Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Would Taiwan Fight?

Taiwanese special forces parade in front of Ma on 10/10
The assumption that Taiwanese would not fight if attacked by China is not supported by similar cases in military history 

It is often said that if China attacked Taiwan, the majority of Taiwanese would choose not to fight rather than defend their country from external aggression, the main argument being that the “mainlanders” in the Taiwanese military would be disinclined to turn their weapons on their “brothers.” 

Such assumptions about Taiwan’s will to fight deserve further scrutiny, as their validity have serious ramifications for U.S. security assistance to Taiwan and stability within the region. To assess whether those assumptions do indeed reflect Taiwanese proclivities, it is essential to examine the factors that fuel such a line of argument. 

The first and most often cited reason is that Taiwanese and Chinese are ultimately all Han Chinese, or, at a minimum, they share common ancestors. On the surface, Taiwanese and Chinese do look alike; most share a common language; they often prey to the same Gods; are both shaped by Confucian traditions; and Taiwanese ancestry often finds its roots in China. This leads directly to the second oft-given factor, that conflict in the Taiwan Strait is but the continuation of the Chinese civil war that pitted Communist and Nationalist forces before, during, and after World War II, and which led to the exodus of about 2 million Nationalists to Taiwan after their defeat in 1949. 

My article, published today in The Diplomat, continues here.

1 comment:

Michael Fagan said...

Two supplementary points:

1) I doubt this myth ("...China is no longer truly communist...") has quite the power seemingly ascribed to it. Prior to Deng's reforms, the reason the "communist" nature of the PRC was loathed without and feared within was because it meant the State would act with disastrous caprice and could not be stopped by reason. After Deng's reforms, the same basic point remains: although markets and the flow of capital are no longer suppresed in the same ways or to the same degree, nontheless the PRC State continues to act with disastrous caprice and still cannot be stopped by reason.

I could be wrong, but I would think most people who have thought about the issue at all would realize this. Only an idiot would invest in China without forethought as to the level of risk of State-enabled "expropriation" (theft).

(2)...

"Consequently, few are those who... would ... refuse to fight for what makes it their home."

Does not the real power and substance of "nationalism" reside with the psychology of place attachments, rather than a specific loyalty to the R.O.C or to the Left's spurious "social contract" premise?