The Trouble With Taiwan: History, Identity and a Rising China: History, the United States and a Rising China 1786995220, 9781786995223

Taiwan is one of the great paradoxes of the international order. A place with its own flag, currency, government and mil

512 33 7MB

English Pages 246 [272] Year 2019

Report DMCA / Copyright

DOWNLOAD FILE

Polecaj historie

The Trouble With Taiwan: History, Identity and a Rising China: History, the United States and a Rising China
 1786995220, 9781786995223

Table of contents :
Cover
About the Authors
Title Page
Copyright
Dedication
Contents
Map – Map of Taiwan
Map – Disputed Claims in South China Sea
Acknowledgements
A Note on the Text
Acronyms
Timeline of Events
Preliminary Words
Introduction: The Great Asian Game
Chapter 1: Contested Histories: From the Ming to Today
The origins
Colonization and settlement – 17th to 20th century
Two histories – Taiwanese history in Taiwan and in the people’s republic
History and Chineseness – the divided community of the Han
A trip to the palace museum
Chapter 2: The Great Transformation: Democratization and the Impact on Taiwan’s Identity
How did Taiwan become democratic?
The 1996 elections and the Mainland
Democracy since 2000 – the rise of bread and butter issues
Return of the nationalists – 2008
The 2018 elections
Democracy is here to stay – no matter what
Chapter 3: At the Front Line of ‘Sharp Power’: Taiwan’s Relation with the People’s Republic of China
Contexts: the evolving Beijing policy framework towards Taiwan
The Xi era: nationalism redux
The cost of lack of real contact
Time to move on: PRC nationalism and the issue of Taiwan
The Taiwan PRC nexus: structural impediments
The era of sharp power
Diplomatic recognition
International organizations and international space
The economic space
Emotional and nationalist call: the fading allure of one country, two systems
Chapter 4: Worlds Apart: Taiwan’s International Space
The maze of the ‘one China principle’
The US and Taiwan
Taiwan in Asia
Taiwan’s top trading partners – 2017
The world beyond: what does Taiwan mean to and what does it want from the rest of the world?
Chapter 5: Parallel Lives: Taiwan’s Economic Identity
Taiwan’s domestic development
Taiwan’s economic development as a democracy – 1996–2008
Chapter 6: Thinking Through the Issue of Taiwan
Identity, Identity, Identity
Different kinds of space
Models of handling China and showing the limits of China
The delicate issue of status – the real reason the PRC needs Taiwan
Conclusion: The Trouble with Taiwan
Notes
Further Reading
Index

Citation preview

‘Fresh and authoritative, written with brio and precision.’ Professor Thomas Plate, author of Yo-Yo Diplomacy: An American Columnist Tackles The Ups-andDowns Between China and the US ‘Taiwan is one of the most important but least understood places in Asia today. This book provides an invaluable introduction to this potential flashpoint for future conflict between the US and China, while centring Taiwanese people in their own story as they attempt to take control of their own futures in the face of ever greater pressure from Beijing. As China’s military and diplomatic power grows, Taiwan is on the frontline in standing up to Beijing and asserting its rights for autonomy and democracy.’ James Griffiths, author of The Great Firewall of China: How To Build and Control an Alternative Version of the Internet ‘By marshalling history, biography, internal politics, and international affairs, Brown and Wu Tzu-hui address the very ‘trouble’ they describe: they help situate a Taiwan whose “place” in the world is otherwise plagued by uncertainty.’ Benjamin Zawacki, author of Thailand: Shifting Ground Between the US and a Rising China

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Kerry Brown is Professor of Chinese Studies and Director of the Lau China Institute, King’s College, London, and Associate Fellow on the Asia Programme at Chatham House. He is the author of 20 books on contemporary Chinese politics. He can be followed on Twitter @Bkerrychina, and his work can be found at www.kerry-brown.co.uk

Kalley Wu Tzu-hui is a native of Taiwan, who completed an MBA at the University of Birmingham, and has lived in the UK and Australia. She worked for a number of years in the finance sector in London.

THE TROUBLE WITH TA I WA N

H I S T O RY, T H E U N I T E D S TAT E S A N D A RISING CHINA KERRY BROWN AND KALLEY WU TZU-HUI

Taiwan: History, the United States and a Rising China, was first published in 2019 by Zed Books Ltd, The Foundry, 17 Oval Way, London SE11 5RR, UK. www.zedbooks.net Copyright © Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu-hui 2019 The right of Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu-hui to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 Typeset in Haarlemmer by seagulls.net Index by Kerry Brown Cover design by James Jones Cover photo © Shutterstock, Positiffy All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of Zed Books Ltd. A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN 978-1-78699-522-3 hb ISBN 978-1-78699-523-0 pdf ISBN 978-1-78699-524-7 epub ISBN 978-1-78699-525-4 mobi Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

To our parents

CONTENTS Map – Map of Taiwan Map – Disputed Claims in South China Sea

ix

xi

Acknowledgements

xiii

A Note on the Text

xv

Acronyms xvii Timeline of Events

xix

Preliminary Words

xxi

I N T RODU C T IO N : The Great Asian Game

1

CH APT E R 1 : Contested Histories: From the Ming

21

to Today CH APT E R 2 : The Great Transformation:

65

Democratization and the Impact on Taiwan’s Identity CH APT E R 3 : At the Front Line of ‘Sharp Power’:

101

Taiwan’s Relation with the People’s Republic of China CH APT E R 4 : Worlds Apart: Taiwan’s International Space 145 CH APT E R 5 : Parallel Lives: Taiwan’s Economic Identity

179

CH APT E R 6 : Thinking Through the Issue of Taiwan

199

CON CL U S IO N : The Trouble with Taiwan

225

Notes 231 Further Reading

237

Index 241

TAIWAN MAP

Keelung

TAIPEI

Hsinchu

FUJIAN

Yilan

Taichung

Kinmen

Changhua Nantou Yunlin Chiayi

Penghu

SOUTH CHINA SEA

Hualien

Tainan

Taitung Pingtung

Kaohsiung

Map of Taiwan

Source: https://www.chinahighlights.com/taiwan/map.htm

TAIWAN CHINA

Chinese claim

(Claims Spratly Islands)

Vietnamese claim

Philippines EEZ* claim

Paracel islands Philippines Kalayaan** claim

Scarborough Shoal

VIETNAM Malaysian claim Bruneian claim

PHILIPPINES Spratly Islands

BRUNEI MALAYSIA

Palawan

*Exclusive economic zone **Kalayaan islands, Palawan province

INDONESIA

Disputed claims in the South China Sea

Sources: D. Rosenberg/MiddleburyCollege/Harvard/AsiaQuarterly/Phil gov’t

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The authors are grateful to the Taipei Representative Office in London for their help in arranging interviews in Taipei in September 2018. They also express their thanks to all of those who, over the last decade or more, hosted events, and arranged briefings, on Taiwanese issues, inside and outside Taiwan. They would like to thank Kim Walker at Zed Books for commissioning the book, to Emma Schleifer for reading the manuscript and for comments, and to Linda Auld for her editing. A small amount of material drawn on in the text has been taken from research produced by the authors in earlier work. This has been clearly marked, and has been significantly revised and updated. We should make clear that the opinions and interpretations expressed in this work are entirely those of the authors.

x iii

A NOTE ON THE TEXT

A note about the background and reasons for writing this book. One of the authors is Taiwanese, though currently resident in the UK, and, from 2012 to 2015, Australia, since 2005. The other has mostly engaged with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) since 1991, but has visited Taiwan over 25 times, the first time in 2000. This mix of perspectives has hopefully created something a little different to the usual treatment on issues around the island. There is, it has to be stressed, excellent scholarship by scholars inside and outside Taiwan on its history, politics, and almost every conceivable aspect of its society and development. Much of this is in English. In the UK, US and Australia, there are world class centres and networks focused on Taiwanese issues. This book does not, and could not, compete in terms of detail and specialization with this material. What it tries to do is to update, and disseminate, discussion of a set of key issues Taiwan faces that matter, sometimes in different ways, to the rest of the globe, particularly as the world moves into a complex period where globalization and identity seem to clash against each other in the era of Trump and Brexit. These also involve complicated questions of ethnicity and its meaning, values and what the future of democracy and the freedoms it is predicated on might be. In some ways, therefore, this is a book about those issues, using the case of Taiwan because of its pertinency and urgency. Some of the ideas that follow came from participation in different kinds of seminars, conferences, and forum related to xv

A note on the text

Taiwan in Europe, the US, Australia, the PRC, and, of course Taiwan, over the last decade, particularly since 2008, and the start of the Ma Ying-jeou presidency. Some of these were track two dialogues involving experts working on diplomatic issue, or as part of delegations to Taiwan. The most recent material, referred to in the text, is from interviews carried out in early September 2018 in Taiwan by both authors of key officials, academics, and people in think tanks.

xvi

ACRONYMS

ASEAN – Association of South East Asian Nations BRI – Belt and Road Initiative CPC – Chinese Communist Party DPP – Democratic Progressive Party ECFA – Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement GDP – Gross Domestic Product ICAA – International Civil Aviation Authority IMF – International Monetary Fund KMT – Kuomingtang – Guomingdang, the Nationalist Party PLA – People’s Liberation Army PRC – People’s Republic of China ROC – Republic of China WHA – World Health Authority WTO – World Trade Organization

x v ii

TIMELINE OF EVENTS

1624 Dutch occupation 1644 Collapse of the Ming Dynasty and Foundation of the Qing in China 1650s Spanish occupation 1662 Koxinga era 1684 Era of Qing control 1895 Secession of the island to the Japanese as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki 1911 Collapse of the Qing. Republic of China founded 1937 Commencement of the Sino-Japanese War 1945 Victory over the Japanese; Taiwan is made part of the Republic 1946–1949 Chinese Civil War 1949 Defeat of the Nationalists and establishment of RoC on Taiwan 1971 PRC replaces RoC as a member of the United Nations 1972 Signing of Shanghai Communique between PRC and the US which announces the ‘One China Principle’ 1975 Death of Chiang Kai-shek 1979 US changes formal diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the PRC 1980s Lifting of martial law and tolerance of union, civil society and other groups x ix

T i m el i ne of Events

1988 Death of Chiang Ching-kuo 1996 Holding of first ever universal franchise democratic elections in Taiwan. Success for Nationalist candidate Lee Teng-hui 2000 Election for opposition leader for DPP, Chen Shuibian, in second set of elections 2004 Re-election of Chen Shui-bian 2008 Election of KMT’s Ma Ying-jeou as president 2009 Signing of Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement between PRC and ROC 2012 Re-election of Ma. Appointment of Xi Jinping as Party Secretary of the Communist Party of China in Beijing 2014 Widespread protests in Taiwan, called the Sunflower Revolution 2015 President Ma meets President Xi Jinping in Singapore, the first meeting between leaders of the two since 1949 2016 Election of Tsai Ing-wen of the DPP

xx

PRELIMINARY WORDS

What is the problem of Taiwan? In essence, despite all the complexity described in this and many other works on the issue it boils down to something very simple. That is not a geopolitical or a cultural or a political matter so much as a philosophical one. Can you call something you see and understand before you the word you want to, or do you have to use another enforced by someone else? If you see an elephant, and know it is an elephant, in what ways can someone else tell you you cannot use that word about what you see, and, as importantly, what you understand you see? On this level, Taiwan is fundamentally an issue about freedom and its limits and meaning in the modern world. At the heart of this book is description and analysis of a struggle over this issue of something – in this case Taiwan – having all the attributes of being a state, from its own territory, to a military, to its own president, postal service, legal system and (most crucial of all) identity – and yet for many not formally being granted the label of state. This is done because of the beliefs and convictions of others – in particular the PRC – rather than from any belief it holds about itself. The implications of the ways in which this control has been exercised and achieved are the core problem discussed in this book: the xxi

Prel i m i na ry W ords

question, in the end, of in what ways a thing is what it is, or what someone else says it is. That is why the Taiwan issue is fundamentally a philosophical one: it concerns the battle over meanings and how to best determine and understand them, and who has control over this. There is an extra level of urgency over the issue of Taiwan however, and one that needs to be made clear right at the start of this work. Under the leadership of President Xi Jinping in the PRC since 2012, nationalism has risen markedly. The aspiration of the country to achieve great nation status has intensified. There is a hunger as never before to resolve what is called the ‘Taiwan issue’. On this, emotions rather than rationality dominate. While still thankfully unlikely, the possibility of Xi trying, by physical force or coercion, to achieve this resolution has increased. China’s inexorable rise is a subject that has come to dominate foreign policy across the world. After a century and a half of marginality and misfortune, it seems that this great, ancient civilization is poised as never before to experience its moment of renaissance and modernize on its own terms. A clumsy move on Taiwan, and an attempt to deal with the island in ways that do not factor in the issues raised in this book, particularly over identity, would be a tragedy, not just for Taiwanese, but for the PRC, who would see their global reputation collapse, and usher in a period of ostracization, mistrust and condemnation from which they might never recover. The Taiwan issue is the great litmus test for the PRC’s fitness to be a global power. Wise and prudent management of it will be challenging, but prove that Beijing truly has a positive international role. Impatient, ill-judged actions will support x x ii

Prel i m i n a ry W or d s

the opposite, and will be the things most likely to scupper the country’s hard won chances of achieving its most powerful dreams. On this issue above all others, the stakes could not be higher. And that is why thinking about Taiwan is of critical importance – wherever people are and whatever their interests might be. Finally, a note on terminology. The authors have striven to write a book that is impartial, and concentrates on the structural underlying determinants between the PRC and ROC. Because of the multiple complexities of the ‘One China’ policies and the diplomatic positions of many key players, they have referred to Taiwan throughout either by its name, by Republic of China (ROC) or by the simple descriptor ‘the island’. This indicates neither acceptance or rejection of the political claims of anyone involved in the Taiwan issue. It simply indicates that the most unproblematic language in this area is the one that everyone can accept – Taiwan is an island that sometimes goes under the name of Republic of China. No other terms are deployed. Nor have they used the phrase ‘China’ because of its overlapping and different meanings but have made clear throughout that they are either speaking about the PRC (the Mainland) or the ROC (Taiwan).

x x iii

INTRODUCTION THE GREAT ASIA N GAM E

In late 2018, the restaurant chain Din Tai Fung opened its first European branch in London’s Covent Garden. Over the next few days, queues stretched out of the door along the street, meaning some people had to wait four hours to taste the signature small pork dumplings (xiao long bao) that the many kitchen hands in the restaurant produced. Most though admitted, despite the cold and the inconvenience, it was worth it. Visitors to Asia are familiar with the chain and its distinctive three-character logo. Branches exist in Singapore, Shanghai, Sydney, and Beijing. In the home city of Taipei, there are almost a dozen. The oldest, a modest building in the central part of the city, is akin to a place of pilgrimage for gourmets. The company, founded almost by accident in the 1970s, is proud to say it was one of the earliest in the whole region to gain a Michelin star. And over the years, its loyal, large following have been rewarded with the occasional innovation – prawn fried rice, or chicken soup. The company’s founder Yang Bingyi, however has been adamant. To maintain standards, the chain needed to stick with what it did best. It also had to achieve high levels of service and be able to source good quality ingredients locally. That was one of the reasons why the London opening was so anticipated, so hard to achieve, 3

Introducti on

and such a big deal. It had been mooted for over three years before actually happening, with rumours swirling around each year that finally the chain was going to set up shop. Locations speculated ran from Tottenham Court Road to a place near Westminster. The arrival of Din Tai Fung in Britain’s capital showed that finally one of Taiwan’s most loved companies was able to achieve the levels it wanted in a European centre and start to expand and develop there. Those that visit the location of the restaurant’s headquarters, Taipei in Taiwan, will know how important food is to the residents there. The city is one of the great gourmet capitals of the world – a place where excellent Japanese, Chinese, and Western food can be enjoyed, always with the most solicitous service, often in excellent surroundings. That is part of the reason why the place is so popular with tourists (record numbers visited in 2018, despite the downturn in numbers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) – more on that later). And food is not something only the élite and those with money can enjoy. In the famed Shilin night market, for just a few dollars people can sample anything from local meat delicacies, some with exotic ingredients, to simple sweets and vegan snacks. The city appears to be planned and structured on eating, with everyone having a map in their head of the best places to go to satisfy their hunger and their taste buds. Eating is akin to a religion, with every restaurant a different place of worship. The same is true throughout the rest of the island. From the central areas down to the south, each district has some local delicacy it is proud of and which to some extent brands 4

I ntroducti on

it. Much of it is seafood-based. Freshness is an absolute prerequisite. And for a small, densely populated area, the range of ingredients is extraordinary. But Taiwan’s cuisine is not just a testament to the high expectations of the local population. It is a key area where one can see their complexity and hybridity. Japanese and Chinese influences mix with local ones. American food testifies to the depth of the links with their main ally. There is fusion cuisine in abundance, with the blending of French nouveau cooking with northern Chinese rural fare. Din Tai Fung is a style of cuisine with its roots in the north east of the Mainland and the many different kinds of meat and vegetable dumplings produced there. More than anything else, the things people eat in Taiwan are symbolic of their rich and varied lives and backgrounds, and the complex variety of influences on them, from their intermixed histories, and their hybrid identity. If anything testifies to the diversity and the uniqueness of Taiwan, then it is the food eaten by Taiwanese and their attitude to it. Like its food, Taiwan is not an easy place to conceptualize and put into one neat category. It is a place with a very distinctive identity, which makes it almost sui generis. One thing in particular makes it stand out. It has all of the markers of a sovereign state, compounded by the fact that it is an island, with very clear boundaries where the land meets the sea (plus a few subsidiary islands). It is a place with its own flag, currency, military, and national anthem. It even has its own time, with years marked on the system that affirms the foundation of the Republic of China (ROC) in 1911 after the collapse of the Qing imperial Dynasty that year, after over two centuries in 5

Introducti on

power. 2019 therefore is year 108. The island has a president, and political parties. The Nationalist (Kuomingtang, or KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) are the two main ones, but there are plenty more. Many of them were created in the last decade as politics has grown more contentious, something that will be discussed later. It is also a place where there is a clear sense of what it means to be Taiwanese, with most now describing themselves simply by that title. Taiwan participates in the Olympics under its own flag, is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), and is diplomatically recognized as a country by, as of the beginning of 2019, 17 other nations. Despite all this, for the United Nations (UN), for the remainder of the world, apart from the 17 countries mentioned above, and in particular for the vast neighbour to the north (the PRC), Taiwan is not, and cannot describe itself the way most of its people believe it is. Taiwanese when they travel to the PRC cannot use their country passports with the terms ‘ROC’ and ‘Taiwan’ clearly marked on the cover. Increasingly, when they try to book plane tickets on international carriers, they will see their country described as ‘Chinese Taipei’. As international airlines like KLM and others started to succumb to Beijing pressure from 2017, this phenomenon of the renaming or relabelling of Taiwan on websites became increasingly conspicuous, another sign of the Xi Jinping era from the Mainland trying to tighten its grip on the island’s inter­ national space. Nor is this a purely abstract occurrence. When Taiwanese are abroad, they will often spend time explaining to people unfamiliar with their situation that while they speak Chinese, and they may well be predominantly of Han Chinese 6

I ntroducti on

ethnicity, a identifying label that 95 per cent of the island’s population use to describe themselves, the same kind of figure for the main ethnic grouping in the PRC, they are not residents or citizens of the PRC. They can even declare they are residents of the Republic of China (ROC), and why this differs from the People’s Republic, and, if they are particularly patient, try to convey the complex history of how this situation came about. Whether their story will be understood that easily by whoever they are talking to is another matter. Like it or not, Taiwanese, from the day they are born, in dealing with the issue of how they see their own identity, also have to factor in how to react to the way others interpret and understand this aspect of their lives. British, Americans, and Japanese can go around the world with only the insane questioning their national identity, but for Taiwanese they have to deal with persistent questions and confusion about who they are. In order to manage this, each and every one of them, in different ways, has to work out a path to state where they come from that does not become a source of contestation and confrontation because of the visible and invisible restrictions and boundaries put in place largely by others. Whether they like it or not, through causes and forces which are not of their choice, and which arose before most of the people on the island had been born, this intimate, fundamental aspect of their lives is problematized and highly politicized. To say one is Taiwanese is an act heavy with political meaning and significance in ways that just is not the case when one says one is Australian or Brazilian.

7

Introducti on

Tongue Twisters: The Issue of Language, and Correct Words, when Speaking about Taiwan

For anyone unfamiliar with the Taiwanese issue and the unique set of problems and controversies surrounding it, the task of getting used to a specific set of words – a subdiscourse as it were – that are deployed when talking about what Taiwan, is becomes important from early on. These are necessitated by the contentious nature of Taiwan’s status as outlined above; that is, the ways in which there are very different interpretations and recognitions of the island, and how different parties try to control the language used, and therefore the sets of meanings that can emanate from this. Amongst the most difficult is the term used to describe what Taiwan actually is. In a later chapter, the contortions around trying to handle this in a way that does not end up being dragged to one side or the other of the argument around Taiwan’s status will be discussed in more detail. But almost as soon as one starts to deal with, think about, or even seek to know more about, Taiwan, one has a choice. Does one simply use ‘Taiwan’, the name, technically, of the largest island that makes up the entity we are talking about? Or, alternatively, does one deploy ‘Republic of China’, the political entity that exists on Taiwan island, and that has de facto control today over that and the islands around it, but still historically claims it is a continuation of the Republican government? This had control over the whole of the Greater China area from the fall of the Qing in 1911 till defeat by the Communists in the Civil War in 1949. On the other hand, the PRC government asserts that Taiwan is simply a ‘province’, and insists, with 8

I ntroducti on

increasingly fierceness in the last few years since the ascent of Xi Jinping in 2012, that maps, descriptions and other information not just within the PRC, but overseas, must adhere to this description. Those refusing to bow to this pressure usually get waves of indignant protest in a bid to make them change to what is regarded as the more appropriate language. Things, alas, become more complicated even than this. For the Olympics, and during other international events or in multilateral organizations in which Taiwan is involved, or a member of, it often carries the baffling label ‘Chinese Taipei’. Trying to construct a realistic, neutral language that navigates between these various different terms and the political convictions underpinning them means that in a book like this, in order to ensure at least some impartiality, a combination of ‘Taiwan’, and ‘Republic of China’, and, often, simply ‘the island’ are used. Nor is ‘China’ itself any easier to handle in this context. ‘China’ can mean a territory that stretches up to the borders of the current Mongolian People’s Republic and the Russian Federation, because this was the greatest extent of the Qing empire up to 1911. But the People’s Republic of China, in existence since 1949, only claims a border along the southern edge between Mongolia and the Inner Mongolian Autonomous Region in the PRC itself. That the Republic of China on Taiwan does not recognize the right of the PRC over its territory, and has historically claimed to be the legitimate ruler of the whole of the greater Chinese territory, inclusive of today’s Mongolia, means one has to use the inelegant term ‘Greater China’ to try to embrace these two 9

Introducti on

opposed, and different, entities saying they occupy broadly similar spaces in one concept. That can most accurately and non-contentiously be described as a ‘common linguistic area’ (even though of course there are big differences in dialects and often languages within this area), or a ‘common cultural area’ and, in some places, ‘the Chinese- speaking world’. ‘Greater China’ is the language used for instance by some corporations and diplomatic organizations when they try to give a unified, but impartial term, to their PRC and Taiwan operations, but wish to avoid looking like they are stating anything about the different claims and aspirations of the two main elements covered. Often, the phrase ‘Mainland’ is used, meaning the PRC as it currently exists in terms of territory it actually controls. And then there is the problem of what one actually calls the citizens of Taiwan. ‘Taiwanese’ would seem to be an uncontentious enough term meaning residents of a physical place called Taiwan. But when one travels around the PRC, one comes across the strange language of ‘compatriots’ (tongbao), which is used at airports and in other places to describe facilities for the use of those from the island. And instead of being able to use their passports, as stated above, Taiwanese in the PRC have to use a special permit, called a ‘Compatriot ID for Taiwanese’. In the Chinese language, this means talking about Taiwan in the Mandarin of the PRC, and talking about it in Taiwan often creates a totally different sounding language.

10

I ntroducti on

One of the reasons Taiwan matters is because it is clearly a major geopolitical issue. The island’s challenges due to its status have been called, alongside North Korea and its division from South Korea, the last residue of the Cold War era from the end of the Second World War in 1945 when the world was divided into allies of the US and those of the USSR-Communist group of countries. As the Republic of China, there are many in Taiwan to this day who still regard themselves as the legitimate controllers of the fate of the great Chinese nation and its destiny, though to be fair this cohort is dwindling. Taiwan has been a democracy since 1996, and a close ally of the USA, something, as will be argued later, that has had a profound impact on the identity of the island and the way people define themselves there. As a security partner it sits in the dense, interlocked and highly contentious network of alliances and interests disputing different parts of the East and South China Sea. In some of these disputes it has its own unique claims. It is a significant economy, ranking around 15th largest in the world in 2018, and a globally important part of the supply chain through its pre-eminence in superconductors and other hi-tech products through companies like Foxconn, Hon Hai Precision Electronics, and Taiwan Semiconductors. This geopolitical dimension to the story of Taiwan is often the dominant one, and ends up blocking out everything else. In this context Taiwan’s story is told as a high level, strategic one as though that is the only story there to be told. Particularly in recent years, as the PRC has grown more prominent, the island figures as a component of a great Asian game, in which 11

Introducti on

Beijing and Washington weave their intentions and competitive desires towards each other across the geography of the region, embroiling Taiwan in their machinations, subsuming it as part of this immense strategic fight. Such a scenario was the one that started to unfold more clearly in early 2017, when the American President-elect at that time, Donald Trump, implied he did not stand by the ‘One China Principle’ the US itself had constructed in the 1970s, whereby they only diplomatically recognized one party between the PRC and Taiwan, something that will be described in more detail later. He backed this up by putting a call through to the President in Taipei Tsai Ing-wen, elected in 2016, the first time such a thing had happened since 1979 when US diplomatic recognition had shifted to Beijing. The response from the Chinese leadership was shrill, though less vocal than many expected, at least on the surface. This issue of anything that looked even remotely like recognition of Taiwanese independence has consistently been stated as one of their red lines for the last few decades. But from this time, a tightening of the space around Taiwan has occurred, with more and more pressures on its agency. Beijing may not have been shouting out its opposition, but it was certainly silently expressing what it felt through its actions, and often very effectively. The domination of this political story over all others has one clear practical result: it robs key actors at the centre of the tale being told – the Taiwanese themselves – of a fundamental part of their identity. Because of politics, Taiwanese are not allowed to book flights saying their nationality is Taiwanese for some international airlines, or find their place 12

I ntroducti on

of citizenship described as a country in many organizations. This is not because this is their choice or accords with their own beliefs about themselves, but because it is something mandated by the demands of others. Nor can one impute this phenomenon solely to the actions of the PRC. Often, the choice about how to describe Taiwan by others is made on the basis of calculations or presumptions about how Beijing might respond, not according to any real knowledge of how it actually will. Young Taiwanese particularly live in a world where they need to navigate complex issues about how they are regarded, and how they see themselves, with very little in the way of easy options or spaces for them to express this. Their voices are often heard either distorted or set alongside those of others, who contest or complicate what they have to say about who they are and how they can speak about themselves. In ways markedly different to citizens elsewhere, and very often unique, whether they like it or not the lives of young Taiwanese are politicized because of the contested nature of their identity. They themselves carry a heavy burden, even though their personal preferences and interests might have nothing remotely to do with politics. This book would not try to portray Taiwanese as victims, despite these restraints arising from the context of their lives. In many ways, companies like Din Tai Fung are representative of the resources of soft power that the island has and the great impact its 23 million people make on the world. And as will be argued later in this book, in terms of their management of the quandaries and challenges of dealing with a partner who matters to them economically, but who also figures as their 13

Introducti on

greatest strategic threat and competitor, the Taiwan model of PRC engagement is one the rest of the world is increasingly showing interest in and needing to understand. As it has risen to the top of most growth and trade indicators, the PRC’s place globally and its impact on that world has also expanded immeasurably. In 2019, it figured as the largest trading partner of more than 120 countries. From its situation only four decades ago in the late 1970s when it barely registered at all, this is an incredible, and unexpected, transformation. But it has done this with a political model in which a Communist Party continues to enjoy a monopoly on power. This has remained unchanged since 1949. For this reason, almost by accident, more and more countries are finding themselves in the same position Taiwan has always been in – having, as their largest economic partner, a country whose political values they fundamentally don’t agree with. But again, seeing Taiwan solely as a case study of how to manage the PRC would be far too limiting. Thinking about Taiwan is important for what it says about universal issues of identity, of belonging, of the relationship between the local and the global. These have a generic significance. They do not relate just to a specific geography and solely have meaning in that. For most Taiwanese, the daily experience of life in a world with this division between security and economy is not as turbulent as it might sound. Visitors to the capital Tapei or elsewhere in the island see a place with good infrastructure, healthcare, low levels of crime, high levels of education. They go to a place where public transport operates efficiently, and the restaurants and bars are full on weekend nights 14

I ntroducti on

with people enjoying themselves the same as anywhere else. Taiwan’s politicians might say, truthfully, that there are over 1000 war heads pointed at them across the Strait, and that they live in a neighbourhood where they can never relax. In recent years, it is claimed, the tentacles of the central Chinese state on the Mainland have attempted to reach deep into their world, interfering with and infiltrating the island politically and economically. Even so, for those visiting who expect to see a place under siege, they will find life goes on. A high level of normality prevails. More drama comes from the challenges posed by seasonal weather patterns and increasingly powerful typhoons due to global warming than to any unwanted collateral arising from the Chinese military poised around the edges of the Mainland coast. The focus on the individual experience of the Taiwanese, and of the way these larger issues figure in their daily lives, will be an important part of this book. Through paying attention to an example like Taiwan we grow to know more about what it is like to live in a world where others with different attitudes and ambitions figure in our lives in ways that are challenging, and sometimes unwelcome. We can also see what strategic tactics we might be able to take, even at this level, to deal with this tension between the local and the global, and between competing elements that constitute our identity. In many ways, too, while it is all too often forgotten, the Taiwanese have created a unique, hybrid culture and society, something that blends important strands of Asian and Western thinking and beliefs together, and made something dynamic and truly modern. Examples of this will be given later in the book. 15

Introducti on

Thinking about Taiwan matters because of issues like this: the creative fusion of different ideas and traditions and values, and the creation of something fresh. But it also matters across a range of other areas. Looking more closely at Taiwan and understanding the island and its culture more clearly shows something about the challenges of trying to reconcile overarching, large senses of cultural belonging to ones which are more local, intimate and personal, and the tensions and different pulls that can occur in this space. Like everyone in the era of late modernity, the Taiwanese live a layered life, on several different levels, and their identity is the outcome of how these are related to each other and synthesized. The Taiwanese are members of local communities, national ones, and then super national. But there are clear tensions within this. Some describe their cultural identity with the word ‘‘Chinese’ in the label (usually combined with Taiwanese), and yet this is a bespoke and very specific version of the term. As the French or Germans can call themselves Europeans, and Malaysians or Indonesians use the label ‘‘Asian’, for the Taiwanese their use of the term ‘‘Chinese’ comes loaded with a set of constraints and conditions. This teaches us a lot about the complexities of cultural identity in the 21st century where people everywhere are often torn between different ways of seeing themselves and understanding who they are – and to which culture they belong. Thinking about the Taiwanese use of a term like ‘Chinese’ and how it does or doesn’t relate to them shows how these larger descriptions of identity can easily become objects of political manipulation and sites of sharp contestation. Whose 16

I ntroducti on

‘Chineseness’ is one talking about in the end– that of the Mainland, or of Taiwan? Which can claim to be the real one? Or can they all happily co-exist beside each other? One of the characteristics of the island is the ways in which many of its inhabitants see themselves to some extent as ethnically and culturally ‘Chinese’ but not ‘Chinese’ in the sense in which they could be said to be citizens, or followers, of the Mainland and its often highly politicized iterations of this term. They are clearly aware of the political perils contained in using this word. When an invading army comes to annex a place, its soldiers go for key strategic places – ports, airports, and broadcasting stations. In many ways, in the linguistic area, it is almost as though the strategy of the Beijing government is to annex and police this term ‘Chinese’, because of its key importance. In Taiwan, we can see the attempt by the PRC to curtail local agency by control of the key terms that lie at the heart of the verbal expression of that agency. ‘Chinese’ is the most central of all of these. Taiwan also makes us think about the relationship between tradition and modernity in identity issues, and how they can coexist, particularly in a context where often hierarchy, set gender roles and the prevalence of Confucian values have been so strongly asserted. Taiwan is clearly a place where what is called ‘traditional Chinese values’ have been preserved. This has happened in contrast to the PRC where events like the Cultural Revolution from 1966 saw much of this swept away or violated. The Taiwanese have created a successful model therefore of how modernity can embrace tradition but also develop a unique and different outcome. This is something 17

Introducti on

others struggling with the same set of issues can look at and learn from. And more prosaically, but very tangibly, looking at Taiwan reveals a great deal about what the new concept of PRC ‘sharp power’ looks like. On Taiwan island, Mainland power no longer remains something concealed and hidden but is all too often out in the open. As one interviewee stated in September 2018, while the authors were in Taiwan, ‘We are on the front line of dealing with PRC sharp power’. This has immense lessons for the rest of the world as they start to learn how to engage with, conceptualize and understand this new phenomenon. This shows above all a sharp clash of values, and the kinds of strategies that can be used to either manage these, or contest them. For all the uniqueness of Taiwan’s contemporary predicament, too, it is important to remember the Taiwanese and their leaders face a menu of generic challenges that are familiar across the rest of the world. They are starting to experience the impact of an ageing population. Taiwan has one of the lowest birth rates in the world. Already its demography is beginning to show the greying phenomenon. A new immigration law promoted by Tsai Ing-wen from 2017 has tried to address this, with more flexible routes to moving to live and work in the island. But the success and impact of this will take decades to properly assess. This is discussed later. Taiwan’s environment has suffered as much as any other from rapid industrialization and urbanization, with air quality, soil quality and water quality all poor. Its citizens have experienced flat economic growth for a number of years, with property prices prohibitive, and high pressure on young people as never before to make a 18

I ntroducti on

living despite stagnant wages and rising living costs. On top of this, pension and healthcare charges are rising unrelentingly. European, American and other developed economies all speak a common language of challenge when they meet with Taiwanese interlocutors. And Taiwan has to face these issues and seek solutions with all the signs of deep-seated division and lack of consensus about what to do about globalization in its population, as testified to in the 2018 local elections. For all these reasons, knowing about Taiwan and the challenges and specific issues the island faces is important. This is not some obscure, remote issue, left only to regional and Asian specialists. Nor is it important solely because of the usual reason given, that of geopolitics and the embedded issue of competition and potential conflict between the US and China. Taiwan matters because it says something important and profound about one of the key issues –perhaps the key issue of our time – identity, and how this works on many levels, sometimes in ways that create tension and struggle. Thinking about Taiwan means thinking about a set of challenges and problems that have many global elements, and plenty of global ingredients. To start to understand these properly, we have to fit them into a narrative that at least explains in straightforward terms what their historic background is. To that we now turn.

19

CHAPTER 1

CONTESTED HISTORIES FROM T HE MING TO TODAY

History matters to understanding contemporary Taiwan, and to trying to address the suite of questions alluded to in the Introduction. Taiwanese identity, the current geopolitical situation of the island, and even the nature of its food culture, are derived from the complex confluence of different historic events and influences that have made the place what it is and shaped its pathway to the present. The residue of this history is a source of cohesion and solidarity, but also of disagreement and contention. For the outside world, supplying a coherent narrative to make sense of these is one of the greatest challenges. Taiwan has histories, rather than a history. These relate to the long and ancient path of the aborigine communities in the space now called Taiwan, and then the separate waves of different migration periods, right up to the modern era. The most disruptive and momentous of these were from 1947 to 1949 when large numbers fled from the Mainland to the island, seeking refuge there after Nationalist defeat in the 1946–1949 Civil War. The traumatic impact of this has only started being addressed in recent years. It brought fresh fissures and divisions within the settled hybrid, mixed population, with new expressions and manifestations of social and political dominance. Comprehending these also depends in part on where 23

C hap ter 1

one stands. Taiwanese identity and its history as it faces the outside world involves one set of issues. But these, when seen internally, become something very different. Who can claim to be ‘true Taiwanese’ in this space – and where is the boundary between those who can, and can’t, be embraced within this overarching concept?

