towards Taiwan

Peking’s Ducks are Not Yet All in a Row, But Pointed Towards Taiwan

6 September 2022

2.6 MINS

As Communist China ramps up its aggressiveness toward Taiwan, we must prepare for the eventuality of armed conflict.

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was proclaimed in Tiananmen Square by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949. By that time, Taiwan had already been retroceded to the Republic of China (ROC) by Japan.

Taiwan had been a Japanese colony from 1895 to 1945. The retrocession of Taiwan to the ROC was celebrated by a public holiday until fairly recently. Taiwan has not been governed by the PRC for even a single minute.

The ROC was founded on October 10, 1911, following the Xinhai Rebellion, which ended 5,000 years of dynastic rule in China. Dr Sun Yat-sen was the inspiration for this revolution, and he is recognised as the founder of modern China.

International Relations

Then the Kuomintang ruled Taiwan from 1945. The PRC was not even established until 1949. Moreover, the Republic of China on Taiwan was recognised as the rightful government of all China by most of the world’s nations, including the United Nations.

Then occurred a fateful diplomatic event in 1979, when the United States recognised the PRC as the government of all China. U.S. President Jimmy Carter left the situation of the ROC on Taiwan to be resolved at a later time.

The U.S. Congress, led by Barry Goldwater, then passed the Taiwan Relations Act 1979 (TRA), which obligated the United States to supply the ROC with the weapons necessary for its self-defence. The TRA is not, however, a mutual defence treaty. This did nothing to resolve the standing of Taiwan. Although the “one China policy” agreed between the U.S. and the PRC declares that there is only one China, the understanding regarding Taiwan was left deliberately ambiguous.

Nothing like the current tensions in the Taiwan Strait have been felt since the Quemoy crisis of 1958. In that year, the PRC attempted to invade the island of Quemoy (now known as Kinmen and governed by Taiwan). The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was repulsed with heavy losses. Quemoy is scarcely 10 kilometres off the coast of mainland China.

The current sabre-rattling looks very like a dress rehearsal for a full-scale invasion of Taiwan.

However, it is unlikely that an invasion is imminent, because elections are due in about November of this year and Xi Jinping must first be re-elected as leader of the PRC. When that occurs, for it will, it will be for an unprecedented third term.

Foreseeable Conflict

Wars are unpredictable. But it is likely that an invasion will be staged within three years, when Xi has consolidated his grip on power.

Why does Xi want to do this? Because he wants to go down in the history of China as the man who reunited the nation.

In Chinese history, there is only one man who is equal to the Machiavellian character that lurks behind Xi’s bland exterior, the second-century general man, Tsao Tsao. Tsao Tsao is the greatest villain in Chinese history. A common saying is “Say Tsao, Tsao will appear”. To put it another way, “speak of the devil”.

Tsao Tsao’s cunning and cruelty are legendary. In the modern era, Xi wants to wear the mantle of greatness that has been laid on only two other Chinese men — Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping.

The theme of the divided nation is an ancient one in Chinese literature. The Romance of the Three Kingdoms is one of the four great novels of Chinese literature. It begins:

“The empire, long divided, must unite; long united, must divide. It was ever thus.”

Taiwan cannot defeat the PLA by itself. Its greatest chance of defeating the PLA is by asymmetrical warfare; that is, to mobilise the population, using every weapon it can. Taiwan must use a hedgehog strategy, by making itself so prickly that it will deter an invader.

The bottom line for Taiwan is that it must retain its territorial integrity and its political autonomy.

Of course, the PRC has held military exercises before and backed off. This time, though, it seems intent on punishing the people of Taiwan: surrender, or suffer the consequences.

___

Originally published at News Weekly. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

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