One issue speculated in the press was whether or not Obama and Xi would discuss the Taiwan status. But it was never mentioned in their joint press conference, except President Obama reiterated his strong commitment to the United States’ One-China policy. Taiwan is going to have a presidential level election in 2016, the pro-Japan and pro-independence faction is pitting against a faction advocating peaceful reunification. If the former faction wins, it will disappoint the Mainland Chinese and many Chinese Americans who care about the future of Taiwan. The U.S. recognizes one China and supports a peaceful unification of Taiwan with the Mainland. The Taiwan issue was not on the Obama-Xi summit agenda could be simply because both Xi and Obama regard the Taiwan issue as an internal matter of China. Unfortunately, this view may not be appreciated by many people in Taiwan even many Americans. So in the following, we shall discuss the essence of Taiwan-Mainland relationship with an illustrative case.
If the population of Asian immigrants and their descendants kept growing with their productivity and wealth ever rising above average Americans in the United States, the Asian Californians may perceive an advantage of becoming independent of the United States from an economical well being point of view. Barring any foreign influence, cultural heritage consideration and security concerns, this development could be considered as a natural civil movement. The Asian Americans have a very close cultural background. The Chinese Americans would include all Chinese immigrants including the Taiwanese since one can hardly tell them apart by their cultural heritage other than their spoken dialects, similar to Mainland Fujianese and Cantonese. They share the same physical appearance (DNA etc), living habits (rice, noodle or potato as main stable), written Mandarin, and ethical philosophies (religion or otherwise). If the thought of becoming independent ever happened in California, would the rest of the United States accept it? I don't think so simply because California is a geographically and strategically important state to the United States (security concerns). I believe Americans in all other 49 states would go up in arms to prevent California to declare independence.
The political situation of Taiwan today is rather unique; its long pending issue of reunification is not like a colonial state desiring of independence or breaking away from a controlling regime due to economic stress, human rights abuse or racial violence. Taiwan has established a democratic system and achieved a high per capita income ranked about 36 in the world. There is no racial violence in Taiwan and no physical control from the Mainland government. The reunification vs. independence issue was entirely created by politics artificially over the past 120 years by foreign influence. First, the 50 years of Japanese occupation (1895-1945), was a sad history imposed on the Taiwan people simply because of Japan’s aggression which forced China to cede Taiwan to Japan - an artificial, not a natural, transition. Japan applied colonialism and tried systematically to assimilate the Taiwanese to the Japanese system as a second class citizen. 50 years was not long enough to transform a culture of thousands years of heritage. So ‘Japanizing’ Taiwan, although left some small Japanese imprint, failed to create a natural transition.
Imperial Japan surrendered and returned Taiwan to China in 1945. Unfortunately, China was artificially divided into two, the Mainland and Taiwan by a foreign influenced political process (not a natural evolution). The two major political parties in China (KMT and CCP) adhered separately to the United States and the USSR in fighting the Japanese invasion even though the two parties had the same goal to unify China into a Republic nation. This artificial division was prolonged for four decades (1949-1989) of Cold War between the U.S. and Russia, who labeled the Mainland and Taiwan artificially as archenemies as well. The four decades produced two generations of mistrust and hostility between people even though the people on two sides shared the same grandparents or great grandparents or great great grandparents.
During the Cold War period, both Mainland and Taiwan had experienced economic and political transformation. Taiwan had emerged first as a semi-democratic and economically prosperous society with enviable trade surplus making Taiwan people proud and happy. In the mean time, the Mainland had departed from the Soviet style of communism and experimented with its own economical and political reform, but not as lucky in her initial social-economic developmental experiments under Western economic sanctions. She eventually steered herself to a healthy economic development path partially adopting capitalism. In 1988, Chiang Ching-Guo, son of Chiang Kai-shek, a strong leader and reformer felt confident to lead Taiwan to a full democratic system and cultivated Lee Deng-Hui as his successor. Lee, son of a Japanese mother, a shrewd politician with background association with CCP, KMT and close tie with Japan, surprised the KMT by steering Taiwan to a pro-Japan pro-independence path. Followed by his protégé, Chen Shui-Bian, they pushed over 20 years the so called 'removing Chinese labels' and 'promoting Taiwanese labels', movements (textbook, media and college curriculum reform) to promote a pro-Japan independent Taiwan agenda. Lee now at 90 had made a last effort to visit Japan and opine Diaoyu Islands belonged to Japan, a treason act which may back-fire the pro-independence movement earnestly promoted by the new party (DPP).
Today people can easily trace their DNA to a few generations up to their great great grandparents, denying being a Chinese makes Taiwan people feel hallow and empty inside. Over the past 70 years, Taiwan is effectively an independent state with no control from Mainland. Taiwan's economy has been steadily improved with a healthy GDP growth but with trade and tourism heavily dependent on Mainland China. Taiwan has no logical reason to break away a close relationship from Mainland China to be independent. Economically it will be a disaster for Taiwan and politically nothing more will be gained over the current de facto independent administration.
With Taiwan’s presidential election coming in 2016, an anxiety is rising in Taiwan. Many people including some founding members of DPP regret that Taiwan has developed into the current turmoil state. Many young people felt hopeless in planning their future. It is obvious that Independence is not a solution to Taiwan’s future. Taiwan is a geographically and strategically important region to Mainland China just like California is to the U.S. Even if all people in Taiwan were united (but it is clearly not) to seek independence for Taiwan, the Chinese people in Mainland China would never accept it just like Americans would never accept California to be independent.