Monday, October 29, 2012

False Historical Narratives Perpetuated in Academic and Popular Circles

Yet another of a long slew of books and academic works has gotten things completely wrong. In this case, the title itself spreads a historically inaccurate myth. China's Last Empire by William T. Rowe actually should be titled, The Manchu's First and Last Empire. This is one of the reasons the Chinese overthrew their Manchurian overlords. This is why the Japanese felt justified in setting up a puppet kingdom with the Manchu emperor in Manchuria when the Japanese invaded.

If Rowe had wanted to write a book on China's Last Empire, he should have written it on the Ming Dynasty. The Ming Dynasty did have an impact on Taiwan. It's corrupt and brutal monetary, trade and agricultural policies towards its subjects in Fujian were one of the reasons the Fujianese took to smuggling and piracy, spreading out all over southeast Asia, even trading in Manila. When the Ming Empire fell, the power vacuum was filled by the ruler of a trade empire centered initially in Amoy (Xiamen) who eventually expelled the Dutch from Taiwan and set up Taiwan's first kingdom on the west coast centered in Tainan. Had this king, more commonly known as Koxinga, not died soon after his conquest of Dutch territory in Taiwan, he might have been able to extend his kingdom all of the way to the Philippines. World history would have looked quite different indeed. Taiwan and the Philippines might to this day be united under a kingdom that speaks Hokkien.

Perhaps William T. Rowe's choice of a book title was out of ignorance of history, or simply mercenary -- since the world is more likely to buy a book on "China" than on the "Manchurian Empire."

A pragmatic proposal -- the best China could hope for

"Blood is thicker than water," was a saying bandied about to excuse the R.O.C. government-in-exile's seizure and occupation Taiwan which happened to have citizens who could claim in part ancestors who had immigrated from China. Ironically, a new proposal to break the relational impasse between China and Taiwan focuses on this ethnic connection in terms of "brotherhood" -- China to be the big brother and Taiwan the little brother. It is not unification as China would seek. But at the same time, it is also not complete disconnect as many in Taiwan who have suffered under the Chinese dictatorship of Chiang Kai-shek would wish.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Daioyutai's, A Clear Case of the Absurdity of China's Claims

This video has a similar point regarding Tibet to the argument below. The only difference is that China does control Tibet, but not Okinawa or the Senkakus. The fact that the Manchurian Empire conquered China and also may have had some influence on other territories does not give China the right to claim those other territories. The Mongolian Empire also conquered China at one point in history. Does China have the right to then claim parts of Russia, Mongolia, Central Asia and even parts of the Middle East because the Mongolian Empire also conquered those territories?

Why doesn't China claim all of Japan, for Japan at one point in history conquered most of China?

With that logic, why shouldn't Poland claim France because at one time Poland was conquered by Germany which also conquered France. And Poland can play the other end. Why shouldn't Poland claim all of Russia all the way to Siberia because at one time Russia conquered Poland.

Well, speaking of influence, America can prove that many dictators of other countries have studied in American Universities. So why doesn't America claim those countries?

Furthermore, for China to claim that it has records Okinawa, (formerly the kingdom of Ryukyu), formerly sent tribute to China's Ming Dynasty, does not give China a claim on the land. China receiving "tribute" was actually often the only way other nations could officially trade with China during different periods in China's history. The other nation would bring "tribute" and then the Emperor would in turn give "gifts" to that nation's envoys. As Charles C. Mann ably explains in his book 1493, this was what constituted for trade with China.

Certainly, at certain times in history, Chinese emperors defeated kings of other nations in battles and exacted tribute for a time, but even in these cases, China did not seek to annex these nations, but decided it was easier simply to exact some kind of tribute. Such history does not give present-day China any right to claim these territories.

Article detailing some of the history of the Senkakus

With regard to Taiwan: The RESOUNDING undeniable conclusion is that just because the Manchurian Empire maintained marginal control over western Taiwan at one point in Taiwan's history does not give the current government of China any claim whatsoever on Taiwan.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Taiwan Visa-Free ; China Not Visa-Free

Finally, following American laws, the U.S. starts treating Taiwan distinct from China.

Meanwhile China casts about for a way to make sense of their exclusion from the visa free program. If they would start calling themselves "China" instead of calling themselves "mainland," the reason would be self-evident:

Friday, October 5, 2012

Romney, Obama and Taiwan

Now that Romney has been viewed by most as the clear winner in the U.S. Presidential debate, many think he might win and wonder what kind of president he would be. It goes without saying that a U.S. president's foreign policy will affect Taiwan. Linked here is an article analyzing Romney's potential team of foreign policy advisors.

Meanwhile, Taiwan is getting the attention of some American press over how some of Taiwan's press have portrayed the presidential debate: