Much of the irreconcilable differences between Taiwan and China are the result of different types of nationalism, the ‘blood’ versus the ‘civic’
“The degree of shared or conflicting understandings of what the nation is,” writes Stephen M. Saideman, “has significant implications not just for whether a country will go to war but with whom” (Nationalism and War, John A. Hall & Sinisa Malesevic, eds., Cambridge UP, p. 342). Though Saideman does not once mention China in his chapter, could just as well have been discussing Beijing’s irredentist designs on Taiwan. Conflicting understandings of what the nation is, as he writes, is at the heart of the decades-long conflict in the Taiwan Strait, one that, despite the recent rapprochement, will not be resolved anytime soon.
Although academic literature often draws a direct link between nationalism and war, I would argue that in the context of the Taiwan Strait, misunderstanding the other side’s nationalism (or a conflicting understanding, to quote Saideman) is even more likely to drag the two countries — and perhaps the region — into war.
My article, published today on Thinking Taiwan, continues here. (Photo by the author)