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The Sleeping Dragon That Is China

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Pave_Hawk

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Jul 4, 2002, 7:02:15 AM7/4/02
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Was just wondering if anyone here's read Eric L. Harry's: Invasion.

I know that this is a non-fictional history forum, and of course it's only a
piece of ficiton, be that a remarkably well-written piece of fiction in my
own personal opinion, but did it make any of you think twice about it's
premise??

I've made postings before trying to assess as to what people's opinions are
on what the future holds poltically and militarily in Asia and the world
generally, in relation to China, it's growing military apparatus, it's
growing population and it's terrotorially hungry political machine.

Of course, made more prevelant by the 9/11 incident, one must become more
actively involved in weasling out active and sleeper terrorist organisations
based around the world, but what of other more long-term threats to
'world-peace' and prosperity?

Before i go any further, i'd like to get your opinions on how much of a
threat China could pose to Western and other Eastern countries political,
economical and terrotorial interests in both the Southern and Northern
hemispheres.

Scott D. Orr

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Jul 4, 2002, 6:37:54 PM7/4/02
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There was a long thread on this question last month or the month
before that. See if you can find it in an archive.

Scott Orr

Russil Wvong

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Jul 8, 2002, 9:13:19 PM7/8/02
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Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:

> "Pave_Hawk" <tobyfr...@iprimus.com.au> wrote:
> >Before i go any further, i'd like to get your opinions on how much of a
> >threat China could pose to Western and other Eastern countries political,
> >economical and terrotorial interests in both the Southern and Northern
> >hemispheres.
>
> There was a long thread on this question last month or the month
> before that. See if you can find it in an archive.

I believe that would be:
http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=3ce547bc_1%40news.iprimus.com.au

For an even longer thread from soc.history.what-if, see
groups.google.com/groups?selm=990316a2.0203201914.6aa7c07c%40posting.google.com

Very detailed. According to the participants on the thread, there's
a delicate balance between China, Taiwan, and the US: reclaiming
Taiwan is a vital interest for China, but the Chinese leadership
sees long-term trends going in its favor, as southern China becomes
more and more wealthy, the military and economic balance tilts towards
China, and voters in Taiwan shift towards unification. However, China
*would* likely launch a military attack if (a) Taiwan declares
independence, or (b) Taiwan acquires nuclear weapons.

In this context, it's important for the US not to vacillate -- if in
some future crisis the US says that it won't intervene, a war starts,
and then the US changes its mind, the US and China would be at war;
the worst-case scenario would be a nuclear war. But it's *also*
important for the US not to give Taiwan a blank check -- it's definitely
not in the US interest for Taiwan to provoke China.

It doesn't sound as though China has any interest in expanding its
territory beyond regaining control over Taiwan. A couple quotes
from Joseph Wang:

Look at any map from the PRC. Mongolia is marked as a separate
country. Now look at Taiwan. It's colored in as a province just
like every other province. Look at things like school curricula,
PRC newspapers, etc. etc. Lots of talk about how reunification with
Taiwan is a national priority. No one ever says these sorts of
things about Mongolia. Mongolia is considered gone. Bad that the
imperialists manage to detach it, but done is done. China looks at
Mongolia the way that Mexico looks at California. Now Taiwan is
different. Taiwan is considered rightful territory of the PRC which
has an illegitimate government governing it and is temporarily
separated from the motherland.

... The PRC has a very legalistic viewpoint on international boundaries.
Each of the current boundaries has a formalistic legal argument behind
it. The reason invading Siberia and Mongolia is unlikely without a
major shift in world view is that there isn't a legal argument that
one can use to justify taking Siberia.

So war doesn't appear likely.

Russil Wvong
Vancouver, Canada
alt.politics.international FAQ: www.geocities.com/rwvong/future/apifaq.html

Scott D. Orr

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Jul 11, 2002, 2:56:04 AM7/11/02
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On 8 Jul 2002 18:13:19 -0700, russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong)
wrote:

>Very detailed. According to the participants on the thread, there's
>a delicate balance between China, Taiwan, and the US: reclaiming

>Taiwan is a vital interest for China...

It's only "vital" as a point of national pride; it has nothing to do
with the actual fate of the country.

>...but the Chinese leadership


>sees long-term trends going in its favor, as southern China becomes
>more and more wealthy, the military and economic balance tilts towards
>China, and voters in Taiwan shift towards unification.

To "see" such a thing, China would have to be delusional, since such a
thing isn't actually happening--especially the part about voters in
Taiwan (the opposite in fact has happened over the past decade, and
this trend has only ben reinforced by China's authoritarian rule over
Hong Kong). Mind you, many observers would agree that China's leaders
_are_ delusional when it comes to foreign policy....

Scott Orr

Russil Wvong

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Jul 11, 2002, 9:14:41 PM7/11/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong) wrote:
> >According to the participants on the thread, there's
> >a delicate balance between China, Taiwan, and the US: reclaiming
> >Taiwan is a vital interest for China...
>
> It's only "vital" as a point of national pride; it has nothing to do
> with the actual fate of the country.

Correct. Although I wouldn't underestimate the importance of national
pride to China.

> >...but the Chinese leadership
> >sees long-term trends going in its favor, as southern China becomes
> >more and more wealthy, the military and economic balance tilts towards
> >China, and voters in Taiwan shift towards unification.
>
> To "see" such a thing, China would have to be delusional, since such a
> thing isn't actually happening--especially the part about voters in
> Taiwan (the opposite in fact has happened over the past decade, and
> this trend has only ben reinforced by China's authoritarian rule over
> Hong Kong).

I'm relying on Joseph Wang's interpretation of what's going on, perhaps
unwisely so. :-) Are there any papers or articles analyzing the
China-Taiwan-US situation, and particularly trying to analyze the situation
from China's and Taiwan's points of view, that you'd recommend?
(Obviously this is going to be a key political issue in the future;
I'll try to summarize it in the alt.politics.international FAQ.)

Some material I've found on the net:

June 21, 1998: Barton Gellman discusses the crisis in 1996.
http://home.earthlink.net/~founders/chinathreat.htm

Taiwan President Lee Teng-hui sought new diplomatic horizons by
traveling abroad in the guise of golfing vacations. In early 1995,
he asked to become the first Taiwanese head of government to visit
the United States by applying for a visa to attend a reunion at his
alma mater, Cornell University.

What followed, from the points of view of the three capitals, was a
sequence of diplomatic double-crosses.

The Clinton administration told Lee he could not come, and
Christopher assured Qian at a United Nations meeting on April 17
that it was the administration's "fundamental policy" to refuse the
visa. But he also told Qian that the administration had been "unable
to persuade Congress of the wisdom of our position."

On May 3, after a $5 million lobbying campaign by Taiwan, the House
of Representatives voted 396 to 0 to demand a visa for Lee. Six days
later, the Senate followed suit 97 to 1. Lake and Christopher feared
that Congress would amend the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979 to force
the government's hand if it did not comply. The administration
reversed itself on May 22.

"Christopher's credibility with the Chinese, at that moment, was
over," Rothkopf said.

Benjamin Lu, Taiwan's Washington representative, meanwhile assured
Lord at the State Department that his president's visit would be
strictly private and low-key. But when Lee got to Cornell, he made
an aggressive political speech, using the loaded term "Republic of
China on Taiwan" -- anathema to Beijing -- 17 times.

Lord believed he had been betrayed, and never agreed to see Lu again.
But the damage was done. China withdrew its ambassador, arrested
American photojournalist Harry Wu and canceled every ongoing
discussion between the governments.

April 19, 2000: Chas Freeman argues that Taiwan has provoked a crisis,
and that unless it reverses course, China and the US are headed for war.
http://www.foreignpolicy2000.org/transcripts/t_freeman.html

Mr. Freeman: But you see, Les, I don't agree that those are the
issues because I think that there is virtually zero prospect of Taiwan
gratuitously provoking Beijing with a declaration of independence.
I think the question before Taiwan now that has been put clearly by
Beijing is "Are you prepared to reverse course from the declaration
of independence, without using that word, that you have already
pronounced. And if you are not prepared to reverse course. If you
adhere to the view that you are entitled to be treated by the
international community and by other Chinese as a separate state
then the consequences of that will be the use of force."

... The Chinese are quite capable of negotiating solutions of issues
that are very difficult and being patient. And the saddest thing
here is that their counterparts in Taiwan have not allowed them to
exercise that patience. Just consider the example of the difference
between Indian actions in taking Goa by force and Chinese actions in
waiting decades to negotiate a peaceful retrocession of Hong Kong.

December 5, 2001:
http://www.proutworld.org/news/en/2001/dec/20011205bei.htm

Beijing's restrained reaction after the announcement of electoral
results suggest that Chinese leaders are likely to take more a
long-term view and wait to see what Chen's administration does next.

Many feel confident that flowering economic integration between the
island and the Chinese mainland would force Chen and his party to be
more accommodating to Beijing's demands.

February 23, 2002. Paraphrase from
http://taipeitimes.com/news/2002/02/23/story/0000125049:

The vast majority of people in Taiwan (83%) support the status quo;
few support either unification with China (2%) or a declaration of
independence (4%).

Joseph argues that over the long term, as the military and economic
balance shifts, and as Taiwan becomes more economically dependent on
China, people in Taiwan are more likely to lean toward unification
than independence.

groups.google.com/groups&selm=3C9CF12E.8060701%40confucius.gnacademy.org:

One of the basic realities of the situation is that unless the PRC
completely muffs it, it wins. Assuming no crisis errupts and assuming
that PRC economic growth continues, it will win. Everyone knows this.
This is why the PRC is taking a relatively moderate approach. It's
running down the clock. ...

> I would suppose the main deterrent for the
> Taiwanese would be their increasing investment in the mainland and the
> increasing numbers of retirees who plan to move there---so they are
> deterring themselves with economic actions----probably a good thing.

Actually one of the big issues is that the Taiwan independence movement
was never really aimed at Beijing. The main purpose of TI was to get
rid of the Mainlander-dominated elite that Chiang brought over. This
was done in the 1990's and a lot of the emotion behind the notion of
independence has dissipated.

> Mind you, many observers would agree that China's leaders
> _are_ delusional when it comes to foreign policy....

No comment. :-) (John Paton Davies Jr. once described international
politics as a game of "blind man's bluff.")

Akorps666

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Jul 12, 2002, 12:11:15 PM7/12/02
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>I wouldn't underestimate the importance of national pride to China.

Chinese national pride is extremely
strong, but that doesn't necessarily mean
a problem for the USA. Obviously we
can't betray our friends and allies in Taiwan,
but otherwise, we should deflect
the nationalism of mainland China
towards others in that region. Its not our
problem, let those nations that are not
friendly to the USA take the brunt of it.

If we betray Taiwan, the mainland Chinese
wouldn't respect us anyway. What kind of
a friend could we be to mainland China, if
we were willing to betray our longtime
friends and loyal allies in Taiwan for some
chimera of political expediency? We saw
what such a policy of shifting with the
winds led to in the previous administration.
If we have no principles, who can believe
we will keep our word? Hasn't anyone
learned from the history of appeasement, that betraying one's
friends, like Chamberlain betrayed the
Czechs, backfires in the end?

So the mainland Chinese need to
understand that we will stick with Taiwan
at any cost, come Hell or highwater, but
other than that, we have no fundamental
conflict of interests with China, as long as
she doesn't threaten our allies in the
region.