THE ORIGINS Making sense of Taiwan’s geography is central. Understanding the context of the physical space where it is located helps hugely in understanding it. Existing at a maritime crossroads, with the East China Sea, the South China Sea, the Luzon Strait and the Philippine Sea around its boundaries, the political territory encompasses the main island, and then the lesser outer islands of Quemoy, Pengu, Matsu and Wuqiu, with over 160 smaller formations which technically rank as islands, but which are mostly uninhabited, and uninhabitable. The climate is subtropical, the winters damp and cool, the summers often humid, with temperatures in recent years reaching into the 30s, sometimes touching 40 degrees centigrade plus. Nor is this a placid physical terrain. Typhoons often strike the area, some of them causing widespread destruction. There are also frequent earthquakes. On the western side of the main landmass, which constitutes 99 per cent of the present territory of the Republic of China (ROC), the flat plains serve as the location for most of the population. Two thirds of the rest is mountainous, dominating the eastern side. Taiwan is a highly urbanized society, a very developed one, with excellent high speed and motorway 24

C ontested Hi stor i e s

links, its people occupying a relatively small area even of the moderate sized geographical entity they live on. The island is not bounteous. It is not favoured with rich agricultural and mineral resources. In any case, exploiting these would not be easy. Taiwan is too densely occupied in the places where human habitation is easiest to set aside much land for growing rice or rearing livestock. Its surrounding seas have been the source for much of the food for the population in the past. Through a large part of the history of the region down to the last century, in many ways Taiwan figured as a place that was often politically remote – marginal and marginalized to the great centres either in Tokyo when the island was under Japanese control from 1895 to 1945, or Beijing, in the brief period when the Greater China area was one unified entity from 1945 to 1949. This should not denigrate the immense strategic importance of the Taiwanese islands. They sit in one of the world’s great sea ways, a place which, as the economies of Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and then China and Hong Kong have grown around them, has become increasingly important. A mere 100 kilometres from the Mainland, Taiwan’s strategic importance is self-evident. But its history, and the telling of that history, helps explain a lot of the confusing and complex identity of the island and the people who now live on it. If one were to listen solely to the master narratives which have emanated from Beijing since 1949, the matter is a straightforward one. Taiwan island has always been part of the territory of the People’s Republic, and of the predecessor states, back into ancient times. It is a Chinese place, a Chinese territory, an inviolable part of the great family of the 25

C hap ter 1

Chinese nation, something which has an almost transcendent reality and existence. But for anyone who visits the museum of Taiwanese aboriginal history opposite the more famous Palace Museum in the capital, Taipei, things immediately become more complicated. There was a clearly delineated habitus here long before anyone of Han Chinese ethnicity came to the island. The earliest inhabitants of this space were not Chinese. They originated from elsewhere, part of the Austronesian group that now has populations in the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, and embraces the Maori population as far afield as New Zealand. This group may well have originated from the landmass now occupied by the PRC and other countries, but it came to Formosa island, the place now called Taiwan, over five millenniums ago, and to this day over 2 per cent of the Taiwanese population define themselves as part of this group ethnically. It is as distinctive in terms of language, cultural behaviour and beliefs to the Han as, for instance, white Russian, Japanese or other ethnic groupings. Nor is it a marginal group. There are approximately 400 million of the world’s population who currently define themselves as part of this community. Until the first significant settlements in the Chinese Ming Dynasty (1367–1644) of those from the Mainland, historic Formosa was dominated by the ancestors from this Austronesian group. After the migrations from Ming China the destiny and identity of the island gradually changed. But that doesn’t alter the fact that its involvement in the history of the Mainland is a recent phenomenon. There was no Tang Taiwan in the 7th to the 10th century, or Song or Yuan Taiwan from the 10th to 26

C ontested Hi stor i e s

the 14th, key dynasties on the Mainland. Even for the Ming and Qing, Taiwan history is complicated and does not follow a neat linear thread. To compound the issue, the situation of indigenous Taiwanese history had never been an easy one to tell, even in the era of democratic and more transparent and open politics on the island. It has all too often been silenced, ignored, and covered over. As the contemporary writer Wu He’s epic, often complex novel, ‘Remains of Life’, published in Chinese in 1999 testifies, native islanders were subjected to horrific violence and brutality during the Japanese occupation in the 1930s. This novel in particular concerns a tribal uprising against Japanese rule in 1930 and the reprisals against those who rebelled.1 In the famed 28 February 1947 incident almost two decades later (the 228 Incident, after the month and day, as it is now called), it was once more aborigines who bore a significant brunt of the reprisals against opposition and dissent to so much Mainland-derived and Nationalist settlement. In this movement, remembrance of which was suppressed for decades, a collection of local activists demonstrated against the incoming Nationalist forces fleeing defeat on the Mainland and were savagely quelled in the White Terror that followed this. Throughout the early Nationalist period in power, indigenous Taiwanese were subjected to the same constraints, and racial prejudice as other subjugated and colonized people facing iniquitous power structures elsewhere. Only in recent years have these groups, and those sympathetic to them, given voice to this ‘whispered history’, with its long eras of concealment and suppression. The space allowed to this history, of course, faces the monolithic but constructed certainty of the 27

C hap ter 1

Beijing-story, where Taiwan only figures as a Chinese entity. It also has to avoid the recruitment of those who would politicize the issue in favour of independence with all of the geopolitical and diplomatic pitfalls that entails. Indigenous Taiwanese history has to be recognized as a major factor contributing to the histories and the current identity of the island, no matter what kind of political interpretation is finally bestowed on it. That much, at least, has to be accepted today when thinking through what Taiwanese identity is.

C O L O N I Z AT I O N A N D S E T T L E M E N T – 17TH TO 20TH CENTURY Colonization is a loaded term. It carries the highly critical discourse that has been erected against processes of colonization in the rest of the world, with the often unhappy results these entailed, and the way they sit so uneasily within the context of equality and globalization in the 21st century. Even so, it is a hard word to avoid when talking of how it was that Formosa island became predominantly one inhabited by people largely of Chinese Han ethnicity. As the scholar of Taiwan, Bruce Jacobs, writing of the history of the island has stated, there have been waves of different settlers. He argues for six distinctive periods in the last four centuries. Settlers in this period ‘repressed Taiwanese and ruled Taiwan in the interests of the rulers from overseas’. 2 This emotive language raises questions about the interaction and agency of the various different communities that existed on the island as these processes of external involvement continued. It alludes to the 28

C ontested Hi stor i e s

fact that there was a consistent process of interaction between those already present on the island, and those arriving to live, do business, or govern. Ironically, it was the actions of the Dutch and their imperial designs that precipitated later, and larger migration flows across the Strait. Until the 17th century, communities that had made it from the Mainland to Taiwan were marginal and small. But once the Dutch established commercial activities on the island, along similar lines to those they were promoting in Indonesia and the British and Spanish were also enthusiastically pursuing in commercial projects elsewhere, the incentive to seek new opportunities raised itself for others. The Dutch in many ways created the story of the island of Formosa for Europeans, a place of semi-mythical allure set in the South China Sea, a hub for spice, silk and other trades which with the Ming and then the Qing empire from the 17th century were beginning to be transported and traded across the waters back to European capitals. But the Dutch involvement proved brief, lasting a mere twenty years from 1622. And they operated, much as the British did in India, through a commercial structure, in this case the Dutch East India Company. Their involvement with the island therefore left only the lightest of memory traces. What their occupation certainly did have, however, was heavy symbolic importance, marking what Jacobs calls the ‘364 year history as the subject of six colonial regimes’.3 But this period left no lasting cultural or material impact, figuring more as a kind of haunting or spectral historic trace rather than something tangible. The same can be said too for the Spanish, whose 29

C hap ter 1

involvement in the island in the two decades following this was similarly symbolic, rather than important for any tangible material remnants or memorials it left. According to the narrative supplied by Jacobs, the following centuries are best understood as containing a series of waves of colonization, much of it derived from the parochial interests of groups from the Mainland, many of them experiencing pressure or economic hardship in their native territories and therefore taking the classic route of economic migrants. Of these the most important were in the era of Zheng Chenggong, a rebel leader against the Manchu dominated new Qing dynasty on the Mainland from 1644, who established what came to be called the Tungning Kingdom from 1662, which, under his heirs, reigned till 1683. Better known as Koxinga, Zheng to this day retains an almost mythical status on the coastal regions of Fujian province facing Taiwan where he is worshipped as a god and enjoys his own cult in some communities. Koxinga, as one historian described him, was ‘a sea lord, a pirate king; a half-Japanese marauder and fierce Chinese patriot; an anti-colonial hero; a ruthless romantic; a mad tyrant; conqueror of Taiwan; savior and butcher; a benevolent god’.4 In effect, it was his establishment of a rebel outpost against the Qing rule on the island that marked the first significant wave of migration of those of mostly Han ethnicity seeking refuge and new lives across the Strait. Formal annexation to the Qing occurred in 1683, when an army led by General Shi Ling conquered the occupying rulers, and established Taiwan as a prefecture (that is to say, a sub-provincial body) under Fokien (today’s Fujian) province. 30

C ontested Hi stor i e s

This remained the status until 1887, when a new agreement upgraded the status of the island to a self-governing province in its one right. All of that abruptly ended when, after defeat against the Japanese in 1895, the Qing ceded the island to their rule as part of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. For the next half century, it was an imperial possession of the Japanese, a Japan which from the 1920s drifted into fascism and outright conflict with the Republic of China. Imperial Japan’s defeat in 1945 at the end of the Second World War was followed by the four years till 1949 when Taiwan belonged unproblematically to what was a unified political entity, the ROC under the Nationalist rule. The migration of as many as 2 million Nationalist followers after defeat in the civil war against the Communists on the Mainland in 1949 started the new era which has lasted to this day – one best captured by the current formulation of the ‘Republic of China on Taiwan’. The nature and impact of these separate waves of colonization varied dramatically. The length of the Dutch and Spanish periods, despite their symbolic importance, meant they seemed as though they were merely passing through. But the era of Qing inclusion remains the basis for PRC contemporary claims on the island. It was also, because of the length of involvement this period covers, the one that saw the most sustained migration and assimilation. Taiwan became, over these centuries, without any particular plan or conscious intention, almost accidentally part of the Chinese cultural world. Han became the dominant ethnic group. The governance of the island followed that of the Qing. Architecture, customs, and social structures were deeply influenced by the Qing. But this was dramatically 31

C hap ter 1

changed by the half century of Japanese rule. Different forms of governance were brought in by the new rulers. The island started to acquire its more hybrid identity. Many Taiwanese from this generation, including the first democratically elected president in 1996, Lee Teng-hui, spoke better Japanese than Mandarin (guoyu). The physical layout of cities, and their management was modelled on Japanese customs. Even the cuisine changed. This era continues to have a heavy impact to this day. Taiwan to a first time visitor often seems to be a fusion of Chinese and Japanese in its physical appearance, social customs and cuisine. In the Second World War, which began for the Mainland in 1937, experience of Japanese involvement was brutal and tragic. Acts of mass violence like the Rape of Nanjing in 1937, or the annihilation campaigns waged by the Japanese against the Nationalists and Communists fighting against them, remain engraved in the public memory, leaving an indelible stain. But on Taiwan, as a place which for four decades before the start of the war had already been part of the Japanese imperial world, things were different. The narratives of the war in public memory there were not as they were on the Mainland. They experienced a continuation of Japanese governance, not an exposure to it for the first time with all the attendant resistance and shock that inevitably entailed. It was only with the ending of that conflict, and the Civil War amongst Chinese in 1946 onwards that things became more turbulent and levels of violence in society rose. Standing back from this history today, even the broadest retelling of it makes one thing clear. There is no neat narrative line that emerges. The Qing’s involvement in the island was 32

C ontested Hi stor i e s

almost accidental, not the product of some centrally mandated campaign of annexation. Even the fleeing of the Nationalists in 1949 was the product of misfortune and defeat for them, certainly not something they either wanted or planned before their demise in the Civil War. Taiwan’s history is best seen as one of accidents rather than intentional purpose. This makes the trenchant assertions of Beijing about the ownership of the island even more puzzling. One could argue that in fact the only times there were such direct, structured governances of Taiwan in history by the Mainland were from 1886 to 1895, and then 1945 to 1949. Because of these mere 13 years, Taiwan today remains embroiled in claims about its ownership and rights over its territory.

TWO HISTORIES – TAIWANESE HISTORY IN TAIWAN AND IN THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC How does a young Taiwanese learn about this history of the place where they live and to which they, their parents, and in many cases generations of their family before them were born? Surely this complex story given in the brief overview above with its waves of different influence and overlapping eras figures in their education and is conveyed to them in their early years? In fact, until recent years, this was not the case. Taiwanese history, under the leadership of the first generation of Nationalist leaders on the island around the dictatorial figure of Chiang Kai-shek, was presented simply as a subsidiary of Chinese history. The claim made by the Nationalist government in this era was that they, not the 33

C hap ter 1

Communist ‘bandits’ based in Beijing, as they called them, were the legitimate leaders of the Chinese nation. ‘Authentic’ Chinese history was something they were the custodians of. They were the carriers of the great unifying flame first put forward with such passion and conviction by the father of modern Chinese nationalism Sun Yat-sen, when the Qing collapsed in 1911, heralding the era of earnest modernization. Sun’s articulation of what it was to be Chinese and modern, captured the emotions and imaginations of young Chinese more than any other set of ideas at that time. This lies at the heart of Sun’s lasting appeal to this day. In a series of books before his untimely death in 1925, he laid the grounds for the concept of an all embracing national identity, one that could recognize the religious and ethnic diversity within the geographical entity of China existing then, but create a sense of a common ‘civilizational’ bond.5 Chiang Kai-shek, as his successor and his ideological disciple, simply continued this. As he famously commented, while the invading Japanese in the 1930s were a disease of the skin, the Communists were a disease of the heart. They posed not so much a physical threat, but, with their contesting and radically different notion of modernity based on class struggle and Marxist-Leninist historical progression, an ideological and spiritual one. That lay behind what he fervently believed was the imperative to eradicate them. There could be no space for two competing visions about what it was to be Chinese, and what the project of a great Chinese nation might be. Claiming to be the representative of the ‘true’ nationalism with its supporting historic narrative was key to this. 34

C ontested Hi stor i e s

From 1949 to the 1980s therefore, the dominant historiography on Taiwan was informed by this vision of all the people on the island being legitimate heirs of the Great Chinese nation, and belonging to its master narratives. They were the true descendants of the Tang, the Song, the Yuan, Ming and Qing. They were the rightful heirs of the mighty first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi, who had unified the waring states in the third century BCE and is credited to this day as the creator of the Chinese centralized state. And while imposters were in charge of an estate which was rightfully theirs over the Strait, in time they would be restored to their rightful place. Maps from this era famously included a China which maintained the same borders as the Qing and Republican era, encompassing not just Inner Mongolia, but the vast region of Outer Mongolia, the area now simply called Mongolia. With hefty American military support, Chiang’s intentions to restore the government he led to their seat in Mainland China never dimmed. With neat symmetry, however, his death in 1975 happened just one year before that of his great competitor and nemesis in this mission, Mao Zedong. In some senses, with his death, the vision of this great nation presided over by the Nationalists died too, just as much as Maoism died with Mao. The Taiwanese to the 1970s, whether from families of Han ethnicity long based on the island, or from those who intermarried with new settlers, whether from aborigine heritage or from other ethnic backgrounds, learned in a system where the riches of classical Chinese culture were presented as intimately theirs. These riches were a foundation on which they defined themselves. There was no space within 35

C hap ter 1

which to contest this. Indeed, to do so was a dangerous act of dissent. This was reinforced by the anomaly that through language reform in China, a new form of simplified characters was introduced from the 1950s, leaving the Taiwanese, Hong Kongese and overseas Mandarin-speaking Chinese to continue using the more complex long form characters. In the eyes of many, that gave them yet more authenticity. On top of this, vast amounts of Chinese cultural artefacts and traditional industries in the PRC were destroyed, particularly during the Cultural Revolution from 1966 under Mao’s rule. The ‘Smash the Four Olds’ movement was only one of many onslaughts on what was labelled the feudalistic modes of thinking from China’s past. Mao and the leaders around him set their face against the enslavement of the Confucian, hierarchical, familybased order where children needed to obey parents, wives the men they were married to, the young had to follow the old, and, most significantly for the Communists, the governed look up to the government. In the new order they created they introduced communes and set in place a number of policies aiming to fundamentally revolutionize the prevailing social setup, trying to eradicate the densely networked world of the past with its different tribal allegiances and cliques. This, they argued, was fundamental to achieving modernity in the country. They also attempted rapid industrialization, often with mixed results, which saw groups move to and from cities, attempting to build a proletariat base on which to accelerate the country’s socialist modernization. From 1949 to the 1970s, therefore the two communities either side of the Strait moved in radically different directions. For Chiang’s Taiwan, 36

C ontested Hi stor i e s

tradition was a good thing. Confucian order was embraced. Capitalism and open markets were encouraged, albeit with no moves till the 1980s to allow political reform. In the PRC, it was almost the complete reverse. The Two Chiang’s

Chiang Kai-shek and his son, Chiang Ching-kuo, have had immense influence on the history of modern Taiwan, and their legacy, for different reasons, remains a source of controversy and is contentious to this day. Chiang the elder is by way and afar the more difficult figure, simply because of the extent and length of his impact. Visitors to Taipei even now can visit the mausoleum where the ‘generalissimo’s’ (Chiang’ nickname) statue sits in epic stillness. Reminiscent, deliberately, of the grand monument to Abraham Lincoln in Washington DC, Chiang ruled over the ROC on Taiwan from 1949 to his death in 1975. He brooked no opposition, and dealt throughout his career with any kind of dissent with often brutal finality. In this he was similar to his great nemesis, Mao Zedong. The two also shared a similar background, the offspring of wealthier landowners in provincial China, though Chiang was a native of Zhejiang on the central eastern coast of the Mainland, and Mao of the inland province of Hunan. It would be hard to do justice in a brief overview of Chiang’s long and epic career. In effect, key leader of the Nationalists from 1925 when his great patron, Sun Yat-sen, died, Chiang’s detestation of the Communists manifested itself in a number of sporadic, often devastating, attacks on 37

C hap ter 1

the activists and key leaders of the new movement emerging across China. From 1927 to 1937, he spearheaded a number of annihilation campaigns to eradicate a movement he regarded as a scourge. But the greater problem of the Japanese invasion and all-out war from 1937 necessitated a period of strategic alliance with the Communists in order to defeat the existential threat the outside invaders posed. This was the period of the United Front, but inevitably, it did not survive forever. With victory in the Second World War, the era of pragmatic alliance ended, and hostilities resumed domestically. But in 1949, criticized for raging inflation and horrifying levels of corruption and poor governance in the areas it controlled, Chiang’s armies fled to the South, finally finding sanctuary in Taiwan. There they remained, forming the new political entity of the ROC in Taiwan, but under a leadership around Chiang that still very much believed their destiny would be to return to the Mainland one day and be restored to power. Chiang’s core ideas were set out in books like China’s Destiny, issued during the Second World War. Despite his endless conflicts with the Mainland, and the fierce sounding invective that Mao and he traded, ironically he is now accorded as much, if not more, admiration in the PRC than in Taiwan, because of his status as a key modern ‘nationalist’. Historians too have given Chiang a greater role in the vanquishing of the Japanese, recognizing that it was armies under his command rather than those led by the Communists which did the bulk of the fighting between 1941 and 1945.6 More importantly, 38

C ontested Hi stor i e s

Chiang articulated a notion of Chineseness which accords with that increasingly adopted by Beijing. In Taiwan itself, however, his reputation is an often divisive one. In 2019, the Minister of Culture, Cheng Li-chiun, was slapped by the actress Cheng Hui-cheng because of the former’s support for the removal of statues of Chiang throughout the island. This included a review of the large mausoleum mentioned above and the appropriateness of maintaining this at a time when Taiwan was attempting to move forward in its history. For different reasons, and in very different ways, Chiang occupies a difficult, ambiguous and sometimes immensely controversial place in local politics and culture in the same way as Mao does in the PRC. Ironically, his son Chiang Ching-kuo promoted a wholly different kind of politics, and figures as the person who did most to ease Taiwan’s largely peaceful transition to democracy. This is particularly remarkable in view of the fact that he was regarded for much of the early part of his career as a faithful and largely compliant follower of the elder Chiang, focusingon maintaining the status quo. Chiang junior figures as one of the great unsung reform heroes of the modern world, however, and although he has nothing like the name recognition as his father, his impact on history is uniquely powerful and significant.

The history very briefly outlined in the previous section was either not told, or, in many cases, deliberately repressed. The brutal suppression of opposition on the island to Nationalist annexation, from 1947 in particular, was consigned to the sort 39

C hap ter 1

of ‘whispered history’ status that large tracts of Communist Party misrule in the Mainland, such as the great famines of the early 1960s, suffered. The aforementioned 28 February, 1947 incident, in particular, was exiled from public expression and memory. Only from the 1990s, did this period get a more public airing, and the shame and injustice of many of the acts then start to receive proper historic attention. For the Taiwanese born before the 1980s, who went through their education in the era when the island was democratized, their learning would have taken place on the borderline of two different kinds of historiography – an earlier one where the master narratives all emanated and were borrowed from elsewhere, and a latter one where, finally, local actors and narratives were being accorded space. History for this generation became more complex, and its impact on identity accordingly more nuanced. There were Taiwanese histories, rather than Chinese histories of Taiwan. Su Beng, the political activist for instance, wrote one of the earliest in 1962, Taiwanese 400 Year History.7 Tu Cheng-sheng and Wu Mi-cha, both academics and sometimes politicians, the latter of whom has been particularly involved in work remembering the 228 Incident, have also produced extensive research on aspects of local modern history from a specifically Taiwanese perspective. The ways in which one belonged to this ‘new’ history was not through appealing to a particular ethnic group and giving their story. It recognized the diversity of Taiwan. Even the group categorized broadly as ‘Han’, with all the arguments and discussions of how cohesive this was, was itself divided into ‘new arrivals’, composed of those coming as quasi-conquerors after 1947, 40

C ontested Hi stor i e s

and the longer established cohort on the island. And indeed, for many, intermarriage between ethnic groups meant that while they could say they were Taiwanese, it was not wholly uncomplicated to also claim Chineseness. Hybridity was the result of so many different flows of arrivals, and different strands of influence over the decades and the centuries. An honest and accurate history needed to recognize this phenomenon, not consign it to an uncomfortable silence. The net result of that process meant Taiwan’s history became even more differentiated from the grand Chinese story still told across the Strait, despite the fact that the latter still strongly insisted Taiwan was merely a tributary of this. For Beijing under the Communist Party the narrative in the early years was structurally similar to that promoted in Taipei, giving at least some common alignment. They both asserted there was one great Chinese nation, with the important difference that for the Communists it was they who were the true custodians of this quasi spiritual entity, not the Nationalists who had treacherously fled across the Strait and set up their outlaw headquarters there, betraying the very objective of unity they said they supported. From their first days in power, the Communists declared their mission was to unify a country that had been sundered by colonial interference and internal division. War Lords, Western imperialists, Japanese colonizers, and now the Nationalists, were all the enemy. Everything had to be brought back into the ‘great family’ of the Chinese nation. For all the importation of Marxist-Leninist ideology, the Mao leadership was from the first a nationalistic one, one united by a conviction about what it was to be 41

C hap ter 1

Chinese. With some modifications and local changes, this was the same story the Nationalists told, without, of course, the Communist politics. This symmetry between these two narratives, that promoted by the Communists in Beijing, and that by the Nationalists from Taiwan, is unsurprising. They were both derived from the same root, that of the creed of modern Chinese nationalism. Contestation occurred not over the proposition that there was something called ‘Chineseness’ which could be defined and clearly demarcated, but over precisely what the contents of this definition might be. This decided who the proper heirs to this great tradition of Chinese nationalism were and the unity underlying it, something it claimed ran across the centuries and had an almost transcendent reality. The main complicating factor on the side of the Communists under Mao, and the most significant difference with the Nationalists, was the way in which they set themselves against so much of what was labelled as ‘traditional’ Confucian order at the same time as seeming to often defend its main product – a unified, culturally homogeneous ‘Chinese’ nation. In that sense, they could be called precursors of the tradition of having their cake and eating it, a phenomenon that has grown popular elsewhere in the early 21st century. As the unique history of Taiwan came to be better understood and known within the island however, and the ‘whispered history’ that had been initially suppressed started to be told, fissures inevitably grew between the two traditions of historiography. The stories started to differ, sometimes starkly. Taiwan’s colonization had not been like that of the 42

C ontested Hi stor i e s

Mainland. Its experience of modernity had also been different. Its politics from 1996 became completely different. If these histories derived from such a common route, why were they were ending in such different places? Maybe they weren’t so common in the first place. In Taiwan’s case, it increasingly came to seem like the tale they had been telling themselves was borrowed, and not truly theirs. A stronger awareness of this local history fed a feeling of uniqueness which contributed to Taiwan’s political differentiation from the PRC. Giving voice to the grievances within this local story accentuated this, strengthening a sense of agency and self-determination. Whose history did the Taiwanese want to tell? Now they had a choice. Was their history the one the Mainland told them was theirs, or was it the one more and more on the island was saying was their own? This matters because it is so intimately connected to the vexing issue mentioned in the introduction, and something so crucially important for Taiwan – that of identity. A history taught in schools which has, at its heart, the idea of the listener belonging elsewhere, to an historic narrative centred away from where they are, is different to one which places those listening to it right where they are. This history is about them as themselves, rather than about them being part of something else. From 1949, right up to the early 2000s, the Taiwanese in schools were largely taught a history where their own geography was displaced and their spiritual home was elsewhere. They were in a sense indoctrinated in being marginal and cultural exiles. Only with the rise of the new history was this addressed, and rectified. That process goes on till today. 43

C hap ter 1

HISTORY AND CHINESENESS – THE DIVIDED COMMUNITY OF THE HAN Part of the reason why Taiwanese history is so hard to easily put in a neat, systematic narrative is because of the ways in which it has to embrace the aborigine, and then the subsequent phases of colonization and migration to the island by settlers, the majority of whom could be described today as Han. According to the government of the Republic of China’s own statistics, the current population of Taiwan is 95 per cent Han. Aborigine and other ethnic groups make up the remaining 5 per cent. This gives a superficial neatness to the situation. Taiwanese on this reckoning are overwhelmingly from one ethnic group. And yet, who precisely are the Han? And how do they relate to the concept of Chinese and Chineseness? The population of the People’s Republic similarly claim that the composition of their 1.4 billion population, as of 2018, was 91 per cent Han, and then the remainder is spread between 55 separate officially recognized ethnic minority groups. But the Han within such a vast cohort have significant differences, with some arguing they are not a coherent ethnic group – any more, for instance, than stating that the vast majority of the current inhabitants of Europe are of European ethnicity. There are different strands and components in this larger group. Within the Han are huge variations in eating habits, dialect, appearance, and lifestyle. The Northern Chinese diet is different from the Southern Chinese. The Sichuan dialect is almost incomprehensible from the standard Beijing one, or even the Shanghai version. Even in terms of belief systems, there is variety across the territories 44

C ontested Hi stor i e s

within the vast geographical space that has been occupied by different versions of China in the past. The only continuities are arguably the centrality of extended family structures, and the unifying, hugely significant shared written language. Commitment to the notion of a clearly defined Han ethnic label in Taiwan and its key relationship to identity needs to recognize two issues. The first is the very significant differences between those who trace their family history in the island back way beyond 1949, and those who are first, second or third generation arrivals from that time – a kind of ‘new people’. The variations in their cultural and social, and sometimes even political outlook, means that often the only thing they have in common is the statement that they are Han. Everything else differs. The second is the very clear variety within the Han itself, even in the PRC. There are Han, for instance, who appeal to Hakka ancestry, a group with a different dialect, and largely now inhabitants of the great coastal provinces of Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangxi, and who are largely regarded as descended from a north to south migration almost a thousand years ago. There are Han whose ancestral homes in the Mainland are from the central provinces of Hunan, Henan, Hubei, and Hebei, and others who come from the far Western Sichuan and Yunnan. Large variations in the Han are real, and seen to be so by those who identify themselves with these labels. This applies to Taiwan, in the ways that those who say they are Han then qualify this by stating where they believe their families originally came from. Han is such a broad category that many people tend to relate it to much more local iterations to give it proper meaning. Taipei is full 45

C hap ter 1

of restaurants which proudly declare they offer home cooking from spicy Sichuan fare, or more seafood-based, sometimes sweeter Shanghai food. Din Tai Fung, as already mentioned, is a style of northern cuisine. With intermarriage, Han identity itself becomes like a palimpsest, a mixture of different cultural components so wide as to be almost the least strong part of an identity label. In many ways, thinking about how meaningful the Han label is equates to thinking about what ethnicity really means and how it adds anything to an understanding of someone’s identity. With the label ‘Han’ the variations are so great that it does not seem to mean very much. All of this just shows that to say one is ethnically Han, on Taiwan, is to open up a lot of questions. As scholar Melissa Brown has written, ‘ultimately the problem is one of identity – Han ethnic identity’.’8 As she goes on to say, ‘if Taiwanese are allowed to “leave” the nation [meaning the Greater China entity] because of ethnic differences, then why not Tibetans, or Turkic Muslims (such as the Uighur) or even Cantonese?’9 This is the core issue of the ‘politicization’ of ethnic labels. But it also relates to questions about social cohesion on the island itself, through the differences alluded to above, between those who claim they are from longer established Han migrants, and those who came after 1947. The differences in attitudes and outlooks between these two is real, not a spectral, abstract thing, and continues, though greatly reduced, to this day. The arrival of approximately 2 million ‘new people’ after 1947, at a time when the population of the island was only about 7 million, and the establishment of what was, to all intents and purposes, a new government, albeit one whose leader46

C ontested Hi stor i e s

ship believed they would soon be restored to their basis of legitimate authority back in the Mainland, caused massive social dislocation. This is testified to in one of the most celebrated works of literature from the post-Second World War era produced in Taiwan, the wonderful ‘Taipei People’ by Pai Hsien-yung.10 These fourteen short stories, modelled a little on Dubliners, the great collection by James Joyce from the early part of the twentieth century, were written over the 1960s and issued in 1971. The affection readers of this work have for it throughout the Chinese-speaking world is as much to do with the delicacy and subtlety of Pai’s language and the ways in which he describes his characters as the stories he tells. But the common thread through each tale involves someone who came from the Mainland, and found themselves needing to create a new life in Taiwan. The protagonist in ‘A Touch of Green,’ one of the longer stories, states wistfully, ‘Ever since we came to Taiwan, I’ve been busy with daily living that memories of things that happened on the Mainland gradually faded away.’ 11 But they clearly never faded entirely, and in fact, never could. At least for the first generation of incomers. Had they done so, then the early decades of the ROC on Taiwan would not have been so turbulent. Pai’s figures have a universality about them. One is an ex-military figure, remembering the comradery in the Nationalist army before needing to flee across the Strait. Another is a former hostess in a bar, re-establishing herself in the same business in Taipei, and dealing with the same kinds of customers she had dealt with back in the Mainland. ‘However the affairs of men fluctuated, Yin Hseuh-yen remained [in 47

C hap ter 1

Taipei] Yin Hsueh-yan, the “Snow Beauty” of Shanghai’ reinforcing this sense of an overarching identity that is common in both places for this generation.12 For each story, the reality of a life elsewhere still figuring through its remembrance in a new environment is strong. Nostalgia haunts the various narratives. The need to recreate a world resembling the one they have had taken from them, from which they had to flee, is palpable. So too is their feeling of alienation from the society they have found themselves in often by accident or through the force of circumstances. Pai’s work is not explicit about the more political implications of this sense of alienation. But the ‘new people’ and their migration was not an event that was politically neutral or meaningless. It shaped the world views and expectations of one large group of Han in society against another. For one, the post-1947 people, it was a case of still wishing to maintain strong links with what they thought was their ‘motherland’, their spiritual home, a place many sincerely expected one day to be reunited with, and where they had close family members, even parents, or siblings. For these, connections to the People’s Republic were recent and strong, a matter of flesh and blood. A few were so overcome by this feeling of lostness that they returned to the PRC. The fate of many of these was not a happy one, at least in the early years. Tainted by distrust in Maoist social mobilization campaigns like the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s their pasts were used as a basis for attacking them. Radical Red Guard groups were able hysterically to claim they were hidden enemies. This was an all too popular label at such a paranoid time. Those in the Mainland with family on Taiwan, 48

C ontested Hi stor i e s

despite never having set foot in the place, also had their lives blighted by the same mistrust. Division and ostracization from the rest of society was the daily reality for this group. The hope of an eventual reunification as the reward after paying such high costs was very powerful for them. As time went on, and the turbulence of the Cultural Revolution finally ended in the mid-1970s, it became clear that reunification would not be a reality any time soon. Newly emerged paramount leader Deng Xiaoping confirmed this, simply stating to visitors who asked that it was something future generations would have to settle. For the PRC, this priority was to economically and materially look after the people, not deal with remoter geopolitical issues. In this world view, Taiwan was now a useful developed economic and technology partner. This caused a readjustment. The way their former lives, in what was now the PRC for the ‘new people’ in Taiwan, figured in their imagination and impacted on their politics changed. In a strange way, for this group the past changed – not that abstract collective past discussed above, but the individual pasts of specific people through the transformation in the way they interpreted and thought about their own histories. It was no longer as though the paths they had taken were part of a story which was going to end with happy unification with the Mainland as had once been expected. Not in their lifetimes at least. Like other exiles, this final outcome instead became something more akin to an abstract rather than a concrete aspiration, a matter perpetually pushed far in the future, which could happen one day when the situation changed and became more favourable, just not now. The 49

C hap ter 1

majority of this group supported the mission of the Nationalists to continue to claim to be the government of the whole of China, so they could at least keep some purchase on this grand hope. For these people, there was always a tension that arose from their commitment to the place they were now in being contingent on the hope that one day they would rejoin the bigger, larger entity. They were people on the move elsewhere, with a sense of incompleteness and lack because of this. For the longer established Han population in Taiwan however their emotional commitment to the location where they actually were was much stronger. For generations, this had been their home – Mainland China as any kind of ‘homeland’ made little if any sense to them. For them, when the opportunity came (this will be discussed in the next chapter) an indigenous, more independently orientated political force like the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) which recognized local belonging was attractive. So too was the language of stronger Taiwanese identity. The fissures between the Nationalist Party and the DPP, and the ways in which ‘new people’ tended to support the former and the longer established Han on the island the latter, were significant. At its heart was a very different structure of identity in the two main groups of the Han between the newer and the longer established cohorts. It was almost like despite the common label they were utterly different except in everything except name. This illustrates the complexities of trying to think through the Taiwan issue for those who are unfamiliar with this constellation of overlapping terms and issues. A mixture of discourses is perhaps the best way to describe it, with some of these not 50

C ontested Hi stor i e s

just different but contradictory, driven by different logics and imperatives. On the one hand, there is the Taiwanese discourse of nationality, and of what in reality it means to say one is Taiwanese when, as argued above, so much of that is contested outside of the island through the special status the place has. On the other is the discourse of ethnicity, with designations like Han, aborigine and other groups, and the divisions within the Han. Then there is the generational language within all these, with significant differences of viewpoint between older and younger people. Added to this, is the discourse of Taiwanese political identity, and the ways the DPP was often aligned to those longer established on the island, people who wanted a stronger identity for it politically, and those who were supportive of closer ties to what they regarded as their ‘motherland,’ for whom the Nationalists were the natural party. For each of these groups, China, the vast place across the Strait, figured and figures very differently. For the last group, in particular, it was somewhere, as Pai’s short stories showed, which existed with great immediacy in their imaginations and memories, at least for the first and second generation arriving after the 1940s. But for others, it was not so emotionally or culturally close. Hovering over this complex set of different issues and ideas once more is the key term identified above – ‘Chineseness’. The complexity of this term derives from the way it sits between the discourses of nationality, ethnicity, and political identities. No wonder it has been so hard to pin this term down and give it proper shape and definition. This is not merely some academic debate which can be confined to the research centre or the class room. It has 51

C hap ter 1

impacted on the contorted policy position of the ROC about its own name as its existence on the island extended over the decades. As expectations of reunification faded, and a new generation of people were born whose lives and world view were wholly focused on and built around being inhabitants of Taiwan, the policy posture of the government in the years up to democratization in the 1990s became more incongruous. They were the Republic of this place called China – despite the fact that another government, with a slightly different title, said it in fact was in charge of over 95 per cent of this claimed territory – and also of them. To add to the confusion, that other government would not countenance clearing up this mess and simplifying matters by Taiwan deploying a different name for itself. Perversely, they insisted their competitor maintain its claims on land they occupied. Increasingly over the years, it has been as much coercion and threats from Beijing as factors down to their own free volition that meant administrations either from the Nationalist or DPP in Taipei maintained the name they had inherited and didn’t change it to a more logical one. The reason for this is very simple: a name change would shatter the story of a shared cultural and historical basis to them both and served as the reason for needing unification. For this reason the Taiwanese did not even have agency over what title they gave themselves but were trapped by issues left over from history. Attempts in a referendum to effect a name change failed because of the prudent desire of citizens of Taiwan to simply live with the status quo and not rock the boat.13 Over the years, there have been plenty of voices, either from scholars in the international community, or from within 52

C ontested Hi stor i e s

Taiwan, who have advised that the ‘Republic of China’ name is a burden and needed to change.14 For many of these, the obsession by the Mainland with historic claims to the territory now occupied by Taiwan are illegitimate. These are based on Qing dynasty notions of what borders and sovereign territory were. These were, as the other cases of Tibet and Xinjiang proved, notoriously hard to pin down with any precision. In essence, pre-modern Chinese entities, in the long imperial era, had a radically different notion of what it was to be a ‘country’ from that which emerged as part of the Westphalian world after the eponymous treaty in 1648. This European agreement is usually accorded with embedding the notion of statehood, with set boundaries and a concept of sovereignty, in international diplomacy. In Han (3rd century BCE to 3rd century CE), to Tang (7th to 10th century), Song (10th to 13th century), and the following imperial eras, a constellation of terms around nebulous notions like ‘all under heaven’, and its associated tributary relationships existed for the model of Chinese statehood, with no strong idea of set land boundaries. These eras, in any case, did not see entities that figured as maritime actors, except for the brief escapades of Zheng He, the eunuch admiral, at the start of the Ming around 1400. Scholars like Lucian Pye and John Fairbank described the actions of these prior polities as more like ‘civilizational’ or cultural ones. They lacked any precise idea of land boundaries. The imperial central order they aspired to in times of stability was more about a moral order, one almost of cultural superiority and nothing to do with the vulgarity of monpolizing claims over physical land. Others from the Chosen era 53

