If the U.S. and China could cooperate, it would produce mutual benefits and lead to a better world. However, meaningful US China cooperation could not happen unless the two countries develop a good relationship. Thus under what condition will the U.S. and China maintain a good relationship is a ket question. Among a broad range of issues in US China relations spanning across economy (commerce, investment and finance), national security (military, diplomacy and international affairs), industrial relation (technology, manufacturing, and market sharing) and cultural understanding (history, arts, communication, tourism and social behavior), the key issue that will dictate the US-China relation is the Cross-Strait relation or reunification (CSR). CSR has never been a Chinese domestic issue as it should be but a critical foreign affair troubling the US China relation and hindering their opportunity for close cooperation. Removing the CSR issue will shed the historical ‘China’ baggage the U.S. carried since the turn of 20th century, WWII, recognition of one independent China, Cold War and beyond. With the CSR dangling and influencing the U.S. China policy, the U.S. has not been able to carve out a clear-cut foreign policy towards China leading to mutual benefits and world prosperity. In order to remove this obstacle, understanding and solving the problems of CSR are essential.
Condition for US China Cooperation Leading to Better World – Part I
Among think tank analysts or common citizens, no one would reject the statement that if the U.S. and China could cooperate rather than fight against each other, the world would be much better off. However, among the opinions on prognosis of the future of US-China relations, there are clearly two camps. The Hawks seem to target China as the archenemy of the U.S. and believe in eventual war resulting from their irresolvable conflicts. The Doves seem to wish a friendly relation between the U.S. and China but have no clues why is their relation moving on a bumpy roller coaster yo-yoing from friendly gestures to hostility by their government’s conducts and handling of current events. The two great nations seem to be preparing war. Yet it is obvious that cooperation between the U.S. and China will lead to mutual benefits and better world and confrontation to mutual destruction and world disaster. Therefore, it is desirable to understand: Under what condition the U.S. and China can fully cooperate and resolve conflicts. Many in both camps have criticized the current US policies and mishaps, but offer little wisdom on how to reach the goal for mutual trust and cooperation.
Nations always have conflicts, but great powers have unavoidable competitions in many areas and more complex conflicts of interests. The U.S. and China naturally have a broad range of issues in their relations spanning across economy (commerce, investment and finance), national security (military, diplomacy and international affairs), industrial relation (technology, manufacturing, and market sharing) and cultural understanding (history, arts, communication, tourism, and social behavior). In this essay we venture to claim that solving the Cross-Strait Reunification (CSR) issue is the most important of all conditions for building a sound US-China relation which will lead to mutual benefits and a better world. We discuss below why the CSR issue will dictate the US-China relation, what is the logic and reasons for this claim and how we may achieve the condition for better relation and cooperation.
The CSR issue has never been treated as a Chinese domestic issue as it should be. Instead of leaving the CSR as China's internal problem, the U.S. considers the CSR issue her problem, elevating it as an international issue; thus, the US-China relation could not be maintained in a friendly manner. Presumably that the U.S. adopted such an approach with her national interests in mind, but that is a debatable point between the hawk and dove camps on China. What is clear though, two nations could not have a normal relationship if one nation does not respect the sovereignty of the other nation. Take Canada and Mexico, the two US neighbors, as examples. If the U.S. did not respect Canada's sovereignty over Quebec and treated Quebec's historical independence movement as her own problem and concern, would the U.S. and Canada have a nice and normal relationship? If the U.S. would send all the Mexican immigrants in the U.S. back to Mexico to establish a separate sovereign entity there, would Mexico and the U.S. maintain a friendly relation? The answers are sure no. The CSR issue is similar to the above hypothetical US-Canada and US-Mexico issues; why should the U.S. let the CSR spoil her relationship with China? What are the real national interest and the justification for the U.S. to interfere in the CSR issue?
The CSR issue has been a thorny issue for at least 71 years ever since the ending of the WW II. The CSR issue is actually more than a century old from a modern Chinese history perspective. In fact, the CSR has been an ancient Chinese sovereignty issue for several centuries. Taiwan was part of the ancient China (since the 15th century or earlier) from the traditional sovereignty point of view (discovery, occupation by residents of traders, farmers and/or fisherman and evidences such as documents, maps and other physical artifacts). However, the specific historical facts are not understood by the global citizens, including Americans. China's traditional sovereignty had been violated by the colonial invaders from the West (Dutch, British, Spanish, Portuguese, French, Germany, American, etc.) in the 19th and early 20th centuries. China was also a victim to the imperial invaders, Russia and Japan. China was the chief victim in Asia among her neighbors, Okinawa, the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Indo-China and India. Taiwan unfortunately had a treacherous historical background being captured by the Dutch and recovered (1621-1641, Portuguese landed in 1517 and called it Formosa) then captured by the Japanese (1895-1945) and returned to China in 1945 after Japan was defeated and surrendered in WW II. China started her revolution seeking to establish a republic state but never completed it (from toppling the Qing dynasty to forming a republic nation, in 1911). Japan's intervention with invasions (the first Sino-Japan War, 1894-5 through the second Sino-Japan War, 1937-45, included the horrible 1937 Nanking Massacre) had thwarted the Chinese revolution throughout the entire 20thcentury resulting in a fractured China.
