No to Full Independence
Chockablock with shootings, good-guy/bad-guy storylines, exaggerated drama and riveting suspense, the recent Taiwanese election could have easily been mistaken for a second-rate Hollywood movie.
The leading topic of debate surrounding the March 20 elections was the fragile China-Taiwan relationship. While China believes it should own Taiwan, Taiwan refuses to acquiesce to Beijing’s rule and exists as a separate nation-state. For decades, though—as long as Taiwan refrained from seeking complete legal independence and Beijing refrained from seeking military and political control over the tiny island—both parties have remained in a standoff. The narrow re-election of President Chen Shui-Bian (who leaned on sympathy votes after being shot days before the election), and the low turnout for his highly pro-independence referendum, confirmed that full independence is not likely anytime soon.
Although most Taiwanese support independence from China, the majority are content with Taiwan’s current estranged independence. Due to close industrial, economic and social ties with China, few are prepared to support a complete severance from Beijing. “The election results show that what the island most wants is not to antagonize the giant across the strait. Taiwan already enjoys de facto independence, and there is little reason to risk its security just to legalize what it already has” (Stratfor, March 20). For now, China is also content with this status.
Due to its prime location in Asia, its strategic Pacific Ocean location, and its trade and economic benefits, Taiwan has been a long-time ally of the U.S. Over the past three decades, Washington has provided political, economic and military support to Taipei—a large factor in Taiwan maintaining its estranged independence.
As China’s political and economic clout increases, however, America is growing more reliant on this Asian giant and less so on Taiwan. In time, it may have to choose between the two.
Will waning American support of Taiwan cause it to be swallowed up by China? That’s what our editor in chief, Gerald Flurry, prophesied in August 1998: “How could anyone fail to see that Taiwan is destined to become a part of China? These 21 million people are forced into the Chinese mold; and it is going to happen for one pitiful reason: because of a pitifully weak-willed America.”