Actually I think nationalism in mainland
China is the strongest anywhere since
nationalism in Germany in the 1930s. So
China is quite likely to go to war against
someone, just let's make sure we are so
strong that China looks elsewhere for an
opponent. Right now, with the economy in
recession, the USA has a great chance to
rebuild its military strength, since we have
surplus labor and equipment that can be
put to use making weapons; that also is
the tried and true way of pulling the
economy out of recession. The current
accounting fiasco is a huge joke: there are
easy ways to solve it, such as requiring
large corporations to have 2 seperate
audits done by independent auditors; that
increases costs a little, but by ensuring
transparency and accuracy of the numbers
(neither auditor would dare fudge the
numbers, for fear the other would catch
them out), confidence in the stock market
would be restored and we could get back
to the business of creating wealth. China
can be one of our best trading partners, so
relations with China can be quite good, if
China just understands that it is
impossible for the USA to betray such a
good ally as Taiwan. All great powers have
some interests in common and some
interests in conflict, the profitable course
is to maximize cooperation in areas where
we have common interests and minimize
conflicts in areas where we have some
differences. Trying to bully the USA is
foolish, the USA has such a great lead in
weapons development and technology
that with our master weapons we can
defeat any opponent on the battlefield if
we have to. But we would rather have
mutually profitable trading relations, leading
to mutual peace and prosperity, with any
nation willing to trade with us, rather than
attacking us (look what happened to our
enemies in Afghanistan. Do you think any
nation but the USA could wipe out such
enemies in such a remote and difficult
terrain so quickly, with so few casualties?
And our military technology is rapidly
improving, we used up some of our old surplus
weapons in Afghanistan, the new stuff is
much better).

Russil Wvong

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Jul 12, 2002, 8:04:36 PM7/12/02
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akor...@aol.com (Akorps666) wrote:

> Russil Wvong wrote:
> >I wouldn't underestimate the importance of national pride to China.
>
> Chinese national pride is extremely
> strong, but that doesn't necessarily mean
> a problem for the USA.

Sure. I'm just saying that as far I can tell, Taiwan is a vital interest
to China; it's not something China can compromise on. The fact that
we're talking about national pride and emotionalism doesn't change that.

> Obviously we can't betray our friends and allies in Taiwan,

If China were to launch an unprovoked attack on Taiwan, the US would have
to intervene, no question. The US is committed to a peaceful resolution
of the issue. But the US is *not* committed to the formal independence
of Taiwan; it hasn't given Taiwan a blank check.

It's a subtle distinction, but it's an important one.

> but otherwise, we should deflect
> the nationalism of mainland China
> towards others in that region. Its not our
> problem, let those nations that are not
> friendly to the USA take the brunt of it.

...


> Actually I think nationalism in mainland
> China is the strongest anywhere since
> nationalism in Germany in the 1930s. So
> China is quite likely to go to war against
> someone, just let's make sure we are so
> strong that China looks elsewhere for an
> opponent.

And this is a second key question: what are China's intentions, aside
from Taiwan? Will China become expansionist in the future, as John
Mearsheimer argues? Or does the Chinese just want to be left alone,
as George Kennan contends?

Of course it's hard to predict the future, but based on what I know of
Chinese history, I'd predict the latter. The main goal of Chinese
foreign policy is preserving Chinese culture and keeping invaders out,
not expansion. I don't think Chinese culture is particularly
militaristic, as Nazi Germany was, and it doesn't have a universalistic
ideology to be exported, as the Soviet Union did.

> All great powers have
> some interests in common and some
> interests in conflict,

Right!

> Trying to bully the USA is
> foolish, the USA has such a great lead in
> weapons development and technology
> that with our master weapons we can
> defeat any opponent on the battlefield if
> we have to. But we would rather have
> mutually profitable trading relations, leading
> to mutual peace and prosperity, with any
> nation willing to trade with us, rather than
> attacking us (look what happened to our
> enemies in Afghanistan. Do you think any
> nation but the USA could wipe out such
> enemies in such a remote and difficult
> terrain so quickly, with so few casualties?
> And our military technology is rapidly
> improving, we used up some of our old surplus
> weapons in Afghanistan, the new stuff is
> much better).

Be careful here. A common error is to confuse military strength
with political power (that is, the ability to get people to do
what you want). They're not the same at all.

As I understand it (from Liddell Hart's "Strategy"), the goal of war
is primarily psychological, not physical: your aim is not the
destruction of your enemy's military forces, but to convince your
opponent to alter a policy which is in conflict with yours. Sometimes
you have to go to war to accomplish this, but a successful military
strategy is one which accomplishes your aim with a minimum of bloodshed.
I believe Kennan argues in his memoirs that the industrialization of
warfare has made all-out war between industrial countries nothing short
of disastrous, even for the supposed victor; a better strategy would be
to focus on limited warfare and on measures short of war.

Scott D. Orr

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Jul 12, 2002, 8:18:45 PM7/12/02
to
On 11 Jul 2002 18:14:41 -0700, russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong)
wrote:

>Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:


>> russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong) wrote:
>> >According to the participants on the thread, there's
>> >a delicate balance between China, Taiwan, and the US: reclaiming
>> >Taiwan is a vital interest for China...
>>
>> It's only "vital" as a point of national pride; it has nothing to do
>> with the actual fate of the country.
>
>Correct. Although I wouldn't underestimate the importance of national
>pride to China.

Fine, but you can't call it "vital", and frankly, the world can NOT
accept a claim like "We need to crush a neighboring democracy because
it's critical to our national pride."


>
>> >...but the Chinese leadership
>> >sees long-term trends going in its favor, as southern China becomes
>> >more and more wealthy, the military and economic balance tilts towards
>> >China, and voters in Taiwan shift towards unification.
>>
>> To "see" such a thing, China would have to be delusional, since such a
>> thing isn't actually happening--especially the part about voters in
>> Taiwan (the opposite in fact has happened over the past decade, and
>> this trend has only ben reinforced by China's authoritarian rule over
>> Hong Kong).
>
>I'm relying on Joseph Wang's interpretation of what's going on, perhaps
>unwisely so. :-) Are there any papers or articles analyzing the
>China-Taiwan-US situation, and particularly trying to analyze the situation
>from China's and Taiwan's points of view, that you'd recommend?
>(Obviously this is going to be a key political issue in the future;
>I'll try to summarize it in the alt.politics.international FAQ.)

I think you wouldn't do badly reading articles on Taiwenese politics
in _The_Economist_ over hte past few years. What is certain is that
in the first real democratic election in Taiwan, voters chose a party
identified with independence, even though that party backed off the
independence issue as the election neared. I think it's fairly clear
that to the extent that Taiwense are cool to independence, it's not
because they don't want it (polls are clear that they do, much more so
than they did 20 years ago), but because they're intimidated by Chinse
military threats. Sheer intimidation is NOT the key to long-term
reconciliation--especially since it implies that China would after any
re-union be willing to impose its will over the nomimally autonomous
island by force.


>
>Some material I've found on the net:
>

[Snip.]

Most of these only support my points: don't forget that support for
the status quo means support for a nominal statement that Taiwan is
part of China while maintaining de facto independence. In other
words, these people have no desire whatsoever to be part of a
Communist China--to the extent they believe in a united China, that's
a Nationalist China, not a Communist one.

However, I think you're missing the importance of identity politics in
Taiwan over the past 30 years. The island has traditionally been
dominated the Nationalists who fled from the mainland after 1949.
However, especially since 1970, ethnic Taiwanese have been
increasingly incorporated into the political system, and even the
grandchildren of the Nationalists have come to see themsevles as
"Taiwanese" in addition to being "Chinese"--and the Nationalists and
their descendants are only a minority of the population in the first
place.

Why on earth would a place where most of the people don't identify
themsleves as Chinese, and where the people who do increasing tend to
indentify as Taiwanese just as strongly, want to join a China that's
authoritarian and dirt-poor? It just doesn't make sense.

>
>Joseph argues that over the long term, as the military and economic
>balance shifts, and as Taiwan becomes more economically dependent on
>China, people in Taiwan are more likely to lean toward unification
>than independence.

I can't imagine where he's getting that conclusion--I'd love to hear
some reasoning on his part.

As for China getting richer, you have to realize that at the moment
China is one of the poorest countries in the world on a per capita
basis (and furthermore that a lot of its recent growth is illusory,
the result of a corrupt system fiddling the numbers). The time it
would take for even the southeast to reach anything approaching the
level of development of Taiwan would have to be measured in
decades--and not just a few decades, either (and you have to remember
that even in the southeast, the influx of migrants from elsewhere in
China will continually drive down the per capita income there).

But even if you remove the poverty factor, you'll only removing a
negative reason for not joining China--there's still no positive
reason to join, other than sheer intimidation. (The idea that Taiwan
will become "economically dependent" on China is I think silly--trade
is becoming increasingly global as time goes on, and there's no reason
to think that Taiwan will be limited to China in its trade.)

> One of the basic realities of the situation is that unless the PRC
> completely muffs it, it wins. Assuming no crisis errupts and assuming
> that PRC economic growth continues, it will win. Everyone knows this.
> This is why the PRC is taking a relatively moderate approach. It's
> running down the clock. ...

The PRC leadership is delusional about what it takes to "win"--people
aren't going to join your country just because you're powerful and
next door and have some cultural similarities. If that were true,
Canada would join the U.S.


>
> > I would suppose the main deterrent for the
> > Taiwanese would be their increasing investment in the mainland and the
> > increasing numbers of retirees who plan to move there---so they are
> > deterring themselves with economic actions----probably a good thing.
>
> Actually one of the big issues is that the Taiwan independence movement
> was never really aimed at Beijing. The main purpose of TI was to get
> rid of the Mainlander-dominated elite that Chiang brought over. This
> was done in the 1990's and a lot of the emotion behind the notion of
> independence has dissipated.

While it's true that this independence was only one issue among many i
getting rid of the KMT, this does _not_ imply that Taiwenese want to
be part of a united China. It's simply a grave error to confuse lack
of support for independence with support for unification. It's
almost two different issues.


>
>> Mind you, many observers would agree that China's leaders
>> _are_ delusional when it comes to foreign policy....
>
>No comment. :-) (John Paton Davies Jr. once described international
>politics as a game of "blind man's bluff.")
>

This is not a matter of international politics in general--this is a
matter of a leadership and political culture that is extraordinarily
insular by world standards.

Scott Orr

Akorps666

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Jul 13, 2002, 2:56:22 AM7/13/02
to
>> Obviously we can't betray our friends and allies in Taiwan,

>If China were to launch an unprovoked attack on Taiwan, the US would have to
intervene, no question.

The main military problem is the buildup of
missiles aimed at Taiwan along the
coast of mainland China. There is a
possibility that the Chinese government
intends to use these for political pressure,
rather than a military attack, but the USA
has to assume the worst case scenarios,
looking at capabilities rather than trying
to divine unfathomable intentions. So we
have 2 self-reinforcing cycles of perception
in China and the USA. The Chinese
probably think of the missiles in some
positive way, while the USA thinks of them
as a horrific nightmare. So China is taking
a risk of blundering into a war with the USA
because of that missile buildup, without
realizing it. Part of the misperception on
the Chinese side is that building up their
military strength will put them at parity
with the USA and earn them greater
repect in the world. This is the same
mistake Germany made before WW1 when
challenging British naval supremacy. It led
to war and the destruction of the German
Empire. China, by building up its military
power, will create enemies for itself all
around. China should be very careful not
to build up its military forces in a way that
can be perceived as threatening by its
neighbors. That can lead to accidental
war with horrific consequences for China.

The USA has to assume the worst case,
not being able to see the situation as does
the Chinese government. That means, the
USA has to build up its forces in the region
so that it can defeat any worst case
scenario involving a Chinese invasion of
Taiwan. That is what the Chinese buildup
of missiles on the coast is leading to, an
arms buildup escalating out of control, with
great risks of accidental war breaking out.

So the USA needs to focus on a crash
program involving massive investment in
anti-missile technology, and development
and deployment of those anti-missile
weapons to neutralize the missiles on the
coast.

At the same time naval forces need to
be ready to counter every possible Chinese
move against Taiwan by sea, including
neutralizing Chinese submarines.

And the air force needs to be ready to
counter any Chinese air attack.