C hap ter 1

in Korea to the Vietnamese, the Thai Kingdom, or elsewhere in the South East Asia region, related to imperial China by a hierarchy founded in a common subscription to Confucianist values, at least in the political realm, and the world order that doctrine and practice outlined. This demanded they display a patriarchal respect towards their large and ancient neighbour. Beyond these, there were intermediate zones, those of inner Asia, of South Asia, or across the Tibetan Plateau – ones which were organized according to more orderly boundaries, with politically negotiated borders. But China managed to seep into these, its power and influence having an almost watery, liquid quality, rather than being something hardedged and well-defined, extending cultural and then other forms of influence so these places too became entwined in the Chinese imperial world. The PRC as a modernizing state therefore saw the introduction not just of revolutionary notions of social and economic order, but also ones concerning territory – what this was, and how to define and demarcate it. In 1949, the new state existed as a blur. It had over 26 land border disputes with its neighbours. Over the following decades, all but those with India and Bhutan were resolved, often territorially to the favour of others, but at least giving the PRC a sense of stability and security. Blurred lines were replaced by clear and neat ones. This new language of defined borders and state sovereignty was deployed by the PRC to the issue of Taiwan, with Beijing demanding that the Qing arrangement which had existed in the past was the correct one and needed to be restored. In this context, the Japanese from 1895 had been usurpers. The real 54

C ontested Hi stor i e s

possession of Taiwan therefore belonged to Beijing, as the successor state to the Qing and the Republican era. Whatever one might make of the various complex arguments about exactly how or with what contemporary validity the appeals to historic ownership have, one thing is clear: they lack neatness and clarity, and are based on a range of different documents and a historic view of statehood which does not fit easily into Western notions. There is plenty of evidence too that the Qing rulers took little notice or care of their remote southern possession, and regarded it much as the Dutch or the Spanish in the 17th century, almost as a convenience – a wild and marginal place which existed far beyond the cultural high plateaus of the imperial Qing world and did not merit much attention. It was the classic case of an accidental possession. Which raises the question of why, today, with the world before it and economic and geopolitical power unimagined even a few decades ago, Beijing makes such a big deal about Taiwan? It does not need the territory for economic reasons, nor because it lacks land of its own. But Taiwan as a physical space is one thing; as a symbolic place it exists in a different order. Ceding issues over the historic basis of the territorial claims to Taiwan by the PRC might have little or no material impact. But symbolically it would have vast import. It would start to raise questions over historic legitimacy and the grand story underpinning the Chinese nation of a shared and unique cultural identity. Compromise here would then mean countenancing similar trade offs over, for instance, the area of the Tibetan Autonomous Region, or the restive Xinjiang area. For both of these, the position of the Beijing government is that its 55

C hap ter 1

current rights over these territories derive from historic ones. These were based on the Qing era and earlier philosophies and understandings which are as culturally circumscribed and pre-modern, and subject to dispute, as those around the case of Taiwan. However one wishes to describe these, the one thing they are certainly not is neatly Westphalian. Through this similarity, therefore, any concession on the sovereignty of Taiwan materially impacts on these other issues, and runs the risk of also delegitimizing them. For the PRC, with its strong narrative of unity and the construction of a Great Chinese nation embedded in its discourse since 1949 figuring as a fundamental part of its legitimacy this is a risk that cannot be taken. The situation is reinforced by the various other contesting claims over maritime territory in the South and East China sea, some of which involve treaties to which the Republic of China figures – and which would therefore be impacted should there be a change to another name and sovereign identity. The situation on the political level in 2019 is therefore one which involved an impossibly complex overlapping set of issues. On the one hand, the Republic of China exists on Taiwan. It maintains notional claims on the territory of the Mainland, even though the vast majority of Taiwanese know, and feel, that they are inhabitants of a separate entity which since 1949 has followed its own cultural and political path and has its own identity, and which is now unique and has nothing to do with that larger space. For pragmatic reasons, they seem content to at least tolerate the notion of the place they live maintaining its current name. For the PRC, too, despite its fundamental conflict in the past with the ROC 56

C ontested Hi stor i e s

under the Nationalists, it tolerates the continuing existence of the island republic. It absolutely opposes, and has threatened the use of force against, any attempt to change that name simply to Taiwan. This would be a symbolic move towards complete autonomy, and in an issue where symbolism is so hugely important, that would never be tolerated because of the consequences that might flow from it elsewhere. That is why so far it has not happened. For the outside world, therefore, the response to this symbolic minefield has been to construct various formulations which observe an almost Daoist desire to balance two contradictory impulses in one notion. The US, Europe and others might not know the full reasons for why the PRC and ROC have such a complex relationship. But they respect the fact that it is clearly a very sensitive situation and one best kept at a distance. A strategy of torturous ambiguity, observed by the careful maintenance of a specific form of words, is maintained. From time to time, as politicians still callow to the complexity of this issue, the outside world will stray into this battleground and use an incorrect formulation. They will use the word ‘country’ about Taiwan, or talk of the ‘Republic of Taiwan’. Beijing will shoot off comments making them aware of its feelings of being offended and hurt. A clarification, which is almost always a retraction will follow. This whole edifice survives because it is the only one at the moment which everyone seems just about able to work within. But it is not surprising the issue baffles and confuses even those who visit Taiwan, and many of the people on the island. It is a situation built on a foundation full of tangled roots, the outcome not of years, but of decades. 57

C hap ter 1

Cultural Voices

Increasingly in recent years the ‘soft power’ and cultural influence of Taiwan, on the PRC, but also on the wider world, has been recognized as one of its greatest assets. As it democratized the ROC became a widely appreciated ‘good news story’ – and interest in its culture and values rose. This stands in stark contrast to the PRC whose deployment of immense resources to create a kinder, and more sympathetic attitude among audiences to its key messages has often been stymied by the fact that it remains a one party state, with all the negative press that brings. Some figures have had a huge impact here, even though, of course, the narratives they seem to promote outside of Taiwan are very different from those within. Deng Lijun (Teressa Teng) is perhaps the most evocative. A singer of great clarity and emotional range from the 1980s, her songs were immensely popular throughout the Chinese-speaking world, and figured on millions of karaoke machines in nightclubs across the PRC and ROC. Teng herself belonged to a second generation family and therefore to the ‘new people’. Her songs often had a nostalgic appeal to some of the listeners – ballads from traditions of popular singing that had originated in China, and then become more popular across Japan and South Korea. They were tuneful, frequently focusing on the pains and joys of love, meaning they were very easy to relate to. For this reason, Teng was often called the ‘queen of the night’ in the PRC, while the paramount leader of the 1980s into the 1990s, Deng Xiaoping, was called the leader of the day. Teng’s life itself ended tragically early when she 58

C ontested Hi stor i e s

died at the age of 43 from an asthma attack while travelling in Thailand with her partner, Paul Quillery. The writer San Mao (real name Chen Maoping) had been born in the Mainland during the war in 1943, and then resettled in Taiwan with her family after 1949. Like Teresa Teng, too, she was to experience huge popular following within the PRC, her books being widely available from the 1980s onwards. Their subject matter reflected the restlessness that characterized the writer’s life, moving across different cultures from Spain to Germany to the Sahara Desert, about which she wrote one of her most famous and popular works. Her desire to marry Western and Eastern cultural understandings together typifies the way in which people of her generation often belonged to different worlds – one rooted in Chinese values, which she had studied at university in Taipei, and one in the world view and economic practices of Europe and the enlightenment West. In that sense, she is one of the great commentators on the notion of ‘global Taiwanese’, though her personal life was marked by the tragic death of her Spanish husband from an accident, and a German teacher who was to die of an heart attack before they were able to marry. She committed suicide in a hospital in Taiwan in 1991. Hou Hsiao-hsien was also born in the Mainland, in Guangdong, of Hakka parentage, in 1947, and was also brought by his parents to Taiwan after 1949. Regarded as one of the world’s great directors, his films are characterized by a deliberately slow pace, and meticulous attention to lighting, and the focus on the faces and expressions of his actors. 59

C hap ter 1

They also address the issues of trauma, loss and identity arising from Taiwan’s modern history, with City of Sadness in 1989 looking at the conflict between Mainlanders and local Taiwanese from the 28 February 1947 Incident onwards. Subsequent films The Puppet Master and The Assassin have maintained Hou’s global following and the high critical estimation he is held in. There are plenty of other figures that might be called cultural ambassadors for Taiwanese soft power, from the director Ang Lee, to the basket-ball player Jeremy Lin, and the businessman Terry Gou. For each, the issue is not so much about who, whether, or why they might want their work to figure in impacting on Taiwanese identity, and on the ways the outside world sees this, but the inevitable fact that this does shape their work, or at least the reception of it. Willingly or not, the unique political context of the particular place they come from influences how their works or their achievements are understood. For some, like the singer Chou Tzu-yu, born only in 1999, the fact that she waved a Taiwanese flag at a concert in South Korea in 2015 and aroused the fierce angry denunciation of Mainland netizens underlines how easy it is to fall from the world of soft cultural distraction to hard political reality. This is indicative of the way there are few, if any, spaces in this area where politics does not figure.

60

C ontested Hi stor i e s

A TRIP TO THE PALACE MUSEUM One of the places which best exemplifies the situation between Taiwan and China is that of the Palace Museum in Taipei. Those visiting Beijing and wandering around the grand ‘Forbidden Palace’ which sits so epically at its heart cannot but notice that it sometimes has an empty feel about it. In recent decades, of course, new artefacts have been brought to the museum to fill the various stately imperial halls. But a vast amount – some 40,000 crates, to be precise, full of priceless historic antiquities, ranging from Qing and Ming porcelain, to the paintings of emperors, to calligraphy stretching back two millenniums – was physically carried with the Nationalist government as it fled first to Chongqing, and then finally across the Strait to Taiwan. To this day, therefore, the finest museum of Chinese imperial art, furniture and material artefacts, dating back to the earliest dynasties, is not on the Mainland, but in the purpose-built structure on the outskirts of the capital. To visit this great museum, so well endowed with works that only a tiny proportion of these can be displayed at any one time, usually in special exhibitions, is to come face to face with a reminder of the power of the emotional appeal of this concept of being Chinese. Especially when some of the vast groups from the Mainland are also touring the exhibitions, something that has trailed off a little in recent years as relations have grown more difficult, observers can see the ways in which this grand notion of a common Chinese cultural root, despite all the qualifications mentioned earlier in this chapter, can still serve as a force for unity and a source of emotional pressure. 61

C hap ter 1

This is why it figures so much in the emotive language that Mainland leaders often use for the island, naming Taiwanese ‘compatriots’ and talking of them being tied together by a common blood, common language, and common identity. The blood links though, with their visceral appeal, are the ones that matter, and the Mainland deliberately adopts a Confucian language of fraternal, sometimes even maternal, care towards those it calls its brothers and sisters on the island, investing immense amounts of effort in maintaining the grand imagined Chinese community. This kind of language creates reciprocal responsibilities. ‘We belong to you and you belong to us’, Beijing says, ‘we both need each other to be who we truly are’. As with so much of the Mainland posture on this issue, this approach is highly deliberate. It is not about rationality. It is about feeling. And feelings are hard to invalidate. Going around the spaces of the artistic treasures in the Palace Museum, the Taiwanese, those of Han or Mainland ancestry, are exposed on various levels to the force of this emotional appeal. They can see the great tradition from which the language they use, and many of the symbols and narratives in their daily lives, derive from. Examples are the remarkable technological accomplishments of the great Shang bronzes, some inscribed with characters which are comprehensible and still in use today, from over three millenniums ago; the wonderful subtle calligraphy of Wang Xizhe, a figure largely regarded as the greatest, and the earliest, of China’s calligraphers; and the very human, imaginative portrayals of courtesan figures from the Tang. Buddhist iconography sits beside galleries with porcelain, much of it from the period of 62

C ontested Hi stor i e s

the Qing when China led the world in this kind of production. To give some idea of its prestige and value, a small tea cup, one of a set of a dozen or so, of which the Palace Museum has several, sold for millions of dollars in Hong Kong when it came up for auction in the 2010s. Faced with these amazing works, it is easy to understand how much pride the Taiwanese take in belonging to this great historic tradition. It is also easy to see how hard it is to step aside from the use of this as a means of appealing for unity and closeness, even though in many other areas there is so much difference between Chinese culture as it figures on the island, and then across the Strait. This cultural interlinkage serves as the deep infrastructure underlying the relationship, a bedrock which is there, and which cannot be ignored, but nor is it easily conceptualized. However, in the last few decades, something has happened that has profoundly impacted on the power of the great unifying call from the Mainland based on claims of a common ethnic heritage, and that is democratization. This, more than anything else, has individuated and set Taiwan apart. It is to this issue we now turn.

63

CHAPTER 2

THE GREAT TRANSFORMATION D E MOCRAT IZAT ION AND THE IMPACT ON TAIWAN’ S I DENTI TY

In 2008 several delegations amounting to almost 400 people acting as observers attended the presidential elections in the spring that year held in Taiwan. There was a unique, carnival like atmosphere. This was the fourth time the island had held a direct plebiscite for its president. The first, back in 1996, had been a moment loaded with history for Taiwan, the region and the wider world. It was described as the first time in history a part of the Chinese-speaking world had experienced democracy. This was something contested by those arguing that the Republican period just after the collapse of the Qing on its foundation in 1911 had also held a vote, resulting in the victory of Song Xining. That exercise had ended in tragedy, with the assassination of President Song on the way to Beijing to take up his position only a few days after the vote. Never again was there to be a nationwide event like this. The Taiwanese elections from their inception were unique, and a powerful sop to those both inside and outside the Mainland and Taiwan who argued places with major elements of Chinese cultural and social identities were unsuitable to multi-party democratic politics. Each of the elections, subsequently, while never free of incident, had been largely peaceful and the results accepted as legitimate. There had been genuine 67

C hap ter 2

changes of government, from the Nationalists to the DPP in 2000. The most dramatic so far was the election in 2004. This had ended up being a tussle between three parties, with an independent coming in and largely splitting the Nationalist vote in hugely contentious circumstances. In the final days of the campaign a gun was shot during a rally involving the incumbent Chen Shu-bian, causing fierce argument by those convinced it had been something deliberately staged to swing the final result. That, when it came in, gave Chen victory by only the most slender of margins. Despite this, it was still peacefully accepted. Taiwan is rightly proud of its development into a democracy. This is one of the most powerful elements of its current identity. But it is also an issue which has decisively complicated its relations with the Mainland. Theoretically, in the era of the Nationalists monopolizing control when martial law was still in place up to the 1980s, were reunification to have ever been viable it would have been a simple case of the ruling party in one place talking to the ruling party in another and hammering out at a deal they could then declare was in the interests of ‘the people’ they set themselves as being wholly representative of. One autocratic polity was dealing with another autocratic polity. Like with like. In becoming a democracy, Taiwan has succeeded in placing perhaps the strongest barrier between itself and politics on the Mainland. From 1996, the refrain has been that whatever people might believe or think about the notion of ‘reunification’ (and as will be shown, the vast majority, while supporting the status quo in Taiwan, do not have enthusiasm for this 68

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

idea) that could only happen when the government in Beijing becomes like theirs – a democracy, with proper, free and fair elections. Until then, nothing is possible. Most know the possibility of the PRC becoming a democracy any time soon is remote. That means any serious thought about reunification being a possibility is also equally remote. Being a democracy is now a fundamental part of what it means to be Taiwanese. The elections held every four years for the presidential position, and every two years for various local or legislative elections, form a part of the rhythm of national life. Taiwan expresses its modernity through having this system, one that is free, open, and participatory. This doesn’t mean, however, that Taiwan has become some kind of harmonious paradise under democracy. It does mean it faces a different set of challenges compared to those when it was a one party state. Divisions that were once not visible now surfacing is one such problem. In recent years, these elections have increasingly produced the same complex and often ambiguous or divided messages in their outcomes that similar plebiscites have elsewhere in the world – in the US, for instance, in 2016, and in Europe in various elections held there from 2010. As with the American and British systems, the Taiwanese have two main parties, and as with America and Britain this binary system has become more contested by other emerging players, so far with little success. These two parties are seen by some as part of a self-interested establishment, dividing up powers and creating a barrier to others who want to come in and introduce other political forces. But even with only two such parties there is at least lots more knowledge about what people think 69

C hap ter 2

and how they feel in Taiwan than in the PRC, where public opinion, because of the lack of transparency, remains mostly unfathomable.

H O W D I D TA I WA N B E C O M E D E M O C R AT I C ? Taiwan’s evolution as a democracy is one of the great stories of politics in Asia. The Nationalists, once they had established the Republic of China on the island from the 1940s, showed no interest in Western style liberal multi-party democracy, despite patronage from the United States. Martial law was in place right from the start, using the excuse of the constant threat from the Mainland. In the very early years, of course, that threat was real enough. Mao’s forces were gathering to engage in a full scale onslaught onto Taiwan in 1950 when the unwelcome distraction of the Korean War and the adventurism of Kim Il-sung in the north part of the peninsula distracted them. That, in effect, took the opportunity the PRC had to reunify by force the territory of Taiwan and the Mainland immediately after 1949 off the radar. Under martial law through the 1950s to the early 1980s any attempts to set up organized political opposition to the Nationalists were more often than not rewarded with brutal reprisals. There were grass roots forms of opposition over this period. Some of them operated as labour organization, some through the courts that existed then, trying to find new ways of asserting more rights, some of them in civil society groups. There were also those associated with lobbying for greater rights and seeking redress for the aboriginal peoples. 70

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

But the space allowed civil society and pressure groups was small, and activists all too often paid a high price for their advocacy. Many were taken in by the dreaded secret police. Chiang Kai-shek had the same mindset as Mao in dealing with opposition. He was, despite his profession of Christianity, not squeamish about using horrifying levels of physical intimidation and abuse, with activists tortured, summarily executed, imprisoned for long periods, or, in some cases, simply ‘disappeared’. Large tracts of this history have yet to be written. Some of the most seminal events, like the 28 February 1947 uprising and the aftermath, were not properly restored to public memory till liberalization in the 1980s onwards. The era of the ‘White Terror’, as it was called, created an underground culture with its own habits and language, one that gave rise to the emergence of the DPP from the late 1970s onwards. Even up to the 1980s, intelligence operatives and security service agents were involved in dirty tricks, and used various ruses to destabilize potential forms of organized opposition. The root cause of this was the paranoia arising from the threat from the Mainland, and the fear that these groups were Trojan horses being deployed to destabilize the island. The other contribution came from the Nationalist Party itself, an organization which had endured years of conflict after its foundation, and which had its own culture of power. This was one that was as comfortable in its own way with the utilization of violence for political outcomes as the Communists were in the PRC. Taiwan’s economic development and its close alliance with the US for this meant that as time went on there was constant 71

C hap ter 2

pressure to change. Chiang’s death in 1975 did not immediately offer the opportunity, but at the very least it removed a major symbolic hurdle. While power passed to Chiang’s son, Ching-kuo, with the expectation that there would be no major change, it was clear the successor at least did not inherit his father’s imperious mindset, and was far more flexible and conciliatory. In the 1980s, in a remarkable, but at the time largely unheralded development, the DPP, and work unions, were allowed to exist and to undertake activities without the levels of harassment that had occurred before. This philosophy of ‘Dangwai’ (literally, ‘outside the Nationalist Party structures’) meant that at a grassroots level political forces could organize, and start to field candidates to stand in local elections. They could find their own voice and start to build a viable support base. The façade of homogeneous political identity in Taiwan began to crack, and in a very short space of time was largely gone. This phenomenon was not solely because of Chiang’s benign attitude. Indeed, he may well have been simply acknowledging the inevitable direction of history. As a result of the island’s economic transformation from the 1960s onwards, the per capita GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of citizens had climbed up to levels where it was the equivalent of most developed economies. The story behind this will be looked at in Chapter 5. But it meant that as with elsewhere, Taiwan hit the usual modernization trend. Rising wealth meant a middle class emerging with greater demands for participation in political decision making. There were possibilities of increased unrest and protest if these were not met. Similar processes happened 72

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

around the same time in South Korea. The remarkable thing about Taiwan is the ways in which over a decade from the mid- 1980s to the mid-1990s, the progress towards universal franchise, full, multi-party, multi- candidate direct elections for the President went relatively smoothly. There were events like the Kaohsiung Incident in December 1979 which saw democracy activists rounded up. The most infamous part of this was the murder, unsolved to this day, of the mother and twin daughters of activist Lin Yi-hsiung.1 After these events, however, Taiwan’s progress to democracy was marked by an absence of upheaval or major bloodshed. By 1996, the island was in a position to hold its first ever open elections.

THE 1996 ELECTIONS AND THE MAINLAND The 1996 elections were historic in Taiwan. But they also had immense symbolic import for the PRC, and caused a crisis of interpretation there. Did an event like this presage greater and faster moves towards independence? The Communist Party knew well what the Nationalist Party was, and how to deal with it. They had been fighting with each other since the 1920s. But with the DPP it was a wholly different game. Beijing recognized the Nationalists as a pan-Chinese political force, even if it thought they were illegitimate and wrong. But from the very beginning they perceived the DPP as nothing more than a provincial one. They didn’t recognize provincial parties in the Mainland. Why countenance them in Taiwan, a place they regarded as their own territory? This lies at the heart of their antagonism to the DPP to this day. 73

C hap ter 2

The democratization process up to 1998 was about more than acknowledging and accommodating changed local circumstances. It is true that the DPP had a strong strand of independence, and was authentically and uniquely local. It was also true that in allowing political space for this party sanction was also given to expressing more Taiwan-centric views, some of which the Nationalists had never themselves espoused. No one could doubt the sincerity of the DPP leaders in defending Taiwan’s national interests. Figures like Chen Shui-bian and his eventual deputy Annette Lee had suffered badly during the era of activism before their party was allowed to operate more openly. Plenty of others had been in the same boat. They deserved to have a voice. For all these differences, on one issue they and the Nationalists were as one. Over the years, their chief grievances had derived from the ways in which the Mainland seemed to be forever boxing Taiwan into a corner. There was the horrible shock in 1971 when the UN shifted recognition from Taipei to Beijing, serving as the initial wake up call. Then the decision under the Carter administration in Washington almost a decade later in 1979 to recognize the PRC and not the ROC. This too had aroused similar levels of anger and upset. Events like these, and many other less high-profile ones, had alerted people from across the political spectrum to the fact that their situation was precarious and that they had to do something which would strategically strengthen them. Democratization was a forceful display of self-identity and agency. It was the island saying it wanted to find its own way and differentiate itself. But it had utility on a more strategic plane. It aligned Taiwan more closely to the 74

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

US and other powerful allies. It was possible, albeit unlikely, America might step aside from assisting a one party dictatorship, as had existed up to 1996, if push came to shove. But abandoning a democracy, especially in view of the complex relationship Washington had with Beijing, was far less likely. Democratization in this latter frame of understanding was therefore principally a security move, and in that respect a strategic masterstroke. The Nationalist candidate in 1996 was Lee Teng-hui. He was a native born Taiwanese, coming from the generation whose Japanese was better than their Mandarin. Lee had made greater distance from the PRC a fundamental part of his electoral platform. For this reason, he was to become a bogey man for Beijing throughout the 1990s, enflaming their sensitivities even more by making a quasi-official visit to the US to speak at his Alma Mater Cornell University a year before the elections in 1995. The import of this US visit was massive. The president of a place that the PRC simply refused to recognize, and asked all of its main diplomatic allies to similarly reject, was being accorded recognition by being able to travel while in office to the world’s most powerful and wealthy country. As if that was not enough, Lee came out with increasingly daring statements at the time about the two (PRC and ROC) enjoying ‘state to state’ relations. For the Jiang Zemin leadership emerging from the period of greater isolation after the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre all of this raised uncomfortable questions about their legitimacy. Were they really up to guiding the PRC project after the era of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping? Their anxieties were 75

C hap ter 2

aggravated by the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, an event of existential importance for them. Did this, and the demise of so many other Communist systems in Eastern Europe around the same time, mean that as a governance system Communism was doomed? In this context, it is not surprising that the 1996 election in Taiwan was of such immense interest to the PRC. This struck at its sense of confidence in its own sustainability and its legitimacy. With Hong Kong still under British colonial rule to 1997 too, everything seemed uncertain. Maybe even that could unravel, as a result of what Beijing thought was the provocative leadership of last Governor Chris Patten and the attempts he was making to introduce democratic reforms. Never particularly relaxed by the role of the outside world in what it considered its domestic affairs at the best of times, the Beijing leadership in the mid-1990s seemed to be even more anxious and beset by worries about what it saw as the malign intentions of the world around it. Those living in the PRC at that time could easily observe first hand the almost relentless mobilization and messaging across state media and in daily life about how Taiwan could not, and should not, try to move to separate itself from the Mainland. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in particular geared itself up. Stewardship of the Taiwan issue remained one of its core responsibilities because of its national defence role. Its leaders at the time, some of whom still sat on the Standing Committee of the Politburo and therefore had immense influence, were regarded as hawks on this issue, despite the voices of more sanguine figures who pointed out that the PRC’s military simply did not have the experience and the technology 76

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

to risk taking on the US and a Taiwanese army and navy which was largely equipped by its main ally. Many had watched the relentless asymmetry of force the US had displayed just a few years earlier in its attack on Iraq in the first gulf war in 1990. The idea of launching an amphibious attack across a 100 kilometre stretch of water from the south east coast of the PRC to the north coastline of Taiwan seemed fantastical. They knew they did not have the capacity and wherewithal to achieve this. The PRC response in 1995 and 1996 to Taiwan events exposed two characteristics which have remained broadly the case ever since. The first is that the more the PRC expressed an intention or view about should happen on the island, the more it seemed to be rewarded with the contrary outcome. Lee’s greatest electoral asset locally was the visceral anger he seemed to arouse in Beijing and how well this played with his domestic constituency. He was able to figure himself as a hero in the battle for freedom, democracy and the fight of the underdog against a bully. That was the narrative that Taiwan was also able to successfully promote about itself towards the outside world. The second though was far more complicated. On the issue of Taiwan, through many different acts and moves and forms of words over the last five decades, the PRC has created a policy led as much by emotion as by rational choice. This was shown in the previous chapter. There were times in 1995 when it seemed the Beijing government was being led more by headstrong, knee jerk responses blinded by powerful feelings rather than anything that looked remotely considered or strategic. We can tell this by the fact that after undertaking a series of visible and highly symbolic military exercises very close to Taiwan by 77

C hap ter 2

its navy, the PRC managed to attract so much concerned attention by the US that two aircraft carriers were sent to the region by the American Pacific fleet. This was not what had been Beijing’s original political intention. In this way Beijing manifested its vulnerability on the issue of Taiwan demonstrating that this was an issue that could be used to agitate and goad it. The highly emotional language deployed over the 1996 election period by Beijing was intense, but it did have a precedent. It echoed the kind of frenetic denunciations and the hectoring, fanatical tone produced in the Cultural Revolution three decades before. Opponents of any sort to the PRC’s position were set up as unequivocally evil. A world of Manichean moral neatness, with the wholly good ranged against the wholly bad, was constructed. State media, in print and on TV, unleashed an almost endless diet of vitriol, with Lee portrayed as a traitor to the Han nation, and overt and covert threats made to the island. In the end, however, this only reinforced the fact that the most powerful impact of the elections in 1996 derived from their happening without incident domestically, and that the Taiwanese responded peacefully and calmly despite the threats rained down on them. The year 1996 was many things, but it was truly a soft power harvest for Taipei. How is Taiwan Governed?

The ROC’s first Constitution in 1947 has subsequently been revised six times, the most recent in 2005. It sets out the core structures of governance for the island. At Central government level, the President and Vice President are elected every four years, and, as in the US, 78

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

can stand for a second term. There are five key branches of national government which sit under the President – these are called ‘yuans’. The Executive Yuan formulates and implements policies and can be seen as the governing branch along the lines of the Cabinet in the UK or the USA, with its various ministries, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Ministry of Finance. There are over thirty such Ministries or Commissions.2 The Executive Yuan is headed by the Premier who is a direct appointment of the President. The Legislative Yuan is the rough equivalent of parliaments in other multi-party systems, and consists at the time of writing in 2019 of 113 members. These are elected every four years on a one person one vote basis. Because this branch of government still works under the President it is not strictly a Westminster style chamber. Instead, its members are elected either in single member seats (73) like local representatives of specific areas, or proportionally according to which political party did best in the elections (34), with six seats allocated to aboriginal groups. The Judicial Yuan operates like the Supreme Court in the US, and its members are appointed by the President in consultation with the Legislative Yuan. The Control Yuan operates like an ombudsman or an auditor’s office. Its leadership is confirmed by the Legislative Yuan, with right of veto. The work of this part of government is to investigate and hold public officers to account. The Examination Yuan, as the title suggests, is in charge of examining civil servants and ensuring they are qualified to do their job. 79

C hap ter 2

At local level, Taiwan has 22 separate entities: six special municipalities such as Taipei and Kaohsiung; 13 counties; and three autonomous municipalities (Keelong, Hsinchu and Chiayi) with the same hierarchical status as counties. From 2014, the leaders and representatives of these local governments are elected every four years. On top of this, there are 198 county-administered townships and cities, and 170 districts—including six indigenous mountain districts. Taiwan is a thoroughly and well-governed place! Looking at the Taiwanese government structure one can find the residue of a number of different historic eras and influences. The Examination Yuan is a throwback to the Imperial Examination office under the Qing and imperial dynasties before this. The reasons that the Legislative Yuan does not function as a parliament in the way that Westminster or other such systems do was because of the prior existence of the National Assembly which was disbanded in 2005, and which filled this function. And though the constitutional structure of Taiwan was set in place in 1947, most of its conditions were not properly implemented till the lifting of martial law in the 1980s. Looking at the Executive Yuan and the list of ministries and commissions, one can also see historic anomalies – the continuation in existence, for instance, of a Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission, a throwback to the era when the ROC claimed full sovereign rights over the complete Mongolian and Tibetan areas. These, it has to be said, are somewhat remote from Taiwan’s daily political life today. The current system therefore is an almost iterative ‘work in progress’ with significant reforms introduced even 80

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

in the last decade to extend and deepen democracy. Some issues are not so palatable, however. The legal system still allows the use of the death sentence, and does not have trial by jury. This has been a source of criticism by other governments, such as those in Europe, who are opposed in principle, particularly to the use of the death sentence.

DEMOCRACY SINCE 2000 – THE RISE OF BREAD AND BUTTER ISSUES While 1996 posed Taiwan’s first great democratic test, the elections in 2000 and 2004 presented, perhaps, even trickier questions. Despite the sound and fury from Beijing, the old enemy of the Communists, the Nationalists, had managed to be victorious in 1996, meaning that in a sense there was no immediate radical change of administration and government. By 2000, dissatisfaction with the incumbents due to economic issues, and the fact that Lee was retiring to be replaced by a new candidate who was less well-known and popular, meant that for the first time the DPP, under former Mayor of Taipei Chen Shui-bian, a man with a long past of pro-independence sentiment, stood a good chance of winning. Once more, though less through military adventurism but more by heavy use of language and propaganda, Beijing signalled its unease at the DPP becoming the government of Taiwan. Once more, the result went the opposite way to its intentions, with Chen gaining a historic victory, and power passing peacefully to the opposition party. This, more than the previous election, showed that Taiwan was progressing towards a viable, stable 81

C hap ter 2

democracy. The Nationalist Party, which had been in unchallenged power since the 1940s, had to finally figure as a party out of government. The impact of this on its mindset and mode of operation was immense. For Chen Shui-bian, a battle of wills went on with Beijing over the next few years. For the Jiang Zemin and then Hu Jintao leadership, the issue was to prevent any sense on the island that independence was a viable option without immediate, full Mainland intervention. The ways in which they tried to ensure this happened are covered in the next chapter. For Chen, the issue was to balance the clear desire of the US under Presidents Clinton and then Bush that there be no provocation and that the issue between the PRC and ROC be sorted out peacefully and in the interests of both sides. That clearly did not include support for Taiwanese unilateral declarations of independence and the massive disruption and potential costs they would give rise to. While many members of the DPP therefore wanted to see this declaration and expression of local autonomy happen, now Chen was in power he needed to be aware that for security, economic and a host of other reasons, Washington was the key, indispensable ally. The US could not be alienated, and it had made its views on this issue very clear. Things were complicated by the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001. As a result of these, America and the PRC managed to work more closely together. America’s strategic interests shifted decisively to focusing on combatting radical Islamist movements, particularly in Central Asia and the Middle East. In Bush Junior’s ‘War on Terror’ the PRC figured as a strategic ally rather than a direct opponent. In this new 82

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

geopolitical situation, Taiwan’s job was to maintain stability and simply do its best to defend the status quo. As a democracy, as explained above, the US would remain loyal to it, but its support was not unconditional. The US would not tolerate actions which incited or were deliberately meant to antagonize the PRC. It had too much on its plate to get involved in this. Chen therefore had to maintain a torturous balancing act, ensuring that Taiwan strengthened its autonomy, but making sure that no red lines were crossed. Of these, the reddest were overt declarations of independence. In the early 2000s, politics in Taiwan was frenetic and often contentious. The cultural difference between the ‘Greens’ (DPP) and the ‘Blues’ (Nationalists) produced a new map of the island, with places like Kaohsiung in the south regarded as strongly DPP supporting, and cities like Taipei more ambiguous. Lines of division in society started to coalesce around these political differences. Broadly, the ‘new people’ who were first or second generation arrivals from the Mainland were supportive of the Nationalists and those who had ancestral links on the island going back further were likelier to lean towards the DPP. These divisions were by no means neat. The Nationalist Party supported a more conservative social view, but more capitalist economic philosophies. The DPP was more socially radical but more state-orientated in its welfare and economic policies. In that sense, the parties politically fell along the same ‘right wing/left wing’ alignment of the Republican and Democrat Parties in the US, or Conservative and Labour in the UK. Political allegiances complicated the already complex issue of identity. The democratic development of Taiwan from the late 83

C hap ter 2

1990s was as much one of self-discovery and understanding as of anything else. Through this process, the Taiwanese came to see themselves and the society around them differently. Divisions between people, because of the new sanction to openly express political beliefs without punishment or recriminations, became clearer. Within societies and families, the issue of politics began to figure far more than it ever had before. In the pre-democratic era, this had been a dangerous thing to be involved in, and something of a taboo issue. After the 1980s, this changed. Taiwan became a much more politicized society, with all the positives and negatives that this brought. The Chen era marked a continuation and a deepening of this process.