Post WW II, China was divided and intervened again by her two war allies turned into post-war rivals, the U.S. (supporting the KMT) and the Soviet Union (supporting the CCP). The ideological confrontation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union influenced China’s unification and development and created the CSR problem existing up until today. Hindsight after the CCP embraced and abandoned the Soviet style communism and the KMT relinquished her authoritative governance to a two party democracy (KMT vs. DPP), the CSR should be a Chinese domestic issue rather than a legacy problem from the Cold War. The Cold War had ended in 1990. Taiwan and the Mainland each had gone through drastic experiences of successful economical development and advancement. Now the mainland China has become the world's second largest economy and Taiwan's economy has become an integral part of China’s economy. So why should the CSR remain an American business at all, under her One China Policy established since 1979?
Condition for US China Cooperation Leading to Better World – Part II
The CSR issue can be looked at from a geopolitical point of view. Taiwan, with her surrounding small islands situated in the Pacific Ocean, has a vital geopolitical importance to the Mainland China which can be easily understood. But why Taiwan is geopolitically important to others in the Pacific Ocean and beyond is bewildering, except (in one hegemony theory) someone intends to control Taiwan to contain China. Some countries may be concerned that the reunification may impact upon their national interests, but where is the justification of that concern? Some neighboring countries of China and the U.S. may assume that China may be an imperial invader; but historical evidence has shown otherwise. China will defend her sovereignty bitterly but she has not invaded her neighbors or anyone elsewhere. Based on the sovereignty argument discussed above, the CSR issue is a Chinese domestic issue, no one should interfere. Any interference would produce serious confrontation and destroy a normal cooperative relation. Assuming China to be an imperial invader is a false reasoning for interfering in the CSR issue; China has never been an aggressive invader or an eager meddler in international affairs. China had not taken any aggressive steps or adopted an urgent time table in resolving the CSR issue giving no one any reason to interfere with China’s CSR issue. If anyone did interfere, it would give China and the world the impression that there was an evil motive of thwarting China’s reunification. Unfortunately, the U.S. seems to have become the crucial factor in the solution of CSR.
The ‘China fear’ or ‘targeting China’ are really false policies if the goal is world peace and global prosperity. Economically, a stable and growing economy in China and in the U.S. will bring and assure global prosperity. By taking on an illegitimate sovereignty interference like CSR to suppress China’s growth can hardly be justified without being viewed as a trouble maker against China. There was no justification in creating the Taiwan Relation Act after the U.S. and China announced the joint Shanghai Communiqué which clearly spelled out the necessity of peaceful reunification. Unfortunately, the Taiwan Relation Act, although not binding the U.S. government, has been misused to turn CSR into an international issue and Taiwan a hotspot in Asia. A few neighbors of China are apparently following the US lead regarding CSR. With China's increasingly more transparent diplomacy and open collaborative global economical development programs, she is likely to allay those fears. The recent East China Sea and South China Sea turbulence are extensions of the false policies. They only strengthen China's resolve in settling the CSR problem with anxiety, possibly from no time table to a planned time table.
From the Cold War legacy, democracy and human rights were used as justification by the U.S. for intervention even regime change in foreign countries. But the results were not good; more wars were created and more social disasters resulted in the Middle East and Europe. Asia was spared until now; the ‘pivot to Asia’ seemed to create conflicts among nations and tension in the region. Hopefully, Asians can learn from the history and war events happened elsewhere and become smart enough to avoid being pushed into chaotic situations. The CSR issue can be examined also internally in Taiwan from human rights and democracy point of view. The internal complexities come from Taiwan's political struggle between political parties is a direct result out of her self-developed democracy and value system on human rights. One unfortunate phenomenon in Taiwan politics is that somehow politicians representing a small fraction of people in Taiwan can influence the majority through the faulty legislative system and the manipulative media. This phenomenon is exhibited in the social and national issues that have even been called out by the well-respected aging Buddhist, Xing Yun Da Shi. Taiwan’s politics has also twisted human rights of the aborigines, mainlanders and various factions of earlier settlers in Taiwan creating frictions among citizens. These internal complexities could be clarified eventually if external intervention from other countries would stop meddling.