One scenario would be development of
massive numbers of missile armed drones
to deploy over the staging areas China
would use to launch an attack against
Taiwan, to destroy any Chinese forces
detected and to paralyze movement on
the ground. Permanent satellite coverage
of the area making real time battlefield
information available to commanders is
also needed.

We need as many air bases in the region
as possible, and heavy naval presence
including aircraft carriers and submarines.
We certainly need to build more carriers
to make up for the gutting of the Navy
during the previous administration.

Now is a great chance for the USA to build
up its armed forces, as with the economy
in recession, surplus labor and equipment
is available to build all this stuff, plus that
will be the only thing that will get the
economy back to full employment. Without
a defense buildup we could be stuck with
stagflation for 10 years or more. Reagan
showed how to do it, so hopefully some
in the current administration remember
that model. There is some peculiar
leftist revisionism that has taken hold,
unfortunately, turning things upside down.
It was the Reagan defense buildup that
restored American confidence, ended the
cold war, and started the economic boom
that lasted well into the 1990s. It was only
when defense was neglected during the
Clinton administration, and we let down
our guard, that troubles started up again,
and the economy started to slip. Now the
only way to get out of that is to build up
our defenses again.


Russil Wvong

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Jul 13, 2002, 3:15:57 PM7/13/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:
> russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong) wrote:
> >[regarding Taiwan]

> >Correct. Although I wouldn't underestimate the importance of national
> >pride to China.
>
> Fine, but you can't call it "vital",

Er. Perhaps "vital interest" is too vague a term. What I meant to say
was that China is not willing to compromise on the issue of its
sovereignty over Taiwan; it's willing to go to war. As I understand
it, the one "vital interest" claimed by Chinese diplomacy is
"territorial integrity". Evan Feigenbaum:

China continues to cling to long and often repeated principles of
nonintervention and territorial self-defense, even as the
post-Cold War Pax Americana has rewritten these rules by promoting
new rationales for the use of force. Taiwan, however, remains
China's great exception. Indeed, an unprovoked Chinese use of
force against Taiwan, that many Americans, Asians, Europeans and
even some Russians would view as aggressive, would be justified by
Beijing as a strictly defensive action involving territorial
integrity - the one interest that Chinese diplomacy claims as
"vital."

The more encompassing American definition of "vital" interests, by
contrast, ranges beyond the mere defense of homeland. Many Chinese
argue that American statements of the national interest tend to
enshrine a law of the jungle in international politics that
violates norms of law and is conceptually distinct from
peacekeeping.
[http://www.ksg.harvard.edu/news/opeds/feigenbaum_russia_china.htm]

> and frankly, the world can NOT
> accept a claim like "We need to crush a neighboring democracy because
> it's critical to our national pride."

It isn't exactly the same, but Britain did hand Hong Kong back to China.
(Hong Kong wasn't a democracy, of course, but Taiwan's only had democratic
elections since 1992.)

If you mean that the US will intervene if Taiwan declares independence
and China proceeds to attack -- if the US is willing to give a blank check
to Taiwan to declare independence -- then we're in a very dangerous
situation. Because, as I understand it, China *will* go to war if
Taiwan declares its independence, regardless of the danger of US
intervention.

As I understand it, US support for Taiwan is more limited than that:
the US will intervene if China launches an *unprovoked* attack on Taiwan,
but not if Taiwan declares independence. China can live with this; it's
confident that it can get its way over the long run *without* resorting
to force, as long as Taiwan doesn't try to declare formal independence.

Isn't it one of the major rules of diplomacy not to give unlimited support
to a weak ally? Hans Morgenthau, "Politics Among Nations":

Never Allow a Weak Ally to Make Decisions for You

Strong nations that are oblivious to the preceding rules are
particularly susceptible to violating this one. They lose their
freedom of action by identifying their own national interests
completely with those of the weak ally. Secure in the support of
its powerful friend, the weak ally can choose the objectives and
methods of its foreign policy to suit itself. The powerful nation
then finds that it must support interests not its own and that it
is unable to compromise on issues that are vital not to itself,
but only to its ally.
[6th ed., p. 589]

Examples would be Great Britain and France's support for Turkey in the
Crimean War, and Germany's support for Austria-Hungary in World War I.

> >I'm relying on Joseph Wang's interpretation of what's going on, perhaps
> >unwisely so. :-) Are there any papers or articles analyzing the
> >China-Taiwan-US situation, and particularly trying to analyze the situation
> >from China's and Taiwan's points of view, that you'd recommend?
> >(Obviously this is going to be a key political issue in the future;
> >I'll try to summarize it in the alt.politics.international FAQ.)
>
> I think you wouldn't do badly reading articles on Taiwenese politics

> in _The_Economist_ over the past few years.

Thanks. I've got a subscription to the Economist. A selection of articles:
www.economist.com/research/backgrounders/displaybackgrounder.cfm?bg=923591

> What is certain is that
> in the first real democratic election in Taiwan, voters chose a party
> identified with independence, even though that party backed off the
> independence issue as the election neared.

Correct. That seems to have eased tensions. A story from May 2000,
following the presidential election which the DPP won:

After months of shrill impatience over Taiwan, and outright alarm
at Mr Chen's election victory in March, the talk in Beijing now is
of pragmatism and patience. The heat, for the moment, is off. Mr
Chen, after all, said much designed to put the Chinese at ease in
his address on May 20th. Now that he was president, this former
advocate of Taiwanese independence promised he would not declare a
formal breakaway from China or push for a referendum on the
issue. Nor, said the president, would his government change the
island's official name, the Republic of China.

Taiwan's decade-old guidelines on reunification remain.
Ex-President Lee Teng-hui's "special state-to-state" formula, so
loathed by the Chinese, will not be written into the constitution.
(It has already been dropped by Mr Chen.) Above all, Mr Chen even
made a nod towards the idea of "one China". The people in Beijing
cannot say openly they are satisfied with this, for he merely
averred that both sides need to deal creatively with that issue at
some indeterminate point in the future, a vagueness that one
Chinese official describes as "evasive". Still, as another
official puts it, Mr Chen was careful to avoid "certain
provocative phrases" and his speech left outsiders with the
impression that he is willing to show some flexibility. This is
the cue for China , for its part, to create some flexibility.
www.economist.com/research/backgrounders/displaystory.cfm?story_id=334582

> I think it's fairly clear
> that to the extent that Taiwense are cool to independence, it's not
> because they don't want it (polls are clear that they do, much more so

> than they did 20 years ago), but because they're intimidated by Chinese
> military threats.

Yes, definitely.

> Sheer intimidation is NOT the key to long-term
> reconciliation--especially since it implies that China would after any
> re-union be willing to impose its will over the nomimally autonomous
> island by force.

China appears to have realized this, and backed off on its saber-rattling.
The Economist, November 2001:

CHINA'S communists seem to have learned a lesson. As Taiwan
prepared for a parliamentary election on December 1st, the
leadership in Beijing refrained from its usual practice of trying
to intimidate Taiwan's voters into supporting candidates who
favoured the reunification of mainland and island. Even though the
election is likely to strengthen the hand of Taiwan's
independence-leaning president, Chen Shui-bian, China has been
keeping remarkably quiet.

... the DPP will not be able to win a majority on its own, and any
coalition may prove unstable. On mainland policy, Mr Chen will
strive hard for a cross-party consensus. Although the president is
no advocate of reunification, Mr Tien, the foreign minister, says
that Mr Chen has made statements that could be seen by the Chinese
as repudiating the separatist movement. "They don't really think
that President Chen Shui-bian is promoting separatism. In spite of
what they say rhetorically, in substance they feel that there is
no sense of urgency," says Mr Tien.
http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=886225

Also, according to the Economist survey on Taiwan from November 5, 1998,
China is willing to put pretty much everything on the table, including
armed forces for Taiwan:

China's next ploy was to launch a charm offensive, agreeing to
restart cross-straits talks (halted since the missile tests) and
offering Taiwan any sort of variation on the Hong Kong model it
wanted (indeed, China dreamed up the Hong Kong model in the
early 1980s with Taiwan in mind). One country, two systems; one
country, three systems; whatever. Taiwan could have its own
elected (provincial) government, its own economy, currency,
armed forces, everything but its own flag and its sovereignty.
www.economist.com/research/backgrounders/displayStory.cfm?story_id=174747

> >Some material I've found on the net:
> >
> [Snip.]
>
> Most of these only support my points: don't forget that support for
> the status quo means support for a nominal statement that Taiwan is
> part of China while maintaining de facto independence.

As I understand it, *that's fine with China*: *formal and legal*
sovereignty over Taiwan is what's important to China.

> However, I think you're missing the importance of identity politics in
> Taiwan over the past 30 years. The island has traditionally been
> dominated the Nationalists who fled from the mainland after 1949.
> However, especially since 1970, ethnic Taiwanese have been
> increasingly incorporated into the political system,

Um. Referring to "ethnic Taiwanese" is a little misleading -- there's
aboriginal people in Taiwan, but I think you're actually referring to
descendants of people from the Mainland who settled in Taiwan prior
to 1949.

> and even the
> grandchildren of the Nationalists have come to see themselves as


> "Taiwanese" in addition to being "Chinese"--and the Nationalists and
> their descendants are only a minority of the population in the first
> place.
>
> Why on earth would a place where most of the people don't identify

> themselves as Chinese, and where the people who do increasing tend to
> identify as Taiwanese just as strongly, want to join a China that's


> authoritarian and dirt-poor? It just doesn't make sense.
>
> >Joseph argues that over the long term, as the military and economic
> >balance shifts, and as Taiwan becomes more economically dependent on
> >China, people in Taiwan are more likely to lean toward unification
> >than independence.
>
> I can't imagine where he's getting that conclusion--I'd love to hear
> some reasoning on his part.

I wouldn't underestimate the emotional force of ethnic-Chinese
nationalism, particularly if China continues along the path of
economic growth and increasing power. Hmm. How do I describe
it? "Face" and social status are extremely important to Chinese
people in general, including Chinese communities outside the
mainland (Taiwan, Singapore, southeast Asia, North America).
The weakness of China with respect to the Western powers was
humiliating and traumatizing; the reestablishment of a strong
Chinese state by Mao and the Communists, capable of fighting the
US to a standstill in Korea, was regarded as a source of pride,
even among the overseas Chinese -- I remember my parents, who are
from Singapore and Malaysia, talking about this. There's an
emotional and sentimental attachment to China -- a nuclear
power, an aspiring Great Power, a permanent member of the UN
Security Council -- even for Chinese people who have never been
to China.

It could be that this attachment is non-existent or extremely
weak among people in Taiwan, or that over the long run it'll be
replaced by Taiwanese nationalism, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's
hard to see what kind of purely Taiwanese achievements and symbols
could compete with the emotional appeal of Chinese culture and
Chinese civilization (for ethnically Chinese people). The only one
that comes to mind is the fact that Taiwan is the only Chinese
democracy in the world, and I don't think that'll be sufficient.

Some quotes from Joseph Wang:

> On the Taiwanese side, you've got two major issues.
> 1) The Taiwanese have VERY little loyalty to the mainland

It's actually rather complicated. One thing that makes it
complicated is that there is consensus on Taiwan on some things
and radical differences on others. Also the situation is quite
dynamic. Public opinion on the issue of national identity today
is different from what it was in 1990 which was different than it
was in 1980 etc. etc.

To vastly oversimplify things, there is very little public support
for the People's Republic of China, but at least among some
segments of the population there is positive sentiment toward the
notion of "China." So you can play a lot of games with
definitions.

In particular, both the Communists and the local opposition are
doing their hardest to make sure that the concept of
"Taiwanization" *isn't* a zero-sum game and that it is possible to
have both strong "Chinese" and "Taiwanese" identities.

... The number of people on Taiwan who are strongly pro-Beijing
isn't large (about 10%), but they are significant enough to
strongly influence Taiwanese politics. Basically imagine
U.S. politics during the cold war if 10% of the U.S. population
was actively and unashamedly pro-Soviet.

