September 28, 2004

"The size of a piece of snot" is how Taiwan's Minister of Foreign Affairs described Singapore, whose "effort to embrace China's 'balls'" really really pissed him off.

More info. Beyond the ha-ha at this idiot's expense, I hope this incident brings more attention to the very grave issue of Taiwan's march toward independence. China is very clear that it absolutely will go to war if Taiwan decides to separate, a decision the current Taiwanese government comes closer and closer to make, due in no small part to their trust in Bush's dedication to democracy (bad article, but the best I've come across are in Chinese). Meanwhile, Asian countries are rushing to declare their support for the One China principle; Australia went so far as to say it wouldn't necessarily support the US in a potential Sino-American conflict over Taiwan. This is my biggest worry about a Bush victory in November. If Bush's really as serious about spreading democracy as he says (and the Taiwanese government believes), Taiwan may declare independence before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. And if America gets involved... just, no. Previous MoFi article.

  • The minister's comment was completely unjustifiable: everyone knows snot is illegal in Singapore.
  • Stupid remarks against Singapore aside, this is very serious. Taiwan, whether China likes it or not, is a separate state and has been for 1/2 a century. It's also a self-liberalising state (after decades of GMD control as nasty as the CCP)- and it would be a crime to let that be stopped to appease the PRC. Considering the PRC's economic clout and military, diplomacy won't be easy, and the prospect of conflict very very scary - but dammit, if the US (and Australia) is willing to go to war to promote democracy where no one asked them to get involved, then they should be willing to protect this existing democracy from it's agressive neighbour. I don't like the idea of force as a tool in international relations, but I would support protective force for Taiwan. The UN won't get involved, because Taiwan doesn't exist to them (not after the recognition of the PRC - recognising the PRC was the right thing to do, esp since at the time Taiwan couldn't claim to be any more democratic or legitimate - but what they really needed to do was recognise both as soveriegn, and tell the One China people on both sides to stick it up their ass.)
  • I don't care what claims to independence Taiwan thinks they have...I don't like when the USA starts acting like they're the cops of the world. Stay out of it.
  • rockett88 - Too late
  • I don't care what claims to independence Taiwan thinks they have A common attitude, unfortunately. Why do you think the Taiwanese get testy and start saying dumb things? Would you want to be under the bootheel of Peking?
  • I support independence for Taiwanese as much as any forward-thinking human being who loves freedom, human rights, etc. But anyone who thinks the current US administration will support Taiwan's bid when our Fearless Leader is pushing us closer to a two-front war is fooling themselves.
  • Okay, LH...I'll rephrase it: Regardless of what claims to independence Taiwan thinks they have... See? I do care, but I still say the US should stay out of it. The US doesn't support anyone's interests except their own, and they have a shitty track record when getting involved in other countries' affairs. I'd rather see the UN or the Asia-Pacific nations try to solve this one. America would just fuck it up.
  • I wonder if the US will stop this small nation from getting eaten by a larger one like we did for the Phillipines....It would be really white of us. (rocket88 If you think this is fucked up you'd probably love to read about how we built the Panama Canal. It is an astounding story of international cooperation and American ingenuity. /sarcasm. Except for the ingenuity part. That part is real.)
  • I have to agree with rocket88: America would just fuck it up. A Sino-American war is not an option; the world loses regardless of who wins. If just 1% of the 1.3 billion mainland Chinese become war refugees, we have a humanitarian catastrophe on our hands. And if just 1% of the 34 million overseas Chinese retaliate against the US... let's not say the T word. As Alex Reynolds pointed out, it's unlikely that Bush would be stupid enough to fight Iraq (insurgents), Iran and China all at once. But then I could hardly believe Bush is stupid enough to even look in Iran's direction with Iraq getting worse and Afghanistan still a drain. You never know. if the US (and Australia) is willing to go to war to promote democracy where no one asked them to get involved, then they should be willing to protect this existing democracy from it's agressive neighbour Exactly what the pro-independece leaders think. I agree that protecting Taiwan is morally the *right thing* to do for America, especially after Iraq and Bush's endless democracy/liberation talks. That doesn't make it practical. As for Australia, does anyone seriously expect it to stand up to China? The UN is on China's side. France openly wants China to develop its military power to counterbalance American dominance.