R E T U R N O F T H E N AT I O N A L I S T S – 2 0 0 8 Associated for so long with the authoritarian and often brutal rule of the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the Nationalist Party is the great survivor of modern Asian politics. Formally founded in 1919, it has its roots in the Revive China Movement in the 1890s in the twilight years of the Qing. This was associated with processes of urgent modernization of the country after its humiliating encounter with Western modernity from the 1839 Opium Wars onwards, and, more to the point, the great superiority of European military capacity. The Tongmenhui, founded in 1905, was the true parent to today’s Nationalists, influenced increasingly by Sun Yat-sen’s almost mystical vision of a Greater China, and then, on his death in 1925, taken up by the more muscular patriotic leadership of Chiang. 84

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

These patriotic credentials of the Nationalists are not to be sneered at. Even the Chinese Communist Party (CPC), despite its bitter, long competitive history with the Nationalists through the 1920s and on into the post-1949 era is willing to grant them respect. Chiang has been increasingly embraced as a worthy Chinese modern figure in his native Zhejiang within the PRC, and studied more respectfully in recent years. But from 1949, in total control in Taiwan, the party fell prone to the same problems as other monolithic systems. Its treatment of opposition in the early decades was draconian, creating a deep residue of resentment. More serious even than this was the immense amount of corruption associated with its rule. By the 1990s, the Nationalists was the wealthiest political party in the world. These gifted the opposition DPP with powerful ammunition to attack its opponent, and were part of the reason for their success in gaining power in 2000. But the Nationalist Party, despite its history, remains a potent political machine, and one that is highly adaptable and resilient. Thus, in 2008, after eight years out of power, it made a comeback. Their recovery of office under presidential candidate Ma Ying-jeou that year was the result of two issues. The first was economic worries which had eroded the DPP’s credibility. The second was the desire to see a more pragmatic, less fraught relationship across the Strait. On both of these key themes, the DPP in its second term had started to antagonize and lose voters. This was not surprising. It had not started this term in a strong position. Many had not even expected Chen to win the 2004 election, where victory had largely come as a result of a split opposition vote. But 2008 was an 85

C hap ter 2

unambiguous and final rejection of the Chen administration’s economic policies. For the concerns about policy towards the Mainland, the first cause of Ma’s success given above – economic factors – was by far the most important. After strong growth over the 1970s onwards, Taiwan had started to experience stagnant wages, slowing GDP and rising inflation in the 1990s and into the 2000s. Living standards after the initial decades of sharp acceleration started to drop. Ma’s administration came into power with plenty of good will and firm intentions. But their situation was exacerbated by factors beyond their control when the global economic crisis brought about a full scale recession in 2009. Ma’s mandate had been to find a way of re-energizing the economy and addressing some of the concerns the Taiwanese had about their living standards and their economic future. The outside world almost seemed to be conspiring against him. This period also therefore marked the start of a phenomenon which has deepened since: a process of decoupling where elections in Taiwan result in outcomes less linked to issues around the Mainland, but focused more on the bread and butter matter of politics – desire for better prosperity and for good and sustainable growth, jobs, public services and facing environmental challenges. The quandary that Ma had once he was elected, however, was one that had always been in Taiwan, and has continued to this day. This was that delinking the first and the second issues – economy and relations with the Mainland – outlined above, was not so simple. The easiest and largest source of economic stimulation was ironically also from the most 86

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

important source of Taiwan’s security headaches, the PRC. In the era after 1978, the implementation of ‘capitalism with Chinese characteristics’, as some have labelled it, meant that for most years the Mainland had enjoyed double digit growth. By 2010, it had become the world’s second largest economy, supplanting Japan. From the 1990s, Taiwanese businesses had been part of this incredible growth story, enjoying preferential policies for outsiders and the cheap and plentiful labour to promote their own development and expansion. But there was a price. Almost by accident, and much to the Mainland’s pleasure, Taiwan and the PRC had become a much more integrated economic unit, granting them the shadow of a platform for greater unity they had never enjoyed before. For Ma, therefore, while the desire was to continue Taiwanese benefit from this process, it was also to manage the security risks that arose from it. This was like squaring a circle. It meant trying to put in place firm boundaries between the economic and the political, never an easy thing to do. Even for a politician as skilled and good at public communication as Ma managing Cross Strait relations proved easier said than done. He did achieve re-election in the presidential election in 2012. But by 2014, moves like the signing the 2009 Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA – described more in the next chapter), the setting up of direct air, post and trade links with the Mainland for the first time since 1949, and some relaxation of investment protocols, while they achieved some benefits, were judged to have fallen short of expectations. More than this, they had also resulted in a greater sense of there being far more space for pressure 87

C hap ter 2

from the PRC in Taiwan. Tourism is a good example. It was true that by 2014, tourist numbers from the Mainland had risen exponentially, from a trickle to over 3 million annually, pumping welcome expenditure into the local economy. The 500 plus direct flight links had also boosted people-topeople contact, and showed the huge potential for interaction across the Strait. Taiwan became accessible to the Mainland as never before. It was also of immense convenience to the many tens of thousands of Taiwanese who had set up businesses and created links with the PRC, many of them living there long term, who were able to get back home without, as was the case before, spending hours and extra costs transiting in Hong Kong airport, the main hub. But the downside was that this important group, through their increased exposure in the Mainland, became much more careful about how they expressed their political views. Joint collaboration and work also meant a deeper sense of the negative costs of antagonizing Beijing. This was one of many signs of the new influence economic interaction with each other had given the PRC in Taiwanese affairs. The most dramatic expression of this dissatisfaction amongst voters was a series of protests in 2014 over the attempts by the Ma administration to sign into law a new agreement extending the 2009 ECFA to the more sensitive services sector. Widespread anger over the lack of tangible results from the earlier agreement, despite all the fanfare that accompanied its signing, along with frustration at continuing underwhelming growth, high prices and a series of other economic woes resulted in a series of large demonstrations 88

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

in Taipei. This, nicknamed the Sunflower Movement by commentators and the press, gave a common purpose to a large group of those who had felt marginalized or disaffected due to the Ma era policies. There was no easy common interpretation to the overall meaning of the movement. Some inspiration had come from watching protest movements in the Middle East during the Arab Spring from 2010 onwards. The Occupy Central activities which were also at that time starting to appear in Hong Kong, expressing their anger at political issues there, had some influence too. Activists in Taipei managed to occupy the Legislative Yuan building in the spring of 2014, causing a temporary crisis of law and order. The Ma response was to draw back from its legislative proposals and drop the new agreement. Ma himself however maintained the faith in continuing to optimize good relations with the Mainland, holding an unprecedented summit with the President of the PRC, Xi Jinping, in Singapore in late 2015. But in many ways, he had reached the limits of what could be done with a partner who clearly had a wholly different security and geopolitical vision. Ma’s administration ended in 2016. The Nationalist Party underwent a crisis of leadership, with its initial candidate for the presidential elections replaced hastily as opinion polls fell before the election in January of 2016. By the day of the vote, the candidate for the DPP, Tsai Ing-wen, whose first attempt to unseat the Nationalist Party in 2012 had ended in defeat, was victorious. She was elected Taiwan’s second DPP President, and its first female head of state. 89

C hap ter 2

Taiwan’s Presidents since 1996

Lee Teng-hui: Born in 1923, Lee was President of the ROC from 1988 to 2000, and, in 1996, the first fully democratically elected holder of the office. A native born Taiwanese, his youth had been spent in a place under Japanese occupation, meaning therefore that Japanese was his first language. He also typified a generation which, after the Second World War and the establishment of the ROC on Taiwan, acquired close ties to the US. He was educated in America, at Iowa State University, and then Cornell in the 1960s where he received a PhD in agriculture before returning to Taipei and becoming a politician in the early 1970s. Lee’s contribution to the development of Taiwanese politics was considerable. He embraced a philosophy of Taiwanization, and as he gained higher position became more vocal in his support for a stronger identity for Taiwan internationally. This was also underpinned by his personal Christian faith. On retirement in 2000, Lee remained an active voice in politics, and one which was increasingly critical of the party he had belonged to and finally led for much of his life. Chen Shui-bian: Born in 1950 to a relatively poor family, unlike his predecessor Lee, Chen was brought up speaking Mandarin. He studied law at the prestigious National Taiwan University, and in the 1970s practised commercial law in Taipei before becoming involved in politics because of the Kaohsiung Incident in December 1979 where he represented some of the key people involved during their trial. Jailed in the mid-1980s for libel, on his release he went into politics 90

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

full time, becoming Mayor of Taipei from 1994 to 1998, and President in 2000. Chen’s career after leaving office was mired in claims that his family, and in particular his wife, had been involved in corruption. Imprisoned in 2009, Chen was granted medical parole in 2015, but has not been able to speak publicly, and reportedly suffers from serious health issues. As the first leader of an opposition party voted to power against the Nationalist in Taiwan, many of Chen’s supporters felt that the actions against him after leaving office were motivated more by political vindictiveness rather than having any proper legal basis. Ma Ying-jeou: Elected in 2008, Ma Ying-jeou was born the same year as Chen. He was, however, a first generation Taiwanese, and during the 2008 election campaign the fact that he had been born in Hong Kong while his parents were making their way from their native Hunan province across to the island was used by opponents to cast doubt on the depth of his being ‘real’ Taiwanese. Other rumours also swirled around in the same area, with some stating that he had a Hong Kong and not Taiwanese residency. A graduate of National Taiwan University in law, he studied in the US in the 1970s at Harvard before returning to Taiwan and taking up a number of positions for the Nationalists through the 1980s and 1990s, before being elected Mayor of Taipei in 1998. His election as President in 2008 was on a mandate of over 58 per cent, with the second election in 2012 on 51 per cent. Ma’s period in power has been characterized by the significant efforts he put into building positive relations with the PRC. 91

C hap ter 2

Tsai Ing-wen: Current incumbent, elected in 2016, Tsai is partially of aborigine descent. Born the youngest of 11 children in 1956, she was educated at National Chengchi University in Taipei, in the US, and then did a doctorate at the London School of Economics. Tsai is unique, not just in being the first woman to hold the highest office, but also the first not to have been Mayor of Taipei and the first to have largely worked in administrative posts. She was head of the Mainland Affairs Council under Chen Shui-bian, charged with formulating and implementing policy towards the PRC. In the 1990s, she was also the chief World Trade Organization negotiator for the ROC. Her first attempt to gain office in 2012 was stymied by claims she failed to get the confidence of the US during a visit to Washington as candidate, where her views on relations with the PRC received criticism because they seemed too provocatively pro-independence. In 2016, on her second attempt, she was much more careful, although, as will be described later in this chapter, her attitude toward the ‘1992 Consensus’ has marked her out as increasingly dissatisfied with some parts of the current status quo.

THE 2018 ELECTIONS The development of democracy in Taiwan and its link with various separate identities within society along with their historic roots has resulted in vote outcomes in recent years which have been increasingly unpredictable and then, after the event, difficult to interpret. The 2018 local elections across 92

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

the 22 districts of local government covered above neatly illustrate this. The independent mayor of Taipei, former physician Ke Wen-je, was returned to power, albeit with a much reduced vote, falling from over 800,000 votes down to just half a million. For many reasons, this seat is taken as a politically highly meaningful one. Both former presidents Chen Shui-bian and Ma Ying-jeou served in this position before their elections to national leadership. It has therefore proved a springboard to higher things. But the biggest upset was outside of the capital. In a number of the traditional strongholds for the DPP, particularly Kaohsiung which had been strongly green since democratization in the 1990s, the Nationalist Party made a surprisingly strong showing. Once more, the party showed its almost indestructible quality. Like anywhere, mid-term or local elections are regarded as safe ways for electors to give voice to grievances. Their significance on a national level therefore has to be interpreted with caution. Even so, they do serve as a warning, and the size of the swing in the 2018 vote took many with surprise. Kaohsiung’s victorious candidate, Han Kuo-yu, who came literally from nowhere (he barely registered in a 2017 vote for Nationalist leadership) was one of the biggest shocks of the night, and may be a sign of things to come. Not just his victory, but the scale of it, with two thirds of the vote compared to his DPP opponent, was striking. So too was his almost Trumplike mode of speaking, stressing all the time the need for the city to develop and improve its economy. He was also able to play against a DPP leadership locally that had been in power so long that they were seen to have grown complacent. For all 93

C hap ter 2

these reasons, this was a significant victory, and a sign of the shifting and more complex terrain in local politics. The 2018 results do show that anxieties about the economy and public services have come increasingly to the fore and are playing a decisive role in electoral outcomes. To give one example, Taiwan has one of the world’s best health care services, but it is also a place which is now being impacted by the transition to an ageing population and the effects of a low birth rate. Indeed, average births per family are one of the lowest in the world. Electorates in Taiwan are as concerned about how to bear the costs of this demographic transition, with fewer tax payers and more retired to support, and how to preserve the current generous welfare and health system. In this respect, this testifies to a normalization of local politics. People are voting with concerns about the standard of their daily lives uppermost in their minds, not larger and sometimes more abstract geopolitical issues. The November elections saw the DPP take a brutal electoral beating. Of the 22 seats nationwide, they were left with control of just six cities and counties, with the Nationalist Party either taking or retaining control of 15. This was down 13 from their previous result. Of the six special municipalities, the DPP retained seats in only the cities of Tainan and Taoyuan, with the Nationalists taking New Taipei, Taichung, and the key seat of Kaohsiung mentioned above. On the same day, ballots were also cast on 10 referendum questions, the more progressive of which, including a vote on the legalisation of same sex marriage, were all rejected by voters. Despite this, the Tsai government proceeded to pass equal rights laws 94

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

for Lesbians, Gays, Transgender and Bisexual couples in May 2019. These elections also saw the appearance of new local political players. The complete dominance of the DPP and Nationalists is being contested. Of these, The Third Force, a recently formed party which came into parliament in 2016, is the most prominent. But other alternatives are appearing. At the moment, it is questionable whether they will significantly erode the dominance of the DPP and KMT. These established parties at least have the membership, resources and personnel to operate across the island to field and support candidates. Many of the new players have concentrated on special issues such as rights to pension, social policy reform, and more bespoke matters. The narrative of the 2014 and 2016 elections, however, has continued. Public views are becoming increasingly fragmented, with the more broadly conservative who opposed same sex marriage for instance ranged against the comparatively liberal postures of urban dwellers. There is a big difference between these two poles, meaning politicians have a hard job to broker compromise and find consensus. The one clear and unambiguous conclusion from 2018, however, was that the appetite for pro-unification is at an all-time low. Despite high expenditure, the People First Party, founded by James Soong in 2000, and which managed with Nationalist candidate Lien Chan to almost win the vice-presidency in a coalition 2004, secured only 8 out of 912 council seats. This was despite being one of the biggest spenders. Attempts to interpret the November elections as a move to a more pro-China posture because of Nationalist Party success needs to be set 95

C hap ter 2

aside the fact that the most overtly pro-unification actor was almost decimated. The rhetoric of good relations with the PRC might be electorally palatable, but not promotion of policy that actively tries to move forward to achieve unification. As soon as the results were clear, Tsai took responsibility for the DPP’s poor showing by resigning the chairmanship of her party. This is a largely ceremonial position, so its real political meaning is limited. There were still two years to address the grievances that the elections revealed. Tsai is almost certain to be her party’s candidate in 2020. Nor should her chances of re-election be downgraded too sharply. The Nationalists have to come up with a decent candidate of their own to stand against her. This was something that proved very hard in 2016 when their first choice, Hung Hsiu-chu, was unceremoniously removed only a few weeks before election day and replaced by Eric Chu. Han Kuo-yu in Kaohsiung may prove a longer term prospect, with his popularity since election continuing. But the Nationalist Party has a long road to travel before it can realistically stand a chance of creating attractive policies that see its choice succeed in the next Presidential elections.

D E M O C R A C Y I S H E R E T O S TAY – N O M AT T E R W H AT Democracy does many things. But Taiwan adds further proof to one of these. It doesn’t just change institutions and processes, but more fundamentally it changes people. When they can express their irritation or support by actually voting for them rather than feeling powerless, it changes the relationship they 96

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

have with politicians. It also changes people’s relations with each other when it means they can openly dispute specific problems and policy positions and act through the ballot box on them. Whatever its current challenges, democracy since 1996 has irrevocably changed the nature of the Taiwanese and had a huge impact on life in the island. It has meant people now know their society and themselves better. There are few illusions. Leaders and the led know far more about the nature of public opinion, and how it shifts and changes, with the good and bad that come from that. More profoundly though, rather than just being a process, democracy has created a much more liquid notion of what it is to be Taiwanese. It has had an impact on people’s identity and how they see themselves. Once there were non-democratic Taiwanese. Now there are democratic ones. The two are different, and this is reflected in the way they speak and act, and what they think about themselves. Democracy has also reinforced the differences between Taiwan and the PRC. Before 1996, in theory at least, assumptions about how reunification might occur were simply a matter of one unelected government doing a deal with another, even although this never actually happened. Now, the voices of the Taiwanese people, with all the complexity and nuances within this group, have to be factored into this ‘grand negotiation.’ PRC leaders cannot airily declare, as they could before 1996, that all the Taiwanese support reunification. They have the evidence of multiple elections, showing that this is simply not the case. Whatever moves are made on cross Strait relations, Taiwanese people need to be persuaded or heard. Being a democracy means they are not passive. Somehow Taiwanese 97

C hap ter 2

people have to be factored in. Anything else would be an act of aggression, something that would undermine Beijing’s commitment to peace and closeness to the people of the island. Domestically, democracy is a good thing, for sure. But it has not made life simpler. Its introduction and development on the island has deepened the challenge of how to create consensus in an electorate and a community that is often divided. These were often unseen or unheeded before. Now they are visible for everyone and have to be addressed and managed. Ironically, on the most potentially divisive issue of all, attitudes towards what to do about relations with the PRC, the overwhelming consensus has remained to opt for the status quo – at least for the moment. A democratic Taiwan trying to create some means to link with a non-democratic PRC is hard to conceptualize without a highly asymmetrical outcome. For pragmatic reasons, therefore, the Taiwanese adopt the holding pattern of maintaining the current situation, with the hope that further along the line there might be changes that make the problems of today resolvable tomorrow. Being a democracy gives Taiwan one extra line of argument against a thrusting, assertive Beijing. The rules of the game now are simple, they can say. If in the future we get a majority for reunification, then we reunite. So we’re not blocking off the possibility. It’s just that, so far, the mood is clear. People don’t want this. One day that might change. But clearly not now. There are plenty of potential problems in this situation. In the future, democracy may well result in Taiwan having far stronger pro-independence views, and the election of an overtly pro-independence candidate who is willing to do 98

T he Gre at T ra nsfor m at i o n

something about this. That will create pressure on Beijing to respond, with catastrophic consequences. Beijing could well change, either in a more politically positive direction, or in an even more nationalistic and unstable one. This, too, will necessitate calibrations of opinion on the island. Despite the recent focus on economic and domestic issues, the Taiwanese elector participates in electoral events that are freighted with much more meaning than is usual, even in local votes, whether they like it or not. This comes from the context in which their democracy exists, and the meaning of that democracy, which are very different from elsewhere. The key thing to remember is that while they may not have an uncontested sovereignty, they do have democracy, and that is a fundamental part of their identity now. That is why democracy on Taiwan is so significant far beyond the place it is practised in, and why it will continue to be so, perhaps even increasingly, into the future.

99

CHAPTER 3

AT THE FRONT LINE OF ‘SHARP POWER’ TAIWAN’S REL ATI ON WITH THE PEO PLE’ S REPUBL IC OF CHI NA

Most Taiwanese spend their lives thinking about things that are immediately in their environment. The opportunities for creating wealth, for instance, or the quality of the physical space they live in, or the social and political freedoms they have. With passports allowing them to travel now to over 145 countries with a visa waiver, the Taiwanese are also able to operate as global citizens. But, whether they like it or not, their lives are overshadowed by the views and intentions of a neighbouring party (the PRC) towards the territory they occupy, and the nature of their own citizenship. The PRC figures in Taiwanese life in many different ways. It exists as a constant source of cultural appeal and persuasion. It is present in people’s lives as a place that is forever stressing shared emotional bonds based on consanguinity and kindredness. This is not about the thousand plus war heads reportedly ranged along the coast of Fujian facing the island. That is a less lethal form of armoury than the spiritual battery that Beijing forever deploys. Overtly and subliminally, it is constantly sending messages to the citizens of Taiwan to ensure that they always remember one thing: that they are Chinese before they are ever Taiwanese, and that this takes precedence in their lives. Beijing seeks to annex the space of 103

C hap ter 3

the heart, not the land, despite all it says. It binds the island with care and a thick mesh of solicitude and love. As argued in Chapter 1, this discourse of Chineseness presents the Taiwanese in ways as automatically belonging to the world of the larger partner, as a child belongs to its parent. When they travel, they will often be asked if they are from China, as though they are being let out of their home territory with someone else’s permission, which needs to be double- checked. Then they need to explain that their olive green passports state clearly they come from the Republic of China, so they don’t need anyone’s assent to travel. In recent years, the impact of the Mainland on their practical lives has grown not just outside Taiwan, but within it too. In the past it was the source of threat figured through military manoeuvres undertaken in the waters around its borders. Now it occurs as a source of constant psychological pressure within a much more intimate sphere. Martial law may have been lifted, and requirements of different kinds of national service relaxed, but in the media and in public discourse the reasons for the need to be vigilant are never hard to find. Beware of this love, the message seems to be clear – the costs of accepting it are very, very high. For it is love which is now the PRC’s greatest weapon – love, to coin a phrase much deployed by the Communist Party, with Chinese characteristics. The influence of this is almost like water or a kind of ether– not overt or obvious a lot of the time, but still invisibly there, lapping around the edges of people’s lives, sometimes encroaching, supplying a sort of persistent, never-ending slight pressure. In the Ma era, the strategic decision was 104

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

made to engage with the positives of this presence, to try to optimize the benefits of Chinese economic growth, so Taiwan could also enjoy these. Tourists came in larger numbers, businesses worked more in the PRC, and investment rose, though under strict regulations. There was an era in which the clashes between the two in international space, through vying for diplomatic partners, calmed down. As for so many other countries and territories, in the economic realm the PRC offered much to think about in terms of collaboration and cooperation. And it was still not such a major international player that the security issues it posed weren’t at least manageable. Taiwan’s situation since 2012 is symptomatic of the impact that the radical change in the PRC’s geopolitical posture has had on the wider world. The period of pragmatic co-operation and the warmth flowing from it in the Ma era is over. Beijing seeks to influence directly and indirectly, deliberately and sometimes unintentionally, the lives of citizens on the island. But it now has far more capacity to do this. It is an ever more gargantuan, looming presence, one that is unavoidable, and yet not easy to embrace in view of the unilateral and uncompromising emotional demands that it makes. These are different in nature to mere threats of physical annexation. Beijing’s new message is clear. ‘We are not interested in your bodies’, it says, ‘It is your souls we want’. This raft of new, non-economic, more emotionally driven narratives have only increased in intensity in the nationalist era of Xi. In his PRC, the country is on a mission to be a great, powerful force again, its status recognized by the world around. Nor is this narrative an abstract one. It has a series of 105

C hap ter 3

clear time lines, with 2021 looming most imminently. This is what the Xi leadership call the first centenary goal. It marks the foundation of the Communist Party a hundred years earlier. Full delivery of this moment necessitates that the mythical ‘greater China’ is resurrected again. The year 2049, the time of the second, will see the hundredth anniversary of the PRC, and the arrival of ‘democracy with Chinese characteristics.’ This has heaped pressure on policy towards Taiwan, whose continuing separate existence is an effrontery to the great story Xi’s PRC is seeking to tell with these two temporal landmarks. Having created these story lines, the Chinese leaders are now servants in the demand to deliver what is promised through them. No wonder Taiwan and its people frequently appear in all of this almost as parts of a play where the plot line has already been written, only by writers elsewhere and with a role for them they have never been consulted on or even auditioned for. The policy framework on both sides towards each other is the construct not of one day, or of one person, but of a large number of actors over a long period of time. Mapping out, as this chapter will do, the developments of separate positions from the 1990s to 2019 repays the investment in time because it clarifies why things are where they are today. This whole process was a dialogue in which the crucial issue at the heart – that of sovereignty and final status – was never subject to a shared language and any kind of consensus between both parties. It is as though both have been debating passionately how to argue about an issue, rather than arguing about the issue itself. Strange forms of language have been created to try to 106

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

create the allusion that there is some kind of agreed commonality at the heart of everything. This at least has allowed the two to speak with each other and avoid acknowledging their stark differences. Things like the ‘1992 Consensus’, for instance, and externally, the ‘One China Principle’. For these, however, the underlying logical fallacy they embody remains the same – they all aim to make one plus one equal one. This sort of outcome is possible only in a form of maths that has never been practised before. And yet it is in order to maintain the fiction that this impossibility might be possible that the current status quo focuses on. Benedict Anderson famously talked of an ‘imagined community’ where nations were constructs of history, identity, feeling, intangible things with nothing much to do with land borders but more with what lay in the mind.1 With Taiwan and China there is almost an ‘imagined non-community’, a space where they try to permanently evade each other and recognition of their massive mutual differences and the incompatibility that flows from that. This chapter will look at the development of policy positions between each other, and then at the menu of recently emerging ‘sharp power’ techniques that the Mainland has used to make its power, which was once more notional and abstract, something real and constricting in the lives of Taiwanese today.

C O N T E X T S : T H E E V O LV I N G B E I J I N G P O L I C Y FRAMEWORK TOWARDS TAIWAN2 Every single decision relating to Taiwan, made by Beijing, whether it be big or small, occurs in a particular policy context, 107

C hap ter 3

and is the growth and development of that. This context is the result of over six decades of evolving discussion and debate within Beijing. Very often it is related to domestic issues, almost serving as a continuum of them. Under Mao Zedong from 1949, the approach was initially bellicose. Plans were made for a full invasion of the island in 1950. The Korean War and the need to commit massive amounts of troops, including Mao’s own son who died in the conflict, scuppered this. From the early 1950s, matters settled down into an acceptance of the status quo of division for today, with the caveat that at some point in the future reunification on Beijing’s terms had to happen. As the price of rapprochement in the 1970s, the US under Nixon agreed on a form of words acknowledging a ‘One China Principle’ which appeared in the 1972 Shanghai Communique. The impact of this policy is still with us today, and is covered in more detail later. What is indisputable is that any country seeking diplomatic relations with the PRC must pay lip service to this principle. One thing the policy has definitely done in the last four decades is to create a wide space that can accommodate different postures and flexible approaches, guided by pragmatism, for Beijing and others. Under Deng Xiaoping as paramount leader in the 1980s and 1990s, the onus for national policy was on accelerating economic growth and rebuilding the PRC’s military and diplomatic capacity as quickly as possible after the ravages of the final decade of the Mao years. In this new framework Taiwan became an investment partner, and a more benign approach emerged. Deng’s public position was that for on an issue as complex as this, it was best to let the 108

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

future generations work something out when things became more manageable. The main thing was to adhere to a holding position where no drastic concessions were made, and certain boundaries observed. Establishing, reinforcing and defending those boundaries were the key responsibilities under Jiang Zemin and then his successor Hu Jintao rather than initiating anything. Their main task was to ensure the rule of the game of reunification started under Mao were observed, even if they could not go for victory yet. In January 1995, as the first of these iterations, Jiang proposed during his New Year speech eight core points. This stressed economic, cultural and people-topeople interactions. They also made clear that anything that could be interpreted as overt moves towards independence by actors in Taiwan would be opposed. They asserted that the PRC would never renounce use of force if a unilateral declaration of independence were ever made.3 A broadly similar set of points were delivered by Hu Jintao, though compressed into a four point declaration over a decade later in 2008. These were made during a meeting with Lien Chan, honorary Chair of the Nationalist Party at the time. ‘Building mutual trust, laying aside disputes, seeking consensus and shelving differences, and creating a win-win situation’, were the things that Hu laid down4 A report on New Year’s Day 2009 a few months later increased the principles from four to six. These were: : ‘1) firm adherence to the “one China” principle; 2) strengthening commercial ties, including negotiating an economic cooperation agreement; 3) promoting personnel exchanges; 4) stressing common cultural links between the two sides; 109

C hap ter 3

5) allowing Taiwan’s “reasonable” participation in global organizations and 6) negotiating a peace agreement’.5 The fifth principle, in particular, in the era of Xi Jinping has become the area where most disagreement is focused. Now it seems there is no ‘reasonable’ kind of engagement with such organizations, and any moves by Taiwan to do something about this are fiercely rebuffed. In 2005, too, the Chinese government passed an anti-secession law committing it legally to use force were Taiwan to declare independence. Taiwan did not simply passively receive these announcements from Beijing. It too developed its own series of distinctive policies to promote its strategic objectives. What it most needed was a framework within which it would be able to work with Beijing in order to develop its economic, political and diplomatic needs without having its autonomy constrained. The ‘1992 Consensus’ was perhaps the most prominent, a form of words agreed in Hong Kong between both sides, in which each recognized that there was one China, but chose to interpret this in different ways. The consensus has been the subject of fierce debate ever since. Many attempts have been made simply to scrap it, particularly by the DPP who fundamentally disagree with the whole notion of reunification in the first place. Under the presidency of Tsai Ing-wen it has become a particular bone of contention, with Beijing demanding its affirmation as though it were a declaration of loyalty and faith, and the government of Taiwan seeking new forms of language in order to give themselves more space. Tsai avoided mention of the consensus during her election campaign, despite demands from Beijing for her to do so, and managed to ignore 110

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

the consensus in her inauguration speech. In responses to a speech by Xi Jinping in January 2019 she took things a step further in simply saying that the idea made no sense. This will be discussed below. Leaders like Ma Ying-jeou subsequently set out corresponding principles for cross-Strait relations which echoed those issued by Jiang and Hu in their boundary setting nature. However, while the language these statements are framed in from Beijing takes the form of a mixture of positive and negative, Ma’s declaration before his election in 2008 took was issued as the ‘three nos’ – ‘no unification, no independence and no use of force’. 6

T H E X I E R A : N AT I O N A L I S M R E D U X The Xi approach to Taiwan is therefore constructed on the edifice of these previous positions and statements. Overall commitment to the language of the ‘One China Principle’ and the need for political unification have been preserved. What has changed is not the substance, however, but the style of how this policy is communicated. There is a new sense of urgency, and a fresh assertiveness. The impression given is that whereas in the past there was no feeling of any imminent need to sort this problem out, with the aforementioned 2021 centenary goal looming, and great national status within reach, resolving the status of Taiwan is now a high priority. Nationalism within the PRC under Xi is a new, core source of legitimacy. In the Jiang and Hu eras, production of GDP growth and focus on tangible economic outcomes was 111

C hap ter 3

the main basis of the Party’s right to enjoying a monopoly on power. The period of slower growth since 2012 however has meant the emergence of more complex measures to judge performance. At the National People’s Congress, the meeting of China’s parliament in March 2019, for instance, the Premier Li Keqiang in his work report simply referred to a band of GDP growth from 6 to 6.5 per cent rather than giving a specific figure. More impressionistic, aspirational language has appeared to articulate these more complex goals. In 2013, the Xi administration started talking of a ‘China Dream’, promising to make the PRC a place where people’s living standards were high, their international status enhanced, and the country seen as a major global power. Stirring references to national renaissance and rejuvenation, and the final fulfilment of historic missions appeared much more. Xi and his Politburo colleagues visited the Museum of Revolutionary History in Beijing in early 2013 in order to reinforce the notion of the one party system being a form of salvation for the PRC, and the main strategic asset in delivering a stable and sustainable great nation. For all the complexity in the domestic and international situation from 2012 onwards, the political programme of the Xi era can be summarized in one single simple phrase: to make one party rule in China sustainable. Nationalism feeds into this.7 The Xi style of politics is one where the power is more often than not in the story being told. The most compelling story of all is that which speaks of a country in modern history all too frequently riven by social, regional and other fractures, despite its placidly unified appearance on the surface, which is now on 112

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

the cusp of a great historic comeback. This tale of restoration and rejuvenation is by no means unique to the PRC. Trump’s ‘Make America Great Again’ from 2016, or the UK with its Brexit adventures are good examples of narratives of national identity that are attempting to reclaim a previous golden age. These have power no matter how much they might seem to violate logic and other norms. But the attraction of the tale delivered by Xi and leaders around him has proved more potent than many others. Media, propaganda and heavy government messaging have all reinforced this, drawing on a series of patriotic education campaigns since the 1990s instilling a sense in young Chinese, in particular, that the rebirth of their country is something that is morally owed them. It is not that it will happen, or is meant to happen, but that it should happen. The outside world, who did so much to bring China low in the last century and a half, now have a moral duty to ensure its restoration happens smoothly.8 The Xi era has distilled and intensified this historic process.9 In the Xi iteration of this narrative, the Mao era of experimentation and socialist reconstruction from 1949 to 1976 created a body of knowledge about the unique conditions in the PRC and the precise form of modernity that might be best to apply to these. Reform and opening up since 1978 simply continued trying to pursue the same objective, the creation of a powerful, strong, independent country, but with the difference that the tactic of using capitalism with Chinese characteristics became the main tool rather than class struggle and Utopian socialism. Unlike in many of the external historiographies, where PRC development before 113

C hap ter 3

and after 1978 are seen as marking two very different phases to the extent that they might as well refer to two countries, for Xi they are simply part of the same continuum. These are united by the fact that for whatever differences in policy, their fundamental mission (a word he used over 60 times in his epic address to the 19th Party Congress in October 2017) is a nationalistic one. Under Xi, the historic narrative has even more precise definition. Everything is geared towards the two centennial goals, with the first in 2021 looming every closer. Through the whole complex mesh of provincial and national and then international policies, these great ambitions manifest themselves. They are the point. Everything else sits under them. They cast a moral shadow across and over everything. Never again, Xi and his colleagues are saying, will the country be returned to the lamentable, wretched condition of victimization and humiliation it experienced in the past. The Communist Party insures against this. Through ideas like the ‘Belt and the Road Initiative’ (BRI), Xi’s PRC is seeking validation and status from the world as a great power restored to its central global position, one it believed it occupied in the pre-modern era. And while the vast majority of Chinese do not believe in Marxism-Leninism, nor in the intricacies of Xi Jinping thought, as spelt out at the 2017 congress and placed formally in the Constitution then, this nationalist story is the one that reaches them. There is no abstraction about it. It is a real thing, happening in and through their lives. More remarkably, their lives are part of the story, not something set parallel or against it.10 114

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

THE COST OF LACK OF REAL CONTACT These are the high level issues. But there are more prosaic things to think about. One is the kinds of advice and contact with Taiwan that the key decision makers in Beijing might have, and where, in their often remote cloistered worlds of power they might get counsel about this island they claim as their own. It is now widely appreciated that there has been considerable centralization of decision making in the Xi years. Xi has been nicknamed by some the chairman of everything. One of the key policy making groups, directly related to the Taiwan issue, and testifying to its immense importance and strategic priority, is the ‘Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs’. This, inevitably, is chaired by Xi, as one of a network of these entities which put Party and government and other players together in a common space to try to hammer out general policy positions. Very little has been publicized about the formal outcomes of these Central Leading Group discussions, nor what kinds of deliberations might take place on Cross Strait issues. What is easier to speculate about is the relative lack of licence and freedom on this issue that Xi and his administration have. They are not creators, but inheritors of a framework largely devised in the era of Mao and Deng from 1949 to the 1990s. They have not produced any new ideas along the lines of Deng’s ‘One Country, Two Systems’ as a potential solution, but worked with what has been given them. This means that policy has not kept up with the very significant developments on the island over this time, from 115

C hap ter 3

the change in political model, to the fact that most Taiwanese have a far looser connection to the place declaring itself their Motherland than their parents or grandparents. It would be rational for PRC policy to be revised to take account of these developments. But until the time when the massive political and historic status of Mao and Deng is questioned and changed, something unlikely to happen any time soon, their core policy postures stay in place like pieces of key architecture in a huge building. Remove these, and the building collapses. This gives PRC postures towards Taiwan a static, almost ahistorical quality. No matter what evidence there is of real transformation on the island, this is not heeded. In the early days under Xi there was the expectation that his 16 years as an official at various different levels from 1984 to 2000 in Fujian, a province directly opposite Taiwan with many different economic and people to people links with the island, would at least mean he was well-informed and willing to think about Cross Strait issues a little differently. This hope was compounded by the fact that he enjoyed an even more intimate link through his wife, the famous singer Peng Liyuan. She has relatives living on the island who moved there during the major migration over 1949. She even personally visited, long before her husband became a prominent national leader in the 1990s. In his day-to-day life as a local leader, Xi dealt with Taiwanese business people, the Taishang, discussed in Chapter 5. He was familiar with their major role from the 1990s as investors when links between the two economies expanded and liberalized. Despite this, Xi’s elevation has seen no significant policy changes for a good reason: such changes are not possible in the 116

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

current context without de-Maoification or de-Dengification. All that has happened is an increase in nationalist tone. That only makes more conciliatory approaches even more unlikely. There are also worries, as one interviewee the authors spoke to in September 2018 stated, that the tight-knit and increasingly small circle of real decision makers in Beijing has less rather than more up to date views on Taiwan than before. In a prior discussion in 2015 with a Taiwanese academic, one of the authors of this book remembered that they said within the PRC experts on Taiwan were characterized as ‘capitulators’ if they came from Xiamen, the closest main city in the PRC to Taiwan, which has a major think tank on Taiwanese affairs. These have close links with Taiwan, and frequent interaction, and are therefore regarded as being tainted by an over-sympathetic view. Those in Shanghai, in institutes like the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies, are regarded as being less well-informed, but more willing to abide by the Beijing policy view, with at least some latitude. For Beijing, however, those nearest to the power centre, the orthodoxy is almost complete. Under Xi, for a host of reasons too, discipline has been demanded from universities and other entities which were once able to offer different and perhaps more risky ideas on sensitive issues. Conventionality prevails. That impacts on the quality of advice given to central leaders, with the suspicion that they are increasingly being served, courtier like, ideas that accord with what officials think they want to hear, rather than new ideas or perspectives that might challenge them. To be innovative on Taiwan, never an easy issue at the best of times, in 2019 is particularly unwise and risky. 117

C hap ter 3

T I M E T O M O V E O N : P R C N AT I O N A L I S M AND THE ISSUE OF TAIWAN Perhaps for this reason, unlike Jiang and Hu, Xi Jinping has not produced the kind of list of key points or proposals about the management of Taiwan that were detailed earlier in this chapter. This is also because the era of programmatic politics, and of carefully delineating boundaries, is over. The technocrats typified by Hu Jintao and his colleagues have now gone. The politicians more akin to the era of Mao are back in charge. Many have commented on the more communicative, assertive and ambitious nature of Chinese foreign policy under Xi. In August 2013, he asked fellow cadres at a Propaganda and Work Conference to ‘ make sure that the PRC’s case was being better heard, and more attended to’. Cadres must, he said, ‘pay attention to linking up the Chinese Dream with the people of all countries and all regions realizing their own dreams, and guide international society to completely and objectively understand the Chinese Dream through stimulating mutual interests and win-win’.11 In addition to this, a year later speaking at the Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affairs in Beijing, he requested that China pursue a more comprehensive, strategic, and outward looking foreign policy stance. Xi, according to the official Xinhua news agency summary of the speech, ‘stressed that China should develop a distinctive diplomatic approach befitting its role of a major country. We should, on the basis of summing up our past practice and experience, enrich and further develop principles guiding our diplomatic work, and conduct diplomacy 118

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

with a salient Chinese feature and a Chinese vision’.12 The ethos the famous Deng Xiaoping ‘24 character statement’ of foreign affairs, roughly translated at ‘Observe calmly; secure our position; cope with affairs calmly; hide our capacities and bide our time; be good at maintaining a low profile; and never claim leadership’, which emerged after the Tiananmen Square 1989 incident is being superseded by something more ambitious. This has been accompanied by a tone and attitude to foreign affairs which is seen as more commensurate for the world’s second largest economy. Meekness and humility are things of the past. Under Xi, the PRC can walk and stand proud. Such a posture has gained it a reputation not so much as a hard power or soft power actor but necessitated the introduction of a new term: the PRC as a ‘sharp power’ actor. Taiwan has borne the brunt of this new attitude, suffering some of its most obvious manifestations. The key incident marking the start of this was the meeting with a former vice President of Taiwan Vincent Siew on 6 October 2013 in the PRC. Xi was recorded as stating during their conversation that ‘the longstanding political division between the two sides will have to be eventually resolved step-by-step as it should not be passed on generation after generation … We have reiterated that we are willing to engage in reciprocal negotiations on bilateral political issues with Taiwan under the “One China” framework’.13 The meaning of this key phrase ‘not be passed on generation after generation’ became a bit clearer when the first ever personto-person meeting between a leader of the PRC and that of Taiwan became reality in November 2015. Ma Ying-jeous’s 119

C hap ter 3

historic summit with Xi in Singapore marked the high point of a moment of optimism. It seemed that Xi was as powerful as others had said he was, and was able to do things that his predecessors had not been in a position to achieve. Whatever else the Ma-Xi Singapore meeting was, it displayed the ways that the PRC’s president had the political capital and authority domestically to agree to something that, had it gone wrong, would have provoked huge arguments and disagreements back home. But the positive atmosphere created by the summit unfortunately did not last long. Only a few months later Ma was no longer president, and the DPP, historically much tougher on the issue of relations with the PRC, came to power under Tsai Ing-wen. The détente, such as it was, came to a halt, and the PRC’s version of the sunshine policy, involving economic and other forms of cultural and social inducements, ran into a major eclipse.