> 2) Taiwan has built up a pretty successful little democracy on their
> island. Its a pretty darn feisty political and economic entity.

Curiously most Taiwanese are remarkably cynical about politics on
Taiwan. Most Taiwanese *don't* regard the government as
particularly successful or competent and there is a lot of
pessimism regarding the economy. Basically, Taiwan is
experiencing a major brain and capital drain as factories and
skilled workers are moving to the Mainland. This is impacting
Taiwan really hard because none of the capital generated on the
Mainland is moving back to Taiwan because of Taiwanese government
regulations.

There is a subtle but important difference in the way that
conservatives in the United States and Taiwanese view democracy.
Conservatives in the United States tend to view democracy in
idealistic terms. Democracy is a core value that people should
fight for for its own sake. In Taiwan, the primary impetus for
democracy was that in a democratic society, you wouldn't have a
situation in which an ethnic group that made up 10% of the
population ran everything.

One of the things that is really having a big impact is that
Mainland is poor and Taiwan is rich is no longer as true anymore.
On the average Taiwan is richer than the PRC, but there are
pockets of wealth in the PRC where the standard of living is
comparable. The PRC economy is rapidly growing which means that
there is a huge demand for Taiwanese engineers and managers while
the economy on Taiwan is static. Some Taiwanese businessmen will
privately admit that the PRC government seems to care more and
listen to Taiwanese business interests more than the government on
Taiwan does.
groups.google.com/groups?selm=3CE49512.803%40confucius.gnacademy.org

And:

> I totally admit I didn't cover this concept at all. Only after I
> posted did I discover an article illustrating how the PRC is
> buying up the island, and I think there was a PRC general who
> basically said why conquer the island now, when they will own
> the whole thing in the not too distant future.

I think some estimates say that as much as 10% of the Taipei Stock
Exchange is controlled by the PRC-based corporations. Taiwan has
a bit of a problem. If it doesn't let Mainland money back into
Taiwan and open up immigration even a little, then it is facing a
capital and intellectual worker outflow. If it does, then the
economies get integrated even further. Chen probably wants to
loosen up the regulations. I think he is even willing to say the
magic words "one China" but the TSU will not let him do it.

The basic strategy of Lee Tenghui and the TSU has been to stall
for time and wait for the PRC to spontaneously implode. That
might have made sense in 1992, when everyone was expecting the PRC
to follow the way of the Soviet Union. Waiting for the PRC is
implode however is looking like an increasing desperate strategy.
But who knows? It might look brilliant five years from now.
groups.google.com/groups?selm=3CE59DE1.1020702%40confucius.gnacademy.org

And:

The fear of the PRC in the 1990's was that Taiwan would drift away
and create a crisis that the PRC was unable to deal with. That is
becoming less and less likely. One way to think about it is that
Taiwan has had a secretly pro-independence president for ten years
followed by an openly pro-independence president for two. The
nominally pro-independence party group has a near majority in the
legislature, and despite all of this there are still red lines
that Taiwan does not dare cross.

The question then becomes the long term trends for independence,
and these do not look good. Economic interaction with the
Mainland increases political support for integration, and there
are no political forces that I see which increases political
support for independence. In particular, the issue that triggered
the independence movement in the first place (Mainlander
domination of the government) has long been resolved.

Of course, weird things can happen.

groups.google.com/groups?selm=173bc1c2.0205270841.3fb895c7%40posting.google.com

> As for China getting richer, you have to realize that at the moment
> China is one of the poorest countries in the world on a per capita
> basis (and furthermore that a lot of its recent growth is illusory,
> the result of a corrupt system fiddling the numbers). The time it
> would take for even the southeast to reach anything approaching the
> level of development of Taiwan would have to be measured in
> decades--and not just a few decades, either (and you have to remember
> that even in the southeast, the influx of migrants from elsewhere in
> China will continually drive down the per capita income there).

Fair enough.

> But even if you remove the poverty factor, you'll only removing a
> negative reason for not joining China--there's still no positive
> reason to join, other than sheer intimidation. (The idea that Taiwan
> will become "economically dependent" on China is I think silly--trade
> is becoming increasingly global as time goes on, and there's no reason
> to think that Taiwan will be limited to China in its trade.)

Ethnic-Chinese nationalism is one factor. Regarding the question of
economic dependence, China's advantage in labor costs is difficult to
beat; according to the Economist, as of April 2002, half of Taiwan's
IT products are being manufactured in factories on the mainland.
http://www.economist.com/displayStory.cfm?Story_ID=1099005

> > One of the basic realities of the situation is that unless the PRC
> > completely muffs it, it wins. Assuming no crisis errupts and assuming
> > that PRC economic growth continues, it will win. Everyone knows this.
> > This is why the PRC is taking a relatively moderate approach. It's
> > running down the clock. ...
>
> The PRC leadership is delusional about what it takes to "win"--people
> aren't going to join your country just because you're powerful and
> next door and have some cultural similarities. If that were true,
> Canada would join the U.S.

I take your point, but in fact, there *is* some significant pressure --
from the Canadian business community, I think -- for greater integration
with the US. In particular, the National Post floats stories every now
and then about Canada's adopting the US dollar. There's people in Canada
who seem to identify more with the US than they do with Canada.

I should also point out that Canada's been independent of the US going
back to the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and that it's been
largely self-governing since 1867.

Russil Wvong
Vancouver, Canada
www.geocities.com/rwvong

Russil Wvong

unread,
Jul 13, 2002, 3:19:38 PM7/13/02
to
akor...@aol.com (Akorps666) wrote:
> >> Obviously we can't betray our friends and allies in Taiwan,
>
> >If China were to launch an unprovoked attack on Taiwan, the US would have to
> intervene, no question.
>
> The main military problem is the buildup of
> missiles aimed at Taiwan along the
> coast of mainland China. There is a
> possibility that the Chinese government
> intends to use these for political pressure,
> rather than a military attack, but the USA
> has to assume the worst case scenarios,
> looking at capabilities rather than trying
> to divine unfathomable intentions.

Why??? This is one of the mistakes that George Kennan talks about.

> This is the same
> mistake Germany made before WW1 when
> challenging British naval supremacy. It led
> to war and the destruction of the German
> Empire. China, by building up its military
> power, will create enemies for itself all
> around. China should be very careful not
> to build up its military forces in a way that
> can be perceived as threatening by its
> neighbors.

Um. Shouldn't the US worry about the same thing, rather than launching
a massive military buildup as you recommend?

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 13, 2002, 9:28:39 PM7/13/02
to
On 13 Jul 2002 12:15:57 -0700, russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong)
wrote:

>Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote:


>> russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong) wrote:
>> >[regarding Taiwan]
>> >Correct. Although I wouldn't underestimate the importance of national
>> >pride to China.
>>
>> Fine, but you can't call it "vital",
>
>Er. Perhaps "vital interest" is too vague a term. What I meant to say
>was that China is not willing to compromise on the issue of its
>sovereignty over Taiwan; it's willing to go to war. As I understand
>it, the one "vital interest" claimed by Chinese diplomacy is
>"territorial integrity".

I don't think China is going to get a choice in the matter. No matter
how "vital" it seems to China, it looks ridiculous and greedy to
everyone else, and no one else is going to countenance aggressive
actions taken to pursue this interest it like they would for a truly
vital interest.

[Snip.]

>> and frankly, the world can NOT
>> accept a claim like "We need to crush a neighboring democracy because
>> it's critical to our national pride."
>
>It isn't exactly the same, but Britain did hand Hong Kong back to China.
>(Hong Kong wasn't a democracy, of course, but Taiwan's only had democratic
>elections since 1992.)

Hong Kong also hadn't been de facto independent for half a century.
But more to the point, the handover was entirely peaceful, not the
result of aggressive actions on China's part. Had China insisted on
_invading_ Hong Kong, even after the lease ran out, it would have
received very little support internationally.


>
>If you mean that the US will intervene if Taiwan declares independence
>and China proceeds to attack -- if the US is willing to give a blank check
>to Taiwan to declare independence -- then we're in a very dangerous
>situation. Because, as I understand it, China *will* go to war if
>Taiwan declares its independence, regardless of the danger of US
>intervention.

I doubt that China would go to war right now, because it simply lacks
the capability to take Taiwan by force, even without the U.S.
intervening. Period. China simply does not have the necessary
amphibious capability, and its navy and air force are pathetic, even,
arguably, compared to Taiwan's; realistically the most it could do is
interdict shipping and land some missiles on Taiwan's cities, and
chances are the Taiwanese could do as much damage in return (a handful
of diesel subs could put a halt to China's international trade, for
instance). At any rate, the Taiwenese obviously think it's not worth
the risk.

However, I'm not talking necessarily about direct intervention. What
I'm saying is that the repercussions for China's foreign policy would
be enormous, whether or not anyone intervenes--China would have no
friends left, and would face damaging sanctions (given the extent to
which China's recent growth has been export-led, China can't afford to
piss off trading partners). At the moment, China constantly has
problems with the U.S. because of the way it treats internal
dissidents--imagine the reaction were it to attack and occupy what
amounts to another country.

>As I understand it, US support for Taiwan is more limited than that:
>the US will intervene if China launches an *unprovoked* attack on Taiwan,
>but not if Taiwan declares independence. China can live with this; it's
>confident that it can get its way over the long run *without* resorting
>to force, as long as Taiwan doesn't try to declare formal independence.

Actually, the U.S. has been purposely vague about what it will or will
not do under any given circumstances..

>Isn't it one of the major rules of diplomacy not to give unlimited support
>to a weak ally?

There are no hard-and-fast "rules" in diplomacy--it's more complicated
than that.

> Hans Morgenthau, "Politics Among Nations":

One should not quote Morgenthau or any other realist as a guide to how
politics works; their descriptions of how things wrok are not accepted
as accurate by most students of international relations (to be honest,
the rest of us actually laugh at them), and despite their presentation
as "positive" rules for how things actually work, they should be taken
as a "normative" argument for how countries _should_ conduct foreign
policy. (That is, realism is more of an ideology than a science.)
They're in the odd position of arguing that we should act a certain
way because _eveyrone_ acts that way--but if everyone really acted
that way, there'd be no need to have to argue in favor of it, because
we'd do it anyway.

It can be said that Morgenthau's school of "political realism"
[sic--people who aren't realists believe that it's the least realistic
description of internatinal politics] is a passable description of
international relations during the early modern era (17th to 18th
centuries, maybe the 19th as well), and it's notable that the Chinese
have adopted the realist position--but they're intellectually and,
more importantly, morally backward, as a still-traditional society
that hasn't caught onto the whole liberal ideal yet. The fact that
the Chinse think this way (and the fact that they're very insular) may
well mean that they'll assume everyone else thinks that way as well,
and lead to grave mispredictions about how the U.S. or anyone else
might respond to aggressive actions.

[Snip.]


>
>Examples would be Great Britain and France's support for Turkey in the
>Crimean War, and Germany's support for Austria-Hungary in World War I.

The first might be an example (but then, this is the mid-19th
century). I think in the second example you'll find that the reasons
were a little more complex (also, no one saw Austria-Hungary as
"weak"--it was indeed Germany's _major_ ally).

[Snip.]

>> I think it's fairly clear
>> that to the extent that Taiwense are cool to independence, it's not
>> because they don't want it (polls are clear that they do, much more so
>> than they did 20 years ago), but because they're intimidated by Chinese
>> military threats.
>
>Yes, definitely.
>
>> Sheer intimidation is NOT the key to long-term
>> reconciliation--especially since it implies that China would after any
>> re-union be willing to impose its will over the nomimally autonomous
>> island by force.
>
>China appears to have realized this, and backed off on its saber-rattling.

