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Taiwan is China, U.S. Should Stop Interfering
April 18, 2018
by William P. Meyers

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Negotiated Reunification Beats Civil War

Few Americans think about it, but China is still in a civil war that goes back at least as far as the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1912.

There is no actual fighting of late. But Taiwan is a rebel province.

Abraham Lincoln and friends thought that even though the individual states had voluntarily joined the federal union, they had no right to voluntarily leave. He was willing to kill perhaps one million Americans to keep the nation unified.

The casualties of the Chinese civil war have been much higher, but pretty much stopped in 1949 when the losers, would-be dictator Chiang Kai-shek and friends, fled to Taiwan (formerly known as Formosa). Neither side disputed that Taiwan was part of China, only which dictatorship should rule all of China.

Today the refusal to surrender by the tiny minority of Chinese who live on Taiwan remains a thorn in the side of international politics, and in particular in the side of U.S. — Chinese relations.

When one has been trained to think in a particular nationalist perspective, it helps to turn the tables to see what is right and just from an international perspective. Imagine if Hawaii had rebelled during World War II and some nation were militarily strong enough to keep it separate from the United States. Would we not want Hawaii back? Would not a small detachment of our mighty military be able to restore Americanism to the island, if not for foreign interference?

Taiwan should place itself under the central government of China. And the Chinese government has a right to use force to finally crush the rebellion, if necessary. But negotiations would likely work if the U.S. would just stop interfering.

The U.S. attempt to control China, or parts of China, goes back to the early 1800s period of the U.S. War Against Asia. In the last stage of the civil war the United States backed Chiang Kai-shek and his unpopular, corrupt and oppressive government. President Roosevelt thought he had finally gained control of China, a long-time family-and-ruling-class ambition, when Japan was nearly defeated. President Truman saw the world through a U.S. vs. communism perspective that could not admit to the faults of the Chiang government. The U.S. military helped Chiang's troops try to take over China, despite his unpopularity.

And so history haunts us. The Chinese economy was almost totally destroyed by the end of World War II, but now it is heading towards being the world's largest economy. Which means, eventually, it will be able to support the worlds most powerful military. Which means it will take Taiwan back sooner or later.

So a peaceful, negotiated transition would make a great deal of sense for the United States. Given our industrial and military might, it would make sense for China to keep on our good side as well.

It would just take a real leader in the United States to explain this situation to the American people and use that popular understanding to overwhelm opposition from our military establishment.


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