|Taiwanese special forces parade in front of Ma on 10/10|
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.