THE TAIWAN PRC NEXUS: STRUCTURAL IMPEDIMENTS In January 2019, Xi Jinping delivered a speech on the Taiwan issue. New Year declarations have become a feature of PRC political life in the last few decades. So too has marking anniversaries. The cause behind the 2019 event was the need to commemorate the fortieth anniversary of a message sent by the PRC government to Taiwanese ‘compatriots’ in 1979. In the view of the leadership around Deng Xiaoping at the time in Beijing, this heralded a new and more flexible approach to Cross Strait issues. The idea was simply to see a 120

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

framework set in place for more dialogue and then, eventually, integration. Xi’s points in the 2019 declaration were easy to summarize: • China must be and will be reunified. It is a historical conclusion drawn over the 70 years of the development of cross-Strait relations, and a must for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation in the new era. • The Taiwan question originated from national weakness and disorder, and will definitely end with national rejuvenation. • Both sides are all of the same family. The cross-Strait affairs are domestic affairs and should naturally be addressed through discussion and consultation by them, and not outsiders. • Both solemnly proposed that political parties and all sectors on both sides of the Strait may recommend representatives to conduct extensive and in-depth democratic consultation on cross-Strait relations and the future of the nation, and establish institutional arrangement for peaceful development of cross-Strait relations, on the basis of the common political foundation of upholding the 1992 Consensus and opposing ‘Taiwan independence’. • Cross-Strait reunification is the trend of history. ‘Taiwan independence’ goes against the trend of history and will lead to a dead end. • Beijing was willing to create broad space for peaceful reunification, but will leave no room for any form of separatist activities. 121

C hap ter 3

• Chinese don’t fight Chinese. The PRC are willing to strive for peaceful reunification with utmost sincerity and greatest efforts as peaceful reunification is in the best interests of compatriots across the Strait as well as the Chinese nation. • The PRC makes no promise to renounce the use of force and reserve the option of taking all necessary means. This does not target compatriots in Taiwan, but the interference of external forces and the very small number of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists and their activities. • Both sides should enhance the free flow of trade, connectivity in infrastructure, exchange of energy and resources, and shared industrial standards. • Xi sincerely hoped all the compatriots in Taiwan treasure peace as much as they treasure their own eyes, and pursue national reunification as much as they pursue happiness. • The Chinese people’s affairs should be decided by the Chinese people. The Taiwan question is China’s internal affairs and allows no external interference as it concerns China’s core interests and the national bond of the Chinese people. 14 This is a definitive list of the keywords and the underlying set of ideas which is deployed by the PRC’s contemporary discourse about Taiwan in order to exercise domination. This is not, however, just a form of words, but embodies a philosophy and a viewpoint which lies at the heart of this strategy of control. It is indicative of the kind of trap that Beijing has built, within which Taiwan is locked. Tactically, this consists of 122

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

power over the way a story is told, and the language used to tell that story. But this power is also present in the deep structure these things are built on, not just on the surface, and denies Taiwan its own exclusive agency and autonomy. Xi’s declaration reaffirms the sense of historic inevitability and a view of history which is scientifically determined, something referred to previously in this book. It is a history which runs according to Marxist dialectics, with a process leading to outcomes which are always determined by what has occurred before, with no opt outs or escape routes. This history, above all, is science, not art. And for Xi, as with the leaders of the Party before him, that is a source of jubilation because this process has a positive outcome. It is one in which progress is always being made. Like it or not, support it or oppose it, history is going to end up well no matter what perverse things individuals do. This should be a blessing to everyone. And if historic inevitability is not enough, the Xi contemporary PRC view binds Taiwan ever more closely to the moral narratives of the Party. It is not only unscientific, it is immoral, to contest the way that this history articulated by the PRC is going. Finally, there are the implications of this philosophical outlook for other narratives. Taiwan does not have its own history. It is part of the larger one, for these scientific and moral reasons. Contesting this is therefore irrational, and, more importantly, immoral. That is reinforced by the strong assertion that Taiwan is a domestic issue, and that it therefore has to be dealt with according to the same political criterion as all other domestic issues according to the PRC. These are conducted according 123

C hap ter 3

to the mantra, introduced in the 1950s, of non-interference in the affairs of others, and respect for others’ sovereignty. For Beijing, therefore, the statement that Taiwan is a domestic issue means that it becomes off limits to the involvement of others, thereby creating an ‘isolating’ effect. Not only does the island not have a right to speak about its own history. Nor does it have a right to a discourse of international affairs. It has to do this through what the PRC grants it. Then there is control over words. Take the loaded term ‘reunification’. Despite reference by Xi in his January 2019 speech to notions around consent and associated deployment of the disarming phrase ‘democratic consultation’ it is the process these embody that show more strategies for control. The means by which ‘consultative democracy’ occurs in the PRC domestically means that decision making is largely predetermined in accordance with broad parameters already set out. In these, ends or termination points have been established. It is merely a matter of how to get to them where choice and agency need to be displayed. Like the Utilitarians, the ends are all important. That frames everything else. In this context, consultation is no more than the process of working out how to get to those ends, which have already been decided at a higher level. There is no space for questioning or opposition to these, just for details around their implementation. Once more, options for dissent and self-expression are tightly circumscribed. This framework applied to the case of Taiwan means that the Taiwanese can discuss an issue, but the most important part, the final conclusion, is already set in stone. ‘Reunification’ is the location for this and, for the PRC, conveys 124

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

irrevocability. It will happen, has to happen, because it is a part of the scientific progress of history described above. All there is to speak about is the detail. The ends have been decided by history. A Taiwanese person entering into this discussion is a bit like a person told where they are going for a journey, and only allowed to choose the route to get there. But Xi’s words do not just contain allusions to abstract philosophy and control over stories and words. They also relate directly to actions: to what the PRC might do were the red line it has set out, a unilateral declaration of independence by Taiwan, to be stepped over. This accounts for the contradiction between, on the one hand stating that ‘Chinese don’t fight Chinese’, and then in the next line declaring that the PRC will never give up the ultimate sanction of using force if necessary. The paradox is solved by stating that it would only be against external agitators and those who betray their identity, and thereby lose their Chineseness by opposing the logic of reunification, that attacks would be launched. The Taiwanese, the embedded argument goes, are Chinese. This is their prime identity for the PRC. Controlling this key term the PRC can argue that for these people the conviction is that they must be patriotic, and the thing they are patriotic to should be the entity that the CCP has leadership over, Greater China. There are of course immediate issues with this discourse, not least of which is the way it excludes those who are aborigines on the island, or those who do not identify themselves in the way asserted by Beijing. For these, the Beijing argument is logically coercive, controlling by simply equating one term, Taiwanese, with another, Chinese. Such rhetorical strategies, 125

C hap ter 3

where force and control were achieved through definition, were used throughout the Maoist period, a time when labels could morph quickly from ‘intellectual’ to ‘enemies of the people’ and, immediately after that, ‘non –people’. The next step beyond that was only oblivion. The attempt to present something more positive comes in the final few lines. Here are the carrots rather than the sticks. First, is the standard language of economic co-operation, of adhering to a vision of material improvement which is encapsulated more recently in the Belt and Road Initiative emanating from Beijing, a grand scheme to improve connectivity through constructing infrastructure and other links through the region. Taiwan is being offered the opportunity to be part of this, and to enjoy the sources of wealth that Beijing is opening up to it – if it obeys! It is at this point that the deployment of the PRC economy as a vast political tool comes into view. The idea here, which has occurred with increasing frequency in recent years, is that to engage with the PRC one must accept its terms to be able to get the maximum benefits. And with such a huge and growing economy, it is in the position to do this now. The finale is a particular feature of the Xi era: the emergence of an increasingly emotional language, one that appeals beyond logic and self-interest to the benefits and strength to be gained from joint identities and ethnic links, and involvement in a grand joint narrative. In the end, the story that the Xi leadership tells is one that started to emerge many decades ago, of a nation which was a victim through much of the modern period because of its own inner weaknesses and the brutal opportunism and cruelty of outsiders. This nation ‘stood up’ 126

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

in 1949 when the PRC was founded, and is now on the final part of a historic mission to be resurrected and recreated as a new, powerful, strong country. The Taiwanese as Chinese, the Beijing discourse states, are part of this story, and need to share in the pride and satisfaction that comes from it. They need to see their relatives, their kin across the Strait, and the success of their renaissance as part of a process that intimately relates to them, that is about them, that is in their interests. Blood, to this line of argument at least, is thicker than water. For Tsai Ing-wen in her response, the language could not have been more different. First, I must emphasize that we have never accepted the ‘1992 Consensus’. The fundamental reason is because the Beijing authorities’ definition of the ‘1992 Consensus’ is ‘one China’ and ‘one country, two systems’. The speech delivered by China’s leader today has confirmed our misgivings. Here, I want to reiterate that Taiwan absolutely will not accept ‘one country, two systems’. The vast majority of Taiwanese also resolutely oppose ‘one country, two systems’, and this opposition is also a ‘Taiwan consensus’. Next, we are willing to engage in negotiations. But as Taiwan is a democratic country, all political consultations and negotiations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait must be authorized and monitored by the people of Taiwan, and conducted on a government-to-government basis by both sides. Under this principle, no individual or group has the right to represent the people of Taiwan to conduct political consultations or negotiations. 127

C hap ter 3

The development of cross-strait relation [means that] … China must face the reality of the existence of the Republic of China (Taiwan), and not deny the democratic system that the people of Taiwan have established together; second, must respect the commitment of the 23 million people of Taiwan to freedom and democracy, and not foster divisions and offer inducements to interfere with the choices made by the people of Taiwan; third, must handle cross-strait differences peacefully, on the basis of equality, instead of using suppression and intimidation to get Taiwanese to submit; fourth, it must be governments or government-authorized agencies that engage in negotiations. Any political consultations that are not authorized and monitored by the people cannot be called ‘democratic consultations’. This is Taiwan’s position, a democratic position. Cross-strait trade and economic relations should be mutually beneficial, and promote mutual prosperity and development. However, we oppose Beijing making ‘benefitting China’ its core focus, using United Front economic means including financial inducements to attract Taiwan technology, capital, and talent to move to mainland China. We will vigorously promote strategies and measures that strengthen Taiwan to consolidate a Taiwan-centric, Taiwan-first path to economic development.15

As noted before, intense speculation had focused on the ‘1992 Consensus’ and Tsai’s position towards this during her 2016 election campaign. While never confirming it, nor did she go out of her way to deny it. But this reticence left little ambiguity. 128

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

The ‘Consensus’ in many ways operated more in spirit than in meaning. It was an agreement to disagree, but it committed both sides to the unifying idea of an entity they were both claiming to be, but which neither agreed on the definition of – the holy grail of the ‘Great Chinese nation’ that underpinned the separate narratives and mythology of the Republic of China and the PRC since their earliest eras. With the Taiwanization of the island, however, and the shift in identity, along with all the political changes described previously that accompanied democratization, the meaning of the 1992 deal became harder to define in any ways which had anything but the vaguest, almost fictional meaning. This was compounded by the fact that under Ma, the classic rouse of simply setting out a list of negatives and red lines, doing the easier work of saying what things were not, rather than what they were, to handle relations with the Mainland, had been set in place. This was achieved through staking out lexically permissible and impermissible language forms and speech acts. It resulted in a list of taboo terms, from ‘state’ to ‘citizens’ that the Taiwanese were not allowed to use when talking to the PRC, and which the PRC did its best to make sure were not used in international discourse. This was a war of words, therefore, rather than of actions. Everyone knew what they couldn’t say. No one knew however what they could say! Tsai’s ‘Four musts’ deployed in her statement is at least an attempt to solve this quandary. It parallels the ‘three nos’ that her predecessor Ma had used a decade earlier, but tries to be more active and positive rather than simply setting out the unsayable and undoable. These ‘musts’ are a set of counter-propositions 129

C hap ter 3

laid alongside those of the Xi statement analysed above. The first is a demand for recognition, for Taiwan to be allowed to use the language it chooses about itself. Tsai’s doing this was an act of dissent from the various ideas about the PRC supplying the narrative and the discourse by which Taiwanese could claim any kind of meaning discussed above. Instead, it was the assertion of agency, and autonomy over the kinds of identifiers and the very language that they could use about themselves. The erosion or denial of this is perhaps the most intimately controlling thing that someone else can do to another. The second ‘must’ is to place Taiwan’s political structures at the heart of its identity. Its development as a democracy has been an organic, autonomous, freely chosen process. It figures, therefore, as part of the core self-identity of Taiwanese and of their values. Take this away, and that also takes people’s selfhood and ability to be fully themselves. Democracy was not imposed on Taiwan. It was not something the ‘outsiders’, with their meddling, who figured in Xi’s comments, had foisted on the island. It had come from within. That meant the fundamental differences in political values between the two parties across the Strait could not be magicked away by airily talking about them being of one common ancestry and one blood. Even if this idea of a shared ancestral root was accepted for some, it was only part of what they were, and there needed to be respect and understanding for the fact that in terms of political systems these were a crucial aspect of the differences between the two. The third, equality, also speaks to this irritation at and resistance to the notion of a meta-narrative, and a patriarchal 130

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

tone from the PRC in its relations with Taiwan. The language of being of one blood, of being joined by common bonds seemed to be subverted in the Mainland language about Taiwan by this concurrent refusal to accord the choices of the island as ones that had the same authority as the PRC. On the one hand, they were all equals in one big family, the PRC said. But on the other, what Beijing said carried more weight, and had more force because of its being the more senior in the relationship, like a father in a patriarchal Confucian family structure. Where was the equality in this? Tsai therefore was politically committed to demanding equality, not a dialogue which was structurally and rhetorically asymmetrical and loaded against Taiwan from the word go. Equality meant that the unilateral demands of the PRC needed to be circumscribed. It also had to deal honestly with the fact that many in Taiwan felt alienated and at times fearful and repelled by the one party system practised by Beijing. The final, fourth point was a clever inversion of the discourse of ‘non-interference’ on the part of the PRC in its relations with the outside world. As an actor that needed to be respected and listened to, Taiwan also felt it needed to be accorded the same treatment – to exist without threats and enjoy non-interference. This latter was a fundamental principle of foreign affairs for Beijing. Where was the justice in at one moment requesting that others respect it and not interfere in its business, and talking the language so fluently of self-determination, and yet, in another moment seeming to violate these in its pushy, assertive actions towards Taiwan? If Taiwan truly were, in its mind, a treasured part of itself, then 131

C hap ter 3

why engage in behaviour that looked so self-harming? Here we see the emergence of a clever ‘turning back’ of the solicitous, caring language of Beijing towards it. If you do care so much for us, Taipei seems to say, then you shouldn’t be threatening us, and you shouldn’t be ignoring our freely chosen wishes.

THE ERA OF SHARP POWER Tsai did refer in her words to the issues of coercion, and influence, and intimidation. Indeed, since the heady days of late 2015 when Presidents Ma and Xi cordially shared a dinner in Singapore and called each other simply ‘mister’ to avoid any protocol issues, the relationship had progressively chilled. By the time of Tsai’s election, the obsession with getting her to opine supportively on the 1992 Consensus had grown to fever pitch. Whether she was right to speak as categorically as she did about the meaning of the consensus, and assert, as she did later in the talk, the idea of a new ‘Taiwan consensus’ which was not the same as the 1992 one, was something commentators raised questions over, but the fact is she did this. Tsai has reason to express frustration. By 2019 she was talking within a context where the signs of PRC assertiveness and attempts to influence not just Taiwan but the wider world were growing by the day. Indeed, remarkably, after so much effort to craft a friendlier image of itself, Xi’s PRC seemed intent to undo this work with a series of openly, and sometimes covertly, aggressive moves. This was so widespread that it necessitated the coining of a new phrase – ‘sharp power.’ The PRC’s attempts to use its economic clout to gain greater 132

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

influence over issues that matter to it, of which Taiwan was one of the most important, became a globally noticeable phenomenon. It has also given Taiwan a new narrative to place itself within, that of the ‘canary in the mine’, showing people in the wider world what a situation where the PRC’s behaviour is no longer constrained and it is able to influence the global system to its own advantage, and with its own particular set of values and assumptions, will end up looking like. PRC sharp power towards Taiwan has taken a number of different guises. The most evident has been the attempt to close down Taiwan’s international space, and ensure that it gets increasingly limited support and recognition. This is a war of symbols as much as reality. But in this area symbols matter. The second is to try to place economic pressure on Taiwan by reducing, or in some cases stopping, the flows of tourists and investment that started to happen under Ma. In some ways, this is also a reciprocal matter: Taiwan has become more circumspect than before about not just the kinds of business it does with the Mainland, but how it does this business. Finally, to come back to something discussed earlier in this chapter, the PRC has tried to engage in a campaign to control not just the discourse about Taiwan, but increasingly active attempts to stop outsiders using the language of statehood or of seeing Taiwan as a separate polity. The PRC’s manifestation of its power often comes close to a new form of psychological pressure. This was a theme of interviews held by the authors in September 2018, while researching this book. It occurred as a common point among all those spoken to, whether they were in government, 133

C hap ter 3

universities, or think tanks in Taiwan. ‘We are on the front line of PRC sharp power’, one senior official said, ‘but we have had decades of experience dealing with the PRC. And the world needs to see our predicament as a challenge for the future of democracy and of the liberal, open model’. In Taipei it seems, ironically, that the ways in which the PRC has asserted its opinion on issues not just related to Taiwan but to the region, and the arguments from late 2018 onwards over Chinese telecoms company Huawei, had at least created a common understanding of what Beijing sharp power was in the wider world. That at least had gained some sympathy for Taipei and forged the outlines of a shared understanding. When they travelled, the Taiwanese did not need to describe in detail the kinds of coercion they experienced. Others were able to see it in their own environments with their own eyes.

D I P L O M AT I C R E C O G N I T I O N Conferring legitimacy on Taiwan through recognizing the Republic of China rather than the PRC remains a key area of contention between the two parties. From 1949 to 1971, it was the ROC rather than the PRC which sat on the UN, and which was recognized by most countries as the legitimate government of Greater China. In 1971, a UN vote at General Assembly saw the PRC replace the ROC. In the following decade, formal diplomatic recognition from a number of countries shifted from Taipei to Beijing. The most significant of these was that of the US, which made the switch in 1979 under the Carter administration. By the 1980s, Taiwan was left with around 25 134

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

stalwart supporters who still maintained full diplomatic state to state relations. Their loyalty was all too often dependent on large amounts of aid and financial inducements, and often saw infamous cases of countries that shifted their recognition from one party to another in a short period of time, and then back again, depending on the deals they were accorded. In the era of democratization the Taiwanese government became far more discriminating and wary of being embroiled in tussles for diplomatic recognition. But having at least some countries still recognize them had immense symbolic value. The fierce competition for partners in the 1990s into the 2000s, as the PRC became a much larger economic force, meant places like Costa Rica were able to extract sizeable deals to revise their allegiance. But in the later period of Hu Jintao and the early era of Ma Ying-jeou the focus shifted to improving relations via the ECFA agreements, and seeking a reset. An informal truce on trying to sway diplomatic partners ensued. This largely lasted till the DPP’s return to power in 2016. Since Tsai Ing-wen’s installation as president, Taiwan has been in the invidious position of seeing two of its most significant partners now recognize Beijing. The first of these, Panama, because it had been such a longstanding ally, was a major blow. The second, the Dominican Republic, followed a year later in 2018. This reduced the remainder to 17. Of these, the most symbolically important remains the Vatican. With longstanding issues over the need to recognize the authority of Rome for appointments of clerics and bishops, and a complex backstory arising from the atheist world view of the Communist Party’s élite leaders, it is not surprising that as of 2019 135

C hap ter 3

no movement has been made to change this situation. Even so, with so many potential new converts (according to some figures, Protestants now outnumber Catholic converts in the PRC by a factor of ten to one because of their greater flexibility and freedom to act there), the Mainland is a target the Catholic Church cannot be complacent about. It is unsurprising that informal and low key talks between the two have been ongoing for a number of years. As of 2019, however, the Vatican was the only European country that still recognized Taipei, and was accorded immense importance by Taiwan because of that. In Africa, partners have fallen from four in the mid-2000s to only one. The majority of the remainder are in Latin America, or are small island states in the Pacific. Even these have increasingly figured as targets of PRC largesse and political focus. A meeting in Nauru in the Pacific islands on climate change in 2018 resulted in angry tussles outside the President’s office when an amendment to a resolution put forward by the delegation from the PRC was refused. This was complicated by the fact that Nauru is one of the 17 countries still recognizing the ROC. The PRC, which was attending in any case as an observer rather than a participant, also erupted in anger when not allowed to speak at a plenary of the congress. PRC officials have been accused of using investment, and outright threats elsewhere to shift allegiance. For often impoverished, aid-hungry locations, this is not an easy thing to dismiss. Sharp diplomacy, therefore, has started to seep into the quest to reduce Taiwan’s formal diplomatic partners to the point where there are none left. 136

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

I N T E R N AT I O N A L O R G A N I Z AT I O N S A N D I N T E R N AT I O N A L S PA C E Taiwan’s participation in international organizations, because of the potential it has to confer a sense of nationhood and legitimacy, is a second ongoing battle. In an earlier period, and only under specific terms, Taiwan was allowed to be part of groups like the World Trade Organization, but only after the PRC had joined (which it did in 2001) and only with a specific terminology (in this case Chinese Taipei). The observer status at the World Health Authority (WHA), in particular, has figured in recent years as an area of conflict. The PRC ‘granted’ Taiwan the right to attend these meetings due to the fact that many issues there of combatting global disease and responding to epidemics were ones that Taiwan with its 23 million people and world class medical capacity could make a positive contribution to. From 2012, therefore, the Taiwanese delegation was present at WHA meetings. From 2017, however, diplomatic pressure was brought to bear on the WHA assembly to withdraw this by the PRC delegates. This happened in 2018. Taiwan’s lobbying to be included in the International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) is also a longstanding issue. The grounds for Taiwan are much the same as for the case of the WHA. It runs important international routes, with either its main airlines Eva Air, or China Airlines, or some of its smaller private ones. For security and safety, it is in the interests of the ICAA and its members to have Taiwan as a member. Yet despite persistent lobbying, its request has been declined on the grounds of PRC protests. 137

C hap ter 3

The international space of Taiwan, and Taiwanese citizens, is perpetually impacted on by the behaviour or the PRC. Those from Taiwan who dare to express their identity in ways seen as lending themselves to support for separatism are often exposed to online, and sometimes physical, onslaught. This inevitably influences the ways in which non-Chinese, nonTaiwanese and non-PRC have to engage with this issues. Those who express the idea that Taiwan might be independent, either deliberately or through lack of familiarity with the subject, can be condemned by student and other groups as undertaking actions ‘hurtful to the feelings of the Chinese people’. In recent years, the deployment of this language has grown more subtle and dextrous. Such recognition is a violation of the PRC’s human rights, it is stated, and a ploy by outsiders to split the Motherland, and to harm the Chinese. In international meetings if Taiwanese do appear, and do present themselves as separate from the PRC, they are exposed to hectoring, and sometimes even physical intimidation. In this way, it is demonstrated that the issue of their status is set out as one not up for discussion, and a purely ‘internal’ matter. With grandiose ideas like the Belt and Road Initiative, and with its much more powerful economic capacity, the PRC is able to circumscribe and restrict Taiwanese international space as never before. It does this often through control over terminology. Those from Taiwan trying to book airline tickets online found, from mid-2018, that when drop down menus appeared for some international airlines the option either of Taiwan or ROC no longer existed, and instead ‘Chinese Taipei’ was added. Some companies even went further and placed 138

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

‘province of China’ after Taiwan. In one extraordinary incidence in Portugal in 2015, outrage was caused amongst the attendees of an international conference on Chinese studies by the demand of one of the partners, the Han Ban, the cultural organization from Beijing supporting Confucius Institutes across the world, that a notice from the Taiwanese Chiang Ching-kuo foundation was removed from the conference booklet. Some participants reported they even had material already given to them taken by, or requested by, Han Ban affiliated officials, who then proceeded to rip the offending page from the book. The ill will arising from this one event sent ripples across Europe, with the global head of the Han Ban reportedly making a hasty exit from the country before authorities could be alerted to this violation of free expression. Even the most apolitical Taiwanese live in a world where their identity is a matter that others, and in particular the PRC, have forceful and intractable views upon. They may well need to spend a lot of their time at airports, and in overseas communities, explaining to people why, and how, they are different to the people carrying PRC passports who are now figuring more and more in global tourism, trade and other areas. This quasi fugitive status of course creates a feeling often of being bullied and victimised. For a nation like the PRC which speaks so much, and understands, the impact of humiliation, it seems that there is no issue with visiting this sentiment on people it also says are its own flesh and blood. And increasingly under Xi the means, and incidences, of this kind of pressure has become an accepted and legitimate function of statecraft. 139

C hap ter 3

THE ECONOMIC SPACE Closing down Taiwan’s economic space is a trickier issue. Firstly, Taiwan has been a major investor in the Mainland economy from the 1990s. It has been a technological and capital partner. Companies like Foxconn have vast plants in the PRC making goods for Apple and other global companies. Taishang, as Taiwanese business people in the PRC are called, are a major cultural and economic bridge between the PRC and the ROC. And yet, they increasingly figure as a political resource too, with pressure placed on them, as their commitments in the Mainland grow, to speak loyally at least for the notion of reunification, even if they may profoundly oppose this in their hearts. Taiwanese business people in various sectors have seen the sharpest of sharp behaviour from their PRC counterparts. Operating in a ruthlessly competitive world, they are often as much impeded by their cultural and linguistic closeness to their Mainland partners as they are assisted by it. Over the years, many of them have become embroiled in disputes in the PRC. Some of these have had political dimensions. Increasingly, they figure as pawns in an elaborate game, which they mostly have no desire to take a part in, but no choice about either. Distrusted back in Taiwan because of the ways they are seen as being so closely linked to the PRC, nor are they wholly embraced in the Mainland, because of where they come from. Nor is this a small group. As many as a million Taiwanese live and work in the PRC. 140

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

In the era of sharp power, the PRC under Xi can, and since 2017 has, attempted to close down the once fruitful links in this area that blossomed under Ma. Tourist numbers, with the large amount of expenditure they brought to Taiwan from the PRC, have fallen. Restrictions on investment on both sides have hardened. For Taiwan, there is an awareness that engagement with companies like Huawei or Lenovo carries high security and political costs. So while these champions of the non-state sector in the PRC are present and active in Taiwan, there are strict limitations on what they can do. As with anywhere else, the economy is of immense importance in Taiwan. The quandary of having the largest economic partner also serving as the greatest security threat is one of the issues that makes Taiwan of global importance. As with so many countries now, the island has to balance having pragmatic links that lead to growth while avoiding being wholly dependent on a partner that does not share the same strategic aims as it, and at times seeks to subvert and hinder them. The search for more diverse and balanced partners is a major part of the New Southbound Policy, which will be described in the next chapter. Signing bilateral trade deals and trying to find more spaces for partnership and growth has become a key challenge for successive Taiwanese governments. This is unlikely to change in the near future as the PRC refines its economic statecraft and seeks to enclose Taiwan more through economic linkages in its own sphere of influence.

141

C hap ter 3

E M O T I O N A L A N D N AT I O N A L I S T C A L L : THE FADING ALLURE OF ONE C O U N T R Y, T W O S Y S T E M S As Xi’s speech quoted at the start of this chapter made clear, when all is said, the main thrust of the PRC approach to the Taiwan issue is to appeal to emotion and notions of cultural alliance and co-sanguinity. The moral force of this alone is often intended to short-circuit rational considerations. And as cultural theorists have made clear, emotion very often can trump even the most persuasive calculation of logical selfinterest. Taiwanese and PRC Chinese are part of a greater body, forged together by historic linkages, who, the appeal goes, are, and will, be able to overcome their common problems. As long, that is, as they do not let outsiders interfere in their business and complicate or sabotage things. In this struggle, the tactics used range from manipulation of symbols, family links across the two communities, their shared historic narratives, and a host of other sources of appeal. All of this can sometimes be overwhelming, meaning the Taiwanese feel like a member of a disunited family being squabbled over by estranged relatives. What is not validated in this whole movement is any space for agency for the Taiwanese themselves. They live in a context where space for them has largely been created by others. This in itself is problematic. But the options they are presented with by the PRC, with its pre-determined, almost pre-modern narratives of great nation renaissance and Chinese restoration, are increasingly alienating and coercive rather than affirming. The most tangible 142

At the Front L i ne of ‘ S h a rp P o we r ’

option granted to them by the Mainland is to live under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ rubric proposed originally by Deng Xiaoping in the early 1980s, and then shifted to the matter of Hong Kong. It is the implementation of this idea there that has proved most problematic. ‘One Country, Two Systems’ does not exist as an abstract, theoretical idea. It is realized in the situation of Hong Kong, a special administrative region under the central Beijing government after reversion to PRC sovereignty from the UK in 1997. For the Taiwanese since 2014, the plight of Hong Kong shows them why they value what they have now so much. Hong Kong has been beset by a number of different crises, and seen the imposition by the PRC with almost ruthless clarity of an order in which ‘one country’ perpetually takes precedence over ‘two systems’. Attempts to extend and democratize the franchise for elections of the Chief Executive of the region (the chief administrative and political post) fell through a mixture of local political lack of consensus, government nefariousness and Mainland intransigence in 2014. The Occupy Central movement was followed by a series of moves by the judiciary to deal with those who had been seen as acting with antiBeijing political motivations. Fractiousness has intensified, and a sentiment of rising anxiety about what seems to be the increasing assertion of Beijing control. For the Taiwanese, Hong Kong stands as a stark warning that the vague promises of Beijing and the grand informal structures it might promise to put in place, should any reunification deal be discussed, are undercut by a hard political reality which can never be expressed, but will always be there. This is 143

C hap ter 3

that Beijing always has the final say. With none of the current boundaries and restraints to Beijing’s enforcement of its will, the Taiwanese will be as exposed as Hong Kongese. In view of how hard won their political freedoms were, and how wellestablished they now are, it is no surprise that the Taiwanese do not see this as an attractive offer, and do not find it viable. But this does not mean the Taiwanese do not have serious and increasing challenges in the way they can speak and operate beyond their own borders. These will now be discussed.

144

CHAPTER 4

WORLDS APART TAIWAN’ S INTERNATIONAL SPACE

The world cannot complain too much about the issue of Taiwan and its complex status, largely because it did so much to contribute to it. From the era of the Dutch and Spanish, to the Japanese colonization from 1895, and the role of the Qing, outsiders have had a disproportionate impact on Taiwan. The contortions of the ‘One China Principle’ is only the most evident and recent of the legacies this has given rise to. Taiwan figures along a number of different axes for Europe, the US and the wider world. This chapter will look in particular at the ongoing issue of the sets of policies constructed to deal with the unique status of Taiwan, and then the major strategic relations Taipei has with the US, the Region, and Europe. It will try to map out a world around Taiwan and the sets of relations that matter to the island.

THE MAZE OF THE ‘ONE CHINA PRINCIPLE’ Over the last few decades there has, in fact, been no single iteration of the ‘One China Principle’, but a series of different versions and refinements. In essence, all subsequent versions grew from the rapprochement between the US and the PRC 147

C hap ter 4

in the 1970s, and were created from the need for there to be a policy framework of sorts in place where America could develop its new links with Beijing, but maintain what it felt were its responsibilities to the ROC. An uncharitable interpretation of this would be that ‘One China’ was the US’s way of trying to salve its conscience and walk away from an alliance with Taiwan, while still being able to say it had done the right thing. In many ways, therefore, it was America, rather than the PRC, that asked for the policy to be stated the way it is, and that to this day lives with the consequences. The first formal appearance of the policy came in the Shanghai Communique, painstakingly negotiated in the lead up to the Nixon 1972 visit, and finally signed while he was present in the country on 28 February. The relevant sections of that agreement as they appear in the original document go as follows: The Chinese side reaffirmed its position: the Taiwan question is the crucial question obstructing the normalization of relations between China and the United States; the Government of the People’s Republic of China is the sole legal government of China; Taiwan is a province of China which has long been returned to the motherland; the liberation of Taiwan is China’s internal affair in which no other country has the right to interfere; and all U.S. forces and military installations must be withdrawn from Taiwan. The Chinese Government firmly opposes any activities which aim at the creation of ‘one China, one Taiwan’, ‘one China, two governments’, ‘two Chinas’, an ‘independent 148

W orl ds A pa rt

Taiwan’ or advocate that ‘the status of Taiwan remains to be determined’. The U.S. side declared: The United States acknowledges that all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain there is but one China and that Taiwan is a part of China. The United States Government does not challenge that position. It reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves. With this prospect in mind, it affirms the ultimate objective of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces and military installations from Taiwan. In the meantime, it will progressively reduce its forces and military installations on Taiwan as the tension in the area diminishes. The two sides agreed that it is desirable to broaden the understanding between the two peoples. To this end, they discussed specific areas in such fields as science, technology, culture, sports and journalism, in which people-to-people contacts and exchanges would be mutually beneficial. Each side undertakes to facilitate the further development of such contacts and exchanges.1

‘There is but one China and Taiwan is a part of China’ was the crucial wording, arrived at after weeks of haggling between Kissinger and his opposite number, Zhou Enlai. This started a posture of obfuscation and ambiguity that has lasted to today, largely because, it must be remembered, the opening gambit by the US conceded so much, and what has happened subsequently has been rear guard action to try to clean this problem up. It should be remembered that at this point the 149

C hap ter 4

US still recognized the ROC and had formal diplomatic relations with it. So while the wording on the PRC side was clear enough in the 1972 document that it and it alone was the sole legal government of China, the US studiously avoided following this with good reason: it did not recognize the PRC at the time. What it did commit to was the notion of a final ‘Chinese’ unity, a major concession which came into its own the moment in 1979 it did shift formal allegiance from Taipei to Beijing, arousing in the PRC the expectation that with this done, it would now be in agreement to full support for unification of the island, as the logic of recognizing only one China seemed to demand. It is unsurprising, therefore, that the 1982 ‘US China Communique on Taiwan’ comes to sound like a litany of mumbled excuses when it was clear this was simply not going to happen: The United States Government attached great importance to its relations with China, and reiterates that it has no intention of infringing on Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, or interfering in China’s internal affairs, or pursuing a policy of ‘’Two Chinas’’ or ‘’one China, one Taiwan’. The United States Government understands and appreciates the Chinese policy of striving for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question …2

The let out clause here is ‘peaceful resolution’. This meant that the US was able to square a circle and say that while, in the abstract, they agreed with the idea of a unified China along the lines declared in 1972, in practice they could only do so if both 150

W orl ds A pa rt

parts were in amicable and complete agreement. This potentially serendipitous outcome has become increasingly unlikely as the years have gone on, and even more so after democratization and its impact on ROC identity from 1996. One has to remember, though, that the 1982 statement was made by American interlocutors who in their hearts were profoundly convinced that the whole rationale for rapprochement and engagement arising as a result of reform and opening up just started with the PRC, was to lead to some kind of political transformation and change. And in the heady era of the 1980s, until the clampdown of 1989 after the Tiananmen Square Massacre, that did not look unlikely. In this optimistic frame of mind hoping that one day the PRC and Taiwan would solve their differences and be one big, happy democratic family far into the future was a nice ambition to have. Until then, one just awaited the day of amicable resolution of differences, rather as some in the US were waiting for the Second Coming. The US’s position has been echoed in that of many other diplomatic players. Here, for instance, is that of the UK: Under the terms of a 1972 agreement with China, HMG [Her Majesty’s Government] acknowledged the position of the government of the PRC that Taiwan was a province of China and recognizes the PRC Government as the sole legal government of China [… This] remains the basis of our relations with Taiwan. We do not deal with the Taiwan authorities on a government to government basis, and we avoid any act which could be taken to imply recognition …3 151

C hap ter 4

And the Australian one: The Australian Government recognizes the Government of the People’s Republic of China as the sole legal Government of China, acknowledges the position of the Chinese Government that Taiwan is a province of the People’s Republic of China, and has decided to remove its official representation from Taiwan before January 25, 1973.4

The European Union stance, too, is broadly the same as that of the UK. The US to this day therefore continues to acknowledge the existence of one China, and that Taiwan is part of China, and that the government of the PRC is the sole legal government of China. But it also crucially continues to make explicit the need for the issue between the two to be resolved peacefully, without resort to force, and only when both sides are ready. This has served as a constant source of irritation to Beijing, cementing in its eyes the status quo, so the situation in essence remains perpetually static and irresolvable until both sides agree on the same thing. In this small space, the ROC continues to exist, through its decision to permanently dissent. The American iteration of the ‘One China Principle’ at least gives Taiwan that amount of agency. Taiwan’s views domestically of the ‘One China Principle’ are predictably hugely different and contentious in any case. This means the notion of everyone agreeing to a position that aligns with that of the PRC becomes even more unlikely. In talks in Taipei with officials and academics in September 152

W orl ds A pa rt

2018, this became abundantly clear. One group was more aggressive, stating that partners internationally must use their chosen definition of what ‘One China’ meant, ‘not the one promoted and insisted on by Beijing’. ‘Chinese leaders’, one interlocutor complained, ‘take every opportunity to put their own words into the mouths of other people, and thereby reinforce their position through using the credibility of others’. For this cohort, the policy serves as a tool by which the international community need to effect a kind of ‘pushback’ against the PRC, and directly contest it, taking back control of the policy and relieving it of the interpretation Beijing has forced on it. Then there are those more in the middle ground. A representative from this group pointed out that the space created by the policy was the one thing that allowed Taiwan to operate internationally. It provided the grey area about things needing to stay as they were till both sides were ready. This has at least allowed some manoeuvrability and agency. The more brutally realistic though recognize a major structural problem. ‘Under Xi, the PRC does not want perpetual status quo’, they stated. ‘The situation has created a system of hypocrisy for everyone which is unsustainable.’ In this viewpoint, it is simply storing up trouble which will one day explode. People know what the PRC wants, and on the surface seem to agree with it by recognizing its legal rights, and the unity of China, but in fact they act in a manner which attempt to find their way around the restrictions the policy puts up. In that respect, the PRC has a right to feel irritated. That world says yes to its demands, but not to them happening without Taiwan agreeing, and uses this as a constant ‘get out of jail’ card for itself. 153

C hap ter 4

For the more pragmatic on Taiwan the priority is to get to a place where ‘Taiwan doesn’t irritate China, and is at least not allowed to be harassed’. That seemed in 2019 to be growing more remote as an option. Another scholar in a think tank commented that the whole issue of the ‘One China Principle’ was only really soluble for all sides if one stepped back and tried to persuade Beijing to put the matter in a global context. ‘One China, One world’, they said. ‘At least we can agree we are all part of that.’ Pointing at the ‘1992 Consensus’ and the pragmatic considerations that had motivated it, they detected a similar ‘policy mess’, saying it was time to admit this stance was no longer tenable because ‘clearly there had never been any consensus’. The whole thing was a fiction. These separate policy muddles make sense of the admission by Tsai Ing-wen as candidate in 2016 that ‘new common ground needed to be established, with each side able to reserve their differences’. Facts had changed that the ‘One China Principle’ and the ‘1992 Consensus’ needed to take into account since they were first articulated. Chief of these was that, in the words of one scholar interviewed in Tapei, Taiwan ‘has become a democracy since the time of that consensus and therefore the issue now is that no one, even the government of the day, can unilaterally go to Beijing and set up a new relationship without the democratic will of the people being expressed about this issue – through it clearly being promised in an election for instance, or a referendum’. They also mentioned Tsai’s insistence that any such discussions had to be undertaken ‘on the basis of equality and dignity’. ‘One China’ has therefore definitely been impacted on by the developments in sense of 154

W orl ds A pa rt

identity within the island, and the role that democratization has had on this. There may well be ‘One China’ as a remote aspiration of policy, but the achievement of this can be pushed so far into the future as to become almost invisible. Unification in an ever receding future, as it were. But that for the PRC under Xi clearly means no reunification at all, something the logic of their own domestic policy with the narratives spelled out in the previous chapter cannot accept.