Yes, but I think China sees that as a tactical move. I think the
Chinese believe that, because the Taiwense are really Chinese after
all, eventually if there are friendly relations and China grows richer
and more powerful for long enough, they'll come around out of
friendliness and because everyone wants to join a winner. Such a
belief is utterly delusional--on a number of levels.

[Snip.]

>Also, according to the Economist survey on Taiwan from November 5, 1998,
>China is willing to put pretty much everything on the table, including
>armed forces for Taiwan:
>
> China's next ploy was to launch a charm offensive, agreeing to
> restart cross-straits talks (halted since the missile tests) and
> offering Taiwan any sort of variation on the Hong Kong model it
> wanted (indeed, China dreamed up the Hong Kong model in the
> early 1980s with Taiwan in mind). One country, two systems; one
> country, three systems; whatever. Taiwan could have its own
> elected (provincial) government, its own economy, currency,
> armed forces, everything but its own flag and its sovereignty.
> www.economist.com/research/backgrounders/displayStory.cfm?story_id=174747

If you'll read the latest article, it notes that the treatment of Hong
Kong has made it pretty clear to observers in Taiwan that "one
country, two systems" is a sham (mind you, it was always a logical
impossibility, so I'm not sure why anyone is surprised).

Mind you, this still misses the biggest issue--for most Taiwanese, the
problem with being part of China is that they don't think of
themselves as Chinese. China can't put that on the table--the Chinese
leadership doesn't even grasp it.


>
>> >Some material I've found on the net:
>> >
>> [Snip.]
>>
>> Most of these only support my points: don't forget that support for
>> the status quo means support for a nominal statement that Taiwan is
>> part of China while maintaining de facto independence.
>
>As I understand it, *that's fine with China*: *formal and legal*
>sovereignty over Taiwan is what's important to China.

It's fine with both parties _for_the_short_term_, which is why it
continues. However, in the long term there will be more and more
pressure to settle the question, and once the Taiwenese have to choose
between reunification and independence (without a third option being
available), I see nothing other than brute force that's going to push
them in the direction of reunification.

>> However, I think you're missing the importance of identity politics in
>> Taiwan over the past 30 years. The island has traditionally been
>> dominated the Nationalists who fled from the mainland after 1949.
>> However, especially since 1970, ethnic Taiwanese have been
>> increasingly incorporated into the political system,
>
>Um. Referring to "ethnic Taiwanese" is a little misleading -- there's
>aboriginal people in Taiwan, but I think you're actually referring to
>descendants of people from the Mainland who settled in Taiwan prior
>to 1949.

There's no need to guess--I was quite explicit about it.

I'm intentionally not going into the complex ethnic picture in Taiwan.
For moden political purposes, the important distinction is between the
post-1949 immigrants (and their descendants) and everyone else. The
latter generally identity themselves as "Taiwanese" more than
"Chinese", even those of Chinese descent.

>> >Joseph argues that over the long term, as the military and economic
>> >balance shifts, and as Taiwan becomes more economically dependent on
>> >China, people in Taiwan are more likely to lean toward unification
>> >than independence.
>>
>> I can't imagine where he's getting that conclusion--I'd love to hear
>> some reasoning on his part.
>
>I wouldn't underestimate the emotional force of ethnic-Chinese
>nationalism, particularly if China continues along the path of
>economic growth and increasing power.

But the majority of people in Taiwan don't see themselves as
ethnically Chinese, despite the fact that most of the population is
descended from various waves of immigrants from the mainland (the
Nationalists guaranteed this by excluding everyone who was there
before them from political and economic power). The island, after
all, has only had one relatively short period of domination by China.
Identities are within limits very malleable, but there's very little
in the family histories of most Taiwanese from which a Chinese
identity can be constructed.

>Hmm. How do I describe
>it? "Face" and social status are extremely important to Chinese

>people in general...

They're important to all traditional societies--only in the West the
term used is "honor". It's not a uniquely Asian trait, despite recent
efforts to portray Westerners and Asians as fundamentally different
rather than at different levels of political-cultural development.

Taiwan is no longer a traditional society--at least not compared to
places like China. Nor are places like South Korea and Thailand--all
these places have cultural ties to China, but they're now more like
the U.S. or Germany than they are like China. China's leadership, of
course, doesn't understand this.

>...including Chinese communities outside the


>mainland (Taiwan, Singapore, southeast Asia, North America).
>The weakness of China with respect to the Western powers was
>humiliating and traumatizing; the reestablishment of a strong
>Chinese state by Mao and the Communists, capable of fighting the
>US to a standstill in Korea, was regarded as a source of pride,
>even among the overseas Chinese -- I remember my parents, who are
>from Singapore and Malaysia, talking about this. There's an
>emotional and sentimental attachment to China -- a nuclear
>power, an aspiring Great Power, a permanent member of the UN
>Security Council -- even for Chinese people who have never been
>to China.

For one thing, Taiwan is now basically a modern society, and people
see nationalism differently in such a society--they're still
nationalistic, but not in the same militaristic way, and the mere
ability to push other nations around no longer impresses people as
much.

The more fundamental problem, however, is that most Taiwanese don't
think of themselves as Chinese.


>
>It could be that this attachment is non-existent or extremely
>weak among people in Taiwan, or that over the long run it'll be
>replaced by Taiwanese nationalism, but I wouldn't bet on it. It's
>hard to see what kind of purely Taiwanese achievements and symbols
>could compete with the emotional appeal of Chinese culture and
>Chinese civilization (for ethnically Chinese people).

I think you're missing something here. While it's true that Taiwan's
inhabitants have only a weak common identity as "Taiwanese", the fact
that such a pan-Taiwanese identity is weak does NOT imply that they
see themselves as Chinese by default. Rather, some of them have
tradtionally seen themselves as Chinese, while the rest (the majority)
have seen themselves as Taiwenese. The majority of people in Taiwan
do NOT think of themselves as Chinese, and never have--to the extent
that there are changes going on right now, they're changes from
feeling themselves to be members of two (or more) mutually hostile
groups to feeling themselves to be members of one big people.

>The only one
>that comes to mind is the fact that Taiwan is the only Chinese
>democracy in the world, and I don't think that'll be sufficient.

Taiwan is a "Chinese democracy" only in the sense that Thailand is:
it's a democracy whose people include many of ethnic Chinese descent
and who have been profoundly influenced by Chinese culture. However,
most people in Taiwan do not think of themselves as "Chinese", and
therefore calling it "the only Chinese democracy" is nonsensical.

You're basically, at this point, making the argument that because the
identity preferred by the majority ("Taiwanese") is not likely to be
accepted by the minority ("Chinese"), that the identity preferred by
the minority will be accepted by the majority by default. That's a
ridiculous argument. It's like saying that because the French
Canadians refuse to accept Canadian identity, Anglophone Canadians are
all going to identify as French.

If a common identity as Taiwenese doesn't develop, Taiwan will remain
divided between Taiwanese and Chinese, not magically become Chinese
instead. However, I would argue that it's too late to have this
argument, that the common identity has _already_ developed, and that
this is what made full political participation for Taiwanese and
genuine democracy possible in the 1990's.


>Some quotes from Joseph Wang:
>
> > On the Taiwanese side, you've got two major issues.
> > 1) The Taiwanese have VERY little loyalty to the mainland
>
> It's actually rather complicated. One thing that makes it
> complicated is that there is consensus on Taiwan on some things
> and radical differences on others. Also the situation is quite
> dynamic. Public opinion on the issue of national identity today
> is different from what it was in 1990 which was different than it
> was in 1980 etc. etc.
>
> To vastly oversimplify things, there is very little public support
> for the People's Republic of China, but at least among some
> segments of the population there is positive sentiment toward the
> notion of "China." So you can play a lot of games with
> definitions.
>

I'm not playing games here--I recognize that there's a segment of the
population that feels an attachment to China, but that segment is not
and never will be more than a minority.

> In particular, both the Communists and the local opposition are
> doing their hardest to make sure that the concept of
> "Taiwanization" *isn't* a zero-sum game and that it is possible to
> have both strong "Chinese" and "Taiwanese" identities.

Right, and that's really the only way in the modern world to build a
common identity--but only a minority is ever going to feel "Chinese",
and even for that minority many will likely place "Taiwanese" over
"Chinese" if China threatens Taiwan's de facto independence.


>
> ... The number of people on Taiwan who are strongly pro-Beijing
> isn't large (about 10%), but they are significant enough to
> strongly influence Taiwanese politics. Basically imagine
> U.S. politics during the cold war if 10% of the U.S. population
> was actively and unashamedly pro-Soviet.

It wouldn't have made us want to join the Soviet Union.

> > 2) Taiwan has built up a pretty successful little democracy on their
> > island. Its a pretty darn feisty political and economic entity.
>
> Curiously most Taiwanese are remarkably cynical about politics on
> Taiwan. Most Taiwanese *don't* regard the government as
> particularly successful or competent and there is a lot of
> pessimism regarding the economy.

This is how everyone in every democracy feels--I've talked with people
form all over the world, and almost without exception each person
believe his own country has the most corrupt and ineffectual
poilticians in the world.

> Basically, Taiwan is
> experiencing a major brain and capital drain as factories and
> skilled workers are moving to the Mainland. This is impacting
> Taiwan really hard because none of the capital generated on the
> Mainland is moving back to Taiwan because of Taiwanese government
> regulations.

Hogwash--when you're spending money and sending experts to another,
poorer country, that's not a "drain". That's a country with a
surplus of certain things exporting to a country with a shortage of
those things. A "brain drain" is when the best-educated people from a
poorly educated country move to a better-educated country.

There may be capital restrictions, but I'm willing to bet that the
investors either have found some way to repatriate profits, or expect
to repatriate them in the future, or else they wouldn't invest (and if
those plans don't pan out, they'll stop investing).
.>


> There is a subtle but important difference in the way that
> conservatives in the United States and Taiwanese view democracy.
> Conservatives in the United States tend to view democracy in
> idealistic terms. Democracy is a core value that people should
> fight for for its own sake. In Taiwan, the primary impetus for
> democracy was that in a democratic society, you wouldn't have a
> situation in which an ethnic group that made up 10% of the
> population ran everything.

That's not a difference--that's the principal basis for the ideal of
democracy in the first place. The ideology of liberal democracy is
firmly based on (among other things) exactly this practical,
utilitarian judgment that it's the only way to keep one group from
dominating others. Go back and read John Locke and John Stuart Mill,
or for that matter the Federalist Papers, if you don't believe me.
Look at the Bill of Rights in the U.S. Constitution.

> One of the things that is really having a big impact is that
> Mainland is poor and Taiwan is rich is no longer as true anymore.
> On the average Taiwan is richer than the PRC, but there are
> pockets of wealth in the PRC where the standard of living is
> comparable.

There may be _neighborhoods_ where that's true, but not even entire
cities, let alone provinces. The per capita GDP of Taiwan is
something like 15 TIMES that of China--a couple of years ago it was
$12,800 vs. $750. Even in purchasing power parity (which is more
accurate for standard of living but understates differences in
technology), the difference is 5 to 1. (And of course, the numbers
for China are artificially inflated.)

> The PRC economy is rapidly growing which means that
> there is a huge demand for Taiwanese engineers and managers while
> the economy on Taiwan is static.

No, the economy of Taiwan is not static--it's just much more mature
than it was, and so it grows slower now. Exporting skilled workers to
poorer countries is something that rich countries do all the
time--it's normal.

> Some Taiwanese businessmen will
> privately admit that the PRC government seems to care more and
> listen to Taiwanese business interests more than the government on
> Taiwan does.

I think that, translated, that means that the PRC govenrment is more
willing to accept bribes in exchange for favoring particular
businesses to the detriment of the public good than is the Taiwense
govenrment.

[Snip.]

> I think some estimates say that as much as 10% of the Taipei Stock
> Exchange is controlled by the PRC-based corporations.

That's a smaller percentage than the proportion of U.S. industry that
was owned directly or indebted to British investors in the 19th
century. This didn't inhibit U.S. development or result in the union
of the two countries.

