was there
again in the recent coverage of China Vice-president Hu Jintao's visit
to Washington---when Hu, shoo-in successor to President Jiang Zemin, rattled
the old Taiwan saber again: "If any trouble occurs on the Taiwan question,
it would be difficult for China-U.S. relations to move forward, and a retrogression
may even occur."
- A "retrogression?" Ho-hum. Pretty mild threat.
Considering how much money Taiwan has invested in China, and how much cultural
and economic exchange already exists between the two countries, one can
only doubt Hu's sincerity. To disrupt such a profitable enterprise merely
for the sake of "face" or "pride"---or to needle the
U.S.---would be self-defeating. But then, Hu also claimed there is religious
freedom in China, and great respect for human rights.
- Sure there is. And Taiwan is a "tiny island"
and "renegade province."