These internal complexities may also be compounded by people in Mainland China, due to their lack of understanding and sensitivity of the psychological changes of Taiwan people under their own value system. Conversely the Taiwan people under the external influence may have also misunderstood the psychological feelings of the Mainland people in their view of the CSR issue. The external influence from the U.S. may be represented by the China Relation Act and her inconsistent China policy but the external influence from Japan is her continued wishful thinking to have Taiwan as a part of Japan. Unfortunately this Japanese influence was deeply implanted in Taiwan through Lee Deng Hui, Taiwan’s President (1988-2000, born and educated under Japanese occupied Taiwan) who turns out to be a deep mole (expelled by KMT in 2001 for launching a Taiwan independence party opposing reunification) for Japan with a hidden agenda in opposing reunification and pushing Taiwan to be a part of Japan - an amazing political traitor story in modern China. Lee had also successfully cultivated his protégés, Chen Shui Bian (President 2001-2008) and the current President Tsai Ying Wen (2016-).
There were some Taiwan residents granted Japanese citizenship during Japan occupation and some Japanese remained in Taiwan after Japan surrendered at the end of WW II. Though a minority, they have been the source of Taiwan’s internal complexities. They were impressed by Japan's rapid recovery with the U.S.post WW II "Occupation and Reconstruction" Plan (the Marshall Plan of the East) when Taiwan was in a very difficult economic situation, hence they have kept a strong pro-Japan sentiment. Similar to the sentiments of Japan’s right-wing faction represented by descendents of WW II participants in Japan (for example, Abe Shinzo, grandson of a charged WW II criminal), they deny and whitewash WW II history and brainwash young generations by revising textbooks. This internal problem expanded so fast in the past two decades was largely due to the deep mole, Lee Deng Hui and his proteges. The majority especially the young generations must understand and wake up from the decade long China bashing plot. The CS people in Taiwan and the Mainland both have a responsibility to tell the facts and truth to deal with this internal complexity to foster reunification. Will the truth prevail? It is very likely, since the world has begun to reexamine the history of WW II through commemorating the end of WW II. Based on the ancient and modern Chinese history, Taiwan should be and will be eventually reunified with the Mainland.
After recognizing the internal and external problems of CSR, we can discuss what solution is there for solving the CSR issue. The ‘external intervention' was the main impediment of realizing CSR; the motives behind intervention were evil aimed against a United Single China. No question that both Mainland and Taiwan must resist the external intervention. Without the external intervention, the internal complexities can be simplified and dealt with in time. Lee Deng Hui is now 94 years old, his generation and deceitful influence will wear off soon. With global open internet and free communication, the younger generations will have opportunities to receive true facts and history despite of the current DPP administration’s independence push. The interaction of CS economic development and the creation of CS job opportunities will tighten CS relation and eventually cultivate a right condition for reunification. It makes great sense for the U.S. to stay away from interfering with CSR and focus on US China cooperation.
The solution for the CSR issue is actually quite straight forward, that is, to tell the truth about history, the WW II history and the ancient Taiwan history. The truth will reverse the white wash and misunderstanding of history which had generated mistrust, induced Japan to militarize again, and caused the U.S. and China to turn from allies to adversaries. The U.S. must reflect on The Marshall Plan and the Occupation and Reconstruction Plan where the U.S. offered genuine help to Europe and Japan and derived mutual benefits. The U.S. can draw lessons from that history and appreciate that offering of genuine help to China will yield mutual benefits as well. By adopting a strategy to raise the standard of living of the 1.3 billion Chinese through a cooperative plan, the U.S. will not only develop a genuine friendly relationship with China and her people but also a thriving US economy. The U.S. will gain benefits as she did post WW II in rebuilding Europe and Japan. By truly recognizing one China and removing the CSR issue, the U.S. can direct the Taiwan Relation Act to help reunification instead of impeding it (for example, stop selling arms to Taiwan to avoid an arms race). The U.S. should formulate a China policy based on the following logic: I. CSR is China’s sovereignty issue and China’s own internal problem, II. Truly honoring one China with no interference on CSR will lead to a friendly US-China relationship, III. A better US-China relationship will lead to genuine cooperation, and IV. US China cooperation will benefit not only the U.S. and China but also the entire world!