The U.S. - China competition, arrived after two centuries of relations, does seriously affect the future of the two nations. Taiwan for historical reasons has become a key piece of this conflict. The current Taiwan government (DPP) is instigating ethnic divides and promoting independence. That approach has met with opposition from the U.S. and military threat from Mainland China for different reasons. Analysis shows that Taiwan has no role to play politically, economically and militarily in this U.S.-China competition to gain any benefit. Only by awakening to the idea that a self-initiated reunification can improve the U.S.-China relation and can give a prosperous future for Taiwan people. With reunification, there will be one strong China with two or multiple systems definable by all Chinese people.
However, China’s military power is no longer what it was. Unlike the U.S. spreading her military power over 800 bases worldwide, China’s military is focused on defending sovereignty. Therefore, China has strong defense forces in the ECS and the SCS with militarily fortified islands. Japan, South Korea, Australia, and even India, have no winning chance to challenge China. The U.S. has a strategic thinking, always wanting to fight on another country’s soil rather than on her own so she can advance and retreat at will with no impact on her citizens. But China is not a small country like the Middle East nations who cannot fight back. China has long been prepared with military deterrence against any hostile neighbor, Japan, South Korea, India, even Australia, if there is a provocation, China can strike a fatal blow, with nuclear weapons if necessary as the ultimate deterrence. Therefore, these nations are diplomatically astute in understanding this. China had declared that she won’t strike anyone first, but if anyone would strike her, it sure would receive a fatal retaliatory blow. Therefore, expecting other countries to act as pawns for the U.S. is just wishful thinking.
IV. The Role of Taiwan People in the U.S.- China Competition
In the US-China competition, the role of Taiwan people can be seen clearly from the three key perspectives: politics, economy, and military. Everyone in the world can see that. First of all, politically, the dream for independence of Taiwan’s political parties is at odds with the U.S. She does not want to see Taiwan’s independence movement to cause serious political and military confrontation with Mainland China. The small actions of the US alliance plot against China are still bounded legally and realistically by the one-China principle. This inevitable result, of course, is the consequence of China's strength today (The Centennial Celebration of CCP in China clearly exhibited China's strength). Taiwan has no role to play in politics nor diplomacy for independence. (Promoting independence will be denied by the U.S., claiming independence will be crushed by China.) The U.S. understands this. In the arena of economy, Taiwan is also in no condition to confront the Mainland. At present, TSMC, the world's leading IC chip maker, had been recruited by the U.S. as a fighter in its technology war with China, but after the fight, if the U.S. lost, Mainland China would surely dominate IC manufacturing. TSMC (and Taiwan) would have nothing to gain. If the U.S. won, the U.S. and China would decouple, and the U.S. might dominate IC manufacturing, then only the leftover business would be dangled in front of Samsung and TSMC after the U.S. companies were fed. Taiwan's trade (even global trade) had become so hopelessly dependent on China; TSMC should be careful in protecting the interests it had obtained from China. Any diversification of Taiwan's economy and trade away from China would be futile. The Northwest is the Mainland, and the East is Japan. However, Japan’s trade relies heavily on the Mainland. Taiwan's 'southward policy' is really an empty slogan. Economy and trade all depend on political and military stability, and the stability of Southeast Asia depends on China. For example, the Myanmar coup just occurred, can Taiwan not rely on the Mainland to protect its economic and trade investments there? Thinking Taiwan has economic freedom is the ostrich mentality of the current Taiwan government, a laughable notion. Taiwan has no role to play militarily either. The U.S. sells outdated arms to Taiwan but places restrictions on their use for being afraid of 'misfire' accidents causing military action from Mainland China. What is the weapon sale for? Obviously, the U.S. needs money to maintain her military and industry to compete with China, in manufacturing, technology, military, space, etc. She must sell arms and collect protection fees (Weren’t Japan, South Korea, and the EU forced to pay protection fees?). So militarily, Taiwan is simply being taken advantage of on weapon sales. The U.S. sells outdated weapons at high prices, and passes non-binding Congressional bills pacifying Taiwan, both do not cost a dime. These cheap tricks only help Taiwan’s pro-US politicians to fool the people in Taiwan. Whether or not the U.S. is good or a real backer to Taiwan can be easily seen in the history of U.S.- China relations.
The relationship between China and the United States is only two hundred years old. China has been the world's largest economic power for many centuries in its thousands of years of history. The characteristics of Chinese culture can be highlighted with the following three points: 1. pursuit of Chinese unification (historical mandate), 2. tolerance and integration of races (Chinese philosophy), and 3. Government expected to enrich the people and to strengthen the country (People's desire), but never aggression against neighbors. China's military power is defensive in nature with 'the spirit of the Great Wall'. China's nuclear weapons will never be used first or for aggression. The people of Taiwan are kind, just like the people on the Mainland culturally. They may be fooled by politicians for a while, but they will never be deceived forever. In this all-round competition between the U.S. and China, the role that Taiwan people should play is that of an awakening soul. The people on two sides of the strait have been separated for 72 years. Politically, Taiwan’s democracy has revealed its advantages and disadvantages. So has the Mainland’s one-party system. Obviously, there is no perfect system, advantages (as evidenced by all-round rapid progress made in China and Taiwan's high GPD per capita) always come with sacrifices and deficiencies. The Taiwan people should understand the meaning of the Chinese culture (the above three points). Taiwan people should wake up to the idea that only reunification can give a prosperous future for the future generations of Taiwan people. Only with reunification can there be one strong nation with two systems or multiple systems. Ultimately, it is the people who define and accept a working system. Taiwan people should realize that self-initiated reunification signifies people taking action to define a desired system. People in Taiwan waking up to this idea during the current U.S.-China competition, will benefit Taiwan, China and the world for a prosperous future!
Ifay Chang. Ph.D., Inventor, Author, TV Game Show Host and Columnist (www.us-chinaforum.org) as well as serving as Trustee, Somers Central School District.