  • rocket88: Much as I pretty much agree with you in theory, in practice I don't see anybody else protecting Taiwan from the mainland. And I really, really don't want to see Taiwan get swallowed up. I lived there and I like the place.
  • Well, as someone currently living in Taiwan, I wouldn't mind the Taiwanese Independence movement so much if it weren’t such a blatant attempt by the ruling party (the DPP) to gain support domestically. Much like the US, Taiwan is a country divided, with half the population supporting the DPP and half supporting the opposition KMT and PFP parties. President (and I use the term loosely) Chen Shui Bien and the rest of his DPP asshats spout rhetoric like this because they know it plays well down on the paddy. The truth of the matter is, IMHO, they are gambling with Taiwan’s future. Taiwan will be forced to reconcile with China in the future. You can only ignore the 600 lb. gorilla for so long. The choice is this; do you do it on your own terms through diplomacy and good relations, or do you do it at the end of a gun?
  • By 'forced to reconcile' do you mean become a permanent part of China? I think that's eventually going to happen.
  • If Taiwan lays low and doesn't openly declare independence, China will leave them alone. Then they won't need 'protection' from the US or anyone else. In the meantime, China is modernizing and becoming more dependent on international trade, making it easier to persuade them to play nice or face damaging sanctions. A diplomatic solution exists if everyone, especially Taiwan, has patience.
  • PatB: I do think that Taiwan will rejoin China, but I couldn't say under what guise. Some people here (albeit a few) are in favor of an SAR agreement with the Mainland, like Hong Kong and Macau have. However, seeing the problems HK has been having lately, I wonder if that would ever happen. The fact of the matter is China will soon be the most powerful country in Asia and possibly (possibly!) the world. Taiwan had better start playing ball and soon. To do otherwise would be suicide.
  • My next door neighbor is from Taiwan, and his roommate is from China, and I've asked them about this. Frankly, this is one of those times that I think it's important for American liberals to stand up and say, "Yes, we support Taiwan." The authoritarian nature of China's government is too often glossed over by anti-interventionists and people who feel that the US cannot help but fuck things up when it applies its considerable muscle to foreign policy. However, if one of the central tennets of liberalism is a belief that liberty is an empirical good, then we should be willing to say that China should be treated as a threat to the freedom of millions, even billions of people, and that is inherently bad. I realize that trade considerations are intrinsic in our relations with China (they never should have gotten MFN status), but they should not outstrip a commitment to bettienr the lives of people through allowing them to read what they want, say what they want, live where they want and do what they want. There are plenty of times where intervention is justified, and supporting Taiwan costs us nearly nothing. The real reason against going into Iraq was not that US force is always unwarrented, but rather that it prevents us from soing more in other places where we could have more of an effect. We were right to go into Kosovo, but we should have done more. We were right to go into Somalia, but we should have dome more. We should have gone into Rwanda, and if we weren't in Iraq we could have gone into Darfur, and fully liberated Afghanistan. But it is both to our advantage and to the advantage of the Taiwanese people that we excuse them from Chinese hegemony. The people of Hong Kong know too well the slow constriction of Chinese rule, and we should not tolerate that happening again.
  • supporting Taiwan costs us nearly nothing Dude, come again? Let me repeat: Supporting Taiwan's bid for independence means going to war with China. Do you believe the US can defeat China incurring "nearly nothing" in costs?
  • Ooh, let's start a war in another country. What with all of the extra soldiers and tanks and bullets and whatnot we've got lying around.
  • Update on the dumbass Taiwanese diplomat: Taiwan minister defends Singapore "snot" comment "I know how to use diplomatic language, but the occasion was not a formal gathering. It was not intended as a formal protest (against Singapore). I was speaking to our people so I used the language they could easily understand. I have not criticised the Singapore government so far and I do not need to speak any further." How this person got to be the freakin' foreign minister is beyond me.
  • I would like to take this opportunity to remind MoFi that China is a nuclear (Bush English: nucular) power and that a Sino-US war would thus hail the annihilation of the the human race. A new cold war would be a welcome change, though with Dubya's fists on the button, I doubt we'd be so lucky.