Saturday, March 19, 2005

A Different Understanding Of China's Taiwanese Intentions

Reading this piece at by Chalmers Johnson (with a preface by Tom Engelhardt), one gets the impression that China and Taiwan want a mutual reconciliation, but China wishes it to happen sooner rather than later, and isn't afraid to do some saber-rattling along the way. Mostly, I present this as a different view of China's ultimate aims in the western Pacific, focusing particularly on one paragraph in particular. First, the authors assert that weak U.S. comprehension of China is further eroded by a Bush administration about to launch into hostilities:
The Bush administration is unwisely threatening China by urging Japan to rearm and by promising Taiwan that, should China use force to prevent a Taiwanese declaration of independence, the U.S. will go to war on its behalf. It is hard to imagine more shortsighted, irresponsible policies, but in light of the Bush administration's Alice-in-Wonderland war in Iraq, the acute anti-Americanism it has generated globally, and the politicization of America's intelligence services, it seems possible that the U.S. and Japan might actually precipitate a war with China over Taiwan.
The authors predict that, absent U.S. and Japanese intercession, Taiwan and China would likely integrate in "a kind of looser version of a Chinese Quebec under nominal central government control but maintaining separate institutions, laws, and customs." How this would happen at mainland gunpoint Johnson doesn't say, but it represents a kind of preciousness one sees in libertarian circles when dealing with matters such as open borders and international free trade, where canards of all sorts are admitted.