[Snip.]

> The basic strategy of Lee Tenghui and the TSU has been to stall
> for time and wait for the PRC to spontaneously implode. That
> might have made sense in 1992, when everyone was expecting the PRC
> to follow the way of the Soviet Union. Waiting for the PRC is
> implode however is looking like an increasing desperate strategy.

China will become democratic when it's reach a level of
political-cultural development similar to where the USSR was in
1992--which is going to be decades. Before that time, it's going to
be extremely dangerous, but that doesn't mean the Taiwanese will want
to join it.

[Snip.]

> The question then becomes the long term trends for independence,
> and these do not look good. Economic interaction with the

> Mainland increases political support for integration....

Then why hasn't support for unification been growing?

[Snip.]

>> But even if you remove the poverty factor, you'll only removing a
>> negative reason for not joining China--there's still no positive
>> reason to join, other than sheer intimidation. (The idea that Taiwan
>> will become "economically dependent" on China is I think silly--trade
>> is becoming increasingly global as time goes on, and there's no reason
>> to think that Taiwan will be limited to China in its trade.)
>
>Ethnic-Chinese nationalism is one factor.

For a minority of the population of Taiwan, _possibly_--what positive
reason is there for the majority?

> Regarding the question of
>economic dependence, China's advantage in labor costs is difficult to
>beat; according to the Economist, as of April 2002, half of Taiwan's
>IT products are being manufactured in factories on the mainland.

That's not dependence, if only because Taiwan can find the same
benefits in a number of other poor countries nearby and across the
globe. Is the U.S. dependent on Mexico? Is France dependent on North
Africa? Is Italy dependent on Albania? Is Germany dependent on
Turkey? I don't think so.

You have to remember we're talking about unskilled labor only: just
as Taiwan benefitted from other countries in the West taking advantage
of its cheap unskilled labor 20 years ago, China is benefitting from a
smiliar situation now that Taiwan is one of the rich countries.

>> The PRC leadership is delusional about what it takes to "win"--people
>> aren't going to join your country just because you're powerful and
>> next door and have some cultural similarities. If that were true,
>> Canada would join the U.S.
>
>I take your point, but in fact, there *is* some significant pressure --
>from the Canadian business community, I think -- for greater integration
>with the US. In particular, the National Post floats stories every now
>and then about Canada's adopting the US dollar.

That's not the same as _joining_ the U.S.

>There's people in Canada
>who seem to identify more with the US than they do with Canada.

I know a lot of Canadians, and I've never met one of these people.

>I should also point out that Canada's been independent of the US going
>back to the American Revolution and the War of 1812, and that it's been
>largely self-governing since 1867.

And how long has Taiwan spent as part of China over the same period?
More to the point, how long has it spent with China exercising real
rather than nominal authority? The fact of the matter is that there
are far greater exchanges of capital, people, and culture between the
U.S. and Canada than there are between China and Taiwan. I don't
think the two countries will ever unify as one country, but if they
do, it will only be because their levels of political and economic
development are similar enough to make it even thinkable.

Scott Orr

Akorps666

unread,
Jul 13, 2002, 11:39:08 PM7/13/02
to
>>the USA has to assume the worst case scenarios, looking at capabilities
rather than trying to divine unfathomable intentions.

>Why??? This is one of the mistakes that George Kennan talks about.

Kennan made some mistakes. We aren't
smart enough to divine intentions, but we
*are* strong enough to prepare for worst
case scenarios. When we let down our
guard and try to base our policy on our
perception of enemy intentions, we get
hit by surprise attacks like Pearl Harbor
and 9/11.

>>China should be very careful not to build up its military forces in a way
that can be perceived as threatening by its neighbors.

>Um. Shouldn't the US worry about the same thing, rather than launching a

massive military buildup?

As the world's only superpower, the role of
the USA is to maintain decisive military
superiority over any possible combination
of adversaries, so as to maintain world peace
(the Pax Americana). China needs the
wisdom not to repeat the mistakes of
the past, where a lesser power challenged
the military dominance of a world
superpower. The USA wants to maintain
peace, China should profit from that and
establish a beneficial cycle of mutually
profitable trading relationships with the
USA. If you are going to
challenge an opponent militarily, you want
to choose a weak adversary, whose
defeat would be profitable, not a strong one
who might defeat you.

The current military technology cycle puts
the USA so far ahead of any other nation
that we are stronger than the next 20
nations combined. We need to keep that
cycle spinning in our favor, by investing
heavily in military technology, so as to
maintain our ability to dominate in case of
any conflict, and to discourage any lesser
power from trying to catch up, as it should
be made clear that it would be futile to
try and match us. Then we will have
technology spinoffs that will benefit our
civilian economy and ensure our economic
dominance as well. If we slack off, other
nations will catch up and surpass us
sooner or later. Military technology is always
evolving, we need to invest enough to
keep well in the lead.


W. Lydecker

unread,
Jul 14, 2002, 2:49:24 AM7/14/02
to
The Dragon was a Manchu symbol. Poor image for "Peoples Republic".

Russil Wvong

unread,
Jul 14, 2002, 3:29:38 PM7/14/02
to
"Scott D. Orr" wrote:
> One should not quote Morgenthau or any other realist as a guide to how
> politics works; their descriptions of how things work are not accepted

> as accurate by most students of international relations (to be honest,
> the rest of us actually laugh at them) ....

I'm intrigued by this, and also a little horrified (does this mean that
realists and liberals aren't really able to communicate with one another?).
Of course, you're a professional political scientist and I'm not. If you
regard Hans Morgenthau and other realists -- George Kennan, Stephen Walt,
etc. -- as fundamentally wrong, whose work would you recommend as a
starting point for someone interested in international politics?

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 14, 2002, 5:33:58 PM7/14/02
to
On Sun, 14 Jul 2002 19:29:38 GMT, Russil Wvong <russi...@yahoo.com>
wrote:

>"Scott D. Orr" wrote:
>> One should not quote Morgenthau or any other realist as a guide to how
>> politics works; their descriptions of how things work are not accepted
>> as accurate by most students of international relations (to be honest,
>> the rest of us actually laugh at them) ....
>
>I'm intrigued by this, and also a little horrified (does this mean that
>realists and liberals aren't really able to communicate with one another?).

The world of international relations isn't divided into realists and
liberals--that, like the very name "political realism", is a bit of
propaganda on the part of realists. There are lots of different
schools of thought in international relations, and realism is just one
of the many. I'd be hesitant to describe "liberalism" as a school of
thought in political science. Certainly most students of the field
nowadays have liberal (that is, free-trade, etc.) leanings, but
labeling someone "liberal" wouldn't tell me much about his
research--it would just be too broad at term, on the one hand, and on
the other hand, you'd probably find a lot of people who might disagree
on liberalism but agree on theories of international relations.

Back back to realism: the reason realists get laughed at is because
there's very little rigor in their thinking. They claim that all
countries "pursue their national interests", but no one has ever been
able to define national interests in a remotely satifsying fashion.
In practice, when arguing about past cases, realists assert that
whatever countries actually pursued at the time must, by definition,
have been their national interests (which is obviously various
circular). Arguing about future policy, realists tend to assert that
"in the national interest" is whatever they want to do and "not in the
national interest" is whatever they don't want to do.

The real problem in the end is that the positing that countries always
pursue their national interests actually avoids a discussion of what
national interests are: for example, all Morgenthau could come up
with was "power", and international politics was about the sheer
survival of countries. However, in the modern world, the indefinite
survival of all but a handful of countries is pretty much assured:
the U.S. isn't going to be destroyed in the forseeable future, and for
that matter neither is Luxembourg. So if survival is no longer an
issue, what is the "national interest"? Is it merely having power,
without having a reason for wanting it? Is it making your people
rich? Promoting your national culture? Realists don't have an answer
for these questions. When you think about it, realism doesn't really
even explain China's desire for Taiwan, even if the Chinese leaders
see themselves as realists--the survival of their country does _not_
depend on possessing Taiwan, and arguably integrating it would actualy
cause problems more than it would bring benefits. It's really all
about national pride, and realism has nothing to say about national
pride. There are a LOT of different theories in international
relations about how these things work--but classical realists don't
even ask the questions, and I suppose you're right that that sometimes
makes it difficult for realists to discuss issues with everyone else.

Another serious failure of realism is to treat countries as unitary
wholes (like billiard balls colliding on a pool table), entirely
neglecting domestic politics. I think doing this would have been
questionable even in the 18th century, but nowadays, when politicis
are democracy, and many interests of individuals and organizations
actually cross state lines, this is downright silly. This problem is
actually connected with the problem of defining national interest:
people who call themselves "realists" tend to scoff at things like
humanitarian intervention and promoting democracy, but if domestic
politics matter, it's clear that in the former case it's valuable to
win friends among populations, and in the latter case it's useful to
know that democracies almost never go to war with one another--that
is, domestic politics are ultimatley how a country decides what its
"national interests" are. Furthermore, if _our_ people decide that
our national interest is a higher standard of living and good cultural
relations with other countries, then policies that make other
countries genuinely friendlier to us and more likely to trade with us
(as opposed to making them just military allies) are arguably in the
"national interest".

>Of course, you're a professional political scientist and I'm not. If you
>regard Hans Morgenthau and other realists -- George Kennan, Stephen Walt,
>etc. -- as fundamentally wrong, whose work would you recommend as a
>starting point for someone interested in international politics?

I'm not actually a scholar of international relations, but rather I'm
a student of comparative politics--so I'm not really an expert. :)
I'm not sure I'd call George Kennan a hardcore realist, though--if you
read all of his works, you'll find that he was very interested in and
knowledgeable about things like the internal politics of the Soviet
Union. The policy of containment he recommended found favor with
realists, but if you read his original policy document, it's a lot
more nuanced and conditional than the Cold War mentality it spawned.

Scott Orr

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 14, 2002, 5:35:29 PM7/14/02
to
On 14 Jul 2002 03:39:08 GMT, akor...@aol.com (Akorps666) wrote:

>>>the USA has to assume the worst case scenarios, looking at capabilities
>rather than trying to divine unfathomable intentions.
>
>>Why??? This is one of the mistakes that George Kennan talks about.
>
>Kennan made some mistakes. We aren't
>smart enough to divine intentions, but we
>*are* strong enough to prepare for worst
>case scenarios. When we let down our
>guard and try to base our policy on our
>perception of enemy intentions, we get
>hit by surprise attacks like Pearl Harbor
>and 9/11.

You always base your policy partly on intentions because otherwise you
end up spending money you don't have on threats that aren't real.
This is why, for example, Western Europe has correctly neglected to
build military defenses against the United States.

Scott Orr

Stuart Wilkes

unread,
Jul 16, 2002, 1:58:26 PM7/16/02
to
russi...@yahoo.com (Russil Wvong) wrote in message news:<afe9ed76.02071...@posting.google.com>...

> akor...@aol.com (Akorps666) wrote:
> > >> Obviously we can't betray our friends and allies in Taiwan,
>
> > >If China were to launch an unprovoked attack on Taiwan, the US would have to
> > intervene, no question.
> >
> > The main military problem is the buildup of
> > missiles aimed at Taiwan along the
> > coast of mainland China. There is a
> > possibility that the Chinese government
> > intends to use these for political pressure,
> > rather than a military attack, but the USA
> > has to assume the worst case scenarios,
> > looking at capabilities rather than trying
> > to divine unfathomable intentions.
>
> Why??? This is one of the mistakes that George Kennan talks about.

Because its easier for the lazy to think in this manner, rather than
treating war as the continuation of political intercourse with the
addition of other means. Its much less intellectual effort to count
up stuff, actively assume unlimited malign intent, and then set about
a policy to "counter" the intent <you've> assumed than it is to make
judgements about what the interests of other countries are. Much
easier to render your military thought "...pointless and devoid of
sense" by removing the political aspects of international relations
from it.