THE US AND TAIWAN At the time of the shift of diplomatic relations from Taipei to Beijing by the US, the indignation in Taiwan was immense. It was seen as an act of treachery, the casting aside of a relationship that went back to the 1940s. Even so, from the rapprochement with the PRC in the early 1970s onwards there had been a note of inevitability about this kind of thing happening. That did not prevent the US feeling a large amount of guilt, and trying to supply the island with some compensating reassurances and guarantees. These took the form of a new piece of legislation – the Taiwan Relations Act. This committed the US to the following: 1. to preserve and promote extensive, close, and friendly commercial, cultural, and other relations between the US and Taiwan; 2. to declare that peace and stability in the area are in the political, security, and economic interests of the United States; 155

C hap ter 4

3. to make clear that the United States decision to establish diplomatic relations with the People’s Republic of China rests upon the expectation that the future of Taiwan will be determined by peaceful means; 4. to consider any effort to determine the future of Taiwan by other than peaceful means, including by boycotts or embargoes, a threat to the peace and security of the Western Pacific area and of grave concern to the United States; 5. to provide Taiwan with arms of a defensive character; and 6. to maintain the capacity of the United States to resist any resort to force or other forms of coercion that would jeopardize the security, or the social or economic system, of the people on Taiwan.5 The most contentious for the PRC was the fifth condition above. The most reassuring for the ROC was the sixth. In essence, this makes Taiwan’s security a matter for American law. In 2019, the US is by far Taiwan’s most important ally. It is hard to think of the island easily existing without the security guarantee of America. This is not a comfortable position to be in. Taiwanese leaders in many ways have to perform before three key audiences: their domestic voters, who put them in power; whoever happens to be in charge in Beijing, who watch their policy positions with hawk-eyed intensity; and the leadership in the US, who supply the parameters of security policy. Irritating or alienating the US is unwise. Chen Shui-bian during his time in power, and Lee Teng-hui before him were accused of ‘playing’ the US, using their guaranteed alliance 156

W orl ds A pa rt

with it as a screen to protect themselves against the PRC while they tip-toed towards a more pro-independent position. While Ma proved dexterous in his management of Obama, whose period in power broadly paralleled his own, under Tsai Ing-wen things have become turbulent again , though this time from the unexpected direction not of Beijing, but of Washington. The Trump presidency from 2017 has clearly marked the start of an era of even sharper strategic competition and tension with the PRC. That brings opportunities and risks for Tsai. In 2012, during her first attempt to run for the presidency, she was criticized indirectly in Washington for having a risky attitude towards cross Strait affairs, and being unwilling to accept the status quo because of her silence on the 1992 Consensus. In fact, as an ex trade negotiator, she is probably more keen to seek intellectual coherence rather than live with embedded obfuscation based on a statement that clearly makes no sense now. Even so, with the situation as it has evolved since 2017 and the start of a US China trade war and a clear bipartisan push back in the US towards the PRC, Tsai’s choices are not straightforward. American hardening to the PRC has not made her life easier as a leader, but the precise opposite: far more complex. First, there is little desire by Taiwan to get hauled into a strategic fight between the two great powers. As interviewees in think tanks and academia in Taipei made clear in September 2018, the overwhelming wish publicly is not to provoke the PRC, militarily or politically. The adventurism of the earlier era under Lee Teng-hui with his talk of ‘state to state relations’ in the late 1990s, and of Chen Shui-bian and what was 157

C hap ter 4

sometimes regarded as his manipulation of the US, are now over. The stakes are too high. ‘Xi Jinping’, one academic said, ‘has narrowed down the room for freedom of expression about Taiwan’. ‘Trump is playing the Taiwan card’, another commented, ‘but that means we must be doubly careful’. This was an issue when there were rumours in February 2019 that the US Congress were considering inviting Tsai to address it, something that was regarded as largely unwelcome in Taipei because of the massive provocation and the response that might elicit from Beijing. While the US sees itself as a Pacific power, and has naval dominance in the Asian region, at the end of the day, Taiwan is actually geographically located in the neighbourhood. It will need to live with the direct consequences of any conflict, and it knows there may well be limits to what the US is willing to do, and a much more complicated nexus of priorities this specific issue is located in, which will shape if, and what, the US would do if Taiwan is threatened. Intervention on Taiwan’s terms is by no means guaranteed, or even likely. Secondly, there is no clarity for Taiwan in how enduring the US PRC tensions from 2018 will be. The US has immense economic links with the PRC, with the possibility of even more in the future, if, and when, better times come. Public opinion in the US may change, shifting back to a more isolationist stance where its links with Taiwan become faint to non-existent. Taiwan needs to maintain the balancing act it has achieved for many decades. That was predicated on a stable US position, something that Trump has evidently challenged. As with elsewhere, the capricious and often unstable nature 158

W orl ds A pa rt

of the 45th President of the US’s actions has been unsettling. Taiwan lives in a world with more than enough uncertainty. It does not enjoy, or want, a new source to trouble it. Nor does Taiwan want to figure as the pawn in a game where either the US or the PRC decide to make it one of the key pieces. This lifts agency from it and makes it the passive sufferer in the manoeuvrings of others. The academic Hugh White in Australia and others have talked of a ceding of influence in this region to the PRC, so that it enjoys more strategic space, commensurate with its economic importance. Figuring in this kind of game is not in Taiwan’s interests. Were Taiwan not a democracy, and were values not to be involved, then things would be even more dire for it. As a mature, stable democracy, however, this gives Taipei its trump card. Any attack by the PRC on a democracy would be regarded as something far more than mere territorial grab. It would be, first, the overt, tangible sign of PRC antagonism, and opposition, to Western values, and to doing something about these as a direct competitor. Secondly, it would be an attack on the value of being a political and diplomatic ally of the US, and a massive loss of face for them. It is hard to see the US being complacent or passive about this affront to its status. In its messaging, therefore, Taiwan wisely makes full use of this commonality of values and the way they underpin its relationships with others. That creates an alliance based on sympathy rather than mere utility. Ensuring common values take their place in the overall bilateral relationship is crucial, even though it is a complex message to convey to others. 159

C hap ter 4

TAIWAN IN ASIA Taiwan’s geographical location matters to it. The most obvious reason is for trade. Of Taiwan’s top 15 trading partners, accounting for almost 88 per cent of its exports, only four – the US, Germany, the Netherlands, and the UK – were not in the Asian region. The island’s relationship with its region, minus, of course, that with the PRC, which had already been dealt with, is a largely positive one. But it is, of course, overshadowed by the links with the Mainland and the complexities that this causes. Taiwan is not a member of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), nor does it currently have a Free Trade Agreement with them. It does take part in the Asia Pacific Economic Conference, an annual get together initiated by the Australians in the late 1980s, which, under the name Chinese Taipei, it attends through a ministerial figure rather than Head of State. In a region which is regarded as largely weak in multilateralism, however, this does not dramatically incapacitate Taiwan’s ability to operate. The main issue, until recent years, is the focus Taipei has put on relations with the PRC and the USA. In many ways, because of this, it has neglected optimizing the region in which it exists.

TAIWAN’S TOP TRADING PARTNERS – 2017 The largest flow of goods from Taiwan in 2017 was overwhelmingly with China, and then Hong Kong. These together constituted over a third of the total exports (figures in USD). 160

W orl ds A pa rt

1. China: USD 89.1 billion (28% of total Taiwanese exports) 2. Hong Kong: 41.3 billion (13%) 3. United States: 37 billion (11.7%) 4. Japan: 20.8 billion (6.6%) 5. Singapore: 17.6 billion (5.6%) 6. South Korea: 14.8 billion (4.6%) 7. Vietnam: 10.5 billion (3.3%) 8. Malaysia: 10.4 billion (3.3%) 9. Philippines: 9.6 billion (3%) 10. Germany: 6.5 billion (2%) 11. Thailand: 6.4 billion (2%) 12. Netherlands: 5 billion (1.6%) 13. United Kingdom: 3.8 billion (1.2%) 14. India: 3.3 billion (1%) 15. Indonesia: $3.2 billion (1%)6 One complicating factor is that, as ROC, it is a contesting party to some of the complex network of claims in the South China Sea. This was raised when the Philippines took its case against the PRC to the UN Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2016, and received a favourable ruling. The claims to features on the Spratly Islands being ‘islands’ and not ‘rocks’ (which has a significant impact in the amount of maritime territory around them that can be controlled by a country) which was rejected by the Court irritated Taipei, which issued a stinging rebuke. As Eric Huang, Head of the International Department of the Nationalist Party stated at the time: 161

C hap ter 4

Successive ROC governments have maintained a ‘U-shaped line’ claim in the South China Sea subsequent to the publication in 1947 by our government of the ‘Location Map of the South China Sea Islands’. This map included the Tungsha (Pratas), Shisha (Paracels), Chungsha (Macclesfield Bank), and Nansha (Spratlys) island groups. In Taiwan the line is often referred to as a U-shaped line, and outside Taiwan as the eleven-dash line or (subsequent to adjustment by mainland China) the nine-dash line. On July 15, 2015 our Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a detailed explanation of our claim, noting that from the perspectives of history, geography, or international law, the Nansha, Shisha, Chungsha, and Tungsha islands, as well as their surrounding waters, are an inherent part of ROC territory and waters. The San Francisco Peace Treaty, which entered into effect on April 28, 1952, as well as the Treaty of Peace between the ROC and Japan which signed that same day, together with other international legal instruments, reconfirmed that Taiwan and the islands and reefs in the South China Sea should be returned to the ROC.7

There are some that argue these disputes are also a route for the ROC and PRC to find unity and at least talk with a common purpose. They are a reminder of their shared history and common links. They may even be a means for the Mainland forging a renewed sense that Taiwan and the PRC come from the same origin, and therefore have a duty to work more closely together. 162

W orl ds A pa rt

In the decade since 2010, however, the pressure for Taiwan to find a more compelling and coherent common narrative for its relationship with the South East Asian region, in particular, has received new impetus. The first cause for this was the rising awareness by the Ma administration that increasing reliance on the PRC economically was creating an immense vulnerability. This has since come to fruition with Beijing clearly using leverage from tourists and other sources to apply pressure across the Strait. The other cause is to attempt to create more legitimate international space which did not directly clash with the PRC. This meant no use of hard core diplomatic tactics like trying to win more formal allies in recognizing it, while searching for at least some soft routes out of the often constricting hold put on it by the PRC. With subtlety, and largely focusing on emphasizing economic commonalities, Taiwan has therefore created more awareness of what it is, what it represents, and what the benefits of engaging with it are. There is a third element involved. Under Xi Jinping in Beijing the grand narrative of the ‘New Silk Road’, announced in 2013 while he was in Indonesia, has been unfolding, mapping out what a region and a world run on Chinese visions and ideas might be. In 2015, the new title ‘One Belt, One Road’ was deployed. But by the following year, this was changed to ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI), an idea that Beijing has been exhaustively promoting regionally and through the rest of the world ever since. The BRI, in some ways, is a response to the US and others complaining China has so far failed to say what it really meant 163

C hap ter 4

and what it wanted from the global system. But, it is also a hint at what a world run more according to PRC rather than Washington rules might look like. For a country that is averse to treaty-based relationships and likes informal alliances and flexibility, the BRI, from what few key documents Beijing has issued specifically say about it, focuses on connectivity, in terms of helping others build infrastructure, having better people-to-people links, better information technology, and better communication. All of these are worthy enough aims. But in practice, the BRI’s roll out has proved perplexing and contentious, with the Trump White House, in particular, regarding it as a covert way to spread Chinese modes of network-based business practices and weak legal systems in order to create deeper political involvement in key neighbouring countries like Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. India in particular has proved highly resistant to the grand scheme being supported by Beijing through the competition it presents. Much commentary on the BRI as of 2019 focuses on the ways it has involved indebting other countries, and in supporting projects that in the end employ more Chinese than locals. This is clearly not a ‘win win’ outcome along the lines originally promised by Beijing. Taiwan has every incentive living in the shadow of the BRI, therefore, to issue its own counter-narrative. The BRI envelops Taiwan like a soft cloak, slowly encroaching on its space. This is a quite deliberate part of its strategic design, softly closing down the area around the island in a dense network of economic and other linkages beholden to Beijing. Simply passively allowing this to happen, therefore, is not a viable 164

W orl ds A pa rt

option for Taipei. In the view of one senior official interviewed in September 2018, for all the problems of the BRI, it also presents an opportunity for Taiwan and its alternative and, in its view more enlightened, view of development. ‘BRI is more debt trap than diplomacy’, they said, ‘and creates obligations on those indebted which spread uncertainty and instability’. Another academic stated that ‘BRI creates a trap, causing countries to be owned or bought in terms of allegiance by the PRC, and necessitating them turning a blind eye to some of the other things that the country does which are not in partner’s interests’. Criticisms made elsewhere are repeated. The BRI is the exporting of the PRC’s own unsustainable development model to the world around it. ‘It says’, the official added, ‘that greed is good’.8 In this interpretation, it stands not as a positive, but a negative advert, for the problems of the Beijing model. In order to set out a practical alternative to this in the period since 2018 Taiwan under Tsai has promoted a ‘New Southbound Policy’. This is not a wholly revolutionary idea. In the 1990s under Lee Teng-hui, there was a prototype ‘Go South’ Policy, This was continued by Chen Shui-bian from 2000. But the urgency under Tsai and the larger scale are different. For the Tsai administration, the four key areas for the new policy are to promote economic collaboration, conduct talent exchange, share resource and forge regional links. South East Asia, in particular, is a potential source for some of the things that in recent years Taiwan was dependent on the PRC for. One of these, tourism, is a good example. Despite Mainland visitor falling from 2017 as a result of cooling ties between the two, the overall figure of tourists in Taiwan has increased. 165

C hap ter 4

Many of these come from the region. It is also true that in terms of investment and trade, figures from its neighbourhood for Taiwan have increased. Taking ASEAN collectively, which most of the countries covered by the New Southbound Policy are part of, exports in 2017 increased to USD 58.57 billion, up 14.2 per cent on the previous year. In terms of investments, Taiwan put USD 0.2 billion into ASEAN neighbours in 2016, an increase of 73.3 per cent over the previous year. NSP inward investment to Taiwan also went up 25 per cent.9 In all these areas, Taiwan does have a level of autonomy. It can go out and promote the advantages of working with its economy, and follow a purely economic narrative, one that is granted to it by the international community because of its unique status and the challenges of engaging with it elsewhere. But this sort of deeper interaction with regional partners does have a dynamic consequence. As birth rates in Taiwan continue to remain very low, and the needs of an ageing population become more apparent, like other countries in the region it will need to contemplate a much more liberal immigration policy. Under Tsai, there have been attempts to attract more talent. But public views on this issue remain untested. Taiwan is, in spite of everything, quite homogeneous. Of its population, 95 per cent identify as Han. Acquiring Taiwanese citizenship is not easy, and takes much longer than, for instance, in the US or the UK. In addition to this, the ability of the local community to assimilate potentially significant numbers of new arrivals in a short period of time from very different cultural and ethnic backgrounds is a big unknown. The history of cohesion is not a straightforward one – witness the immense issues over 1947 166

W orl ds A pa rt

onwards as more new arrivals, albeit from a similar cultural and ethnic background, and with largely a common language, came to settle on the island. One could point to the Japanese occupation as a time when there was hybridity, and that this leaves a memory trace to this day. But that was colonization, and enforced, and these are hardly happy things to try to refer to. Population changes through economic reasons and by consent is a new phenomenon. It is one that Japan and the PRC also need to ponder, because of the demographic situation in their own countries. Can Taiwan domestically create a new consensus over immigration, and have the time to embed and sustain this? Even in migrant countries such as the US, Australia, and to some extent in Europe in recent times, immigration policy has proved amongst the most sensitive, and contentious areas to manage. According to interviews with senior Taiwanese officials in September 2018 in Taipei, the New Southbound Policy accentuates the positive by being centred around notions of sharing. ‘Taiwan is ready and willing to share experience with the region, to advance technology, the rule of law, intellectual property protection, and environmentalism’, they stated. The idea ‘is people centred and advances an alternative model of development’.10 This frames it as competing directly with the BRI. In expanding its influence into the Asian region, Taiwan is often in the position of a person with an overbearing ‘friend’ or onlooker, who seems to interrupt every interaction they try to have with a new contact by hovering in the background, or sometimes just simply coming along and interrupting the conversation. This kind of frustrated diplomacy has intensified 167

C hap ter 4

in recent years, as the PRC, this overbearing and ever present ‘friend’, gains both the wherewithal and the stronger internal narratives to find ways of dominating the region. Kissinger in his book, ‘On China’ wrote of the Beijing mentality often being more akin to the game of ‘Go’, the Chinese version of Chess, rather than the international version. In the latter, the onus is on finding strategic lines which lead to final victory.11 With ‘go’ it is more about slowly annexing and closing in space, and victory is never an easy thing to see until it happens. It almost steals up on one. French philosopher, Francois Jullien, in his book on Chinese philosophy and strategy, spoke of Chinese power being like something that ‘haunts’ rather than acts.12 Taiwan in that sense, despite having the advantages of a deeper cultural closeness and potentially better understanding of the Beijing mode of doing things, is as liable to being ‘haunted’ by Chinese power and its sometimes indirect modes as anyone else. In this context, things are more about perception than an actual tangible reality The BRI exists in the abstract a lot of the time. It has an evasiveness, a lack of institutional structure, and of any real legal protocols or systems of accountability. How can one easily push back against such an invisible, ever present force? PRC influence has proved frustrating to pin down in many cases. It involves the claim that government actors in the region have to constantly second guess the consequences of displeasing Beijing, particularly about an issue like Taiwan, and continuing getting access to the expected benefits that come from PRC partners. We know what kinds of things are being done. But there are probably many things that people aren’t doing, because of this second guessing of what Beijing 168

W orl ds A pa rt

might do to them, or what consequences in the future they might need to endure. In this context, everyone is hostage to what might be about to happen, not what actually is going on in the present. Set against the modes of PRC power, Taiwan in the region represents an alternative narrative that is based on tangibility, on real, measurable outcomes, on increases in trade and investment that can at least be numerically captured and have a level of visibility. Its experience elsewhere in the world in the past, of supporting projects in order to curry diplomatic favour and gain recognition in the developing world, has now been superseded by a much more sophisticated mode of operation. It is not in the business of buying validation any more. It is in the business of trying to diversify its economic links and find legitimate space for itself, and in carving out a narrative that people can relate to, in order to bring its peoples tangible benefits in their daily lives. This latter issue, a narrative that people can relate to, is one of the island’s great unexpected regional opportunities. Despite the hard realism of partners like Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and others, who do see engagement with the PRC domestic market, and its rising investment externally, as real opportunities, this has not removed the consistent characteristic of all these countries and their common attitude to the PRC. All to some degree lack trust in the PRC’s long term objectives and its attitude to the region. They understand well the costs of over-focusing on the economic narrative and the dangers of neglecting the security issues. Once one shifts from one to the other, the view of China changes from welcoming 169

C hap ter 4

and positive to often extremely cautious, and in some cases very hostile. This is not something new. The role of previous dynasties and versions of China over the last two millenniums in the region has often been a culturally overwhelming and politically pushy and domineering one. That may be an unfair assessment. It is true that over land borders, the many different China’s that existed before the 20th century were sometimes expansionist and aggressive. Ever for these, however, geography often set limits physically to their ambitions over expanding territory. It was hard, for instance, to ever effectively incorporate the vast and often unhospitable territory of the Tibetan Plateau into a unified imperial entity. But this was the exception, not the norm. As a maritime actor, China was far less present, at least till very recent times. But, in frequent clashes with Vietnam, with Japan, with Korea, and others around its border, and sometimes into the strategic space around its great eastern seaboard, Chinese dynasties in history have built up significant residue of distrust and the memory of conflict and strife. This haunts the region to this day. Taiwan enters these relationships creating its own authentic space, and sometimes simply enjoying greater levels of trust and the receipts of the rising levels of unease and resentment coming from Mainland diplomatic practice. This can be seen in the remarkable behaviour of the PRC over the end of 2018 and into 2019, as it seemed, as a result of the detention of Huawei Chief Operating Officer Meng Wanzhou, to take punitive action against Canadian nationals in China, to the raucous behaviour of the delegation at the Nauru Pacific Islands Congress mentioned above.13 In the 1960s, Taiwanese writer, 170

W orl ds A pa rt

Bo Yang wrote in his coruscating book, ‘The Ugly Chinaman’ about the enclosed, insensitive behaviour of Chinese in some communities. This was based on the complaints about the ‘ugly Americans’ and their behaviour abroad, which was often seen as pushy and overbearing.14 In the late 2010s, we seem to be entering the era of ‘ugly Chinese diplomacy’ in which assertiveness and sharpness are phenomena understood throughout the region. From that at least, Taiwan gets a sympathy vote, as in many ways it has been the object of such overbearing and sometimes bullying approaches for many years. As one senior Taiwanese official stated in September 2018, while the authors were researching this book in Taiwan, ‘PRC officials are becoming very arrogant, and often very unreasonable’. One can speculate about the causes of this overbearing approach. Sometimes, it might be grandstanding for the home audience, or to curry favour with bosses back in Beijing. It is hard to criticize a colleague who has been overzealous in promoting what they think are the PRC’s interests abroad. Conversely, it is pretty easy to punish them for not being hard enough. In diplomacy, the general rule seems to be in Beijing to always go in hard because that way one can never be reasonably punished, particularly in the era of grand ambition under Xi Jinping. Even so, the damage to the PRC’s international image is serious. This adds to the negativities attached to its political model, and the lack of sympathy, and alliances that arise from that. Sympathy however is not enough for Taiwan. It exists in a region without great sentiment, and where sovereignty is paramount, largely because for many of the neighbours around 171

C hap ter 4

it their autonomy was gained after hard won colonial fights and difficult histories. When self-interest faces off against expressing solidarity with neighbours who are exposed to full PRC fury and threats of punishment and reparations, then almost always self-interest wins. At ASEAN, for instance, throughout the last few years, motions censuring PRC aggression in the South China Sea have been consistently vetoed by partners like Cambodia, whose closeness to the PRC diplomatically has led some to acidly comment that it acts more like a vassal state. Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy works therefore within serious constraints. But, it does serve one hugely important function, and that is that it maintains awareness of the island, and of the benefits of interaction with Taiwanese business and other partners. It gives Taiwan an identity in the surrounding geography that gently disputes with, and often subverts, that being imposed from the PRC. It creates a new kind of space for it at a time when its traditional space has been encroached on and reduced.

T H E W O R L D B E Y O N D : W H AT D O E S TA I WA N M E A N T O A N D W H AT D O E S I T WANT FROM THE REST OF THE WORLD? The question of what the PRC wants is often asked. It is important to work out what the world’s second largest economy intends to do with its new prominence. Taiwan as a small economy and population, and because it often gets subsumed within the attention increasingly given to the PRC, never 172

W orl ds A pa rt

really receives the same kind of attention. Of course, one thing many Taiwanese might want, the ability to be autonomous, and perhaps even independent, they are currently unable to express, at least on an official level, in the international community, except to the 17 countries that still recognize them. At most, one can surmise that they want security, the ability to live prosperous, fulfilling lives, and dignity and respect. Those are stated as international standards. In Taiwan’s relations with Europe, and partners in Africa, Latin America, and across the rest of the world, the restrictions on its political activities mean that it figures more as a cultural and economic actor. And in the era of Xi, Taiwan is clearly seeking moral, and not just practical support. In a sense, it is looking for areas for solidarity. This accounts for the effort in building up, within politicians, academics and other groups, a network of sympathetic understanding. The priority is to ensure that Taiwan’s predicament is comprehended and that the world outside does not forget what is at stake for the island and its future. Very ironically, the Xi era assertiveness has, as the case of the US and Trump showed, put Taipei more in people’s minds than ever before. The strategic issue is what to do with this newfound attention. Like the US, Taiwan does not want to get sucked into anything like a great strategic game. But as one official made clear in September 2018, speaking in Taipei, ‘external support is important for our position, even if it cannot be expressed in a formal, diplomatic manner’. The challenges for all diplomatic representatives of Taipei is that in their work abroad, in at least the world’s major countries, they 173

C hap ter 4

have a slightly subliminal mode of existence, unable to have the proper status of diplomats, but often extremely senior and experienced officials. This in itself creates a certain ‘belittling’ which has, inevitably, a psychological effect. It is meant to demoralize. Despite this, in different ways and under different guises, from not meeting on official premises, to arranging for slightly different levels of representation when people do meet, to conducting work through proxies, interactions even at official level carry on. Taiwan is in the business of creating a common narrative about itself around the rest of the world. This is helped by the fact that it is a democracy. Unlike the PRC, there is no issue for Taiwan over finding a common security language. This is the grounds on which a programme of person-to-person links, investments and cultural exchanges is built. The objective is to increase the understanding of Taiwan. In the era after 2000, there were more ambitious models, in a more liberal era (even though it was not thought to be liberal at the time). The EU, for instance, undertook trilateral ‘dialogues’ on the Taiwanese issue, both in the PRC and then in Taiwan. These were predicated on offering some support for neutral mediation. One in 2014, held in Shanghai and then Taipei, had discussions with different interlocutors from think tank communities on recent developments. The elections of 2014 at local level were discussed, as well as changes in attitude because of the Sunflower Revolution amongst young Taiwanese. While this activity, originally funded by a Germany foundation, did not involve all three sitting down in once place, it at least allowed Europeans to be informed about the temperature of debate 174

W orl ds A pa rt

across the Strait, and it did let PRC views be conveyed to Taipei, and Taipei ones to Beijing. One advantage of the format of these talks was that they at least meant eminent economists, not necessarily expert in the Taiwan studies field, were able to apply generic knowledge to offer an assessment, for instance, of the real value or not of the ECFA, and what kinds of conceptual spaces might be available to understand development of public opinion in Taiwan. Taiwan is of course keen to promote wider understanding and acceptance of this key point. Democracy has profoundly changed society on the island. We have seen this in the analysis of the 2018 local elections. The work of scholars like Gunter Schubert in Germany and Dafydd Fell in the UK has shown in great detail the immense complexity and sophistication of views across Taiwan, and how allegiances and attitudes are changing. It is hard enough to keep abreast of these even for those devoted to looking at them full time as specialists. What is worrying is that there seems limited evidence that analysts in the PRC are able to properly comprehend what sort of transformations are happening in Taiwanese society. This is not because they do not have access to the same evidence as everyone else, nor that they lack the intellectual frameworks to make sense of what they are seeing, but because they operate within an ideological framework where many issues are so heavily freighted with political meaning that they are not easy to acknowledge. Recognizing that democracy has irrevocably changed Taiwan, even from what it was in the mid-1990s, is one such thing, because of the implications of this for the overarching Beijing imperative of achieving reunification, no 175

C hap ter 4

matter at what cost. It operates as an inconvenient truth, and in the PRC of Xi such inconvenience is dealt with peremptorily. By a variety of guises, therefore, Taiwan has to convey its uniqueness and seek its own language: through the discourse of tourism promotion and through cultural expression for instance. It has presented itself as part of a global culture, based on the philosophy referred to earlier, where, if seen as a regional issue and in a regional context, its situation is too heavily circumscribed and restricted, but if seen in a global context the things that matter for its recognition and validation are put into perspective and have space. In this latter context, therefore, its situation symbolizes generic matters of freedom, self-autonomy, peace and tolerance. This meaning is conveyed through many different kinds of messaging. One of the most potent is the idea that in defending Taiwan, the world is in fact defending universal values, ones which have no boundaries and which matter to everyone. In this framework, Taiwan’s freedom is the outside world’s freedom. In an era in which emotion plays an increasingly large role in diplomacy and international relations, this kind of narrative is at least one that the wider world is able to relate to. As in many other areas, Taiwan for the outside represents the classic battle between the heart and the mind. Perhaps the Xi era assertiveness, however foreboding it looks in 2019, might in the longer term serve Taiwan’s interests, creating a shared common narrative of unease, distrust and fear towards the PRC in ways that supplement their moral support for the island. But this isn’t something that Taiwan should, or can, bank on. The calculation of self-interest for outsiders is always paramount, and the 176

W orl ds A pa rt

less that Taiwan can rely on altruism the more secure it will feel. In the end, wherever Taiwan goes in the world, whatever spaces it seeks, it returns to facing the many differing forms of PRC power around it. This creates at best a frustrated diplomacy, and at worst a thwarted and impatient one. This may be Beijing’s desire – to force the hand of Taiwan. So far, nothing untoward had happened. The Tsai administration has maintained their composure. But the current situation is clearly unsustainable. And Taiwan is therefore forever supplementing and strengthening the narrative, referred to above, of its closeness in terms of values and outlook to the rest of the world. When the history books eventually get written, and we know far into the future what the outcome of this issue is, then we will know either that democracy saved Taiwan – or was the ending of it.

177

CHAPTER 5

PARALLEL LIVES TA IWAN’S ECONOM I C I DENTI TY

It is permissible to have an economic identity. That seems to be the logic that Beijing grants to Taiwan. It can act in the World Trade Organization (WTO) which it joined just after the PRC entered in 2001, despite qualifying long before. Like Hong Kong, a Special Administrative Region of the PRC, it can promote its economic interests abroad. Under Ma Jingjeou it could increasingly link its economic narrative with that of the PRC by signing treaties like the ECFA, and trying to follow this by achieving a services deal, before public backlash caused this to be aborted in 2014. But any attempts by Taiwan to move beyond this into more ambitious and political areas causes the parameters to close in. The space tightens till, as in 2019, it becomes almost non-existent. The question throughout this chapter is in what ways can economic agency – agency and autonomy in the world of transaction of goods and services, imports and exports – ever be the main fulfilling basis for identity? The foundation of the PRC’s main political narrative domestically since 1978 has been that the economic story is the key one. This materialist vision has been immensely successful in creating GDP wealth for PRC nationals. But its impact on the many other areas of life has been much more complex. This is not to deny that economic 181

C hap ter 5

wellbeing is an important basis for many other things in life. But it is only one of a number of factors. And while the PRC narrative along this one line has been compelling, it has not been able to successfully address other areas except through a rising level of nationalistic appeal and emotional mobilization around what often appears, in Xi’s PRC, to almost be a religion of great statehood. How can we interpret this granting to Taiwan of solely economic identity and agency abroad by the PRC, and by many of Taiwan’s main partners? In some ways, there is recognition of the dangers of this limitation by the naming of the US, UK and other representational offices in Taipei. These are usually called ‘Economic and Cultural Liaison Offices’. The word ‘cultural’ here carries a huge freight of meaning. We will look at this later. But in terms of the ‘economic’ what we first need to do is to take into account what the Taiwanese, within Taiwan, feel about their economic agency, and then how this relates to their understanding, and the outside world’s understanding, of their global role. Answering this question falls into two parts. One is to look at what sentiment towards economic issues is within Taiwan. This deals with the extraordinary success the island experienced in the post-Second World War period when it became recognized as one of the Four Asian Dragons, and built up a modernized, mixed, developed economy. More recent times have seen a set of challenges as it enters a different kind of phase of its development. The second is the role that Taiwan plays in the global economy, in and through its interaction with the PRC and other partners. This deals with issues like 182

Pa ra l l el L i ves

investment flows, and relations in terms of finance, and the creation of a stock exchange and other service industries in and from Taiwan.

