What Next? Scenarios for the Future
The Peking massacre highlighted Taiwan’s dilemma. It is not ‘part of China’, any more than the United States is part of Britain. Like settler colonies anywhere, the logic of its situation suggests a need for, and right to, self-determination. While China is ruled by Chinese, however, it seems impossible that any government in Peking could yield that right. There is no reason to disbelieve the repeated protestations of successive leaders in China that they regard reunification as a sacred duty, and would contemplate force to accomplish that if peaceful means were thwarted. The most likely way in which peaceful reunification could be seen to have failed would be if Taiwan declared itself independent. Moreover, Taiwan is ruled by a government whose legitimacy is founded on its claim to rule all of China. It, too, has a vested interest in sidestepping the self-determination question. In fact, it has become clear that the Kuomintang’s main interests lie not in its stated goal, of national reunification, but in preserving and strengthening the status quo as long as possible. But how long is that? The status quo is under threat from at least three sources: the effects of political liberalisation on Taiwan, which give the independence movement a freedom to proselytise which it has not enjoyed for 40 years; the volatility of the Chinese scene, where sudden and violent changes in direction are more than possible, they are almost inevitable; and finally from the Taiwan government’s own efforts to steer the perilous course between international isolation and separate nationhood.
KeywordsChinese Communist Party Political Liberalisation Settler Coloni Independence Movement Taiwan Government
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