> > This is the same
> > mistake Germany made before WW1 when
> > challenging British naval supremacy. It led
> > to war and the destruction of the German
> > Empire. China, by building up its military
> > power, will create enemies for itself all
> > around. China should be very careful not
> > to build up its military forces in a way that
> > can be perceived as threatening by its
> > neighbors.
>
> Um. Shouldn't the US worry about the same thing, rather than launching
> a massive military buildup as you recommend?

Actually, he's got the analogy wrong. The German buildup of the High
Seas Fleet posed a threat to the life of Great Britain, which lived by
what it exported over the sea, and imported over the sea. The Chinese
"military buildup" threatens no such US interest in even a remotely
comparable way.

Stuart Wilkes

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 16, 2002, 5:18:35 PM7/16/02
to
On 16 Jul 2002 10:58:26 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
wrote:

>> > This is the same
>> > mistake Germany made before WW1 when
>> > challenging British naval supremacy. It led
>> > to war and the destruction of the German
>> > Empire. China, by building up its military
>> > power, will create enemies for itself all
>> > around. China should be very careful not
>> > to build up its military forces in a way that
>> > can be perceived as threatening by its
>> > neighbors.
>>
>> Um. Shouldn't the US worry about the same thing, rather than launching
>> a massive military buildup as you recommend?
>
>Actually, he's got the analogy wrong. The German buildup of the High
>Seas Fleet posed a threat to the life of Great Britain, which lived by
>what it exported over the sea, and imported over the sea. The Chinese
>"military buildup" threatens no such US interest in even a remotely
>comparable way.
>

The U.S. has a variety of interests that are threatened by a Chinese
build-up, assuming of course that the Chinese are willing to use force
against neighbors:

1. Several of China's neighbors (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the
Philippines) are democracies. Democracy is good for the U.S. because
it increases our trade and provides us with allies (since democracies
are richer and trade more, and because democracies almost always ally
with one another--trade is valuable in itself, and allies help us to
accomplish goals in the future).

2. Several of China's neighbors (Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and the
Philppines again) are allies. If these countries are attacked or even
intimidated and the U.S. doesn't respond, U.S. credibility is
decreased, and that impair future cooperation both with those allies
and with others.

3. Several of China's neighbors (Vietnam, India, and to some extent
North Korea) are improving relations with the U.S. To the extent that
the U.S. appears unable or unwilling to guarantee the security
situation in the region, these countries are unlikely to see much
value in improving relations with us, especially if they believe that
it's unsafe to do anything that displeases China. This, again,
threatens out prospects to increase our trade and form alliances with
these countries.

Mind you, we could go on all day with a list like this, especially if
we start to think out future ramifications of increasing regional
dominance on the part of China, but you get the general idea....

Scott Orr

Stuart Wilkes

unread,
Jul 17, 2002, 7:34:11 PM7/17/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<7t29ju8t48v5ta6cb...@4ax.com>...

> On 16 Jul 2002 10:58:26 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
> wrote:

<snip>

> >Actually, he's got the analogy wrong. The German buildup of the High
> >Seas Fleet posed a threat to the life of Great Britain, which lived by
> >what it exported over the sea, and imported over the sea. The Chinese
> >"military buildup" threatens no such US interest in even a remotely
> >comparable way.
> >
> The U.S. has a variety of interests that are threatened by a Chinese
> build-up, assuming of course that the Chinese are willing to use force
> against neighbors:

<snippage>

And none of the US interests you describe as being threatened are
remotely of the magnitude as that posed by the High Seas Fleet to
Great Britain.

The High Seas Fleet was in a position to possibly immediately threaten
starvation in Great Britain, hence Fisher's policy of "Two keels to
one" to ensure that possibility was as remote a one as possible.

China could prevail on all of the issues you listed, and the American
people would not be threatened with the prospect of starvation. That
would have been true of the British following the victory of the High
Seas Fleet in a fleet action. Hence their considerable prewar effort
to ensure that possibility was as remote a one as possible.

Stuart Wilkes

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 18, 2002, 6:52:54 AM7/18/02
to
On 17 Jul 2002 16:34:11 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
wrote:

Who cares? It's not that what you say isn't true--it's just that it
doesn't justify not dealing with real threats to real interests, even
if they aren't interests of the same importance you're talking about.

Scott Orr

Stuart Wilkes

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 3:26:38 AM7/19/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<2e7djugotte9sg4c0...@4ax.com>...

We all should.

> It's not that what you say isn't true--it's just that it
> doesn't justify not dealing with real threats to real interests, even
> if they aren't interests of the same importance you're talking about.

And the degree of the interest limits the sacrifices warranted to
maintain it, both in magnitude, and also in duration.

Stuart Wilkes

Ed Frank

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 10:48:17 AM7/19/02
to
[snippage]

Stuart Wilkes wrote:

> >China could prevail on all of the issues you listed, and the American
> >people would not be threatened with the prospect of starvation. That
> >would have been true of the British following the victory of the High
> >Seas Fleet in a fleet action. Hence their considerable prewar effort
> >to ensure that possibility was as remote a one as possible.

Scott Orr replied:

> Who cares? It's not that what you say isn't true--it's just that it
> doesn't justify not dealing with real threats to real interests, even
> if they aren't interests of the same importance you're talking about.

These wouldn't be 'national interests,' would they?

Ed Frank


Stuart Wilkes

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 5:09:46 PM7/19/02
to
Ed Frank <efr...@memphis.edu> wrote in message news:<3D3826B1...@memphis.edu>...

Whatever makes you think that? ;)

You're a mean one, Mr. Frank.

Stuart Wilkes

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 6:03:01 AM7/19/02
to
On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 09:48:17 -0500, Ed Frank <efr...@memphis.edu>
wrote:

Yes, broadly defined, in the sense that they benefit a lot of people
in the U.S., or benefit the U.S. as a whole. However, they differ
from the realist definition of "national interests" in two respects:

1. I've identitied them by looking at what actually benefits people
in the U.S., rather than by looking at what the U.S. seemed to be
pursuing in some past instance--that is, I've identified the interests
a priori rather than post hoc.

2. I'm not under the delusion that the U.S.'s survival as a state in
at stake--guaranteeing that much is quite easy, meaning that
determining our national interests must go beyond it.

Had you read my original post on the subject carefully, you wouldn't
have been tempted to ask that question.

Scott Orr

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 19, 2002, 6:16:42 AM7/19/02
to
On 19 Jul 2002 00:26:38 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
wrote:

>Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<2e7djugotte9sg4c0...@4ax.com>...

>> >And none of the US interests you describe as being threatened are
>> >remotely of the magnitude as that posed by the High Seas Fleet to
>> >Great Britain.
>> >
>> >The High Seas Fleet was in a position to possibly immediately threaten
>> >starvation in Great Britain, hence Fisher's policy of "Two keels to
>> >one" to ensure that possibility was as remote a one as possible.
>> >
>> >China could prevail on all of the issues you listed, and the American
>> >people would not be threatened with the prospect of starvation. That
>> >would have been true of the British following the victory of the High
>> >Seas Fleet in a fleet action. Hence their considerable prewar effort
>> >to ensure that possibility was as remote a one as possible.
>> >
>> Who cares?
>
>We all should.
>
>> It's not that what you say isn't true--it's just that it
>> doesn't justify not dealing with real threats to real interests, even
>> if they aren't interests of the same importance you're talking about.
>
>And the degree of the interest limits the sacrifices warranted to
>maintain it, both in magnitude, and also in duration.

Yes, but....

It's absolutely silly to talk about our "interests" as being the
guarantee of our future survival--we're not gonna be destroyed any
time soon, barring weapons of mass destruction. For the most part,
our foreign policy is going to be devoted to things that go beyond
mere survival. While it's true that we don't necessarily want to
devote as much to these things as we might otherwise, there are times
where they're worth an expenditure of lives and treasure.

Certainly letting Taiwan fall would greatly damage both the position
of democracy in the world and our own credibility as both a guarantor
of democracy and an ally, and the long-term implications of those
things would hurt us and our standard of living a good deal in the
long run. But more than that, I think it's morally justifiable (even
morally imperative) to sacrifice some of our people's lives to save
the lives and freedom of Taiwanese.

Scott Orr

Stuart Wilkes

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 8:35:03 AM7/20/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<igpfju4cf3nvruv1i...@4ax.com>...

<snip>

> It's absolutely silly to talk about our "interests" as being the
> guarantee of our future survival--we're not gonna be destroyed any
> time soon, barring weapons of mass destruction. For the most part,
> our foreign policy is going to be devoted to things that go beyond
> mere survival.

But other countries operate on rather thinner margins, and one should
be careful about cases where the issue at stake is more important for
the other country than it really is for us. We might be suprised at
the resistance we provoke in such cases. And our vast military power
will not necessarily intimidate all, as Rummy and Wolfie seem to
believe it will. King Archidamus of Sparta saw no way to defeat
Athenian naval power. Nevertheless, he understood that further
tolerance of the growth of the power and the growth of the arrogance
of democratic Athens would merely make the situation even worse.

> While it's true that we don't necessarily want to
> devote as much to these things as we might otherwise, there are times
> where they're worth an expenditure of lives and treasure.

As long as the limits to our interests, the limits to the committments
warranted for them, and the importance of similar interests of other
countries concerned are borne in mind.

> Certainly letting Taiwan fall would greatly damage both the position
> of democracy in the world and our own credibility as both a guarantor
> of democracy and an ally,

Interesting that we don't even have an Ambassador to this "ally".

> and the long-term implications of those
> things would hurt us and our standard of living a good deal in the
> long run. But more than that, I think it's morally justifiable (even
> morally imperative) to sacrifice some of our people's lives to save
> the lives and freedom of Taiwanese.

How about Los Angeles?

Stuart Wilkes

Ed Frank

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 12:20:08 PM7/20/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<ooofjuci015355j12...@4ax.com>...

> On Fri, 19 Jul 2002 09:48:17 -0500, Ed Frank <efr...@memphis.edu>
> wrote:
>
> >[snippage]
> >
> >Stuart Wilkes wrote:
> >
> >> >China could prevail on all of the issues you listed, and the American
> >> >people would not be threatened with the prospect of starvation. That
> >> >would have been true of the British following the victory of the High
> >> >Seas Fleet in a fleet action. Hence their considerable prewar effort
> >> >to ensure that possibility was as remote a one as possible.
> >
> >Scott Orr replied:
> >
> >> Who cares? It's not that what you say isn't true--it's just that it
> >> doesn't justify not dealing with real threats to real interests, even
> >> if they aren't interests of the same importance you're talking about.
> >
> >These wouldn't be 'national interests,' would they?
> >
> Yes, broadly defined, in the sense that they benefit a lot of people
> in the U.S., or benefit the U.S. as a whole. However, they differ
> from the realist definition of "national interests" in two respects:
>
> 1. I've identitied them by looking at what actually benefits people
> in the U.S., rather than by looking at what the U.S. seemed to be
> pursuing in some past instance--that is, I've identified the interests
> a priori rather than post hoc.

Is what you call the 'realist' school, or some wing
of it, arguing that the US policy should -not- be
what it is in regard to Taiwan, or are they merely
(IYHO) supporting the right policy for the wrong
reason?



> 2. I'm not under the delusion that the U.S.'s survival as a state in
> at stake--guaranteeing that much is quite easy, meaning that
> determining our national interests must go beyond it.

I didn't say anything about US survival. Maybe you
should read more carefully too.



> Had you read my original post on the subject carefully, you wouldn't
> have been tempted to ask that question.

Lighten up, man.

Ed Frank

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 12:16:47 PM7/20/02
to
On 20 Jul 2002 05:35:03 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
wrote:

>Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<igpfju4cf3nvruv1i...@4ax.com>...