TAIWAN’S DOMESTIC DEVELOPMENT1 Since the Second World War, and particularly since the 1960s, for over five decades, Taiwan set new economic records with an annual average economic growth rate of 8.3 per cent.2 Taiwan largely contributed to and followed a model used in Japan and South Korea, creating strong export industries, on the back of low local wages and productions costs, government involvement, and the emergence of good markets in the US, Europe and elsewhere. As in these other countries, the tangible production of wealth creation has been striking. From a per capita GDP of USD 170 in 1949, similar to that of the Congo, Taiwanese levels rose to USD 13,500 in 1996, comparable to that of Greece. Over this period, it went from being a major recipient of US economic aid to becoming an aid donor and foreign investor itself. This earnt it the label as one of four ‘Asian Tigers’, the others being Singapore, South Korea and Hong Kong. The Taiwanese economic miracle, as it is often now called, can be divided into three distinctive steps. The first involved stabilization of the economy after the ravages of the international and then civil war after 1949. In the second, the structure of the economy shifted from primary industries and agriculture to heavy industry, something that underpinned the sustained high economic growth rates in the 1950s. The third 183

C hap ter 5

step saw the growth continue, in the 1970s, but slow down as competition increased from others using a similar model in the region. These eventually came to include the PRC. The main hiccups of this process of fast growth were a period of hyperinflation of 1949 and then brief fluctuations during the two oil shocks of the 1970s. Apart from this the story was characterized by low to moderate inflation and unemployment rates. Most importantly, and something that differentiates it from the experience in the PRC, the Taiwanese development model did not witness a significant increase in inequalities. By the 1980s, Taiwan seemed to have achieved an excellent diamond shaped economy, with low numbers of super wealthy and the destitute, and a large middle class. Nor was this economic model a wholly non-state one. Throughout the period, the government through offering incentives, capital, and setting strategic objectives played an important role. This, too, was the experience in the other tiger economies. One advantage, although, in view of the historic issues around assimilation mentioned previously it did carry complexities, was the influx into the island in 1949 and the years afterwards of a number of intellectuals and business figures from the Mainland. This enhanced Taiwan’s human capital. The new Nationalist government also inherited an agricultural and industrial base created by the Japanese which was at least relatively developed. Japan during its years of colonial rule imported agricultural produce. In the final years of the war it started to develop industrial infrastructure, making metal products, coal, petroleum, steel mills, shipbuilding, machine tools, chemicals, cement, and paper industries. None of this 184

Pa ra l l el L i ves

detracts from the reality that in 1949 Taiwan’s economy was overwhelmingly an agrarian one. Using precious metals and foreign currency reserves brought over from the Mainland, the Nationalists established a gold standard reserve currency to back up the newly issued New Taiwan Dollar. Prices were stabilized, and inflation, mentioned above, reduced. In addition to these, a process of land reform was undertaken, implemented through two separate government acts. The Rent Reduction Act alleviated the tax burden on farmers, whilst another redistributed land amongst small farmers. Landowners were compensated with commodities certificates as well as stock in state-owned businesses. These led to dramatic increases in agricultural productivity, which in turn released agricultural labour to work in the emerging urban industries, and created a wealth owning class with surplus capital to invest. The profits realized from a more efficient agricultural sector were also reinvested in industrial equipment. Another factor was the government’s commitment to education. Initial reforms focused on providing universal elementary education. Particular emphasis was laid on improving literacy in order to create a workforce educated enough to build an advanced economy. This campaign was highly successful: an illiteracy rate of 40.25 per cent in 1949 fell to just 6.8 per cent in 1989. By 2010, the figure had fallen to just over 1 per cent.3 From the mid-1950s, albeit starting from a low base, growth began to rapidly accelerate. Throughout the rest of the decade, it averaged 8 per cent a year.4 This was accompanied by a shift towards industrial production. Agricultural capital was placed in industrial ventures, supplemented by 185

C hap ter 5

large amounts of US aid. Cut in the immediate aftermath of the Chinese civil war, this aid restarted in the wake of the Korean War (1950–1953), which had ended hope of the PRC and the US having any kind of diplomatic rapprochement until Nixon’s visit, over two decades later. In the period from 1950 to the early 1960s America aid totalled USD 4 billion. Of this, USD 1.5 billion supported industry and USD 2.5 went to the military. This was crucial during the first decade of Nationalist rule. It meant that a large, modern military could be constructed and maintained without suppressing growth in other areas. In the early phase, Taiwan ran an economy perpetually prepared for war. The government’s first four year plan, from 1953, focused on increasing agricultural productivity. At this stage Taiwan experienced a trade deficit with the outside world, especially with the US which had become the largest importer. During the second four year plan from 1956 to 1960, living standards improved alongside price stability. Yet, the trade deficit remained. The Nationalist government used US aid to offset this problem, but also tried to mitigate it through an import substitution policy which promoted locally created goods, raised tariff barriers and the imposition of direct restrictions on imports. Controls on foreign exchange were also introduced. These measures together provided the base for industrial development within a fully protected market. Taiwan’s export base in the decade after 1949 still consisted of agricultural products, predominantly sugar, rice, tea, and bananas. In 1962, however, there was a shift, with industrial production starting to dominate. Copying the 186

Pa ra l l el L i ves

model pioneered in Japan during its post-Second World War reconstruction, indigenous industrial infrastructure then gave the impetus to an export orientated economic model. Government policy assisted this, with the ‘nineteen points’ programme covering economic and financial reform in 1959, followed by ‘statutes for the encouragement of investment’ the following year. Market controls were relaxed, with the objective of attracting in foreign capital, and thereby some of their technology and know-how. Kaohsiung became a special export area. Taiwanese currency was devalued to encourage the growing export market, making goods cheaper to sell abroad. In 1964, General Instruments established a new electronic assembly plant, creating a prototype of what was to be a mainstay of the economic model for the next three decades. In what was to become a classic mixture, copied by many others, including the PRC, Japanese, Americans and others were able to enjoy low production costs for hi-tech goods on the island because of a highly educated and skilled but relatively cheap pool of labour. As in other places, at the very beginning at least unionization levels were low and worker’s rights were poor, with basic conditions. But the government also allowed higher interest rates to encourage people to save, and thereby supply new forms of capital for more business development. A major part of this story is a phenomenon witnessed also in Hong Kong, the existence of many small, family run businesses taking their place as parts of increasingly complex supply chains. They were often involved in labour intense industries, although as time progressed the government intervened to make higher value added sectors more dominant, calling on 187

C hap ter 5

larger scale firms. These were in the pharmaceuticals, chemical and electronic sectors. Taiwan through the 1970s experienced a period of uncertainty. Some of this was political. The replacement on the UN of the ROC by the PRC in 1971, and the extra and very unwelcome shock in 1979 of the US shifting formal diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing, along with the deteriorating international environment because of the oil crisis in 1973, and then 1979, all created setbacks. Both oil crises raised the manufacturing costs for Taiwanese companies, and led to price inflation. The negative impact of this was compounded by a global increase in protectionism, meaning that the government responded by trying to lift their manufacturing up the value chain, eventually concentrating on computing, and most successfully, super conductors. Taiwanese firms created strategic alliances as suppliers of high quality, competitive components and products to US and other international partner companies. Once more, government policy to assist this was crucial, with the local currency allowed to float freely on a market set rate, and tariffs for export and import slashed. The government also started to invest more heavily in fixed assets, improving the infrastructure. This was the era of the so-called ‘Ten Infrastructure Projects’ which included Taipei’s national Chiang Kai Shek airport, the building of the first highway, three new ports, and a dike, and finally large scale housing projects. There was also government capital investment into the chemicals industry. Despite the restrictions from martial law still being in place, the 1970s with its more contentious 188

Pa ra l l el L i ves

environment, saw the growth of the local union movement. This was to have immense importance in the following decade as it formed the basis of the DPP and other civil society groups. As a sign of the resilience of the new Taiwanese economy, growth continued at 10 per cent throughout the decade, the same level as in the 1960s. Achievement of a fully mixed, developed economy by the 1980s meant that, as usually happens, GDP growth started to fall to around 7 per cent between 1980 to the mid-1990s. Industrial production also started to tail off, and the economy shifted a third time to services. Employment levels also started to be so high that there were labour shortages in some sectors. Taiwan also began to accrue large foreign exchange reserves. The private sector came into its own over this era, with a focus on advanced electronics rather than heavy industry. To compensate for the skills and labour shortage the government appealed to the global Taiwanese diaspora with links to the island to return and live, work and set up businesses. This was also the era that saw a shift from policy being focused on attracting inward investment to the Taiwanese now becoming increasingly significant outward investors, with major interests in Southeast Asia, and in Europe and the US. It was, however, to the emerging opportunities in the PRC that many started to look, particularly from the lifting of martial law in the mid-1980s, and the liberalization of restriction within Taiwan on links economically with the Mainland. This process was paralleled by the emergence of suitable requirements and inducements for the Taiwanese to operate there, promoted by the PRC government. 189

C hap ter 5

The lifting of martial law in 1987, as commented in Chapter 2, had an immediate impact. This was initially disruptive. Consumers, workers and other social actors, granted a voice after so long, often erupted into protests and resistance movements, removing the reputation for government organized political stability the island had enjoyed since 1949, and temporarily seeing some businesses relocate. But, it also saw expenditure on defence reduced because of the improved security environment, and the creation of new links across the Strait. The Taiwanese were allowed, on a private basis, to visit relatives on the Mainland. Barriers to trade and investment that had existed till then were removed. Reliance on the US market was replaced by integration with the PRC one, a phenomenon that intensified in the following decade, and which continues, with all the political complexity it brings with it, till today. The late 1980s also saw the start of other long term structural changes. Personal savings continued to be strong, but with lowering growth wages started to remain stable, but inequality also emerged. The stock market started, with an increase in financial services, and a greater proportion working in these sectors, along with rising land and property prices. A recession caused by an economic bubble in 1990, exacerbated by the increased strength of the New Taiwan Dollar, severely and negatively impacted on the competitiveness of the island’s export-led economy. Small and medium sized enterprises started to relocate their main manufacturing to more cost-efficient locations in South East Asia, and in the PRC, encouraged by a spate of welcoming policies in the latter which were specifically targeted at the Taiwanese with their 190

Pa ra l l el L i ves

know-how and technology. Growth returned in the mid-1990s. By the time the island became a full democracy in 1996, it was already easily categorized as a developed economy.

TAIWAN’S ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AS A DEMOCRACY – 1996–2008 Taiwan achievement of democratization in 1996 was also an economic turning point, because it marked the moment when the local economy matured. GDP growth was largely derived now from industries which were highly global, and were innovative and knowledge intensive – information technology and biotechnology being two examples. This meant the economy was increasingly exposed to the outside world. While the Asian economic crisis of 1998 did have some impact on growth, this was not as severe as that in Hong Kong, which saw the first recession in many decades. But the dot com crash starting in the US in 2000 and the world wide financial crisis of 2008 were much more severe in their impact. On both occasions, it was more the link to the PRC growth engine that saved the island any dramatic falls, though the latter saw growth decline by nearly 10 per cent in 2009. This was quickly replaced by growth, albeit modest, a year later. These setbacks were compounded by a series of bad typhoons which inevitably also had a negative impact. In the early 2000s, as a developed rather than a developing economy, the growth rate was slower, averaging around 4 per cent, down from the 10 per cent average seen over the 1960s and 1970s. The bulk of this derived from knowledge-based 191

C hap ter 5

industries: information technology in particular, and services. By 2008 Taiwan produced 80 per cent of the world’s laptop computers and had become the largest producer of Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) screens. A significant proportion of the economy specialized in LCD manufacturing and Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. But, increasingly services provided the bulk of growth, in particular in three sub-sectors: banking, insurance, and business services. During the 1990s Taiwan continued down the path of economic liberalization it had begun in the 1980s. Several state-run companies were privatized, including shipbuilders, banks, and telecommunications firms. The government remained proactive in providing support for development, not only improving the regulatory framework, but continuing to invest in infrastructure, and transport in particular. In 2008, the first rapid transit lines opened in Kaohsiung, whilst Taipei’s transit system doubled by 2013. A network of well-maintained highways was created in the two decades until 2008, as well as construction of a high speed rail system which services the major cities of Taiwan’s west coast. One of the DPP government’s priorities, while it was in power the first time from 2000 to 2008, was to attempt to join a number of high profile economics-focused international organizations including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). This presented obvious difficulties given the requirement that members of most of these be recognized as sovereign states. As mentioned previously, the island was able to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001. This involved a level of legal obfuscation during which Taiwan 192

Pa ra l l el L i ves

was declared a ‘special customs territory’ which would join at the same time as the PRC. However, Taiwan had to be classified as a developed country which imposed stricter requirements for lowering its barriers to foreign competition in its domestic market than those expected from a developing country. Despite this, the outlook for Taiwan’s economy in 2005 remained uncertain. Economic growth was mediocre relative to Taiwan’s historic levels, coming in that year at 4 per cent. This was worsened by a slowdown in the export sector and the increasingly high price of oil. By 2008 the economy came very close to a second recession in the face of a global downturn. Inflation was increasing, wages remained stagnant, and unemployment, whilst low by Western standards, remained high for Taiwanese at 4 per cent. Social inequality had increased too, the emergent middle class having begun to hollow out. These issues contributed to the DPP’s loss of power: it was believed by many that they had prioritized confrontation with China at the expense of the domestic economy. What has been the impact of economic development on Taiwanese society? In the 1950s, Taiwan was a poor, developing place, with living standards which accorded with a semi-developed economy. But over the last eight decades, as per capita GDP has risen, a new kind of social structure, one that is predominantly middle class, has appeared. Taiwan is a place of relative equality. It does not have the stark differences that have existed till quite recently between rural and urban areas in the PRC. It is also a highly urbanized society, one that is very interconnected, and well-educated. The Taiwanese tertiary education sector has a staggering 160 plus college and 193

C hap ter 5

university level institutions. This must make the proportion of graduates in the population one of the highest in the world. Within Taiwanese society there are not just the differences that arise in identity between the new and old people from before and after 1949, referred to in Chapter 1, and between those claiming different ethnic identities, but also differences according to economic sub-groups that individuals fall into. The Taiwanese middle class working in the services sector who are high consumers and big users of financial services are one such group, for instance. One of the other most important sub-groups is that of the Taiwanese business people who live, work and invest in the PRC. The outlook of these people, the way in which their economic and political lives often cause painful divisions for them, forcing them to live almost in two worlds, has been studied by, among others, UK-based Taiwanese scholar Chun Yi-lee. Taiwan in the Global - 2009Economy onwards 2009 onwards TaiwanEconomy in the Global 15.0 © Copyright FocusEconomics 2017 10.0

5.0

0.0

–5.0

2000

2002

2004

2006

2008

2010

2012

2014

2016

Source: https://www.focus-economics.com/country-indicator/taiwan/gdp 194

Pa ra l l el L i ves

The era from 2010 onwards and the recovery from the Global Financial Crisis has been dominated by the increased integration and its political costs between the PRC and the ROC. At the heart of this was the liberalization encapsulated in the ECFA protocol signed in 2010 between Taipei and Beijing, and regarded as the most significant achievement of the Ma era. This was supplemented by the stimulation to the Taiwanese economy of direct air, postal and trade links between the two. ECFA is a kind of free trade deal, although it covers only a limited number of sectors. It was tariffs between the two reduced on over 570 kinds of goods, and was regarded as a stepping stone to a further agreement, intended in 2014, to cover services. This, however, was stopped by the widespread protests that year in Taipei and elsewhere. It was also backed up by a Chinese RMB trading deal, which allowed for currency swaps and the ability for the Taiwanese to do trade in the PRC directly in local currency, saving some transaction costs. In addition to this, Taiwan was also able to sign a Free Trade Agreement with New Zealand in 2013, the first time it had been able to manage a formal arrangement with another country it did not have diplomatic relations with. A further arrangement with Singapore, planned in 2014, was unable to go forward, again because of the political turbulence on the island that year. In the era of globalization and the rise of the PRC, while Taiwan has maintained good growth, it has to face a number of widely understood structural problems. While it ranks in the world’s top twenty economies, and the per capita GDP of its citizens is around USD 50,000 annually, stagnant wages, high 195

C hap ter 5

living costs, and stable but low growth rates create perpetual challenges for whichever government is in control. As for many others, the search for new, good quality sources of development is important. Social welfare and higher expenditure for an ageing population on healthcare and pension costs come on the back of a shrinking birth rate. The Tsai government has liberalized immigration policy, linking it to the New Southbound Policy, discussed in the previous chapter. But it has to be recognized that public attitudes to the sort of opening up that would be necessary to address the current challenges are largely untested. While surveys show some ability to embrace highly skilled, but limited, migration flows into Taiwan, for unskilled labour from South East Asian countries the appetite is less enthusiastic. There are cultural and language challenges, as well as the reality that Taiwan, while an open society, is also a remarkably homogeneous one in terms of ethnicity. On top of this, Taiwan shares a common set of challenges with the rest of the region and the wider world. Rapid industrialization has taken a toll on its natural environment, with water and soil quality often poor, and air quality blighted by the same kind of smog as in the PRC, though far less widespread and epic. The environmental movement on the island has been relatively successful, but in recent years most evidence shows that temperature levels are rising, and extreme weather events becoming much more common. In 2018, there was particularly severe flooding in August. President Tsai’s management and reaction to this, received widespread criticism, because it was regarded as too slow. Even in a normally cooler period of the year from mid-September onwards, temperatures 196

Pa ra l l el L i ves

remained in the late 30 degrees centigrade. The challenges of Taiwan’s environment are not helped by the fact that it is unable to participate in global decision making events, and either forced to be a passive observer, or simply, as was the case for the 2015 Paris Climate Change Convention, not able to be present. Despite having no active voice in the final agreements, however, Taiwan has managed to start to implement most of the goals agreed. Taiwan’s economy was always its greatest asset. But, with the rise of a parallel narrative of economic success from the PRC in the last decades, some of which actually copied or was modelled on things Taiwan had done, this has ironically turned out to be a point of pressure and vulnerability from Beijing. Deeper integration through tangible links, investments, business people and simple appeal to self-interest (‘deal with us’, Beijing seems to be saying, ‘and we will make you better off’), have all proved double edged swords. They give Taiwan benefits, but they also expose new areas of potential influence and pressure. Under Xi this phenomenon has intensified. There is a real and sometimes very explicit political price tag in even the most straight forward transactional economic engagement with the PRC. Through grand concepts like the BRI, and a dense network of political, military and other connections, Beijing has drawn a tight band around Taiwan, seeking to restrain and constrict it. Economic links allow Beijing to penetrate into the island itself and its domestic space. There is PRC trade and investment, with all the issues about the role of the state and political intention that gives rise to, and then there is PRC trade and investment in Taiwan, which is perhaps 197

C hap ter 5

the most pure manifestation of these political challenges and issues. On the whole, the difference is simple to spell out. Whatever it wants with its economic statecraft in the rest of the world, that is not to see this world adopt the political model in the PRC; it is usually just to see a world that aligns more with its core interests and supplies pragmatic things for it. But, with Taiwan this is not the case. The PRC wants Taiwan not only to become like the PRC, but to become part of the PRC. This sort of intentionality is very specific, and very different to anywhere else. It is also why the Taiwanese economy, as a space, involves a manifestation of the PRC different to anywhere else.

198

CHAPTER 6

THINKING THROUGH THE ISSUE OF TAIWAN

Taiwan is an issue that is often problematized. It is something that is ‘unsolved’, a legacy of the post-Second World War period and the Cold War, and something that is often posited as the greatest potential cause of real military conflict between the PRC and the outside world. Often scenarios are presented about how this issue can be managed, and what options there might be for the future. Red lines are imagined, in which something happens that then forces the PRC to act on its anti-secession laws from 2005 and clash with the US and others over the island. Even in early 2019, the The Economist magazine carried an article on how ready, and prepared, the People’s Liberation Army from the Mainland were in launching an amphibious attack on Taiwan and its surroundings.1 For policy makers and others, the need to plot out potential futures and what might or might not happen on the geopolitical level is of course important. And being perpetually ready for problems is at least a good way of avoiding complacency and guarding against the worst eventualities ever actually happening. But often, while thinking about these high level issues, even more fundamental, lower level ones are forgotten. At heart, as this chapter will show, 201

C hap ter 6

Taiwan is a foremost a question of free expression. It is about individual Taiwanese being allowed to say who and what they believe they are with an appropriate vocabulary and not being prevented from doing so. In some ways, Taiwan is a massive coercion of speech acts, of being able to say, inside and outside the island, descriptions and declarations which Beijing seeks through a whole suite of responses and coercive actions to control. This works at the most intimate and personal level. In this grand game, it is the language of the 23 million individual Taiwanese that is impacted on and targeted. This is not about whether what these people say is true or not; it is that they are simply unable to say things they believe in the first place about their identity and how they view themselves. Despite this situation, we do not wish to draw too dark and dramatic a picture. Those that have never visited Taiwan might get the impression that for citizens on the island every moment of every day is full of anguished speculation about what the PRC might do, and how they manage to survive in a world in which the most intimate and personal thing for anyone – their identity – is contested and, more often than not, goes unrecognized, or not recognized in the ways that people might desire. In fact, as even the briefest tour of Taipei, Taizhong, or any of the other living centres in Taiwan will show, Taiwanese people live their lives doing the same things as anywhere else in the world, enjoying family life, good food, seeing friends, and living as best they can in the environment they are physical located and which they feel a deep emotional bond and affection for. Taiwan also has a very extensive global diaspora. The 202

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

average young Taiwanese is likely to be more exposed to the wider world, and more connected to it, that those from many other places. But this does not mean people do not care greatly about how they can speak about the specific place they come from, where they have such intimate and close bonds. How one can speak about a place is, in the end, part of the value of that place, a component of it. Taiwan simply as Taiwan, on its own terms, in its own way, is not often enough talked of. More often, it is placed in a comparative context, which is sometimes useful and illuminating, but does not perhaps show a strong enough sense of this very basic fact. Taiwan matters to the people who live and work there because it is their home, and the place they belong to. In a strange way, this neglect or lack of speaking about Taiwan simply as Taiwan, and forever locating it within the nexus of issues around the PRC and its relations with that, reinforces the notion of a tight bond between the two and of inseparability from the Mainland. Taiwan on Taiwan’s terms should be viable, and yet even in this space the PRC casts a shadow. As argued in the Introduction, thinking through Taiwan on its own terms does help understand questions about what localism means in an era of globalization, how we frame identity when so much is contested and seems to have been taken out of our personal control, and what autonomy and control now actually mean. This chapter therefore will look at this set of questions, and frame them in a way which, while using the case of Taiwan, shows their wider validity and meaning. 203

C hap ter 6

I D E N T I T Y, I D E N T I T Y, I D E N T I T Y Identity is a fundamental issue when thinking about Taiwan. It is the theme to which we come back almost constantly. Maintaining the right to define and see themselves as they wish, and protecting the fluidity of their identities is something people across the world are willing to make immense sacrifices for. Zygmunt Bauman, the great sociologist, wrote about this concept of liquid modernity, and of definitions of the self that moved across shifting boundaries and different levels, creating a dynamic and often highly fluid quality, opposing the attempt to coerce and pin down these identities so they did not stray about so much.2 For the Taiwanese, from the day they are born, as this book has shown, these questions about managing the liquid nature of their identity come to them thick and fast. They have to work out, as they grow up, where they stand on this issue of whether they see themselves as Chinese, Chinese Taiwanese, Taiwanese, or something else more crafted to their understanding of their specific living situation. The political side of their identities is heavier than elsewhere. It is almost as though they were born with an avatar, a kind of other part of themselves, because the significance of them choosing to define themselves as purely Taiwanese, and not Chinese Taiwanese, or as Chinese and not Taiwanese, is weightier than, for instance, a UK person deciding they are English rather than British. And unlike situations like the Basque separatists in Spain, or other movements elsewhere, the Taiwanese live in a situation where they have all the usual requisites of statehood, and even have 204

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

some partners who recognize this formally though, as stated earlier, it is dwindling. The issue is not that the Taiwanese don’t have all the appurtenances of autonomy and sovereignty. The book started off by showing that they have most, if not all of these. What they lack is acceptance, through the pressure and influence of another actor, of their legitimacy. This is compounded by the fact that as an open society, recognition of complexity within the identity of Taiwan itself has also intensified in recent years. The island on which the Taiwanese live and to which they belong has had a history which, as the chapters above showed, does not fit into a neat narrative. History, we understand, is seldom, if ever, neat. Even so, Taiwan’s mixture of native settlement, deep in history, and then more recent waves of different kinds of colonizations, culminating in the final wave in the 1940s, created different communities, and different historic stories with their associated identities. Even to the simple question of how, for instance, one understands the Dutch period, or the Koxinga era, or the precise nature of Qing control into the late 19th century, and then the Japanese occupation, it is clear there are no easy categories. Taiwanese history was, the complaint rightly goes, always at the margins. It existed on the periphery of the Chinese imperial world, and had a shadowy status that reflected this. Its prominence now as a geopolitical issue owes most to the impact of the Mainland’s huge economic success in recent years and the fact that it maintains a form of nationalism that asserts reunification as an objective. That has only intensified in recent years as the Communist Party leadership has sought new sources of legitimacy beyond the economic. 205

C hap ter 6

There are good arguments to say that in the early era of Maoist China, Taiwan was simply regarded as a side issue, and one that could be shelved almost perpetually. Only with new waves of patriotism from the 1990s onwards did Taiwan suddenly become so much more central to the designs and attitudes of the PRC because of the logic of its own nationalism. Once more, in all of this, Taiwan was passive rather than an active participant – a victim of this history, and of this nativist nationalism from Beijing. Colonized, occupied, conquered, the final issue for modern Taiwanese is how they understand their identity when they hear the story of the Nationalist Party defeat on the Mainland and the fleeing to the island of so many of Chiang Kai-shek’s troops and their families. This is within living memory. The divisions it created in society, and the way in which the recognition of this was suppressed till the 1980s, has a deep psychological impact to this day. The gap between the ‘new’ and the ‘longer established’ people risked creating a society run on parallel lines and memory narratives. And while the era of democratization has meant some of the quality of ‘whispered’ history from this era has been erased, and some of the ghosts faced, the issue of who is ‘real Taiwanese’, and whether there is such a thing, is not a light one. Asking it risks resurrecting old divisions in society. Ironically, stirring up this kind of dis-unity is one of the purposes of the emotional language that PRC leaders use about how the Taiwanese are people of a common blood, and a common identity. The potentially intoxicating effect of this language contests commitments which are more local. 206

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

It also means there is a contemporary pragmatic rhetoric of identity which is deliberately multi-layered and unclear. This is the phenomenon of people saying they are one thing, when it is likely that in their hearts they might believe in something completely different, largely because of their commitment to the ‘status quo’ and their fear of not rocking the boat. For this reason, at least until now, despite strong urges to do so by the DPP till 2008, referendums to ditch the name ‘Republic of China’ and simply use ‘Taiwan’ have been rejected. It is likely though that this will one day, perhaps quite soon, change. This is what is meant when one says the Taiwanese live with an identity which is politicized not only outside of the island, but also within it. Their choice of saying clearly who they are has local, not just international, implications. In the past, this has added to the sharpness of the conflict between the DPP and the Nationalists. The former were regarded as more for local self-identity, and the latter for stronger pragmatic links with the PRC, which of course meant a more flexible sense of identity. To develop this notion of coerced speech, and controlled speech acts, for the Nationalists over the last thirty years, the remarkable thing is how many key policies have needed to be based not on stating anything clearly, but asserting that some things cannot be clear and therefore need not be said at all. This is shown in the ‘1992 Consensus’ which spelled out an area of almost unsayability about a term which neither party agreed the real meaning of. The ‘three nos’ that Ma Ying-jeou set out at the start of his first presidential term were a continuation of this ‘policy by negation and not saying’. The fact that saying clearly and explicitly what things are is 207

C hap ter 6

regarded as risky and dangerous, and therefore choosing the option of simply making clear what they are not, is a testament to the ways in which discourse on the island has been skewed and impacted by the influence of the PRC. Finding ‘voice’ and an adequate way of speaking that at least validates some of the beliefs and feelings of the speakers is important. In recent years, through addressing their own ‘whispered’ history since 1949, and acknowledging its own complexity, the Taiwanese have taken control of this process. They are now moving towards being better able to address, at least within Taiwan, who they are, and what their identity is, and are resisting easy answers and categories. Polls have shown a marked shift towards asserting Taiwaneseness, and seeing the Chinese part of the equation becoming more subsidiary, and at times almost invisible.3 But being Chinese culturally, and belonging to the narratives from the Chinese pasts that occurred on the Mainland, are still vastly important things for many within Taiwan. In that sense, the slow unscrambling and working out of the meanings of these different histories, and the part they play in self-expression and identity and how it is defined, are generically similar to the processes across the rest of the world of trying to figure out more local and then more global forms of belonging and identity. For all the specificity, therefore, we need to remember this. The problem of Taiwan in this area of identity is not just for Taiwan. It is a situation we can all relate to when we look at the issue of where we belong, what it means, and how we can, and can’t, speak about it. 208

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

DIFFERENT KINDS OF SPACE One element of the Taiwan question is about space, about how we understand not just geographical space, where there are contested or accepted boundaries, but also about how we relate the spaces of history, or the material world, and then the world of political, economic, cultural and other kinds of influence to each other. Taiwan could be baldly described as a territorial dispute. In the past, from 1949 to the 1990s, the ROC claimed all of the Mainland as its legitimate territory, and the PRC claimed Taiwan. It was as simple as that. And were either the one or the other, through a successful aggressive move, to have taken control of the territory of the other, then the issue would, in theory, have been resolved. But, as time has gone on, the spaces of history, culture and ideas have come to the fore making clear this is not just about real estate. In fact, physical space is the least of the problems. This is because since democratization, it has become even more starkly clear that Taipei and Beijing have come to represent two visions of the world, and that they occupy two different kinds of intellectual and political spaces where there is no easy intersection. The ideal of modernity represented by Beijing under Communism has been a very specific, almost mechanistic one, which is largely promoted because of its ability to lead to good material outcomes. It is one where a stark account of human positivist scientific progress and the utilitarian ethics of the ends justifying the means dominates. In the Maoist era society was regarded like a massive machine, where a set of predetermined inputs lead to outputs that could 209

C hap ter 6

be predicted because of the process of dialectic development. Individuals did not matter greatly in this grand, Utopian, collectivist endeavour. In the reform era, the shift to economism is a tactical one. The underlying vision of perpetual positive progress, and of achieving semi-Utopian outcomes one day, has not wholly disappeared, nor, for that matter has the collectivism. It figures in the Xi Jinping notions of a China Dream, and of the fulfilment of centennial goals. For Taiwan, the world view has become a more hybrid, and Westernized kind of modernity. US influence after 1949 was one cause of this, as it was in Japan, though of course for different reasons and in different ways. But the Taiwan of Chiang Kai-shek, while it had its share of brutal moral compromise, never adopted the dialectic view of history, and certainly not the Utopianism of the Mainland. The only real common point was the ways both subscribed to a notion of Chinese nationalism. This was for a good reason. Both had their roots in the great messianic figure of Sun Yat-sen and his overarching influence over the Chinese-speaking world. This romantic commitment, however, was vague enough to be interpreted in radically different ways. In Taiwan modernity was able to embrace political pluralism in the 1980s, and to accommodate the vibrancy of a civil society and then of full democracy. In the political space, therefore, whatever their common starting point may have been (and one can argue that there never really was such a point) the PRC and the ROC have ended up in different political universes. The fact that in their modern development they have arrived at such different political outcomes has made things 210

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

immensely complicated today. In 2019, with one party now run on governance, and administrative lines which are wholly different to those of the other, then a vast dilemma emerges. How can one try to join two wholly incompatible systems to each other, without it working out to the detriment of the smaller party? And in the end, at what point do the political spaces of the two become so different that they are simply irreconcilable? Beijing likes to talk of the big family of China, and of Taiwan being like a prodigal child returning to the fold. But for Taiwan, while its feeling of kindredness can operate fine on the level of sentiment, when one starts to talk of closer union, and then of a kind of unity verging on annexation, the discussion radically changes. The only line that has real resonance here is the old phrase between erstwhile lovers: ‘let’s just be friends’. More often than not, this simply leads to permanent estrangement. In the geopolitical space, while Taiwan has operated under increasing constraints, its values have at least given it new options. Since the change in UN recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1971, its practical engagement with the wider world started to become more challenging. But, tactically, Taiwan’s adoption, successfully, of the values of democracy to create kindredness, particularly with the US, has created new space to compensate. This was a move of strategic genius by local leaders under Chiang Ching-kuo from the 1980s onwards. Over the bedrock of ‘Chineseness’, with its persistent vulnerability to appeals from the Mainland, Taiwan was able to create another kind of space, one based on its being a democracy, which was linked to a global family of countries run on 211

C hap ter 6

similar values. This allowed an act of gradual, but successful, integration. Taiwan’s story and identity as a democracy is, therefore, something by which it can be understood internationally. It has created a common geopolitical language for it to convey its story. There are other spaces Taiwan operates in. The cultural and the economic ones have been the most effective. The economic space Taiwan has made was discussed in some detail in the last chapter. The cultural one, however, offers an area where Taiwan has been able to find at least some autonomy. This book opened with a description of the restaurant chain, Din Tai Fung and the successful openings across Asia, into the US, and now in Europe. But, Taiwan presenting itself as the place where traditional Chinese culture has best survived and has most authenticity, of course, carries with it some key problems. It seems to tie it closer to the sorts of spaces and identities that it wants to have more freedom from, those of being seen as ‘Chinese’ and therefore wrapped in the same world as the PRC. There is no easy way to capture the cultural space Taiwan might have. It is a place with different layers – Asian, and then Chinese, and then Taiwanese. But none of these are easy labels by which to allow an outside audience to understand what is unique about it. Advertising campaigns, and soft power diplomatic initiatives, have all tried to shape a better sense of what Taiwan has which is its own. The Cloud Gate dance group is very representative of this, performing works which blended together Japanese, Chinese, Taiwanese, European and other forms of expression. The hybridity of their perfor212

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

mances does create something fresh and striking. But clearly to be better understood and known, Taiwan has to answer the question of what it is, on its own terms, uniquely, to itself, and to the world. We know something about American or British or French, or Australian cultural identity. These are things which are understood through and by themselves, rather than through definition by relation to others. But Taiwan remains illusive, far less well-known than it should be. In advertising campaigns in the past, Malaysia presented itself as ‘truly Asian’. Japan, of course, has a very strong cultural identity, through manga, animation, and the remarkable aesthetics of its design and art. Hong Kong is branded as the regions ‘global city’ – and because of its colonial link with the UK a place of interface between East and West, however contested that might be today. In terms of more widespread cultural understanding, however, Taiwan is less easy to capture in a slogan or an image, without, of course, falling back on its Chineseness. And to promote its identity, and its agency, it cannot easily create a strategy in the cultural space of raising its profile and advertising itself in a way which, ironically, uses the cultural attributes of somewhere else. This would be a bit like the US relying wholly on its use of the English language to promote itself, throwing up links historically with the UK, rather than other attributes it has as a culture wholly separate and independent of this. There are other dimensions and kinds of space Taiwan can work in. But, the aim is surely to be able to do so less and less as a kind of fugitive, and more as an actor with at least some kinds of agency and external recognition of that. These spaces 213

C hap ter 6

become more important as the one of geopolitics becomes more suffused with the PRC’s power and thereby more obstacle-ridden and restricted for the ROC.

MODELS OF HANDLING CHINA AND SHOWING THE LIMITS OF CHINA Despite all this, indeed precisely because of it, there is one area Taiwan is indisputably ahead of everyone else – and that, ironically, is in dealing with the PRC. This, it has to be recognized, is a highly unwilling expertise. But it is an area of knowledge and special insight that Taiwan has that has been alluded to throughout this book. From the foundation of the ROC on the island, it has needed to have strategies to deal with its relationship with the Mainland. In the early era, these were ones of overt hostility and persistent defence. As part of this, Taiwan needed to set in place a secure relationship with its most important and powerful diplomatic protector and patron, the United States. Its early method was sensible enough. In a strange parallel with what happened to the PRC after 1978, it placed all its efforts and resources into building a strong economy. This both mobilized and incentivized people, but also created a better defensive wall against the hostility directed at it across the Strait. After democratization, however, the strategic posture towards Beijing has necessarily become more nuanced and complex in response to political changes in Taiwan, and economic ones in the PRC. The more pragmatic strain of this reached its apogee under Ma, with a loose alignment and more co-operation with each other. 214

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

This second phase of strategic response ruled out across the board hostility, and allowed some joint space in the different dimensions mentioned above – cultural and economic in particular – for work together. That was as much driven by pragmatic acceptance that the PRC was here to stay, and that it was increasingly important to Taiwan as a potential source of growth. Taiwanese business people had voted with their feet in going to the Mainland to set up factories. Some of them, like Terry Gou of Foxconn, enjoyed immense success. It was unsurprising, therefore, that acceptance had to be made that the PRC was part of Taiwan’s economic space, if nothing else, and that tactics needed to be adopted which optimized benefit while mitigating risks. Investment laws and screening of potential inward funds from the PRC showed these things were never accepted complacently. While the rest of the world was contemplating new waves of PRC outward investment and trying to work out what to make of this new phenomenon, ROC engagement was cautious. Spaces were fenced off within Taiwan into which PRC originated entities could never wander. In the era of globalization and cyberspace, defence against the PRC’s invasive attention has needed an even more sophisticated suite of responses. There has been the same suspicion that PRC agents were active spreading messages in the 2018 local elections. It is hard to get definitive evidence about how this happened, and whether it was effective. The reasons for the complex outcomes of those elections were discussed before. But pro-unification entities were accused of exploiting freedom of speech on the island to promote messages aimed at stirring fear and strengthening emotional bonds with the 215

C hap ter 6

Mainland. These probably did play some role in the eventual outcomes, though the question is what kind of role and to what extent? The ROC exemplifies this core question, one that has become increasingly sharp, of what the vulnerabilities of open, democratic, free societies faced with autocratic systems might be. This is a generic issue, one that occurs when considering how Europe, for instance, faces influence from Russia, or how the USA deals with the same problem when its Internet and other platforms are open to voices from regimes from Beijing to Moscow. The election of Trump in late 2016 was infected, from the very beginning, by claims that Russian and other agents tried to influence people via Facebook and other platforms. The same applies to the German elections in 2017, and the worry that in the French 2017 presidential elections a similar weakness might manifest itself. While it is easy to claim these show paranoia and overinflated feelings of vulnerability, and that the attempts to influence exist more in perception than reality, that side of their impact (the way perceptions at least weigh on people’s minds), is real. It is as though there is now a new kind of psychological war, and in this conflict the openness, and transparency of Western liberal systems have been seen as a point of easy attack. The PRC invests greatly in trying to influence how the world around it perceives and sees it. Some of these methods are open, and easy to spot – Confucius Institutes, promotion of the China Daily, or CGTN (China Global Television Network, formerly China Central Television), and large scale cultural events. Everyone does this kind of activity to some extent. What 216

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

is less well-conceptualized, and much harder to pin down, is the ways in which Beijing applies the same love of informal, invisible networking to build up support for it in the outside world. Australia, in particular, experienced this from 2015 when senators and other public figures stood accused of taking hospitality from the PRC in return for offering what seemed like supportive remarks in official forums like Parliament. In New Zealand, the issue became even sharper when a locally elected MP, originally from China via Australia, was accused of having worked for military intelligence while in his native PRC, and continuing to be a member of the Communist Party even while assuming foreign nationality. Once more, while specific evidence was lacking, during the MP in question’s membership of a key foreign affairs committee in Wellington the line on the South and East China Sea maritime disputes had softened, and there were concerns they had been granted access to highly classified Five Eyes intelligence material. The perceived attempts to create a benign international network favourable to messaging from Beijing, consisting of politicians, opinion formers and other public figures was not necessarily new. As British academic Julia Lovell shows in great detail in her book on global Maoism, from the 1950s to the 1970s there was considerable expenditure of effort and even hard cash to promote Maoist messages abroad, with some success in recruiting key sympathetic figures in Europe, America, and the developing world.4 But the grand ambitions driving this phase of a global revolution were neatly jettisoned during the Deng era. Today, however, the approach is different. On matters that relate to its own interests, partic217

C hap ter 6

ularly on Taiwan and its status, and on the South and East China Sea, the PRC is assiduous in cultivating figures that are well-apprised of its position, and will ensure, if necessary, that these matters are not used either to embarrass, or thwart Beijing’s intentions. Taiwan has more knowledge than anyone else in dealing with PRC strategies of interference, involvement and manipulation in its affairs. It has also adopted a number of counter-measures to try to combat these. The relationship across the Strait is a hyper-realist one. Taipei has no illusions about the intentions of Beijing. The issue in the end is how to best interpret the intent behind these moves. Is it really the case that Beijing believes it can coerce, bamboozle and confuse matters to such an extent that the Taiwanese simply become worn down, demoralized, and thereby forget who they are and what kind of journey they have travelled for the last seven decades? Is it true that Beijing élite leaders, who have such immense influence in the PRC, have become so wedded to a specific view of human psychology that they really believe a mixture of threat and material inducements is enough to recruit a whole community of 23 million diverse and independent minded people? Is it true that in the PRC itself now there is an almost utilitarian view of what politicians can finally do – supplying a very broad framework of opportunities for people, in return for their obedience and conformity, and then allowing large areas of society to simply travel its own direction on its own networks, almost divorced from the political influence of the central state? In Taiwan, however, as already stated, the vision of modernity is radically different. It is hard to see 218

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

this kind of political approach from the PRC being workable or appealing without an act of mass suppression akin to that suffered by Xinjiang from 2017, or dealing with a politics of perpetual resistance. Beijing’s ‘sharp power’, as it has been called, has of course long existed in Taiwan, and led in the Tsai era to the claim that the island is the place where one can see the real face of PRC raw intent, with its uncompromising view of stability and order at any cost, and its radically different vision of what options exist in society. Even so, to be a world leader in the management of another power, which everyone else is now having to deal with, is probably not the kind of unique selling point that Taiwan wants. Once more, its external identity is being located in connection with that of a third party. It is not being understood on its own terms. And once more, even in having dialogue with the outside world on what the meaning of PRC power is, Taiwan is engaging in a discourse where it becomes, even though talking about itself, almost subsidiary.