>
><snip>
>
>> It's absolutely silly to talk about our "interests" as being the
>> guarantee of our future survival--we're not gonna be destroyed any
>> time soon, barring weapons of mass destruction. For the most part,
>> our foreign policy is going to be devoted to things that go beyond
>> mere survival.
>
>But other countries operate on rather thinner margins, and one should
>be careful about cases where the issue at stake is more important for
>the other country than it really is for us. We might be suprised at
>the resistance we provoke in such cases.

But this isn't such a case. Indeed, I'd argue that protecting Taiwan
is a lot more important for us than taking it is for China.

>And our vast military power
>will not necessarily intimidate all, as Rummy and Wolfie seem to
>believe it will.

I agree as a general principle--but it will intimidate countries which
would like to do something militarily, which is true of China with
regard to Taiwan.

[Snip.]

>> While it's true that we don't necessarily want to
>> devote as much to these things as we might otherwise, there are times
>> where they're worth an expenditure of lives and treasure.
>
>As long as the limits to our interests, the limits to the committments
>warranted for them, and the importance of similar interests of other
>countries concerned are borne in mind.

Yes, well, that should go without saying.

>> Certainly letting Taiwan fall would greatly damage both the position
>> of democracy in the world and our own credibility as both a guarantor
>> of democracy and an ally,
>
>Interesting that we don't even have an Ambassador to this "ally".

Yes, we do--I'm not sure the form it takes (a "consulate" or maybe an
"interest section"), but I'm sure we have a de facto embassy there.
We obviously can't have something _called_ an "embassy" because we
don't recognize Taiwan as sovereign, but that doesn't make the country
any less an ally.

>> and the long-term implications of those
>> things would hurt us and our standard of living a good deal in the
>> long run. But more than that, I think it's morally justifiable (even
>> morally imperative) to sacrifice some of our people's lives to save
>> the lives and freedom of Taiwanese.
>
>How about Los Angeles?

I don't think Los Angeles is at risk, so it's a moot point. (China
isn't going to use nukes on us as except as a last resort, given their
tremendous inferiority in that realm--and Taiwan just isn't a "last
resort" kind of issue.)

Scott Orr

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 20, 2002, 12:53:03 PM7/20/02
to
On 20 Jul 2002 09:20:08 -0700, efr...@memphis.edu (Ed Frank) wrote:

>Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<ooofjuci015355j12...@4ax.com>...

>> Yes, broadly defined, in the sense that they benefit a lot of people


>> in the U.S., or benefit the U.S. as a whole. However, they differ
>> from the realist definition of "national interests" in two respects:
>>
>> 1. I've identitied them by looking at what actually benefits people
>> in the U.S., rather than by looking at what the U.S. seemed to be
>> pursuing in some past instance--that is, I've identified the interests
>> a priori rather than post hoc.
>
>Is what you call the 'realist' school, or some wing
>of it, arguing that the US policy should -not- be
>what it is in regard to Taiwan, or are they merely
>(IYHO) supporting the right policy for the wrong
>reason?

I don't even know what a realist would say about Taiwan--it probably
depends on the realist. I wasn't talking above about Taiwan, but
about realism in general.

Basically, you access me of being like realists by talking about
"national interests"--I was trying to demonstrate that what makes a
realist a realist is not so much talking about "national interests",
but the way in which those interests are defined.



>> 2. I'm not under the delusion that the U.S.'s survival as a state in
>> at stake--guaranteeing that much is quite easy, meaning that
>> determining our national interests must go beyond it.
>
>I didn't say anything about US survival. Maybe you
>should read more carefully too.

You did implicitly, by saying I was like a realist.

Scott Orr

narrl...@hotmail.com

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 2:49:21 PM7/21/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<k65jjukr2n0bo8rem...@4ax.com>...

> On 20 Jul 2002 09:20:08 -0700, efr...@memphis.edu (Ed Frank) wrote:
>
> >Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<ooofjuci015355j12...@4ax.com>...
>
> >> Yes, broadly defined, in the sense that they benefit a lot of people
> >> in the U.S., or benefit the U.S. as a whole. However, they differ
> >> from the realist definition of "national interests" in two respects:
> >>
> >> 1. I've identitied them by looking at what actually benefits people
> >> in the U.S., rather than by looking at what the U.S. seemed to be
> >> pursuing in some past instance--that is, I've identified the interests
> >> a priori rather than post hoc.
> >
> >Is what you call the 'realist' school, or some wing
> >of it, arguing that the US policy should -not- be
> >what it is in regard to Taiwan, or are they merely
> >(IYHO) supporting the right policy for the wrong
> >reason?
>
> I don't even know what a realist would say about Taiwan--it probably
> depends on the realist. I wasn't talking above about Taiwan, but
> about realism in general.

And I was trying to elicit an application to a
particular instance of your general remarks.

> Basically, you access

No, I didn't even accuse you of anything.

>me of being like realists by talking about
> "national interests"--I was trying to demonstrate that what makes a
> realist a realist is not so much talking about "national interests",
> but the way in which those interests are defined.

My apologies if you took offense--'realist' is generally
not a term of opprobrium in my book. As I said, I sought
a clarification of your position in this particular instance.



> >> 2. I'm not under the delusion that the U.S.'s survival as a state in
> >> at stake--guaranteeing that much is quite easy, meaning that
> >> determining our national interests must go beyond it.
> >
> >I didn't say anything about US survival. Maybe you
> >should read more carefully too.
>
> You did implicitly, by saying I was like a realist.

If you and some benighted realist agree that the US
interest is to protect Taiwan, then yes, in that way
you are like a realist--and I don't think that's
accusatory.

Ed Frank

Stuart Wilkes

unread,
Jul 21, 2002, 7:49:29 PM7/21/02
to
Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<5n2jjukne9ak49pl0...@4ax.com>...

> On 20 Jul 2002 05:35:03 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
> wrote:
>
> >Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<igpfju4cf3nvruv1i...@4ax.com>...
> >
> ><snip>
> >
> >> It's absolutely silly to talk about our "interests" as being the
> >> guarantee of our future survival--we're not gonna be destroyed any
> >> time soon, barring weapons of mass destruction. For the most part,
> >> our foreign policy is going to be devoted to things that go beyond
> >> mere survival.
> >
> >But other countries operate on rather thinner margins, and one should
> >be careful about cases where the issue at stake is more important for
> >the other country than it really is for us. We might be suprised at
> >the resistance we provoke in such cases.
>
> But this isn't such a case. Indeed, I'd argue that protecting Taiwan
> is a lot more important for us than taking it is for China.

It looks to me like the PRC government consider it a case of
territorial integrity, as well as removing a vestige of the time when
China was weak. Don't underestimate the strength of those interests.
Not I think the matter is at all urgent for them, barring some
precipitate action towards a declaration of outright independence by
the government of Taiwan.

> >And our vast military power
> >will not necessarily intimidate all, as Rummy and Wolfie seem to
> >believe it will.
>
> I agree as a general principle--but it will intimidate countries which
> would like to do something militarily, which is true of China with
> regard to Taiwan.

I don't think the PRC government are particularly eager to use
military power to bring in Taiwan, and I don't think, in the event the
PRC government feel forced to such measures, that our military power
will intimidate them.

> [Snip.]
>
> >> While it's true that we don't necessarily want to
> >> devote as much to these things as we might otherwise, there are times
> >> where they're worth an expenditure of lives and treasure.
> >
> >As long as the limits to our interests, the limits to the committments
> >warranted for them, and the importance of similar interests of other
> >countries concerned are borne in mind.
>
> Yes, well, that should go without saying.

One would hope so, but at times the impression is given by US
administrations that such considerations are given little weight.

> >> Certainly letting Taiwan fall would greatly damage both the position
> >> of democracy in the world and our own credibility as both a guarantor
> >> of democracy and an ally,
> >
> >Interesting that we don't even have an Ambassador to this "ally".
>
> Yes, we do--I'm not sure the form it takes (a "consulate" or maybe an
> "interest section"), but I'm sure we have a de facto embassy there.
> We obviously can't have something _called_ an "embassy" because we
> don't recognize Taiwan as sovereign, but that doesn't make the country
> any less an ally.

We do not dispute that there is one government for both the PRC and
Taiwan. And we do not specify which one it is. And we maintain our
official diplomatic relations with the PRC government.

> >> and the long-term implications of those
> >> things would hurt us and our standard of living a good deal in the
> >> long run. But more than that, I think it's morally justifiable (even
> >> morally imperative) to sacrifice some of our people's lives to save
> >> the lives and freedom of Taiwanese.
> >
> >How about Los Angeles?
>
> I don't think Los Angeles is at risk, so it's a moot point. (China
> isn't going to use nukes on us as except as a last resort, given their
> tremendous inferiority in that realm--and Taiwan just isn't a "last
> resort" kind of issue.)

War has its own logic, and it has been known to escape political
control.

Stuart Wilkes

Scott D. Orr

unread,
Jul 22, 2002, 6:15:10 AM7/22/02
to
On 21 Jul 2002 16:49:29 -0700, swi...@my-deja.com (Stuart Wilkes)
wrote:

>Scott D. Orr <sd...@ix.netcom.com> wrote in message news:<5n2jjukne9ak49pl0...@4ax.com>...

>> But this isn't such a case. Indeed, I'd argue that protecting Taiwan
>> is a lot more important for us than taking it is for China.
>
>It looks to me like the PRC government consider it a case of
>territorial integrity, as well as removing a vestige of the time when
>China was weak. Don't underestimate the strength of those interests.
>Not I think the matter is at all urgent for them, barring some
>precipitate action towards a declaration of outright independence by
>the government of Taiwan.

It's an interest for China, yes, and it's one that the Chinese
leadership _perceives_ as extremely important. Nonetheless, it's an
interest that won't have as much of an impact on China's future as
allowing Taiwan to fall would have on the U.S.'s future.

Mind you, I think this discussion illuminates a very critical point:
it is _imperative_ that the U.S. communicate to the Chinese
leadership, in no uncertain terms, just how important this interest
is. Since the Chinese tend to be very, very insular, they are very
likely to underestimate the U.S. commitment to "their" island.

By their thinking, it's their island, and surivial and territoritorial
integrity are the only _real_ things that matter in international
affairs--the concern with democracy and human rights is just a
smokescreen for U.S. imperialismm--so it's obvious that the U.S.
doesn't really care that much about Taiwan, except inasmuch as its de
facto independence weakens China--and that's obviously not as great an
interest as China has in the island.

Mind you, it should be stressed again that this thinking on the part
of the Chinese leadership is entirely delusional--but that point needs
to be driven home to it.

>> >And our vast military power
>> >will not necessarily intimidate all, as Rummy and Wolfie seem to
>> >believe it will.
>>
>> I agree as a general principle--but it will intimidate countries which
>> would like to do something militarily, which is true of China with
>> regard to Taiwan.
>
>I don't think the PRC government are particularly eager to use
>military power to bring in Taiwan, and I don't think, in the event the
>PRC government feel forced to such measures, that our military power
>will intimidate them.

I fear that the PRC might use military power were it to think that
doing so would be efficacious. As it stands, Taiwan would probably
beat off a Chinese attack even without U.S. help, and so at the moment
China accepts the reality that force would be useless--however, I
think that that's a tactical recognition, not a permanent disposition.

We have seen that China has been quite willing to use force in almost
meaningless border disputes with Vietnam, India, and the Soviet Union,
and the _slightly_ more meaningful dispute over the Spratlys (and the
violence in the Spratlys took place within the past decade). China
considers Taiwan more important than any of those other disputes.

>> >> While it's true that we don't necessarily want to
>> >> devote as much to these things as we might otherwise, there are times
>> >> where they're worth an expenditure of lives and treasure.
>> >
>> >As long as the limits to our interests, the limits to the committments
>> >warranted for them, and the importance of similar interests of other
>> >countries concerned are borne in mind.
>>
>> Yes, well, that should go without saying.
>
>One would hope so, but at times the impression is given by US
>administrations that such considerations are given little weight.

<