T H E D E L I C AT E I S S U E O F S TAT U S – T H E REAL REASON THE PRC NEEDS TAIWAN Status is an immensely important ingredient in this whole conflict. It is largely for status, and face, that the PRC sees the resolution of the Taiwan issue as being so important. In the Maoist period, some argue, there were claims that the issue was not crucial and could just be left, perhaps perpetually, rather than there being any urgency about its resolution. As the PRC has become more economically important, so its 219

C hap ter 6

sense of status has increased. This, married to the fact that as never before it has the diplomatic, military and other tools to try to bring about reunification, has pushed the issue further and further up the PRC agenda. The PRC is a keen supporter of the ideas originating in the West of sovereignty and the ways it delivers autonomy and self-determination. But these notions are laid across the surface of older and more flexible ideas about Chinese statehood also embracing a unique concept of vassal status. That involved carefully devised protocols for recognition of this by others. Capitals of former imperial China’s from the Song onwards, over a thousand years ago, received recognition from Korea, Vietnam and other entities. In this pre-modern world without clear land boundaries, Chinese power figured more as a ‘civilizational’ force than a state one. It was, ironically, more a realm of the heart than the mind, with powerful cultural infiltration and influence, rather than one enforced through armed involvement and physical coercion. Chinese language reached Japan, Vietnam, and its art and world view to Mongolia and Korea. As the ‘mother culture’, these imperial entities had a powerful effect on the world around them, creating a very early Pax Sinica that haunts Asia to this day. A lot of this was also achieved through patterns of outward migration. The ways that historic imperial Chinese notions of its power involved status – of a higher status being accorded to imperial China, and a subservient, respectful status being adopted by whoever was regarded as being in the position of vassalage – is important. For all the acceptance in the abstract of the language of the level playing field of sovereignty in Beijing, the imprint 220

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

of that pre-modern view of the diplomatic world has not been entirely expunged in the PRC’s mindsets. The savage rebuttal of the proposal that Taiwan and the PRC might be equals when it was alluded to by Lee Teng-hui, when he stated in the late 1990s that the situation across the Strait was one of state to state relations, proves this. The PRC could not countenance the ways in which according Taiwan sovereign nation status also meant it stood to gain a high level of prestige and respect from others. The high status of sovereignty matters to the PRC, despite it being an intellectual import. In this area, status is the link between the adoption by it of modern Westphalian notions and the powerful continuing influence of older ideas around vassalage. On cross Strait issues, sovereignty remains a huge sticking point not particularly because it involves legality, but hierarchy and status. Conveying status to Taiwan offends Beijing’s conviction that it has a far higher rank. Once more, the Confucian idea of the PRC being the elder, more senior brother or sister, and Taiwan a younger respectful sibling resurfaces. Sovereignty cannot be available to it in this lower position any more than in a traditional Confucian household there can be two heads of the same family. It is unsurprising that this kind of mindset is unappealing in Taipei, and means that discussions cannot proceed very far. The ‘One Country, Two Systems’ rubric for Hong Kong exemplifies the imposition of this subservient position from Beijing, with the city granted a sub-state rank, one that allows it certain latitudes and freedoms but only at the behest of the PRC. Models whereby there might be a federal structure, where Taiwan exists as part of a federation, are therefore not 221

C hap ter 6

fit for purpose from the word go, because that implies equality, something Beijing will never countenance. The PRC’s monopolization of the idea of sovereignty means that structurally a properly balanced, reciprocal and symmetrical relationship with Taipei is impossible. Even the abstract possibility that the two might explore a framework on which to talk about closer ties to each other would have to somehow deal with this issue of the PRC’s demand for unequal status right from the start. This would be like going into a poker game with an opponent who insisted on knowing your cards beforehand but reassured you that would not impact on how they would play. The issue of status is a serious one. As Ned Lebow showed in his Cultural Theory of International Relations, and Todd Hall in Emotional Diplomacy, the role of rationality in foreign policy is all too frequently far outweighed by less easy to quantify issues like honour, the desire for standing, and pride.5 These have impacted on areas where a purely logical approach would have desisted from more high risk courses of action taken. Countries annex others, start conflicts with much stronger international partners, and get drawn into intractable issues because of emotional commitments and dynamics that often seem to go against their own best interests. Brexit for the UK is an example of an area where focus purely on economic selfinterest would have dictated a very different outcome than that which eventually happened in the referendum in June 2016. The PRC’s emotional commitment to the issue of Taiwan and to the notion of final reunification is one where it often risks acting against its own best interests. In many ways, it has the opportunity in the 21st century to extend its influ222

T hi nki n g T hrou g h the I ss u e o f Ta iwa n

ence globally, and have a reach that goes far beyond the region where it is located. It has a world to gain. But, it has shown consistently that it is willing to jeopardize all of this over the issue of Taiwan and its status. The PRC is a status hungry power. It wants to be recognized as a great nation by the world around it. It desires international ‘face’. Those who do not accord it this are often accused of ‘hurting the feelings of Chinese people’. Interfering with the Taiwan issue is one of the most frequent ways of doing this. That Taiwan has become so tied up with the PRC’s own identity and definition of its self, and feelings about itself, creates an almost intractable problem. To be fully China, to have the status it wants, to rank as a great global power, the PRC needs Taiwan to be part of it. Not having this violates and degrades its dream. This gives Taiwan a largely unwanted power over the PRC, because its existence is an affront and a source of anxiety to a status hungry power. It also grants Taiwan a dangerous amount of leverage. We would sometimes see the relationship between the PRC and the ROC is a highly asymmetrical one, where all the military, diplomatic and economic cards are in Beijing’s hands. But in an odd way, it is clear now that Taiwan can, and many of its citizens do, say they do not need the PRC to be Taiwan. But the PRC clearly feels it needs Taiwan to be complete. No wonder Taiwan has to operate in such delicate territory. As in human relationships, one can never underestimate the impact of rejection and the response that it can elicit from the party being rejected, nor is it easy to see the PRC loving itself as it is. Its posture on Taiwan betrays a hunger, a dissatisfaction with itself, and a vulnerability under the brittle 223

C hap ter 6

surface of dominant, strong statements. As in so many other areas, things are not what they seem on first appearances, in terms of the power dynamics between the two. Taiwan, for all the imbalances mentioned in this book, reminds us of the frequent power of those who often look powerless.

224

CONCLUSION THE T ROUBLE WIT H TAI WAN

Writing about Taiwan is not easy. The issues of vocabularies mentioned earlier on is only the most obvious challenge. It is a matter where one often remains torn between different options and different imperatives. As of 2019, however, the commitment to the status quo remains – that things should not change, and that until both sides of the Strait agree on a way forward, nothing else can happen. Of course, a lot else can happen. It is possible that in a fit of nationalistic impatience, forced or deliberate, Beijing decides to throw caution to the wind and start a military move on the island. It might be that this is precipitated by similar frustrations in Taiwan, and the final move to declare a separate identity. Then the cogs of conflict wind into motion. In such an important strategic area, with players like the US and others involved, one can see this worst case scenario soon spinning out of control. The impact of this on the PRC, on Taiwan, and on the rest of the world could be calamitous. For the PRC, its status would be irrevocably damaged. It would grant to even the most hawkish of its critics irrefutable proof it was a power which had malign, aggressive intent and that it therefore needed to be contained and opposed. It would also set it in direct conflict with the US, a key ally of Taiwan, committed to 227

C oncl usi on

its defence through the 1979 Taiwan relations act, mentioned earlier. A move on Taiwan by the PRC would start a new phase in its history which would leave it more isolated, and set in place a starkly polarized international system. For a country that still needs the co-operation and stability of the world around it, this would surely not be an outcome that its leaders, or people, would welcome. It might be that with unforeseen, radical political change in Beijing, a new order occurs which removes one of the most important barriers to talking about reunification. A democratizing, different system in the Mainland makes looking at models of loose, federal alignment possible, even if difficult. People on Taiwan, no matter what their background, might consider this on pragmatic terms, as long as they feel they have autonomy and there is enough new space allowed them to clear away the frustrations of the past. But this option, as at the time of writing in 2019, looks to be far away, with no strong sign of any real change in Beijing happening any time soon. Nor is it entirely clear that even a democratic and reformed China would be able to easily kick its habit of wanting status, referred to in the previous chapter. It is possible this trait might even grow worse. Seen on one level, Taiwan’s status seems to offer almost intractable quandaries and problems. ‘One China’ which has to exist as two remains a conundrum that once anyone attends to it becomes simply insoluble because it doesn’t make sense. And yet, as one zooms out, one has to remember that the PRC and ROC are parts of a common humanity and of a common globe. However they are divided up, they, like everywhere else, 228

Concl usi on

are part of one earth. At that level, at least, there is unity, and it may be that we will move slowly towards a global order where this sort of understanding will be more widely shared, even if it isn’t at the moment. Those outside the Greater China region cannot be over pious either when they look at the current situation. A source of many of the problems here can be traced back to involvement, interference and sometimes downright malign intent by outsiders from the past. Beyond the history of colonization, with the residue of resentments that created, there is the importation of the core idea that now stymies everything – that of sovereignty. Child of the Westphalian Treaty from the European 17th century, while the notion of statehood has undergone modification under post-modernity, in Asia the idea is alive and well, and sits at the root or the cross Strait issue. In Chinese pasts, there were, as alluded to before, very different notions of what it was to be a political entity, leading to ideas of suzerainty and the notion of ‘all under heaven’ with its tributary system. These have left a memory trace which continues to create issues today, in places like Tibet. There was no neat sovereign entity called China until very recent history. Nor was there a place with a firm idea of what its international status was, and what its set borders or rules-based diplomatic relations might be. Under a similarly flexible system, perhaps the Taiwanese issue would have been long solved. But as the People’s Republic, for all its adaptation of different ideologies and philosophies like Marxism-Leninism and capitalism, in terms of sovereignty, it adopted the Western model, with an almost slavish thoroughness. 229

C oncl usi on

In the current situation, therefore, the only possible way the issue of Taiwan, with its latent danger and instabilities, might be soluble is for many people in many different places, to start thinking in a different way – and that involves thinking about some of the issues raised in this book. Identity, statehood, and the role of agency all needed to be reconsidered, and re-examined. Modernity in the PRC needs to be contested. Above all, the question of what it means to be ‘Chinese’ needs a rethink. This has been going on for many decades, of course. From the May Fourth movement in Beijing in May 1919, with its slogan of Mr Science and Mr Democracy, this issue has been at the forefront – how to combine discriminating respect for Chinese intellectual histories with modernism which often derived from elsewhere, and had very different cultural and social roots. In essence, that is why Taiwan is not just an issue of geopolitics to the PRC. It offers an alternative model of Chinese modernity, and one that carries deep challenges, and often real threats to Beijing. That is the trouble with Taiwan. And, through the immense importance of this region for the rest of the world, that is why this problem is not just a local, but a global one, and one all of us have to think about.

230

NOTES

Chapter 1: Contested Histories 1

Wu He, trans. Michael Berry, Remains of Life, Columbia University Press, New York, 2017.

2 J. Bruce Jacobs, ‘A History of Pre-Invasion Taiwan’, Taiwan Historical Research, Vol 23, No 4, Institute of Taiwan History, Academica Sinica, December 2016, 35. See also J. Bruce Jacobs, ‘Whither Taiwanization? The Colonization, Democratization and Taiwanization of Taiwan’, Japanese Journal of Political Science / Volume 14 / Issue 04 / December 2013, 567 – 586 DOI: 10.1017/ S1468109913000273, Published online: 30 October 2013. 3 Ibid. 4 Dahpon D. Ho, ‘Koxinga’ in Berkshire Dictionary of Chinese Biography, ed Kerry Brown, Vol 3, 911, Berkshire Publishing, Great Barrington Mass, 2014. 5

Sun’s core ideas are contained in Sun Yat-sen, The Three Principles of the People, China Publishing Co, Taipei, 1924.

6

See for the history of this Rana Mitter, China’s War with Japan 1937– 1945: The Struggle for Survival, Allen Lane, London, 2013.

7 Su Beng, 史明, ‘台湾人四百年史’ (Taiwanese 400 Year History), SMC Publishing, Taipei, Taiwan, 2014. 8 Melissa J. Brown, Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power and Migration on Changing Identities, University of California Press: Berkeley, Los Angeles, London, 2004, 1. 9

Ibid, 3.

10 Pai Hsien-yung, Taipei People, Chinese University Press, Hong Kong, 2000. 11 Ibid, 66. 12 Ibid, 2. 231

N otes

13 The latest such referendum was to change the Taiwan Olympic team name from ‘Chinese Taipei’ for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. This was rejected on 24 November 2018, by 55 against and 43 per cent for. 14 See, for instance, Li Thian-hok, ‘Taiwan in Not Republic of China’, Taipei Times, 26 January 2014, http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/ editorials/archives/2014/01/26/2003582152

Chapter 2: The Great Transformation 1 On 28 February 1980, while Lin himself was in detention after protesting about the Kaohsiung Incident and had been badly beaten, assailants broke into his house and stabbed his mother and three children. All but the eldest daughter died. The security services at the time have consistently figured as chief suspects. 2 A full list of these can be found on the website of the Taiwanese government –https://taiwan.gov.tw/3866.php?xq_xCat=2., accessed 14 March 2019.

Chapter 3: At the Front Line of ‘Sharp Power’ 1

Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, Verso, London, 1983.

2

Some of the material here is revised from an article on Taiwan and the World Health Authority due to be published in the International Journal of Taiwan Studies, forthcoming 2019.

3 ‘Jiang Zemin’s Eight Point Proposal’, China Radio International, 11 January 1995, http://english.cri.cn/4426/2007/01/11/[email protected] 184028.htm 4 ‘Hu Jintao Calls for Mutual Trust, Consensus with Taiwan’, 30 April 2008, Embassy of the PRC to the USA, www.china-embassy. org/eng/zt/twwt/t448548.htm 5 Quoted in Russel Hsiao, ‘Hu Jintao’s Six Point Proposition to Taiwan’, Jamestown Review, 12 January 2009 at https://jamestown. org/program/hu-jintaos-six-points-proposition-to-taiwan/ 6 See Ralph Cossa, ‘Looking Behind Ma’s Three Noes’, Taipei Times, 21 January 2008, at www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/ archives/2008/01/21/2003398185 232

N otes

7 On the rise of Chinese nationalism, see Robert Weatherley and Qiang Zhang, History and National Legitimacy in Contemporary China: A Double Edged Sword, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2017. 8 These narratives are well-described, in, amongst other works, Zheng Wang, Never Forget National Humiliation: Historical Memory in Chinese Politics and Foreign Relations, Columbia University Press, New York, 2014; William Callahan, China: The Pessoptimist Nation, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008 (on educational campaigns from the 1990s onwards reinforcing the sense of national shame and the need to seek retribution for this); and Todd Hall, Emotional Diplomacy: Official Emotion on the International Stage, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 2015 (on the concept of ‘hurting the feelings of Chinese people’ and what this might mean in a contemporary diplomatic and political context). 9 See John Deleury and Orville Schell, Wealth and Power: China’s Long March to the Twenty First Century, Random House, New York, 2013. 10 These issues of narratives are dealt with in detail in Kerry Brown, China’s Dream: The Culture of the Communist Party and its Secret Source of Power, Polity Press, Cambridge, 2018. 11 ‘Xi Jinping’s 19th August [2013] Speech Revealed? (Translation)’, China Copyright and Media’https://chinacopyrightandmedia. wordpress.com/2013/11/12/xi-jinpings-19-august-speechrevealed-translation/, 12 November 2013, original from China Media Times at https://chinadigitaltimes.net/chinese/2013/11/网 传习近平8•19讲话全文%EF%BC%9A言论方面要敢抓敢管敢/, 4 November 2013. 12 Ministry of Foreign Affairs, People’s Republic of China, ‘The Central Conference on Work Relating to Foreign Affair was Held in Beijing,’ 29 November 2014, available at https://www.fmprc.gov. cn/mfa_eng/zxxx_662805/t1215680.shtml 13 Chris Wang, ‘Political Division Must be Resolved: Xi Jinping’, Taipei Times, 7 October 2013, at www.taipeitimes.com/News/front/ archives/2013/10/07/2003573898/1 233

N otes

14 Xinhua, ‘Highlights of Xi’s speech at gathering marking 40th anniversary of Message to Compatriots in Taiwan’, 2 January 2019, at http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/02/c_137715300. htm, accessed 25 January 2019. 15 Office of the President, Republic of China (Taiwan), ‘President Tsai issues statement on China’s President Xi’s “Message to Compatriots in Taiwan”’, 2 January 2019, available at https://english. president.gov.tw/News/5621, accessed 26 January 2019.

Chapter 4: Worlds Apart 1

Joint Communique of the United States of America and the People’s Republic of China, 28 February 1972, at http://www.taiwan documents.org/communique01.htm

2 Text of US China Communique on Taiwan, https://www.nytimes. com/1982/08/18/world/text-of-us-china-communique-on-taiwan. html 3

House of Commons Library, UK Relations with China, 2017 http:// researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CDP-20170190/CDP-2017-0190.pdf

4

Quoted in Mark Harrison, Australia’s One China Policy and Why it Matters, https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/australia-sone-china-policy-and-why-it-matters, 11 October 2017.

5 Taiwan Relations Act 1979, https://www.ait.org.tw/our-relationship/policy-history/key-u-s-foreign-policy-documents-region/ taiwan-relations-act/ 6

Daniel Workman, Taiwan’s Top Trading Partners 2018, http://www. worldstopexports.com/taiwans-top-import-partners/

7 Eric Huang, ‘U-Shaped Line Remains at the Heart of Taiwan’s South China Sea Territorial Claim’, The Diplomat, https://the diplomat.com/2016/07/u-shaped-line-remains-at-the-heart-oftaiwans-south-china-sea-territorial-claim/, July 2016. 8 More is given on Taiwan perspectives on the BRI in Chun Yi-lee, ‘The China-Taiwan Relationship Before and After the 19th Congress’ in ed Kerry Brown, China’s 19th Party Congress: Start of a New Era, World Scientific, Singapore, 2019. 9 Figures cited in Hunter Marston and Richard C. Bush, Taiwan’s 234

N otes

Engagement with South East Asia is Making Progress under the New Southbound Policy, Brookings Institute, July 2018, at https://www. brookings.edu/opinions/taiwans-engagement-with-southeast-asiais-making-progress-under-the-new-southbound-policy/ 10 Interview by authors, Taipei, September 2018. 11 Henry Kissinger, On China, Penguin, London, 2011 12 Francois Jullien. A Treatise on Efficacy: Between Western and Chinese Thinking, trans. Janet Lloyd, University of Hawai’I Press, Honolulu, 2004, 153. 13 Reuter, ‘Nauru Blasts “insolent” China for Speaking out of Turn at Meeting’, 5th September 2018, https://www.reuters.com/article/ us-pacific-forum-china/nauru-blasts-insolent-china-for-speakingout-of-turn-at-meeting-idUSKCN1LL0AC 14 Bo Yang, trans. Don J. Cohn and Jin Qing, The Ugly Chinaman and the Crisis of Chinese Culture, Allen and Unwin, New York and London, 1992.

Chapter 5: Parallel Lives 1 This and the following section of the chapter, are revised and adapted from Kerry Brown, Justin Hempson-Jones and Jessica Pennisi,’Investment Across the Taiwan Strait: How Taiwan’s Relationship with China Affects its Position in the Global Economy’, Chatham House Briefing Paper, London, 2010, available at www. kerry-brown.co.uk/files/website-8.pdf 2 Directorate General of Budget, Accounting and Statistics, Report of National Income Statistics, 1995 (1995) and Report of National Income Statistics, 2001 (2001). 3 Taiwan Today, ‘Taiwan’s Literacy Hits Record High’, 21 February 2010, at https://taiwantoday.tw/news.php?unit=10&post=17666, accessed 12 March 2019. 4 Mizoguchi, Tishiyuki. Estimates of the Long-run Economic Growth of Taiwan based on Revised SNA (1901-2000) Statistics (2005), Institute of Economic Research, Hitotsubashi University, Japan: http:// hermes-ir.lib.hit-u.ac.jp/rs/bitstream/10086/13688/1/D05-123. pdf , accessed 12 March 2019.

235

N otes

Chapter 6: Thinking Through the Issue of Taiwan 1

‘China’s Might is Forcing Taiwan to Rethink its Military Strategy’, The Economist, 26 January 2019, https://www.economist.com/ asia/2019/01/26/chinas-might-is-forcing-taiwan-to-rethink-itsmilitary-strategy, accessed 11 March 2019.

2

See in particular, Zygmunt Bauman, Liquid Love: On the Frailty of Human Bonds, Polity Books, Cambridge, 2003.

3

See for instance, Duncan DeAeth, ‘Survey: Less than 3% of People in Taiwan Identify as Exclusively “Chinese’’’, Taiwan News, 5 June 2018, at https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/en/news/3449069, accessed 11 March 2019.

4

Julia Lovell, Maoism: A Global History, Bodley Head, London, 2019.

5 Richard Ned Lebow, A Cultural Theory of International Relations, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2008, and Todd Hall, Emotional Diplomacy, Cornell University Press, Ithaca, New York, 2015.

236

FURTHER READING

There is a large amount of excellent material in Chinese and English produced over the last decades on Taiwan. The openness and accessibility of the island, even from the 1950s, as compared to the PRC because of its close relationship with the US, meant that researchers from abroad were able to work with partners from different universities locally. For many, it was the only place apart from Hong Kong where they were able to get at least some opportunity to see a Chinese-speaking society, and understand its dynamics and structures. This is a necessarily brief outline of some of the most representative and helpful work in understanding the issues that Taiwan raises. In terms of history, beyond the distinctive essays cited in the text by J. Bruce Jacobs, Denny Roy’s Taiwan: A Political History (Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London, 2003) and Jonathan Manthorpe, Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan (St Martin’s Griffin, New York, 2005) give clear and comprehensive authoritative overviews. The most authoritative biography of Chiang Kai-shek is that by Jay Taylor, ‘The Generalissimo: Chiang Kai-shek and the Struggle for Modern China’ (Belknap Press, Harvard, Cambridge Massachusetts, 2009). 237

F urther R ea di ng

On the complexities of identity, an issue that has been referred to repeatedly in the text, Melissa J. Brown’s Is Taiwan Chinese? The Impact of Culture, Power and Migration on Changing Identities (University of California Press, Berkeley, Los Angeles and London, 2004) is invaluable, based on field research conducted in the period in which Taiwan was experiencing the early phase of its democratization. On Taiwan’s geopolitical challenges, and their complexity and nuances, objective treatment can be found in the excellent Shelley Rigger, Why Taiwan Matters: Small Island, Global Powerhouse, (Rowman and Littlefield, London and Boulder, Updated Edition 2014). Syaru Shirley Lin’s Taiwan’s China Dilemma: Contested Identities and Multiple Interests in Taiwan’s Cross-Strait Economic Policy (Stanford University Press, Stanford, 2016) is an account of the period 1996 up to the signing of the ECFA in 2010. While slightly earlier, Global Taiwan: Building Competitive Strengths in a New International Economy, edited by Suzanne Berger and Richard K. Lester (M. E. Sharpe, Armonk and London, 2005) gives helpful background and analysis of innovation, and the important case studies of automotive and the electronics industry. On the crucial matter of US Taiwan relations, the work of former American diplomat Richard C. Bush is informed by his years as an US official in Taipei, or dealing with the issue back in Washington. His book Unchartered Strait: The Future of Taiwan China Relations (Brookings Institute, Washington, 2013) comes from, compared to 2019, a more placid time. Even so, it gives a good account of the history of the relationship. Relations with the PRC are written about extensively 238

F urther Re a di n g

in Su Chi’s Taiwan’s Relations with Mainland China: A Tail Wagging Two Dogs (Routledge, London, 2009). Su Chi is widely regarded as the architect of the 1992 Consensus, and served as a national security advisor under Ma Ying-jeou from 2008. For the issue of Taiwanese business people and their challenges in the PRC, Chun Yi-lee’s Taiwanese Business or Chinese Security Asset?: A Changing Pattern of Interaction between Taiwanese Businesses and Chinese Governments (Routledge, London, 2011) based on the author’s doctoral research, is authoritative and insightful. In terms of the domestic politics, the world of British academic Dafydd Fell is superlative, and based on long engagement with the island and a deep understanding of its internal dynamics. Perhaps the best place to start is Government and Politics in Taiwan (Routledge, London, 2012, revised 2018).

239

INDEX

‘1992 Consensus’ 92; 107; 129; 157; 207 28thFebruary incident, see ‘288 Incident’ 228 Incident 27; 39; 71 Aborigines 44; 70-71 Afghanistan 164 Africa 135; 173 Agriculture 185-186 Aid 186 Anderson, Benedict 107 Anti-secession Law 201 Apple 140 Asia Pacific Economic Conference (APEC) 160 Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) 160; 172 Assassin, The 60 Australia 152; 217 Austronesian group 26 Bauman, Zygmunt 204 ‘Belt and Road Initiative’ (BRI) 114; 126; 138; 163; 164-165; 168 Boundaries 53-54 Brexit xv; 113; 222 Brown, Melissa 46 Bush, George W 82

Cambodia 172 Catholic Church - 135 Centenary goals 106; 111; 114 Central Leading Group for Taiwan Affairs 115 Chen Maoping see ‘San Mao’ Chen Shui-bian 68; 74; 81-82; 83; 85-86; 90-91; 156; 157; 165 Cheng Hui-cheng 39 Cheng Li-chiun 39 Chiang Ching-kuo 38-39; 71; 211 Chiang Kai-shek 33-34; 36; 37-39; 70; 71; 84; reputation on Mainland 85; 206; 210 China see People’s Republic of China China Airlines 137 ‘China Dream’ 112 Chinese Civil War 23; 32; 33 Chinese identity 16-17; 51 Chineseness 51-52; 104 Chu, Eric 96 Chun Yi-lee 194 Civil Society 70; 186 City of Sadness 60 Colonisation 28; 30; 42 Communists 34; and politics of in China 36; fight with 241

i ndex

Eva Airlines 137 Examination Yuan 79 Executive Yuan 79

nationalists 38; narratives of history of 40-41; nationalism of 42; and democracy in Taiwan 73-75; relationship with Nationalist Party 85; 114 Confucianism 36-37; 42 Control Yuan 79-80 Costa Rica 134 Cultural Revolution 17; 36; 48-49 ‘Dangwai’ 71 Death sentence 81 Democracy 159; 175 Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) 6; 50; 71; 73-74; 81; 83; and 2018 local elections 93-94; and ‘1992 Consensus’ 110; 134; 189; 193; 207 Democratisation 67-69; 74; and identity 75, 96-97 Demographics 94; 166 Deng Lijun see Theresa Teng Deng Xiaoping 49; 58; 108; 115; 119; 120; 143 Din Tai Fung 3-5; 13; 46 Dominican Republic 134 Dubliners 47 Dutch East India Company 29 Economic Co-operation Framework Agreement (ECFA) 87; 134; 181 Elections in 1996 – 73-74; 77 Environment 196 Ethnicity 51 European Union (EU) 152; 174175

Fairbank, John K 53 Fell, Dafydd 175 Food 4-5 Forbidden Palace 61 Formosa 16 Foxconn 11; 140; 215 Free Trade Agreements 195 Fujian 30; 116 General Instruments 187 Geography 24-25 Gou, Terry 60; 215 Greater China 9-10 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 189 Hall, Todd 222 Han ethnicity 6-7; 26; diversity of 40-41; and the Taiwanese 44-46; 166 Han Kuo-yu 93; 96 History 34; 39 Hon Hai Precision Electronics 11 Hong Kong 76; 143-144; 160; 181; 187; 213; 221 Hou Hsiao-Hsien 59-60 Hu Jintao 109; 111; 118; 134 Huang, Eric 161 Huawei 134; 141; 170 Hung Hsiu-chu 96 Identity and Taiwan 5, 7; 13; and Chineseness 16-17; and

242

i ndex

Li Keqiang 112 Lin, Jeremy 60 Lin Yi-hsiung 73 Local government in Taiwan 80

modernity 17; within Taiwan 24; and history 28, 43, 130131, 139, 202, 204-208 Immigration Policy 166-167; 196 India 164 International Civil Aviation Authority (ICAA) 137 International Monetary Fund (IMF) 192

Ma Jing-jeou 85-86; 88; 89; 91; and ‘Three Noes’ 111; and Singapore summit 119-120; 132; 134; 157; 181; 207 Malaysia 169; 213 Mao Zedong 35-36; 38; 40; 70; 108; 109; 118 Martial Law 70; 190 Marxism-Leninism 41; 114 Meng Wanzhou 170 Mongolia 9; 35 Mongolian and Tibetan Affairs Commission 80

Jacobs, Bruce 28-29 Japan 31-32; 184; 187 Japanese 38 Jiang Zemin 75; 82; 109; 111; 118 Joyce, James 47 Judicial Yuan 79 Jullien, Francois 168 Kaohsiung 83; 93; 187 Kaohsiung Incident 73 Ke Wen-je 93 Kim Il-sung 70 Kissinger, Henry 149; 168 Korean War 70; 108 Koxinga see Zheng Chenggong Language reform 36 Latin America 135 Lebow, Ned 222 Lee, Ang 60 Lee, Annette 74 Lee Teng-hui 32; 75; 77; 90; 156; 157; 165; 221 Legislative Yuan 79-80 Lenova 141 Lien Chan 95; 109

National Assembly 80 Nationalist Party 6; 33; 39; 7071; and first time in opposition 82; 83; history of 84-85; and corruption 85; 89; and 2018 local election 93-94; 207 Nationalism 34; 42 Nauru 135; 170 New Southbound Policy (NSP) 141; 165-166; 167; 172; 196 New Taiwan Dollar 185 New Zealand 195; 217 Nixon, Richard 108; 148; 186 Obama, Barack 157 Occupy Central 89; 143 ‘One China’ Principle 107; 147 -150

243

i ndex

‘One Country, Two Systems’ 115; 143; 221 Pai Hsien-yung 47-48 Pakistan 164 Palace Museum, Taipei 26; 61-63 Panama 134 Party political system 69 Patten, Chris 76 Peng Liyuan 116 People First Party 95 People’s Liberation Army (PLA) 76-77; 201 People’s Republic of China (PRC) 6; use of language about 8-9; pressure on Taiwan since 2017 12; and relations with Taiwan 13; and use of term ‘Chinese’ 16-17; and historic claims to Taiwan 54-56; worries about democratisation 76; response to 1996 election 77-78; economic growth of 8687; attitudes towards Taiwan 103-104; policy towards Taiwan 107-109; nationalism of 112; historic narratives of 113-114; policymaking circle in concerning Taiwan 117-118; issue of trust over 169-170; economic narratives and materialism of 181-182; and economic relationship with Taiwan 188-190, 196197; and nationalism 206; and vision of modernity 209-210; interference in Taiwan 215216; and status of 220-221

Philippines 161-2 Portugal 138 Puppetmaster, The 60 Pye, Lucian 53 Qing Dynasty 8-9; 30-31; 55 Rent Reduction Act 185 Republic of China see Taiwan Reunification 68-69; falling support for in Taiwan 95; 124 San Mao 59 Schubert, Gunter 175 Second World War 32; 38 September 11 2001 Attacks 82 Shang Dynasty 62 Shanghai 117 Shanghai Institutes for International Studies 117 Shanghai Communique 108; 148 ‘Sharp power’ 18; 107; 119; 132134; 219 Shi Ling 30 Shimonoseki, Treaty of 31 Siew, Vincent 119 Singapore 119; 120; 169; 195; 213 ‘Smash the Four Olds’ movement 36 Soft power 13; 58 Song Xining 67 Soong, James 95 South China Sea 56; 161-162; 172 Sovereignty 221-223 Soviet Union 76 Sri Lanka 164

244

i ndex

Stock market 190 Su Beng 40 Sun Yatsen 34; 37; 84; 201 Sunflower Movement 88 Taipei 3; 4; 38; 83 Taipei People 47-48 Taisheng 116; 140-141 Taiwan; and freedom xxi; and China xxiii; and identity 5, 7, 13; and food 5; and diplomatic recognition 6; uses of language about 6-9 ; and citizenship 10; and geopolitics 11; and relations with PRC 13,1819 ; and hybridity of culture 15; and ‘Chinese’ identity 16; domestic challenges of 18-19; as part of Qing and Republican China 25; and aborigine history 26-27; and imperial Chinese history 26, 35; and Dutch control 29; annexation by Qing 30-31; under Japanese colonial rule 31, 32; foundation of Republic of China on Taiwan 31; under direct Mainland rule 33; and suppression of early history of ROC 39-40; and differences between pre and post 1947 populations 45-48, 50; problems over name of country 52; and democracy 69; structure of governance of 78-82; alliance with US 82; and social changes under democracy 84; economic

relations with the PRC 87; impact of democratisation on relations with PRC 98-99; and policy towards PRC 110-111; annexed into PRC history 123-124; constraints on language used about 128129; and democracy 130; and formal diplomatic partners 134-135; and international organisations 137-138; control of international space 138; and economic links with PRC 140-142; comparisons with Hong Kong 143-144; and ‘One China Principle’ 152153, 155; and US China Trade War 158-159; and South East Asia region 163-165; and Belt and Road Initiative 164-165; and immigration 166-167; and Chinese power 168-169; international profile of 173; creating global narrative around values 174-177; economics as part of identity of 182; structure of society in 193-194; and economic challenges of 195-197; and history 205-206; and modernity 210; expertise on Mainland in 214-215 Taiwan consensus 132 Taiwan issue – policy framework of 106-107; 107-109; 115-116 ‘Taiwan Relations Act’ of US 155-156 Taiwan semiconductors 11;

245

i ndex

Taiwanese business people see Taisheng Taiwanese historiography 40-41; 42-43 Ten Infrastructure Projects 188 Teng, Theresa 58-59 Third Force 95 Tiananmen Square Massacre 75; 151 Tibet 53; 55 Tourism 88; 105; 141; 165-166 Tsai Ing-wen 12; 18; 89; 92; 96; 110; 120; response to Xi Jinping’s 2019 New Year Message 127-129; and ‘1992 Consensus’ 129; 132-133; 134; 157; 158; 165; 196 Trump, Donald J. xv; 12; 113; 157; 158; 164 Tu Cheng-sheng 40 Tungning Kingdom 30 United Kingdom 151-152 United Nations (UN) 74; 134; 188; 211 USA 12; and change of diplomatic recognition 74, 134, 188; involvement in 1996 election 77; alliance with Taiwan 82; and ‘One China Principle’ 147-152; and Taiwan 155-159; 214

Wang Xizhe 62 War on terror 82 Westphalian Treaty 53; 221 White Terror 27; 71 Wu He 27 World Bank 192 World Health Authority (WHA) 137 World Trade Organisation (WTO) 6; 137; 181; 192-193 Wu Mi-cha 40 Xi Jinping xxii; 8; 89; and emotions 105-106; 110; and Taiwan policy 111-112, 115116; and nationalism 113-114; centralisation of power under 115-117; foreign policy under 118-119; and New Year 2019 message on Taiwan 120-127; and attitude towards history 123; and emotional appeal to Taiwanese 142; and ‘One China’ Principle 153; 158; 163; 171; 210 Xiamen 117 Xinhua 118 Xinjiang 53; 55; 219 Yang Bongyi 3 Zheng Chenggong 30 Zhou Enlai 149

Vatican 134-135 Vietnam 169

246

Zed is a platform for marginalised voices across the globe. It is the world’s largest publishing collective and a world leading example of alternative, non-hierarchical business practice. It has no CEO, no MD and no bosses and is owned and managed by its workers who are all on equal pay. It makes its content available in as many languages as possible. It publishes content critical of oppressive power structures and regimes. It publishes content that changes its readers’ thinking. It publishes content that other publishers won’t and that the establishment finds threatening. It has been subject to repeated acts of censorship by states and corporations. It fights all forms of censorship. It is financially and ideologically independent of any party, corporation, state or individual. Its books are shared all over the world. www.zedbooks.net @ZedBooks